Hypothyroidism: How Functional Medicine Can Help, Naturally
When the body is struggling with something, it’s usually pretty good about letting us know. After all, when your body is battling the flu virus, you’ll feel the effects through things like coughing, sneezing, running a fever, aches, chills, and more. But sometimes, your body may not display such obvious signals when something goes wrong. Subtle signs like a lower heart rate or dry skin may not be anything worth worrying over, but they may also signal a widespread issue affecting your whole body. Hypothyroidism is one such issue that can start off with just one or two minor signs. However, it’s an issue that can affect your entire body and, if untreated, cause more widespread complications.
The thyroid is a gland in the neck that secretes hormones that control your metabolism. In a broad sense, the thyroid gland affects growth and development, but it also regulates some very basic and very important body functions, including:
- Body temperature
- Body weight
- Muscle strength
- Cholesterol levels
This isn’t an all-inclusive list, either; the hormones secreted by your thyroid do more than that. The thyroid and the pituitary gland work together to regulate the hormones that control a lot of major body functions that keep our bodies functioning. These two glands are also the reason we don’t need to constantly think about breathing in and out or take steps to keep our hearts pumping.
Hypothyroidism is an underactive or under-producing thyroid. When the thyroid isn’t emitting enough of the necessary hormones, it can have some pretty wide-reaching effects because of how many of those reflexive and uncontrollable functions it effects. Since the thyroid affects so many functions, problems can arise in the guise of many different symptoms.
- Thinning hair
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
- Joint stiffness/pain/swelling
- Slower heart rate
- Puffy face
- Muscle weakness
- Impaired memory
- Muscle aches/stiffness/tenderness
- Sensitivity to cold
- Elevated cholesterol
- Heavier/irregular menstruation
Treatments for Hypothyroidism
With hypothyroidism, you may not experience all of the above symptoms. In fact, your symptoms may start so small they’re not even noticeable. Over time, though, your symptoms may worsen as hormone levels remain below what they should be. A common treatment for hypothyroid is hormone replacement. Your doctor can prescribe a synthetic hormone to bring your body back to the right levels and reverse the symptoms. However, it can take some time to find the correct dosage level. Then, even after your doctor has helped you reach the correct dosage, you’ll still need to get your hormone levels checked regularly since your dosage needs may change. For even more specific help, try bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. The pellet therapy provides specific amounts based on your lab results, so you’ll get doses targeted to your needs — plus, no pills to take every day!
The big downside to thyroid hormone replacement is that it treats the symptoms, but it doesn’t actually reach the root cause. You could end up with hormone replacement medication for the rest of your life, if that’s your course of treatment. Functional medicine seeks to provide an alternative and often natural treatment by first seeking out the root cause, rather than treating the symptoms.
In functional medicine, we seek to treat the body as one complex, interworking system rather than a collection of different systems within the body. In doing this, we can explore how seemingly unconnected issues may, in fact, be impacting other parts of your body. For example, nutritional deficiencies can contribute to hypothyroidism. By adjusting your diet to include the missing or deficient nutrients, you may see an improvement in your hypothyroidism symptoms without hormone replacement.
Functional medicine can offer a range of different testing and treatment options to help get to the root of your hypothyroidism. Your doctor may order blood tests, hormone tests, and food sensitivity testing to get a better idea about what’s going on in your body. We’ll also want to discuss diet, exercise, medications you’re on, and learn more about your life, as those habits can provide helpful information as well. Based on what’s going on in your body, a range of natural treatment options may help your hypothyroidism, including nutritional counseling, hormone replacement, vitamin and supplement replacement, acupuncture, physical therapy and/or chiropractic adjustments, and more.
If you’re ready to see how functional medicine can holistically treat your hypothyroidism or other health concerns, connect with the team here at Senara Health and Healing Center & Spa today. Schedule your consultation at our Peoria location today.