The thyroid is often the source of many health problems. The thyroid gland secretes hormones and regulates most bodily processes. Therefore, maintaining the optimal function of the thyroid and balanced levels of its hormones is vital to your overall health.
If your thyroid dysfunctions and produces too much or too little hormones, you may experience a hormonal imbalance. Hormone imbalances are not an isolated issue. When one hormone is not regulating normally, it can lead to further imbalances and health issues.
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Since the thyroid is connected to so many bodily systems, being diagnosed with a thyroid disorder can feel overwhelming or devastating. However, thyroid and hormonal issues can be treated naturally, without relying on medication for the rest of your life. Here’s how.
The Functional Medicine Approach to Thyroid and Hormonal Issues
Rather than treating thyroid and hormonal issues with prescription medication, the functional medicine approach focuses on changing your diet, sleep patterns, nutrition, and more to heal your body naturally.
To determine if you have thyroid or hormonal issues, your functional medicine doctor will look deep into your personal, family, social, and medical history to determine cause-and-effect relationships between your current health and past experiences.
But understanding and diagnosing thyroid and hormonal imbalances can be tricky. So, in addition to in-depth health questionnaires, functional doctors also test for TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, thyroid antibodies and other lab tests. These tests assess your hormone levels and can be obtained via a blood draw or blood spot analysis.
Your lab results are essential to a diagnosis, but functional medicine treats the patient, not the lab results! Your practitioner will also carefully evaluate your symptoms to identify underlying causes to determine the best path forward for you. This will involve working with you to choose the best strategies to tackle your thyroid disorder. These strategies might include any combination of the following.
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Treating Thyroid and Hormonal Issues Naturally
Strategy 1: Manage Your Stress
Stress, especially chronic stress, can adversely affect your body’s functions and trigger thyroid dysfunction. Try relaxing for at least 15 minutes each day. Activities that can help you relax include walking, meditating, drawing, reading a book, and baking. The options are limitless, so find what works best for you!
Strategy 2: Go Gluten-Free
Many things that can impede optimal thyroid function, but your diet is a good place to begin. Evidence shows that certain food groups are linked to dysfunction of the thyroid. Gluten is one of them.
You don’t have to have celiac disease to be gluten intolerant. Gluten sensitivity causes symptoms such as migraines, fatigue, and weight gain. If you are gluten-sensitive, you may be at risk of developing thyroid issues that interfere with your hormones.
If you think you have thyroid or hormonal issues, try going gluten-free and see if your symptoms improve.
Strategy 3: Eat Foods That Improve Thyroid Function
What you do eat is just as important as what you don’t eat. Food has a significant impact on your body. The food you consume determines your level of healthiness. If you want to treat your thyroid or balance your hormones naturally, start eating thyroid superfoods like blueberries, seaweed, nuts, garlic, and fish. Other hormone-supporting foods include cruciferous vegetables or fermented foods such as kimchi and kombucha.
Strategy 4: Support Your System with Supplements
Nutrient deficiencies can trigger thyroid disorders, hormonal imbalances, and other health issues. Supplements play a significant role in supporting your health, so can go a long way. Iron, iodine, zinc, selenium, B vitamins, and Vitamin D are the most common nutrients in which people with thyroid issues are deficient. Adding these supplements to your daily routine might help lessen symptoms and address the root cause of your imbalance. Supplements can also cause hormone imbalances so It is important to get a work up to see what you actually need rather than randomly taking supplements.
Strategy 5: Get Regular Exercise
There’s no denying that regular physical activity is beneficial to your health. Activities such as running, yoga, or swimming, encourage your thyroid to function properly and make it easier for your hormones to work.
Strategy 6: Rest Your Body
Fatigue is often a result of thyroid and hormonal issues, and not getting enough sleep at night can make things worse. Establish a nightly routine – such as not looking at any electronics one hour before bedtime or drinking a cup of hot tea – to relax your body and mind. Getting quality sleep benefits your overall health and thyroid functioning.
Strategy 7: Minimize Exposure to Toxins
You’re exposed to thousands of toxins regularly. Excess exposure to certain toxins can have detrimental effects on your thyroid and hormonal health. Minimize your exposure to toxins by eating clean, organic foods, drinking clean water, reducing or eliminating toxic household products and limiting your time in environments with heavy pollution.
Strategy 8: Try Alternative Treatments
Holistic treatments such as sauna baths, acupuncture, and lymphatic drainage massages can help ease thyroid or hormonal imbalance symptoms. In addition, these treatments can help detoxify your body, which is an integral part of improving your thyroid function.
Strategy 9: Reduce Alcohol and Caffeine Consumption
Alcohol and caffeine have been found to negatively affect your thyroid and hormone levels, so it is essential to keep consumption to a minimum. Alcohol and caffeine can also rapidly deplete crucial vitamins and minerals in your body that are essential for a healthy functioning thyroid.
Strategy 10: Detox Your Liver
Your liver plays an essential role in thyroid hormone activation and inactivation, transport, and metabolism. Conversely, thyroid hormones affect liver enzyme levels. Detoxifying your liver helps your liver convert thyroid hormones as it needs to and increases functionality in both your thyroid and liver.
Benefit of Naturally Treating Thyroid and Hormonal Issues
The biggest advantage to the functional medicine approach of treating thyroid and hormonal issues is that there are typically fewer side effects. The natural strategies discussed above address underlying causes of thyroid and hormonal problems, ultimately restoring your overall health. By addressing the primary cause of your imbalance, functional medicine mitigates symptoms and supports you in your healing process without prescription medication.
However, regulating thyroid and hormone function is a difficult task. It’s important to work with a functional medicine practitioner before making significant changes to your diet or exercise routine. While the above tools are excellent ways to naturally support your thyroid and hormones, treating thyroid and hormonal disorders is serious, and you shouldn’t try to treat them alone.
What To Expect from the Functional Medicine Approach
Functional medicine takes a truly root cause approach to help you regain your energy and well-being with a minimum of side effects. At Tri-Cities Functional Medicine, we respect your body’s natural ability to heal with the proper support of personal treatment plans.
During a functional medicine consultation, we will work with you to figure out:
- If your thyroid function is outside of the optimal range with various lab tests.
- The root cause of your thyroid and hormonal issues through advanced functional medicine testing and in-depth medical questionnaires.
- How to address your health concerns through personalized nutrition, lifestyle, and supplement recommendations.
Reach out to us to get started on the road back to reclaiming your health.
Tri-Cities Functional Medicine is located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and serves patients throughout East Tennessee and into Virginia and North Carolina. These areas include but are not limited to: Washington County, TN, Sullivan County, TN, Carter County, TN, Greene County, TN, Knox County, TN, Bristol, TN, Holston Valley, TN, Tri-Cities, TN, Walnut Hill, TN, Elizabethton, TN, Greeneville, TN, Morristown, TN, Blountville, TN, Bluff City, TN, Kingsport, TN, Jonesborough, TN, Colonial Heights, TN, Limestone, TN, Knoxville, TN, Bristol, VA, and Abingdon, VA.