The thyroid is a gland in the neck that produces hormones necessary to maintain a range of bodily functions. If the thyroid isn't stimulating enough hormone, the condition is called hypothyroidism or "underactive thyroid."
Your thyroid gland produces two main thyroid hormones known as T3 and T4. Your pituitary gland produces a thyroid-stimulating hormone known as TSH. TSH helps to control how much T3 and T4 the thyroid produces.
Hashimoto's disease, an autoimmune disorder, is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. However, an underactive thyroid producing less T3 or T4 than needed can affect anyone. Hypothyroidism occurs ten times more frequently in women. The condition is most common in women over the age of 60.
Why is a healthy thyroid important?
Thyroid hormones span from the brain to the bowels, affecting appetite, concentration, and mood. Thyroid hormones impact your metabolism, causing it to slow down. Common symptoms include:
- Weight gain
- Cold sensitivity
- Brain “fog”
- Slower movements
- Muscle aches, cramps, or weakness
- Slow pulse
In addition to ongoing symptoms, those with hypothyroidism may be at increased risk for chronic conditions, including heart disease, arthritis, age-related macular degeneration, and cognitive impairment.
Traditional treatments for hypothyroidism
Thyroid Hormone Replacement treatment is the standard protocol for hypothyroidism. The most common medications are levothyroxine derivatives, man-made versions of the thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4). Brands include Levoxyl, Synthroid, Tirosint, Unithroid, and Cytomel.
Once a medication is prescribed, it is recommended for life.
The short-term side effects of these medications include difficulty sleeping, headaches, hair loss, appetite disruption, and heart palpitations. Long-term effects may consist of brittle bones (osteoporosis) and heart attacks.
Natural and complementary therapies to support thyroid function
- Lifestyle, diet, and supplement changes can help improve thyroid therapy outcomes. They include:
- Increasing foods high in B-vitamins and iron
- Avoiding foods that can interfere with thyroid function
- Consume foods high in antioxidants
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco
- Reduce caffeine intake
Chiropractic care can also address nerve interference from the spinal column, allowing the body to maximize its inherent healing ability. Case studies suggest improving or correcting subluxations (structural shifts in the spine leading to nerve obstruction) can relieve the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
In one study, a 61-year-old female diagnosed with hypothyroidism had been experiencing weight gain, decreased energy, fatigue, migraines, dizziness, vertigo, tinnitus, and Meniere’s disease for several years.
Following a course of chiropractic adjustments, she experienced increased energy, weight stabilization, and a reduction in tinnitus episodes. Her hypothyroidism appeared to resolve, as confirmed by hormone testing.