The symptoms of hyperthyroidism are principally:
Weight loss Heat intolerance
Increased sweating Warm and moist skin
Shortness of Breath Palpitations
Increased blood pressure Irregular heart beat
Insomnia Occasional psychosis
Irregular periods Miscarriages
Left untreated, a characteristic bulging of the eyes known as exophthalmos develops and is known as Graves’ disease . The causes of hyperthyroidism are little understood. The thyroid gland becomes overprotective throughout the tissue, through multiple nodules or occasionally a single ‘hot’ nodule. Frequently a chemical known as long-acting thyroid stimulator (LATS) is found in the system. This is an immunoglobulin and is being produced somewhere, for some reason, by the body’s immune system. It may well be in response to some other factor and its effect on the thyroid is purely a side effect. A group of antibodies known as the thyroid-stimulating antibodies (TSAbs) can be demonstrated in the serum of thyroid-toxic patients and these seem to attack the receptors in the thyroid for THS, thereby stimulating the activity and causing the thyroid to produce too much T3 and T4. There is some suggestion that there is an autoimmune (the body attacks itself) stimulus, but holistic physicians look more at toxicity, potentially parasitic or fungal infection of the thyroid, food allergy and vital force imbalance then at the vessel of conception or mid-line chakra points.
Naturopathic treatment is remarkably ineffective against hyperthyroidism in my experience. Severe hyperthyroidism is a potentially swift lethal condition and needs to be treated with the appropriate respect. Mild hyperthyroidism may respond to naturopathic treatment but all cases must be monitored carefully.
Establish a baseline of thyroxine levels in comparison to the BBT. If very high, do not hesitate to follow orthodox treatment; if only just outside the normal scale, monitor the situation frequently and pay attention to the worsening of any symptoms.
Add goitrogens (foods that inhibit thyroxine production) to the diet by increasing the intake of broccoli, cabbage, turnips, spinach and collard greens, brussels sprouts, soya products, peanuts, pine nuts and millet.
Try the following herbal tinctures in divided doses three times a day: lycopus, five drops per foot of height; cactus, five drops per foot of height.
The homeopathic remedy Thyroidinium 200, one dose nightly for one week.
Specific symptoms may be relieved by a correctly selected homeopathic remedy. A homeopath should be consulted.
The thyroid hormones affect all the being. The symptoms of hypothyroidism may be seen in any part of the body and should be considered if one of the following symptoms appears, persists and in combination with any two or more others.
Anxiety Poor concentration
Loss of memory Numbness or tingling
Dizzy spells Carpal tunnel
Poor vision, syndrome especially at night Weight gain
Fatigue Sensitivity to the cold
Water retention Hoarse voice
Slow speech Abnormal rhythms
Slow heart beat Increased number of
Palpitations cold symptoms
Constipation Decreased appetite
Irregular periods Infertility or
Absent periods miscarriages
Dry skin Muscle cramps
Hair loss (notably Brittle hair eyebrows) Ridged nails
There are also other less common symptoms.
If left uncontrolled, the above symptoms will continue and a condition known as myxoedema may develop. This term is derived from the deposition of a fatty material around the body that causes an oedema-like swelling all over the body. If myxoedema is profound then a coma may be the outcome, associated with very low body temperature and damage to other organs through low oxygen supplies.
Hypothyroidism may be divided into primary or secondary.
Primary hypothyroidism In primary hypothyroidism there is a failure of the thyroid to develop and if severe or not spotted will lead to a marked inability known as cretinism. There are many causes. • Iodine deficiency – which occurs in specific parts of the world where iodine is not in the food chain to any great extent. Seafood in particular is high in iodine and mountainous areas that may not consider fish as part of their regular diet are more prone to iodine deficiency.
Damage to the thyroid by foods known as goitrogens, which contain substances that prevent the utilization of iodine, is another cause. This list includes soya bean, peanuts, millet, turnips, cabbage and mustard. It is worth noting that cooking usually inactivates goitrogens.
