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Thyroid – the funny little butterfly in your throat.

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One of the most common hormonal deficiencies, especially for women, is a low thyroid function.

This is also known as hypothyroidism and its classic symptom is a goiter ( that’s a swelling of the thyroid gland.)

The thyroid gland is our body’s internal thermostat and it regulates our temperature as well as supervising our metabolism.

What is a thyroid gland?

Our thyroid gland is a small butterfly shaped gland that sits at the front of the neck under the skin and muscle layers – just below the Adams apple. It secretes thyroid hormones which influences our metabolism and protein synthesis.

The thyroid is part of the endrocrine chain that includes adrenals, pituitary, pancreas and ovaries/testes. These glands are closely connected and when something affects one gland, it will impact on all the others. That is why it is not uncommon for the thyroid to be affected after a period of stress and an increased production of the stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol.

Because the thyroid is so sensitive, it has the potential to swing from underactive to overactive.

Classic symptoms of hypothyroidism, or swelling of the thyroid gland –

It can appear as a bulge or lump in the neck, puffy face and lips, difficulty losing weight, weight gain, fatigue, constipation, poor concentration, dry skin, thinning hair, cold hands and feet, depressed mood, hoarse voice, poor concentration and decreased libido.

Ten major causes:

  1. Past exposure to chemicals and pesticides
  2. Inadequate dietary intake of iodine. When iodine is not in the diet the thyroid cannot make thyroid hormones.
  3. Hashimotos thyroiditis ( a common form of hypothyroidism) is an auto immune condition and appears to be triggered by a stressful or traumatic event of infection.
  4. Childbirth is a common time for hypothyroidism to appear because of an unborn babies extra requirement for iodine and the extra stress this places on the mothers’ body.
  5. Some medications including lithium can interact with iodine levels in the body.
  6. Radiation exposure.
  7. Chronic infection or inflammation.
  8. Stress – All endrocrine glands are interconnected. Increased cortisol levels (the adrenal stress hormone) may lower thyroid hormone function.
  9. Excessive caffeine consumption (coffee, tea, energy drinks and some soft drinks) will trigger an increase in adrenaline.
  10. Gluten in wheat breads may inflame symptoms as there is evidence of a connection between gluten intolerance and thyroiditis.

HERBAL TEAS AND DIETARY RECOMMENDATIONS

Some of the herbal tea blends from the Herbal Teas Australia range that can be helpful include:

FATIGUE tea – this tea contains Withania (Ashwaganda) that helps to calm down the adrenal glands

TULSI LICORICE tea – Tulsi is an adaptogen (anti-stress herb) and licorice root is an excellent tonic for the adrenal glands

SPEARMINT & LICORICE ROOT tea – Spearmint is ideal for digestion and licorice root soothes the adrenal glands.

(If you are taking Blood Pressure medications, alternative teas are:

STRESS HEAD tea – with Withania (Ashwaganda) and Hawthorn leaf to help calm the body and adrenal glands

BLOOD BALANCE tea – Hibiscus flowers and Hawthorn leaf help to regulate the circulatory system and nourish the glandular system

RESTLESS LEGS tea – the Oatstraw in this tea can help calm the nervous system and soothe the adrenal glands.

(When you click on these teas in the website Shop, you can read a description of the tea, the list of ingredients and view a 30 second video clip discussing the tea.)

Whether you want to prevent a thyroid issue or you are dealing with one, ensure your diet is high in iodine which includes seaweed, egg yolk, iodised salt (preferably Himalayan salt) and quality marine fish. Avoid gluten ie wheat breads as these may inflame the symptoms.

Goitrogens (named after the symptom goiter) are substances that prevent iodine from being utilized by the thyroid gland. Goitrogens are found in the Brassica foods including broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, cauliflower and turnips. They are also found in cassava root, peanuts, pine nuts and millet. Goitrogens are only active in foods eaten uncooked or raw as cooking inactivates Goitrogens.

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