The Thyroid Foundation of Canada estimates 30 percent of Canadians have a thyroid condition.
They suspect only 50 percent are diagnosed.
Most are women. Alberta, along with Ontario, Newfoundland and New Brunswick has the highest rates of thyroid cancer in Canada.
The thyroid gland is intimately involved in all the rhythms of life.
It metabolise energy levels in every cell in the body. This is why a thyroid disorder often gives rise to restlessness and anxiety or a chronic fatigue manifesting like depression.
The most common thyroid disease is hypothyroidism: a low functioning thyroid.
Reviewing symptoms of hypothyroid one sees it affects every part of the body. These include, dry skin, muscle cramps, fatigue, low sex drive, poor memory, constipation, cold intolerance and several others.
Hyperthyroid, an overactive thyroid, pushes the body giving rise to: chronic hunger and weight loss, loose stools, anxiety, heart palpations, insomnia, heat intolerance and moist skin to name a few.
Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are not really diseases; they are manifestation of other processes in the body affecting the function of the thyroid.
For example: Grave’s Disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Grave’s disease is considered an auto-immune condition. The current belief is that the body creates an anti-gen which triggers the thyroid glands to secret its hormones stimulating the body’s metabolism. This results in the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
In terms of hypothyroidism, it is frequently seen in conjunction with breast cancer.
The functioning of the thyroid is closely linked with estrogens/progesterone cycles in women. (This may be why women are more likely to suffer with a thyroid disorder.) Estrogens block thyroid functioning. This is a natural part of every woman’s cycle. But when a condition such a breast cancer creates an excess of estrogens in the body, the thyroid slows down giving rise to the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Thyroid disease, in whatever form it takes, is on the rise. There are several suggested causes.
1. Fluorination of drinking water. Fluoride will fill the receptor sites on the thyroid gland that receive iodine. This blocks iodine from entering the thyroid. Iodine is essential for making thyroid hormone. No iodine, no thyroid hormones.
2. Over consumption of soy products. Soy is one of the most processed foods consumed. Soy contains plant chemicals which have a weak estrogenic effect on the body.
It is well known Asian women who eat soy daily have few challenges with menopause. However, one has to review the preparation of the soy. In Asian, soy is eaten as whole food.
In North America it is in almost every processed food. But before making into food, it is pressed and processed for its oil. I personally have seen a hypothyroid perk up when excess soy has been removed from the diet.
3. Radiation follows iodine into the thyroid. Radiation accumulates in the body over time. Frequent flying, x-rays, cat scans, mammograms, microwaves, cell phones next to the bed etc. can all contribute to radiation exposure. I am not saying do not do these things. Remember, radiation is cumulative over time.
4. And the usual suspects, pesticide, synthetic hormones, Teflon and no iodine or too much.
How to take care of the thyroid?
Take kelp from the North Atlantic: either Icelandic or Norwegian. Seaweed contains potassium iodine which protects the thyroid from radiation and supplies it with nutrients. High in minerals, kelp deeply nourishes the body.
Black walnut husks (Juglans nigra) are also high in iodine. It is an effective cleansing herb with a mild laxative effect. These properties are useful for those suffering with hypothyroidism.
Foods high in pectin, apples, oranges, pears, green beans, to name a few, stop toxins to the thyroid from being absorb in the gut. Eat an apple a day to keep the doctor away.
Both motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) and bugleweed (Lycopus virginicus) will quiet down an over active thyroid.
Cleansing is important in caring for the thyroid. Not necessarily aggressive classes but gentle cleansing teas of nettle (Urtica dioica) or parsley (Petroselium crispus). Again both these herbs are high in minerals.
If the thyroid is slow do to a hormonal imbalance, then that imbalance needs to be address, and that is another column.