helps to normalize the overactive thyroid. Lythospermic and other organic
acids found in Bugleweed help to decrease the levels of certain hormones in
the body - including TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone produced by the
pituitary gland) and T4 (produced by the thyroid). It can also inhibit the
binding of antibodies to the thyroid gland, helping to relieve the symptoms
of Grave's Disease.
Lemon balm, is
well-known for its soothing and calming properties and is widely prescribed
by herbalists for the relief of anxiety and insomnia. Some studies have also
suggested that Melissa also helps to soothe the overactive thyroid gland,
particularly in the case of Grave's Disease. This herb may help to block the
attachment of antibodies to the thyroid cells, as well as preventing TSH
from stimulating the overactive thyroid.
traditionally been used to soothe heart palpitations as well as menstrual
irregularity and anxiety, making it an excellent addition to this remedy.
Hypothyroidism, or underactive
thyroid, develops when the thyroid gland fails to produce or secrete as much
thyroxine (T4) as the body needs. Because T4 regulates
such essential functions as heart rate, digestion, physical growth, and
mental development, an insufficient supply of this hormone can slow
life-sustaining processes, damage organs and tissues in every part of the
body, and lead to life-threatening complications.
Hypothyroidism is one of the most
common chronic diseases in the United States. Symptoms may not appear until
years after the thyroid has stopped functioning and they are often mistaken
for signs of other illnesses, menopause, or aging. Although
this condition is believed to affect as many as 11 million adults and
children, as many as two of every three people with hypothyroidism may not
know they have the disease.
Nicknamed "Gland Central" because
it influences almost every organ, tissue, and cell in the body, the thyroid
is shaped like a butterfly and located just below the Adam's apple. The
thyroid stores iodine the body gets from food and uses this mineral to
create T4. Low T 4 levels can alter weight, appetite,
sleep patterns, body temperature, sex drive, and a variety of other
physical, mental, and emotional characteristics.
There are three types of
hypothyroidism. The most common is primary hypothyroidism, in which the
thyroid doesn't produce an adequate amount of T4. Secondary
hypothyroidism develops when the pituitary gland does not release enough of
the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) that prompts the thyroid to
manufacture T4. Tertiary hypothyroidism results from a
malfunction of the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls the
endocrine system. Drug-induced hypothyroidism, an adverse reaction to
medication, occurs in two of every 10,000 people, but rarely causes severe
Hypothyroidism is at least twice
as common in women as it is in men. Although hypothyroidism is most common
in women who are middle-aged or older, the disease can occur at any age.
Newborn infants are tested for congenital thyroid deficiency (cretinism)
using a test that measures the levels of thyroxine in the infant's blood.
Treatment within the first few months of life can prevent mental
retardation and physical abnormalities. Older children who develop
hypothyroidism suddenly stop growing.
Factors that increase a person's
risk of developing hypothyroidism include age, weight, and medical history.
Women are more likely to develop the disease after age 50; men, after age
60. Obesity also increases risk. A family history of thyroid problems
or a personal history of high cholesterol levels or such autoimmune
diseases as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or diabetes can make an
individual more susceptible to hypothyroidism.
Causes and symptoms
Hypothyroidism is most often the
result of Hashimoto's disease, also known as chronic thyroiditis
(inflammation of the thyroid gland). In this disease, the immune system
fails to recognize that the thyroid gland is part of the body's own tissue
and attacks it as if it were a foreign body. The attack by the immune system
impairs thyroid function and sometimes destroys the gland. Other causes of
Hypothyroidism usually develops gradually. When the disease results from
surgery or other treatment for hyperthyroidism, symptoms may appear suddenly
and include severe muscle cramps in the arms, legs, neck, shoulders, and
It's important to see a doctor if any of these symptoms appear unexpectedly.
People whose hypothyroidism remains undiagnosed and untreated may eventually
develop myxedema. Symptoms of this rare but potentially deadly complication
include enlarged tongue, swollen facial features, hoarseness, and physical
and mental sluggishness.
Myxedema coma can cause unresponsiveness; irregular, shallow
breathing; and a drop in blood pressure and body temperature. The onset of
this medical emergency can be sudden in people who are elderly or have been
ill, injured, or exposed to very cold temperatures; who have recently had
surgery; or who use sedatives or anti-depressants. Without immediate medical
attention, myxedema coma can be fatal.
Diagnosis of hypothyroidism is based on the patient's observations, medical
history, physical examination, and thyroid function tests.
Doctors who specialize in treating thyroid disorders (endocrinologists) are
most apt to recognize subtle symptoms and physical indications of
hypothyroidism. A blood test known as a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
assay, thyroid nuclear medicine scan, and thyroid ultrasound
are used to confirm the diagnosis. A woman being tested for hypothyroidism
should let her doctor know if she is pregnant or breastfeeding and all
patients should be sure their doctors are aware of any recent procedures
involving radioactive materials or contrast media.
The TSH assay is extremely accurate, but some doctors doubt the test's
ability to detect mild hypothyroidism. They advise patients to monitor their
basal (resting) body temperature for below-normal readings that could
indicate the presence of hypothyroidism.
Natural or synthetic thyroid hormones are used to restore normal (euthyroid)
thyroid hormone levels. Synthetic hormones are more effective than natural
substances, but it may take several months to determine the correct dosage.
Patients start to feel better within 48 hours, but symptoms will return if
they stop taking the medication.
Most doctors prescribe levothyroxine sodium tablets, and most people with
hypothyroidism will take the medication for the rest of their lives. Aging,
other medications, and changes in weight and general health can affect how
much replacement hormone a patient needs, and regular TSH tests are used to
monitor hormone levels. Patients should not switch from one brand of thyroid
hormone to another without a doctor's permission.
