The thyroid gland is a key player in your endocrine (hormone) system. It is located just below your Adam’s Apple at the front of your neck. From here it sends out hormones that control your metabolism and regulate your body temperature. Unfortunately, this gland is also very susceptible to toxins and is frequently found to be underactive.
Hypothyroidism is the term for an underactive thyroid gland. The symptoms that alert your doctor to this condition include but are not limited to; fatigue, weight gain, dry skin, thinning eyebrows, premature aging, headaches, constipation, low immune system, depression, hair loss, brittle nails, decreased sex drive, joint/muscle pain, intolerance to cold, endometriosis, menstrual disorders, nervousness, arthritis, infertility, repeated infections, and nutritional imbalances.
Since every cell in your body uses thyroid hormone, symptoms can manifest almost anywhere and a lot of doctors can miss the foundational diagnosis for a more limited one. Lab testing is the key component to making the diagnosis of hypothyroidism and due to standardized lab ranges a lot of people get missed and go undertreated.
Fortunately, the treatment for hypothyroidism is quite simple. One can take either a natural or synthetic thyroid hormone to replace the hormone that is missing. In addition to this there are many things that can be evaluated in order to figure out the root cause of the underactive thyroid. One of the main culprits is environmental toxins like pesticides, synthetic chemicals and pollutants in our food, water and air. All of these play a role in disrupting the thyroid gland and leaving people without the necessary hormones to function optimally.
When evaluating a patient for these ubiquitous toxins I usually begin by looking in their mouth. Mercury toxicity is a large factor in thyroid illness and silver amalgam fillings, used for dental cavities, contain about 50% mercury. If the patient doesn’t have any silver fillings I make sure to ask if they ever had them or if they know if their mother had them when she was pregnant, since mercury can easily cross over the placenta. Beyond dentistry, mercury is also found throughout our environment and we see it appear in people who currently eat or have eaten in the past a lot of fish or sushi, especially tuna fish.
My next step is to continue evaluating a patient’s diet. Toxic pesticides are in our food and water so I recommend people begin to buy organic when possible and use the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen to help guide shopping. By eliminating some of the toxins you put into your body you allow for healing to begin. Water is also very contaminated so using a filtration system at home is a good place to start. A lot of people depend on bottled water, but this is usually bottled into cheap plastic that can leak chemicals if it ever gets warm. Since most water is not shipped cold this is another big source of hormone disruption for people. I suggest buying a glass water bottle and filling it from your filtered water at home. This is yet another way you can begin to rid your body of excess toxins and allow more energy to go towards healing.
Other sources of toxic chemicals come from products that we use on our bodies and in our homes. The easiest way to minimize these is to read labels and get educated on alternative options that do the same thing, but are not toxic. Some examples are lead that is found in lipstick or phthalates found in hair dyes and perfume. In our homes, we are exposed to cleaning products that are full of unwanted chemicals or to off gassing that comes from new carpet, furniture and paints. These things all add up and can begin to show up in your waning health.
My best advice for people is to always be curious when new symptoms arise and find a doctor that is willing to dig deep into why you are experiencing these new symptoms. There is usually a cause and when discovered health can be recovered and you can continue to thrive instead of just survive.
Dr. Sara Whitney
The Roxbury Institute
Beverly Hills, CA
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