Friday, July 16, 2010

Thyroid Goddessness

When I was 38, I discovered that my thyroid was a laggard. After having trouble losing weight post-partum from my second baby, and had a vague feeling that Kaiser's version of what constituted a normal thyroid test was different from my version. I decided to test my T3, and low and behold, the sucker was low. Soon I started a small dose of Armour Thyroid, and all was good in the world again: my body responded to exercise by losing fat, I didn't have to be as fastidious about what I ate, and my energy was vastly improved.

 As with many issues in integrative medicine, there's a gigantic gap between what conventional medicine has to say about what is normal thyroid function and what integrative or functional medicine offers. Daily I discover that my patients have a low free and/or total T3, the active version of thyroid hormone that makes you leap out of bed in the morning.  Or I find that they have autoimmune thyroiditis, and even thought their Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) is normal, they are making antibodies to their thyroid and heading toward a crash.

Many symptoms characterize an underactive thyroid but the top two are: weight gain and fatigue. Here are some other common symptoms: constipation (which I define as less than two bowel movements per day), cold hands and feet, depression, hair loss, joint achiness, poor memory and executive functioning, and increased cholesterol. The list is long and I have a questionnaire for you on the blog right here. Take the quiz to see if you should test, and consider performing a thyroid panel home test via Canary Club for free T3, TSH, free T4 and thyroid peroxidase antibodies. I am also a big fan of following your reverse T3 but I don't know where you can order that as a home test.

When you have thyroid issues, your diet requires your rapt attention. Got goitrogens in the food you're eating? I’ve never heard a conventional doc talk to patients about foods (called goitrogens) that lower your thyroid function. Tell me your stories of docs who are sharing this info! Yet, as with most things, the info is easy to find online. Raw foods are lightly goitrogenic (cooking inactivates the goitrogenic compounds). Short version: strawberries, pears, peanuts, pine nuts, cassava (yucca), Brassica veggies such as broccoli, bok choy and brussel sprouts. I know, I know – they help your estrogen metabolism but recall the see-saw analogy.

For more info on thyroid, I highly recommend Mary Shomon's excellent books as well as Thyroid Power by Dr. Richard Shames, MD. I challenge you to have goddess-like thyroid function, which is, after all, your birthright.

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I'm an organic gynecologist, yoga teacher + writer. I earn a living partnering with women to get them vital and self-realized again. We're born that way, but often fall off the path. Let's take your lousy mood and fatigue, and transform it into something sacred and useful.