There are many natural treatments for hypothyroidism. Thyroid hormone is made naturally by the body, from tyrosine and iodine. Therefore some doctors support the production of thyroid hormone with these nutrients. If a person has low T3, then natural treatments that enhance the conversion of T4 to T3 may cause them to feel better. Selenium helps to convert T4 to T3.
Nutrients such as L-tyrosine and iodine are important for healthy thyroid hormone levels.
It is very important to find a knowledgeable clinician to help you with natural treatment options for hypothyroidism. Clinical symptoms, not just lab results, are absolutely essential in making a diagnosis. Also, your doctor will use clinical symptoms to determine how much of a treatment is needed, when to decrease or increase your dosages, and when to change treatments altogether. Adrenal fatigue is closely related to hypothyroidism and your doctor should be knowledgeable of this illness as well, so that he/she can address your whole system.
This article discusses natural treatments for hypothyroidism. An earlier article, “Thyroid Function: The Biochemistry Within” explains the basics of hypothyroidism and testing.
Natural Treatments Used for Hypothyroidism
- Thyroid Hormone and Thyroid Glandular Extracts
- Minerals, especially Iodine and Selenium
- Amino Acids, especially L-Tyrosine
- Essential Fatty Acids
- Detoxification Support
Thyroid Hormone and Thyroid Glandular Extracts
The standard treatment for hypothyroidism is Synthroid® or levothyroxin sodium tablets. It is a synthetic version of T4, said to be identical to that made by the human body. When a person has poor conversion of T4 to T3, Synthroid may not effectively resolve her hypothyroid symptoms. Many integrative and functional medical doctors use Armour® thyroid which is a natural, porcine-derived thyroid hormone supplement containing T3 and T4. It is made from thyroid gland. Nature-throid is another option used by integrative and functional medical doctors. It contains both T3 and T4. It is thought to be more recognizable by the body.
Thyroid Nutritional and Glandular Formulas provide hormonal support in the form of extracts from thyroid gland, adrenal gland, spleen, and thymus. They contain iodine, selenium, and L-tyrosine as well as herbs to support under-active and nutritionally deficient thyroid function. This type of formula is appropriate when there is adrenal dysfunction in addition to hypothyroidism. Talk with your doctor to find out if this type of formula is right for you.
Nutritional and Herbal Thyroid Support contain ingredients to promote healthy thyroid hormone (T3) biosynthesis. Minerals such as iodine, zinc, and selenium as well as vitamins A, D3, and E are often included. Herbs such as ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Rosemarinus officinalis, or rosemary, and guggul extract (Commiphora mukul) may aid in the conversion of thyroxine to triiodothyronine (T4 to T3) and may assist in maintaining healthy blood lipid levels.
Iodine helps maintain healthy cellular and complete metabolic function, as well as support thyroid and immune system health. Iodine is used by the thyroid gland in the production of thyroid hormones T3 (thyroxine) and T4 (triiodothyronine). These hormones regulate every cell’s metabolism.
Selenium as selenocysteine has been identified in the active center of type 1 and 3 iodothyronine deiodinases, two important enzymes involved in the formation and degradation of the active thyroid hormone, triiodothyronine (T3). Incomplete conversion of T4 to T3 can lead to hypothyroid symptoms and selenium can help with this conversion. Selenium also protects the thyroid from attacking antibodies. Selenium serves as an antioxidant by activating glutathione peroxidase, an antioxidant enzyme that protects cells from reactive oxygen metabolites by removing the reactants, water, and oxygen.
A broad-spectrum multi-mineral supplement is needed to support overall health and encourage proper thyroid hormone synthesis. Potassium, manganese, copper, zinc, and magnesium are involved in the production of thyroid hormone. Calcium insufficiency may be a problem in thyroid imbalances because thyroid hormone is intimately involved in the regulation of bone and blood calcium levels (via calcitonin).
Vitamins and Amino Acids
Comprehensive vitamin and amino acid supplementation supplies the body with the building blocks needed to manufacture thyroid hormone. Tyrosine is the principal amino acid found in thyroid hormone. Tyrosine supplementation can help build thyroid hormone levels. The thyroid gland uses vitamin B6 and niacin to process thyroid hormone. Vitamins A and E aid in thyroid hormone production.
Essential fatty acids are needed for proper functioning of the thyroid gland and for hormone production. They are necessary for cell-cell communication because fatty acids make up the lipid membranes of all cells in the body. Examples are omega-3 fatty acids such as fish and flax oil, and omega-6 fatty acids such as black currant seed, borage, and evening primrose oils.
The liver is responsible for taking inactive thyroid hormone (T4) and converting it to the active hormone (T3). When a person has poor T3 levels, it may suggest that the liver is unhealthy. Therefore liver support can be used to improve thyroid hormone levels.
A Detoxification Food Supplement can improve thyroid health by helping to detoxify and cleanse toxins, promote gastrointestinal function, and provide a healthy protein source. Ingredients such as taurine, glucoraphanin (broccoli seed extract), and glycine support the body’s natural ability to detoxify and respond to inflammation. They can also increase glutathione peroxidase. L-glutamine, immunoglobulins, and prebiotics (arabinogalactan, inulin, beta-glucans, oat fiber, arabinogalactan, and guar gum) work together to improve overall gastrointestinal health and help clear the body of toxins through the GI tract.
For patients with hypothyroidism, there are many treatment alternatives. Knowledge of thyroid hormone structure and physiology helps integrative medical physicians develop natural, targeted treatments to improve thyroid levels without adverse side effects. A competent doctor must consider your clinical history and lab results when helping you optimize your thyroid levels and get you on the road to recovery. Natural treatments for hypothyroidism include thyroid glandular extracts, L-tyrosine, minerals such as iodine and selenium, vitamins, essential fatty acids, and detoxification support.