Natural Ways to Treat a Sluggish Thyroid
By Dr. Taz Bhatia
Excess weight? Tired all day? Depressed? You might have a sluggish thyroid. To talk about hypothyroidism and your thyroid, it’s important to also understand your adrenals. When one is out of balance, often, so is the other.
Your thyroid and adrenal glands are organs that are responsible for production and release of hormones and are involved in regulating your weight, metabolism, energy levels, and even fertility. They tell your body what to do, how to work, and how to grow.
Your thyroid, which sits at the base of your neck, produces the hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). In addition to the functions just mentioned, these hormones also affect your hair, mood, and many other hormones (especially those from your adrenals). Having a depleted or underworking thyroid contributes to infertility, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), depression and anxiety.
Your adrenal glands—you have two, one on top of each of your kidneys—produce the stress hormones adrenaline (also called epinephrine and norepinephrine) and cortisol. Besides working to regulate and control weight imbalances and fertility, these hormones also affect your levels of chronic stress, fatigue, anxiety and infertility.
There is a subtle dance in the hormone world between the adrenal glands, which secrete cortisol in response to stress, and the thyroid hormones—the harder the demands on one gland, the more the other gland is taxed. When your adrenals and thyroid aren’t working correctly, it affects the other hormones in your body as well. I often see issues with estrogen and progesterone levels in women who have hypothyroidism, and long-term stress on the gut triggers inflammation, which can also disrupt many hormones, but the thyroid most of all. When the gut takes a hit from the adrenals due to excess stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, and so on, it disrupts the thyroid. It’s all linked. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to help your body get back into balance.
Nutrients That Support Thyroid Function
So, how should you start? Thankfully, many of the remedies that will help your thyroid have a cascading effect that will help the rest of your body get back to balance. Read on for the four key nutrients your body needs for optimal thyroid function.
1. Get Some Iron
At least two times per week, eat iron-rich foods such as grass-fed beef or lamb. Four ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards, twice weekly, is plenty to get your quota of iron. If you don’t do well with red meat, or you find that you’re falling short, add 15 milligrams of elemental iron daily. Chelated forms of iron seem to work the best and are easier on the digestive system. I see this make a marked difference in patients with sluggish thyroid!
2. Boost Selenium
3. Eat Your Iodine
So many patients of mine forget that iodine is necessary. Use iodized or pink Himalayan salt in your recipes, or add seaweed such as nori or kelp three times a week. Iodine is an element that is needed for the production of your thyroid hormones.
4. Bulk up on Magnesium
I can’t say enough about the importance of this super micronutrient. Magnesium is a key cofactor in hormone regulation and the neurotransmitters. It also promotes sleep and eases anxiety and if you have a sluggish thyroid, you definitely need to ensure you’re getting the right amount of this nutrient. Magnesium-rich foods include dark leafy greens, or you can add 200 to 400 milligrams of magnesium nightly.