I’m very tired and weak without my thyroid medicine. Now, I’m concerned about the thyroid shortage and worried that there will not be medication for me. What else can I do?” –M.K., Gainesville, Florida
Answer: There will always be thyroid medication, don’t worry. While this is all getting sorted out by the manufacturers and the FDA, let me assure you that it’s possible to create more thyroid hormone naturally. You can also make your cells more sensitive to circulating thyroid hormone.
The active version of thyroid hormone is called T3 and it makes you feel “awake.” The inactive hormone is called T4. In order for you to feel well, have energy and burn carbs and fat, your body must be able to convert T4 to T3. It’s pretty easy to do. Low thyroid (T3) can cause depression, weight gain, brittle nails, cold sensations and thinning hair.
Low thyroid (T3) will trigger your brain to produce some TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) which shouts at your thyroid gland, “Make more T3, we don’t have enough!” When the gland makes some more T3, the TSH hushes up. It’s a complex feedback loop, but that’s the gist. With that in mind, here’s some more advice that can help you regain healthy thyroid levels:
Iron: You need sufficient levels of iron to make thyroid hormone and to get it into your cells where it works. Women with a heavy monthly flow often run short on iron. You can measure iron stores (called “ferritin”) with a simple blood test.
Trace Minerals: They help you convert T4 to T3 and include zinc, selenium and chromium. These minerals double as antioxidants which means that they do good housekeeping on your cells and protect the thyroid gland from destructive free radicals. It’s an inexpensive fix, take “chelated” minerals or drink green food supplements that contain marine-derived compounds. I use Liqumins Trace Minerals (concentrate) at home and it tastes great in water or juice.
Iodine: Another trace mineral that is absolutely critical in making thyroid hormone and also in protecting against breast cancer. It’s shocking but white bread often contains bromine which can cause iodine deficiency and interferes with thyroid functioning. So iodine is helpful to your thyroid, bromine is not.
Ashwagandha: In animal studies, this herb stimulates more T3 production. Additionally, it nourishes tired, stressed adrenal glands. This causes your stress hormone cortisol to come down, and it may help you lose belly fat. My custom formula, Thyroid Script, contains the world’s best Ashwagandha, by KSM-66.
Guggul: You get a lot of bang for your buck with guggul because it helps you make more T3, it can lower cholesterol/triglycerides and it may relieve joint pain and osteoarthritis.
Insulin: When serum insulin is high, thyroid hormone can’t work well. You can bring insulin levels down by exercising and taking various supplements which I outlined for you in a prior column.
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Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.