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Functional Medicine’s Unique Approach to Hypothyroidism

Illustration of an enlarged thyroid gland in a female with hyperthyroidism

Functional Medicine’s Unique Approach to Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a condition caused by an underactive thyroid that does not produce enough T3 and T4 hormones. In early stages, the symptoms may be mild or even unnoticeable, but they often worsen with time and typically disrupt the patient’s quality of life.

Many people looking for treatment in Phoenix might not know where to find proper solutions for hypothyroidism. Since the symptoms can apply to many conditions and illnesses, conventional doctors might not be willing to make a hypothyroidism diagnosis. However, the functional medicine doctors at Novis Health Phoenix are committed to finding out the root cause of your discomfort – and that cause might very well be hypothyroidism.

What is Hypothyroidism?

The thyroid is a small gland located at the front of the neck. It produces hormones that help the body regulate essential functions from body temperature and heart rate, to energy levels and brain function.

Since thyroid hormones are crucial to our health, it is important that the thyroid produces enough hormone to promote optimal health. If the thyroid is under-producing hormones, the metabolism slows down, causing the body to store excess fat and carbohydrates. This can lead to trouble losing weight, neuropathy, and even heart failure.

Hypothyroidism typically causes symptoms such as:

  • Cold intolerance
  • Fatigue
  • Digestive issues
  • Changes in skin texture
  • Weight issues
  • Swollen face
  • Vocal hoarseness
  • Weak muscles
  • High cholesterol
  • Thin hair
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Depression
  • Memory issues
  • Increased size of the thyroid gland

Hypothyroidism patients are often left feeling disappointed, uncertain, and discouraged after receiving conventional treatments. Even though there are several treatments available to manage the condition, such as medication, surgery, and radiation, these conventional treatments attempt to mask the symptoms rather than address their underlying cause.

The goal of functional medicine is to treat the whole person, not just their symptoms, by identifying and treating the underlying causes. By repairing the thyroid, addressing immune system dysfunction, and rebalancing the entire body, functional medicine practitioners at Novis Health strive to solve the thyroid problem once and for all.

The Underlying Causes of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is usually associated with autoimmune diseases, noncancerous tumors, and thyroid inflammation, but functional medicine practitioners go deeper to figure out the true root of the issue. The most common underlying causes of hypothyroidism include:

  • Autoimmune dysfunction 
  • Standard hypothyroidism treatment methods
  • Radiation
  • Surgery on the thyroid
  • Some pharmaceuticals

Functional medicine practitioners will devise a treatment plan for each patient based on their individual underlying causes and conditions.

Healing Hypothyroidism For Good

Hypothyroidism can be treated or reversed by addressing its underlying causes or conditions through diet and lifestyle changes and targeted supplementation, medication, and additional testing in some cases.

Stop Consuming Gluten

Since gluten is a particularly inflammatory food, most functional medicine practitioners will begin treatment by suggesting that the patient stop consuming gluten. While this is a great starting point, many doctors will go one step further and suggest that the patient also avoid foods that are high in lectins, which destroy the lining of the gut. Avoiding gluten is a simple, yet effective way to kick off the healing process and start feeling better sooner.

Heal the Gut Microbiota

The gut microbiota has a significant influence over how the immune system and thyroid function. To maintain balance in the body, healing the gut microbiota should be at the top of the priority list. Thyroid conditions such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease are closely linked to gut dysbiosis. When the homeostasis of the gut is disrupted, the body cannot absorb key thyroid-supporting nutrients like zinc, selenium, iodine, and iron.

Test and Detoxify From Heavy Metal Exposure

From canned tuna and amalgam dental fillings to personal care and makeup products, we are exposed to significant amounts of heavy metals on a daily basis. While our bodies are equipped to process and eliminate small quantities of heavy metals, our modern lives expose us to more than our bodies can effectively break down and discard. High concentrations of heavy metals stored in the body affect the health and function of the thyroid and contribute to numerous health issues.

Treat Underlying Infections

Undetected viruses such as the Epstein Barr virus and the herpes simplex virus could be root causes of hypothyroidism. Treating underlying infections using diet and lifestyle changes and medications or supplements tailored to your body may help in treating, or even reversing, hypothyroidism.

Support the Immune System 

Vitamin D, glutathione, and omega-3s are essential supplements that provide immune system support to help the body return to a state of homeostasis. This step is particularly helpful for patients whose hypothyroidism is caused by an immune system attack on the thyroid. This ongoing attack begins to impact the production of thyroid hormones, eventually leading to hypothyroidism.

In addition to supplementation, supporting gut health is another key step in supporting the immune system. The gut contains billions of good bacteria that help to regulate the immune system. Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt are great sources of these good bacteria that can replenish the supply of good gut bacteria and enhance the function of the immune system.

Eat More Fiber

Glucomannan, a water-soluble fiber that helps balance T3 and T4 levels, can be found in many high-quality fiber supplements. In addition to regulating thyroid hormones, glucomannan can also help the body eliminate toxins in a safe and effective manner.

The ultimate way to treat hypothyroidism is to identify and treat the root causes instead of using standard treatment methods that only address isolated symptoms. If you are frustrated with conventional hypothyroidism treatments and are looking to treat your condition once and for all, functional medicine may be able to help. 

Consult Novis Health in Phoenix if you suspect that your health issues are caused by an underperforming thyroid, or if you’re ready to get to the root of your hypothyroidism and treat it once and for all.

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