The thyroid is the largest gland and produces hormones that influence almost every function of the body, including: digestion, metabolism, reproduction and brain function. Two of the hormones produced by the thyroid are triiyodothyronine (T4) and thyroxine (T3). Hypothyroidism is the disease condition where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of those hormones.
There is no real natural cure for hypothyroidism, but there are things you can do to boost thyroid function if the thyroid is still producing some hormones. However, once hormone production has stopped, the only treatment is to take supplemental thyroid hormones. The hormones don't cure hypothyroidism, just relieve the symptoms. If you stop taking the hormones, the symptoms of hypothyroidism will quickly return.
Synthetic Hormone Replacements
Modern medicine and the pharmaceutical companies have come up with several drugs that contain synthetic versions of these hormones. The drug most often prescribed for the treatment of hypothyroidism is Levothyroxine, also known by the generic names: Levothroid, Synthroid, Levoxyl, Tirosint and Unithroid. Some versions of Levothyroxine contain only the synthetic T4 hormone, while others also contain a synthetic T3.
Natural Hormone Replacement
Before the introduction of synthetic thyroid drugs, and occasionally still today, hypothyroidism was treated with desiccated thyroid, under the names of Armour (US) and Westhroid (Canada). Desiccated thyroid is actually dehydrated, powdered and processed beef, pig or sheep thyroid gland. Being made from real thyroid material, it contains proper amounts of T3 and T4.
Many who have switched from synthetic thyroid to natural thyroid hormone replacement have reported that hypothyroid symptoms that were still present while taking the synthetic hormone totally disappeared. The main complaint heard from those who are now taking Armour, Westhroid or some other type of desiccated thyroid is the difficulty in finding a physician who will prescribe the natural hormone replacement instead of the synthetic.
Foods for Hypothyroidism
Foods rich in the amino acid Tyrosine are extremely beneficial as it joins with iodine in the thyroid to produce the hormone thyroxine. These foods are almonds, bananas, lima beans and avocado, yogurt and lowfat milk. Eat selenium-rich foods like brazil nuts, cooked broccoli, garlic, brewer’s yeast, onion and black strap molasses. Make sure you eat those foods rich in both Tyrosine and Selenium, like meat, poultry, and seafood such as tuna and salmon.
Foods to Avoid for Thyroid Health
There are certain foods that can actually inhibit the thyroid gland’s hormone production. Raw broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables such as rutabagas and turnips should be avoided, especially if you have untreated hypothyroidism with strong symptoms. Soy has been linked to contributing to hypothyroidism, so you would be advised to avoid ingesting tofu and other unfermented soy products. Since, soy and soy products are found in many processed foods, you would do well to check labels before eating such foods.
Vitamins and Minerals for Hypothyroidism
Vitamin B complex supplements help to balance thyroid function. Vitamin C and calcium are also known to benefit the thyroid. Vitamins E and A have been known to help. Vitamin B12 is often low in hypothyroidism and should be supplemented. Iron, magnesium and iodine are often taken supplementally to benefit thyroid function and the way the body uses thyroid hormones.