Almost 5% of people 12 years and older have an underactive thyroid in the United States, and many of them have “subclinical hypothyroidism,” which means doctors are likely to either miss it or not suggest treatment. Your thyroid controls a surprising number of processes in your body and even mild hypothyroidism can have an impact on your weight, your energy levels, and even your sensitivity to temperature.
At Family Acupuncture and Wellness, Adam Learner, LAc, and the rest of our staff understand how important your hormones, including your thyroid hormones, can be when it comes to your weight, mood, and achieving optimal overall health. We can help you reach a balanced hormonal state, which in turn, can help make your efforts to exercise enough and to eat a nutritious diet more effective.
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the base of your throat. Your pituitary gland produces a hormone called thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), telling your thyroid when to produce two hormones called T3 and T4. Between them, T3 and T4 are involved in processes in nearly every part of your body.
Your thyroid hormones control parts of your sleep cycle, digestion, metabolism, hair growth, heart rate, temperature, and more. When you have too little (hypothyroidism) or too much (hyperthyroidism) of the thyroid hormones, you’re likely to notice symptoms. In many cases, people may have just a little too little or too much thyroid hormone, yet still feel symptomatic.
More people have too little thyroid hormone than too much. Hypothyroidism can lead to a reduced basal metabolic rate, which may lead to weight gain. When your metabolism is slow, your body isn’t using energy in an efficient way, so even if you’re eating an appropriate number of calories and exercising regularly, you may not lose weight.
Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include feeling cold, even when others don’t, hair loss, dry skin, and feeling tired. Even if your thyroid levels are slightly out of balance, you may feel uncomfortable symptoms.
The functional medicine approach
For people with subclinical hypothyroidism especially, a functional medicine approach to balancing your thyroid hormones can be extremely effective in resolving your symptoms. That’s because functional medicine seeks to address the underlying cause of your issues rather than treating the symptoms that are a result of that underlying cause.
Some factors that can affect your thyroid include endocrine disruptors, stress, and chronic inflammation. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can interfere with how your thyroid functions. Some of them are in foods, packaging, and environmental pollutants.
If you’re constantly under stress, it has real impacts on your health. In addition to raising your risk of cardiovascular disease, it has been associated with hypothyroidism. Chronic inflammation, too, is associated with low thyroid function, although researchers haven’t yet identified exactly how these conditions and hypothyroidism are related.
However, eliminating endocrine disruptors when possible, lowering your overall stress levels, and eating an anti-inflammatory diet are all ways to bring your thyroid hormones back into balance. We can help you understand what to look for as you avoid endocrine disruptors, offer insights regarding how to lower your stress, and help you develop a diet that reduces inflammation.
If you have symptoms of hypothyroidism, schedule an appointment at Family Acupuncture and Wellness. We can arrange blood tests to measure your hormone levels, and advise you based on the results.