THYROID IMBALANCE

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.

HypothyroidHyperthyroid
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
GoiterGoiter


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

Micah Allen ND

Dr. Micah Allen ND, L.Ac

Naturopathic Doctor & Licensed Acupuncturist

Areas of concentration: Fertility Support, Endocrine Support, Pain Management, Women’s Health, Children’s Health

As a young child, I grew up wanting to pursue veterinary medicine. After my first 2 years of undergraduate studies, I wanted to be sure that my lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian was solid. So like my other prior interests, I threw myself into non-animal science curriculum and activities. I began participating in a research project at the Florida A&M University’s School of Pharmacy studying cathepsin D and it’s effect in Alzheimer’s disease. The next summer, I had an opportunity to do rotations with a local gastroenterologist who was also a pharmacist.   Click HERE to learn more about Dr. Micah Allen.

Bridget Casey, ND

Dr. Bridget Casey, ND

Naturopathic Doctor

Areas of concentration: Digestive Health, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Children’s Health, Autoimmune Support, and General Wellness

I became a Naturopathic Doctor in order to help others achieve health in a real way – something I was able to do only after discovering this medicine in my personal health journey. While struggling with my own health issues, I experienced a lack of health-promoting interventions within conventional medicine. Through this, I found my interest in natural health and nutrition grow – to the point where I considered making it a second career.

Dr. Leah Hollon ND MPH

Dr. Leah Hollon, ND, MPH

Naturopathic Doctor & Co-owner of RNM

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

As a young woman, I became very interested and fascinated by the intricacy of the human body and more importantly the interconnection of the mind, body and spirit. This led me to pursue my Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and my Master in Public Health from VCU School of Medicine. But it was during my time as a student researcher at the Massey Cancer Center at VCU Medical Center as well as an employee within the emergency department that I began putting significant things together. As much as I respected medicine, I realized that something was missing. People with chronic illnesses were not really getting better. And little was being done within the general population to truly prevent many diseases. Prevention was often not occurring until there was a diagnosis. My beliefs and concerns about prevention were solidified when my grandfather was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It was a life-altering experience. I began searching for the most optimal healthcare model of prevention and healing. At which point, a MD friend introduced me to naturopathic medicine and immediately I realized that I had found my life passion, it was naturopathic medicine.

taylor_pagano

Dr. Taylor Pagano, ND

Naturopathic Doctor

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

In early adulthood, I discovered the connection between your diet and your health.  Upon being exposed to the truth behind factory farming and the food industry I made a huge lifestyle change.  I did a complete overhaul on my diet and I learned how to eat in a way that would nourish my body, mind and soul. In doing so, I found a new passion for nutrition.  I had dealt with digestive issues and acne through all of my teen years and this change in my diet lead to increased energy, healthier skin, and better digestion.

Dr Mandy Reckers ND

Dr. Mandy Reckers, ND

Naturopathic Doctor

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

It wasn’t until I was in the midst of naturopathic medical school that I realized one of my favorite games as a child was to pretend I was some sort of medicine woman.  I would imagine that there was someone who was very sick and needed my help and proceed to forage in the back yard, filling one of my mom’s old jars with various weeds, sticks, and rocks, topping it all off with water from the hose.  It seemed that it was normal for most of the adults in my life to be in and out of the hospital, taking medications, and never getting better.

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