Q: I’m very tired and weak without my thyroid medicine. Now, I’m concerned about the thyroid shortage and worried that there will not be medication for me. What else can I do?
M.K., Gainesville, Fla.
A: There will always be thyroid medication, don’t worry. While this is all getting sorted out by the manufacturers and the FDA; let me assure you that it’s possible to create more thyroid hormone naturally. You can also make your cells more sensitive to circulating thyroid hormone.
The active version of thyroid hormone is called T3, and it makes you feel “awake.” The inactive hormone is called T4. In order for you to feel well, have energy and burn carbs and fat, your body must be able to convert T4 to T3. It’s pretty easy to do. Low thyroid (T3) can cause depression, weight gain, brittle nails, cold sensations and thinning hair.
Low thyroid (T3) will trigger your brain to produce some thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), that shouts at your thyroid gland, “Make more T3, we don’t have enough!” When the gland makes some more T3, the TSH hushes up. It’s a complex feedback loop, but that’s the gist. With that in mind, here’s some more advice that can help you regain healthy thyroid levels.
Iron: you need sufficient levels of iron to make thyroid hormone and to get it into your cells where it works. Women with a heavy monthly flow often run short on iron. You can measure iron stores, called ferritin, with a simple blood test.
Trace Minerals: they help you convert T4 to T3 and include zinc, selenium and chromium. These minerals double as antioxidants, which means that they do good housekeeping on your cells and protect the thyroid gland from destructive free radicals. It’s an inexpensive fix; take chelated minerals or drink green food supplements that contain marine-derived compounds.
Iodine: another trace mineral that is absolutely critical in making thyroid hormone and also in protecting against breast cancer. It’s shocking, but white bread often contains bromine, which can cause iodine deficiency and interferes with thyroid functioning. So, iodine is helpful to your thyroid, bromine is not.
Ashwagandha: in animal studies, this herb stimulates more T3 production. Additionally, it nourishes tired, stressed adrenal glands. This causes your stress hormone, cortisol, to come down and it may help you lose belly fat.
Guggul: you get a lot of bang for your buck with guggul, because it helps you make more T3, it can lower cholesterol/triglycerides and it may relieve joint pain and osteoarthritis.
Insulin: when serum insulin is high, thyroid hormone can’t work well. You can bring insulin levels down by exercising and taking various supplements that I outlined for you in a prior column, now posted at pharmacist.com.
Did You Know?
Essential oils should be avoided for 10 days following chemotherapy administration.
Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Always consult your physician. Have a question for Suzy Cohen? Visit dearpharmacist.com.