Weight gain, fatigue, and brain fog? It could be thyroid imbalance, although there are a number of causes for these symptoms!  Below you’ll find out how the thyroid works, the key signs and symptoms of  thyroid imbalance, and the need for further investigation to find the root cause of your symptoms.

The thyroid gland is an endocrine organ located within the neck, it lies just below your voice box and is shaped like a butterfly.   It is responsible for many physiological functions including growth, development, metabolism, and energy production. It influences every tissue and organ system in the body and when there is a thyroid imbalance it can cause body-wide symptoms.

The entire endocrine system is an intricate communication system for the body.  The hormones act as messengers to and from specific tissues, to relay updates on the state of the environment throughout the body.  The endocrine system is composed of the pineal, hypothalamus, pituitary, thymus, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, pancreas, and gonads (ovary, testes).

Thyroid imbalance  

The thyroid gland is just one piece of this whole system that is constantly in communication with every other part.  Specifically, we think of the thyroid as being closely tied to the adrenal glands and gonads. These three make up a balanced triangle, and when any one of them is not optimally functioning it can tug on the others to pick up the slack.  This makes it more difficult at times to tease out which organ is really at the root of the problem. The thyroid is commonly the culprit for a number of symptoms, but it is not always found to be guilty.

How the Thyroid works:

As stated above, the thyroid gland controls body wide metabolism.  It produces three thyroid hormones:

  • Diiodothyronine (T2)
  • Triiodothyronine (T3)
  • Thyroxine (T4)

The thyroid gland produces mostly T4, which is then converted to T3 in the liver and peripheral tissues.  T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone, that signals your cells DNA to activate specific genes.  T2 is not well understood in its action.   

Symptoms that may indicate thyroid imbalance:

Because all hormones communicate with one another and the thyroid hormone acts on all body tissues, we can see body wide symptoms.

Fatigue, lack of energyAnxiety
Depression, low mood, lack of motivationPalpitations
Weight Gain or difficulty losing weightRestlessness
Hair LossIrritability
Dry SkinInsomnia
Brittle NailsWeight loss
ConstipationIncreased sweating
Low basal body temperatureTrembling
Intolerance to cold temperatureIntolerance to warm temperature
Brain FogExopthalmos – protruding eyes

Labs to look at when considering thyroid imbalance:

Your doctor will likely want to check your thyroid hormone levels if you are experiencing a number of the signs and symptoms related to thyroid imbalance. The most common tests include:

  • TSH: Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, produced by the pituitary gland, tells the thyroid to make and secrete more hormone.
    • High level: indicates under active thyroid
    • Low level: indicates overactive thyroid
      • High or low levels of TSH can also indicate an issue higher up in the pituitary or the hypothalamus.
  • Free T3: Active form of thyroid hormone.
  • Free T4: Inactive form of thyroid hormone.
    • Free hormone levels indicates the amount of hormone available for action in the tissues.  Whereas total T3 or T4 indicates the amount of hormone that is free (active) plus the amount that is bound up by proteins (not active).
    • Comparison of FT3 and FT4 is important to get a sense of where there may be an issue – be it low levels of production, low conversion rate from T4 to T3, etc.
  • Thyroid Antibodies: Presence of antibodies indicates that there is an autoimmune process happening.

Treatment of thyroid imbalance:

Treatment is highly dependent on the signs and symptoms, lab values, and further work up of other potential endocrine issues.  Your Naturopathic Doctor will best be able to evaluate your whole picture to address the root cause of your thyroid imbalance.  Every case is different and the individualized approach is imperative to healing.

We use many tools to rebalance the endocrine system including nutrition, herbs, homeopathy, natural supplements, vitamins and minerals.

If you experience thyroid imbalance or any other endocrine dysfunction, come see us at Richmond Natural Medicine and we will offer natural solutions that support you and your body to regain balance.  You can book an appointment by calling (804) 977-2634.

Meet Our Practitioners that work with Thyroid Imbalance

Lindsay Kluge M.Sc, CNS, LDN

Lindsay Kluge, CNS, LDN, M.Sc

Clinical Herbalist and Licensed Nutritionist

Areas of concentration: Digestive Health, Sleep Physiology, Circadian Sleep Rhythm Imbalance, Dermatology, Women’s Health, Food Intolerances

Lindsay Kluge is a Clinical Herbalist & Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist and received her Masters of Science degree in Herbal Medicine from the Maryland University of Integrative Health in 2012. She has been with Richmond Natural Medicine since 2013, and specializes in therapeutic holistic nutrition, circadian rhythm balance and sleep physiology, digestion, and Ayurvedic nutrition. She offers individualized nutrition and herbal medicine consultations that include meal planning support, custom compounded herbal formulas, nutrition guidance and general wellness support.  Learn more about services that Lindsay offers at Richmond Natural Medicine by clicking HERE.

Dr. Leah Hollon ND MPH

Leah Hollon, ND, MPH

Naturopathic Doctor & Co-owner of RNM

Areas of concentration: Autoimmune, Neurology, Naturopathic Cancer Support, MTHFR Gene Mutation & Hormones

Richmond Native and Naturopathic Dr. Leah Hollon is the Co-Owner of Richmond Natural Medicine. She received her B.S. and MPH from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a graduate of National College of Natural Medicine where she received her Naturopathic Medical Degree. Her areas of focus include Autoimmune, Hormones, MTHFR Gene Mutation and Naturopathic Cancer Support. Please check our Book An Appointment for more information about booking an appointment.


Taylor Pagano, ND

Naturopathic Doctor

Areas of concentration: General Wellness, Gastrointestinal concerns, and Women’s Medicine

Dr. Taylor Pagano is a Naturopathic Doctor at Richmond Natural Medicine where she enjoys helping people in the areas of general wellness, gastrointestinal concerns, neurology, dermatology, Thyroid imbalances and women’s medicine including fertility. She received her naturopathic medical degree at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona.  To book a Naturopathic appointment with Dr. Taylor Pagano, contact our office at (804) 476-2113.

Dr Mandy Reckers ND

Mandy Reckers, ND

Naturopathic Doctor

Areas of concentration: Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Autoimmune, & Women’s Health

Dr. Mandy Reckers is a Naturopathic Doctor at Richmond Natural Medicine where she enjoys helping people in the areas of Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Autoimmunity, & Women’s Health.  She received her Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon, the oldest accredited naturopathic medical university in North America.  She has been helping to heal patients in the Richmond area since 2010, and at Richmond Natural Medicine since 2013.  Click HERE to learn more about Dr. Reckers.

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