The stress hormone, Cortisol, is known to block the production of T3.
Rarely, thyroid levels may be normal (or even raised) but symptoms of hypothyroidism continue. This may be due to the cells of the body not recognizing thyroid hormone. Metal toxicity may be relevant in this condition.
Destruction of normal thyroid glandular tissue by tumours, operations or radioiodine. The latter two are more frequent because these are common treatments for hyperthyroidism.
Autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s disease) most commonly affects middle-aged women and is due to antibodies being formed against different constituents of the thyroid gland. Simply, the body attacks its own thyroid.
Drug-induced hypothyroidism may be caused by certain prescribed drugs including those used for heart arrhythmias, some tranquillizers, anti-epileptic drugs and others.
Secondary hypothyroidism is created by reduced TRH or TSH caused by afflictions of the pituitary gland by the hypothalamus.
The treatment for hypothyroidism is generally replacement with thyroxine, which replenishes the blood levels but does not attempt to isolate or treat the cause. Holistic practitioners may try to restimulate the thyroid once they have removed any possible underlying causes of hypothyroidism but may have to resort to thyroxine replacement because restimulation is frequently not achieved. The following recommendations should be tried for a short time and thyroid function tests and symptom assessment should be made very objectively. Many patients are reluctant to consider having to use a ‘drug’ for the rest of their lives but need to be reminded that it is simply a replacement of what the body naturally produces. Complete natural thyroid is available although the pharmaceutical form is much purer and a physician knows exactly how much is being given.
Rule out any changeable cause of hypothyroidism such as iodine deficiency or drug-induced deficiency.
Remove the goitrogens mentioned above from the diet.
Check for nutritional deficiencies, specifically tyrosine (the amino acid), iodine, zinc, copper, iron and selenium, all of which are necessary for thyroid function.
Practise a relaxation or meditation technique regularly and sit with a counsellor to discuss and attempt to resolve underlying stress-creating conditions.
Check mercury, lead and other chemical contamination through blood and hair samples and treat accordingly , selenium (50ug), copper (500pg) and tyrosine (lOOmg); and zinc (5mg per foot of height) should be taken before bed.
Acupuncture can be used to try to stimulate the thyroid.
Yoga or Qi Gong should be used because exercise may stimulate thyroid production and the techniques move the energy through the chakras thereby potentially relieving blocks or deficiencies in the throat chakra, that overlies the thyroid.
Thyroxine replacement through orthodox preparations should be used if symptoms of hypothyroidism are troublesome. The above recommendations may still stimulate the thyroid and brain centres regardless of the presence of thyroxine in the bloodstream. Taking thyroxine will diminish symptoms swiftly. • Desiccated natural thyroid can be used, although I see no advantage. Whichever is taken, ensure that blood levels and BBT are taken every three weeks until normality is achieved and symptoms have regressed.
TUMOUR AND CANCERS OF THE THYROID
Single or multiple benign growths in the thyroid are common and frequent in areas where iodine intake is low. These are harmless and have no greater tendency to become cancerous than normal thyroid tissue.
Cancer of the thyroid should be suspected in any thyroid with a single nodule. Initial testing is done by scanning the gland after administration of radioactive iodine. Overactive thyroid tissue will pick this up and is termed a ‘hot’ nodule. This may be an indication simply of an overactive area of the thyroid and nothing more than a hyper-thyroid state, but it can also indicate cancer. Benign nodules do not pick up the radioiodine to any great extent and are known as ‘cold’ nodules.
Any swelling in the throat must be examined by a physician.
Do not avoid investigation of thyroid nodules because early detection increases the chances of a better outcome.
A ‘hot’ nodule may need a biopsy or even a lumpectomy and this should be undertaken, usually under general anaesthetic, with your permission to remove the thyroid if cancer is found.
Treatment of a goitre is dependent upon the cause and the associated symptoms. • Do not shirk from investigation for fear of a bad result because most goitres are innocent and easily proven so.