Regular exercise and a high-fiber diet can help maintain thyroid
function and prevent constipation.
Alternative treatments are primarily aimed at strengthening the thyroid and
will not eliminate the need for thyroid hormone medications. Herbal remedies
to improve thyroid function and relieve symptoms of hypothyroidism include
bladder wrack (Fucus vesiculosus), which can be taken in capsule form
or as a tea. Some foods, including cabbage, peaches, radishes, soybeans,
peanuts, and spinach, can interfere with the production of thyroid hormones.
Anyone with hypothyroidism may want to avoid these foods. The Shoulder Stand
yoga position (at least once daily for 20 minutes) is believed to
improve thyroid function.
Thyroid hormone replacement therapy generally maintains normal
thyroid hormone levels unless treatment is interrupted or discontinued.
Primary hypothyroidism can't be prevented, but routine screening of adults
could detect the disease in its early stages and prevent complications.
hypothyroidism that is present at birth.
The network of
glands that produce hormones and release them into the bloodstream. The
thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system.
The part of the
brain that controls the endocrine system.
that can result from a thyroid gland that produces too little of its
hormone. In addition to a decreased metabolic rate, symptoms may include
anemia, slow speech, an enlarged tongue, puffiness of the face and hands,
loss of hair, coarse and thickened skin, and sensitivity to cold.
endocrine gland attached to the hypothalamus. The pituitary gland releases
TSH, the hormone that activates the thyroid gland.
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
secreted by the pituitary gland that controls the release of T by the
that regulates many essential body processes.
The thyroid gland
is a small butterfly-shaped organ that lies flat across your windpipe. The
hormones it produces control the rate at which the body metabolizes or uses
energy. Their production is regulated by a feedback system. When blood
levels of thyroid hormones decline, the hypothalamus (an organ in the brain)
releases thyrotropin releasing hormone, which stimulates the pituitary (a
tiny organ below the brain and behind the sinus cavities) to produce and
release thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH then stimulates the thyroid
gland to produce and/or release more thyroid hormones. Most of the thyroid
hormone produced is thyroxine or T4. This hormone is relatively inactive,
but it is converted into the much more active triiodothyronine orT3 in the
liver and other tissues.
produces too much hormone and Hypothyroidism does not produce enough.
The symptoms of a low
body temperature are classic for low thyroid function. Body temperatures are
normally lower in the morning, higher in the afternoon, and lower again in
the evening. So if the temperatures are low during the day when they're
supposed to be at their highest, that's better evidence that there's a
If the thyroid gland produces excessive amounts of T4
and T3, then the person may have symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism,
such as nervousness, tremors of the hands, weight loss, insomnia, and
puffiness around dry, irritated eyes. In some cases, the patientís eyes
cannot move normally and they may appear to be staring. In other cases, the
patientís eyes may appear to bulge.
If the thyroid gland produces insufficient amounts of
thyroid hormones, then the patient may have symptoms associated with
hypothyroidism and a slowed metabolism, such as weight gain, dry skin,
fatigue, and constipation. Blood levels of hormones may be increased or
decreased because of insufficient or excessive production by the thyroid
gland, due to thyroid dysfunction, or due to insufficient or excessive TSH
production related to pituitary dysfunction.
Headaches & Migraines
Easy Weight Gain
Anxiety & Panic
Low Sex Drive
Dry Skin & Hair
Insomnia - Heat
T4 makes up nearly all of what we call thyroid
hormone, while T3 makes up less than 10%. Inside the thyroid gland, T4 is
produced, bound to a protein called thyroglobulin, and stored. When the body
requires thyroid hormone, the thyroid gland produces some T4 or T3 and/or
releases stored T4 into circulation. In the blood, T4 is present in a free
(not bound) and protein-bound form (primarily bound to thyroxine-binding
globulin). The concentration of free T4 is only about 0.1% of that of total
T4, but the free T4 is the portion of thyroxine that is active. T4 only
becomes an active thyroid hormone when it is converted into T3 in the liver
or other tissues.
If the thyroid gland does not produce sufficient T4
(due to thyroid dysfunction or to insufficient TSH), then the affected
patient experiences symptoms of hypothyroidism such as weight gain, dry
skin, cold intolerance, irregular menstruation, and fatigue. If the thyroid
gland produces too much T4, the rate of the patientís body functions will
increase and cause symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism such as
increased heart rate, anxiety, weight loss, difficulty sleeping, tremors in
the hands, and puffiness around dry, irritated eyes.
The most common
causes of thyroid dysfunction are autoimmune-related Graves' disease causes
hyperthyroidism and Hashimoto's thyroiditis causes hypothyroidism. Both
hyper- and hypothyroidism can also be caused by thyroiditis (thyroid
inflammation), thyroid cancer, and excessive or deficient production of TSH.
The thyroid gland
makes T3 and T4. T3 is the active thyroid hormone and every cell in the body
has molecular docking stations for T3. T4 is made by the thyroid, circulates
and eventually ends up in the liver where it is converted to T3 and a tiny
amount of a substance called Reverse T3
(RT3). RT3 has no action on the cell,
except that it binds with the receptor sites, the tiny docking stations, and
blocks the action of T3. However, in the normal situation, T3 dominates and
RT3 is no problem. However, when a person experiences prolonged stress, the
adrenal glands respond by manufacturing a large amount of cortisol. Cortisol
inhibits the conversion of T4 to T3 and favors the conversion of T4 to RT3.
If stress is prolonged, a condition called
Reverse T3 Dominance
occurs and persists even after the stress
passes and cortisol levels fall. Apparently, RT3 itself acts like cortisol
and blocks the conversion of T4 to T3.