The thyroid gland is needed for many regulatory processes in the body, controlling metabolism and regulating bodily processes such as reproduction, digestive function, temperature regulation, and cell turnover. Disorders of the thyroid are very common and can result in a hypothyroid (under-functioning) or hyperthyroid (over-functioning) situation.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Unexplained weight gain
- Cold body temperature
- Dry skin
- Hair thinning or hair loss
- Reduced libido
- Menstrual disorders
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Excessive sweating
- Heat intolerance
- Nervousness or agitation
- Increased bowel motions (diarrhoea)
- Irregular and scant menstrual flow
- Rapid heart rate
Thyroid disorders are often the underlying cause of many problems, so assessing thyroid function is essential in a natural medicine setting.
A hypothyroid situation is often due to deficiencies of nutrients that are essential for thyroid function, so dietary changes and nutrient supplementation can often correct this.
Other factors that may lead to thyroid disorders are autoimmunity, where the immune system attacks the thyroid, leading to either Grave’s disease (hyperthyroid) or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (hypothyroid). Herbs and nutrients that specifically modulate the immune system and reduce inflammation can be of use in this situation.
Disorders of the thyroid gland respond very well to naturopathic treatment as it addresses the cause of the problem and also helps to boost or reduce thyroid hormone levels.