How To Treat Hypothyroidism Naturally With Functional Medicine
A New Approach To Hypothyroidism
Thyroid disease (including Hashimoto's, Grave's, and Hypothyroidism) is one of the most commonly diagnosed conditions among women in the United States.
With hypothyroidism or low thyroid function, common symptoms may include difficulty in losing weight, general weight gain, cold extremities, low energy, changes in hair or hair loss, decreased libido, and anemia.
Usually, patients go to their general practitioner with these symptoms, their doctor runs a single test and finds out their thyroid is low. The doctor prescribes a pill that impairs the function of the rest of your thyroid and you now must take that pill for life.
That is how low thyroid levels have been treated in the past but fortunately, there is a much better approach.
Your thyroid stopped functioning at a normal level for a reason. Functional medicine finds this reason and treats it.
By removing heavy metals, addressing autoimmunity or killing an underlying infection - thyroid function is restored without the use of thyroid medication.
The administration of thyroid medication without investigating why the thyroid became impaired not only impairs thyroid function further - you still suffer from the health consequences of the underlying problem.
This is why so many patients have cascading symptoms after an autoimmune diagnosis.
The Many Causes of Low Thyroid Function
There are many causes of low thyroid function, a thorough functional medicine evaluation can determine what these causes are.
I have seen many patients with low thyroid function have chronic viral or bacterial infections and longstanding B12 and zinc deficiencies which directly contribute to their condition.
Digestive issues are rampant in people with thyroid conditions, the body is often unable to properly break down food or there are imbalances in the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria in the lining of the gut.
Many patients are under chronic stress, constantly using up energy reserves to fight infection and maintain normal function. It becomes increasingly difficult for these patients to maintain homeostasis.
There are also many patients under the strain of toxicity - as their body attempts to remove a toxic metal like mercury or lead on its own, it becomes overburdened with the task and cannot maintain normal function.
In every case of thyroid dysfunction - potential toxic exposures are investigated. These exposures often come from everyday sources like cooking pans, makeup, and drinking water.
Read more about toxicity
Causes of Hypothyroidism
B12, zinc, Vitamin D, Omega 3, selenium
Environmental, Food Allergies & Sensitivities, Chemicals, Preservatives
Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), CMV, Shingles, Herpes Family, HPV
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), Strep, H.Pylori, Staph infection
Diarrhea, Loose Stools, GERD, reflux
Highly Processed, Sugary, Chemical & Preservative Laden
A Personalized Thyroid Diet Plan
Often, by isolating and treating underlying causes, full thyroid function is restored and hormone medication is unnecessary.
Self-treating without any supervised treatment or testing is not recommended, after all, you may not have a 'thyroid problem', but heavy metal, infection, or deficiency issue.
Like many other conditions, a healthy diet is imperative for a healthily functioning thyroid.
Getting as far away as you can from the typical American, highly processed, pesticide, chemical, and sugar-filled diet will be a big first step.
There is a lot of media attention given to a particular diet and which one is ‘the best’.
The best diet for you is not one that is leaving you starving or low on energy or makes you have trouble sleeping - these are all possible signs that your body is not thriving.
There will be added considerations if we find out you have a food sensitivity, a bacterial infection, or have other symptoms or conditions - depending on what your body is dealing with I will give you specific foods to include or exclude.
Plenty of fruits and vegetables is a fantastic place to start for most people.
Read about The Genetic Component of Hypothyroidism
Proper Diagnosis and Appropriate Testing
As with any other condition, proper diagnostic testing is very important.
Usually in hypothyroidism TSH is the only thing tested. TSH is simply the brain’s way of communicating with the thyroid, it is not actually measuring the capacity of the thyroid to function.
The testing Dr. Lum orders will be tailored to you. Usually, thyroid function is not the only health concern. The overall goal is not just optimal thyroid function - it's complete health.
It is important to note that many patients that exhibit low thyroid function have Hashimoto’s disease.
Most of the time doctors do not test the anti-thyroid peroxidase or anti-thyroglobulin antibodies which are crucial for diagnosing this common yet often missed condition.
Read more about Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
The Importance of Self Care in Healing
Proper self-care is another (usually neglected) consideration.
For you to exhibit symptoms and for your body to be not functioning at its normal level, you need to appreciate that it is under a great deal of strain. You can help it by giving it space and time to heal itself.
The body has an incredible capacity to self-heal, and while we can give it specific things to help it along, it is important that you value that ability by giving it what it needs - proper sleep, reduced stress, nourishing foods, and personal outlets for yourself.
The patients that practice yoga, incorporate more walks in nature, or do other activities that they really love speed up their recovery.
Online Functional Medicine Consultations
If you have a complex case or have not improved with conventional or alternative treatment, Dr. Lum offers Free 15 Minute Consultations in which you can ask questions about your case, functional medicine, and how he can help you.
Dr. Lum specializes in hard-to-treat cases and he offers online functional medicine consultations over the phone or on your computer.
Read more about Online Consultations