Thyroid Disorders Treatment Center in NYC
At Fratellone Medical Associates, we extensively check and diagnose whether your thyroid gland is overactive or under active. An overactive thyroid predisposes you to arrhythmias (irregular heart beat), whereas an under active thyroid predisposes you to weight gain as well as difficulty in losing weight or a slow process in doing so. An under active thyroid is also linked to high cholesterol, depression and low body temperature. In addition to conventional blood tests for thyroid function, we use symptoms such as thinning hair, constipation and cold hands and feet as well as body temperature to diagnose a low thyroid condition. We treat an under active thyroid with natural thyroid hormone. The thyroid gland regulates the energy in our cells.
To understand thyroid function, you must understand a cascade of thyroid effects. The hypothalamus (in the brain) secretes TRH (thyroid releasing hormone), which stimulates the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) from the anterior pituitary (another part of the brain). The TSH directly affects the thyroid gland, which is situated in your neck to release the two thyroid hormones, T3 and T4.
The description above is of hypothyroidism, a low or under active metabolic state. There are three different types of hypothyroidism:
- Primary Hypothyroidism – the thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) are lowered and the TSH is elevated; defective thyroid synthesis
- Secondary Hypothyroidism – the thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) and TSH are low; indicates the pituitary gland is responsible
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – an autoimmune condition in which antibodies are formed that bind to the thyroid gland, preventing adequate release of the hormone. These antibodies are either thyroglobulin or thyroid peroxidase (TPO). These auto-antibodies may also bind to other organs including the pancreas and adrenal gland. The labs might look like this: low or high T3 and T4 (or a mixture) and a low or high TSH (the TSH is usually low).
The autoimmune thyroid disease, thyroiditis or Hashimoto’s is linked to gluten sensitivity. The protein portion of gluten (gliadin) closely resembles the structure of the thyroid. When gliadin protein leaves the gut and enters the bloodstream, it is then recognized as a foreign protein that stimulates antibodies. These antibodies tag the gliadin and, at the same time, attack the thyroid, thus making thyroid antibodies, TPO and thyroglobulin. The thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO) are more significant in Hashimoto’s. One must eliminate glutein ( barley, rye, oats and wheat) from the diet. Healing the intestinal lining of the small intestines is critical to feeling better.
The allopathic treatment for hypothyroidism is to supplement both the T3 or T4. This can be accomplished synthetically with levothyroxine (synthroid) for T4 and liothyronine (cytomel) for T3. This can also be done with glandular thyroid hormones–nature thyroid for T4 and west thyroid or armour thyroid for T3. Some would consider this thyroid replacement to be alternative. However, the glandular thyroids are available and can be found in the Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR).
The dietary treatment for an under active thyroid varies from individual to individual. The most effective way to increase thyroid function is to ingest seaweeds, which are rich in iodine. As Americans, we are iodine deficient. Different species of kelp and large brown seaweeds vary in iodine content so the easiest way to get iodine is to first ingest kelp tablets. Tyrosine can also support the thyroid. Foods that contain tyrosine (goitrogens) are mustard greens, soybeans, watercress, squash, pumpkin seeds and cabbage. A negative effect is that the goitrogens block iodine, which also supports the thyroid. They are best avoided in the raw form. Exercise can also stimulate the thyroid gland.
Fish oils and flaxseed oil are wonderful supplements to compliment your thyroid gland. Others include B vitamins (especially niacin, riboflavin and B6), selenium and zinc. A good multivitamin tablet, capsule or powder has all the trace minerals included in the product.
It is important to note that many medications can disrupt thyroid function. Some of these are antibiotics, antacids, coumadin and pain medications.
The herbs used are called thyroid stimulating adaptogenic herbs. Three herbs come to mind when supporting the thyroid.
- Ashwaganda (Withania somnifera) – It is also called Indian Ginseng and Winter Cherry. It is a plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family. The flowers are small and green, while the ripe fruit is orange-red and has milk-coagulating properties. The plant also has long brown tuberous roots that are used for medicinal purposes. This herb stands for prolonging life, sexual energy and enhancing vigor. As an adaptogen, it does not follow the rules. Usually most adaptogens are stimulating but ashwaganda is a calming adaptogen. It is used in India for cancer support and immune deficiency. The herb is also used for iron deficiency anemia as it is rich in iron. In regard to thyroid, it modifies the symptoms of low thyroid function, sometimes combined with bladderwrack and coleus. Some companies add holy basil to enhance metabolic function.
- Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) – It is an adaptogen and increases thyroid hormone level and metabolic rate. This herb restores joint mobility and elasticity to the patient with an under active thyroid. It also strengthens nails in the under active patient. There are few studies that indicate that Centella can promote good vascular tone and can reduce hardening of the arteries.
- Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosis) – This herb is used to modify the hypothalamus axis, which means that it will exert its effect on the brain-hypothalamus and pituitary glands.
There is not one herbal formula for everyone because one person might not feel the same effect. For exampnle, a mixture of 100 ml – 120 ml of Gotu kola 30 ml (Centella), Siberian ginseng (Eleuthro) 20 ml, Motherwort (L. cardiaca) 10 ml, Ashwaganda (Withania) 30 ml and possibly Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum) 10 ml will stimulate the thyroid and increase the thyroid levels. All the herbs listed above have adaptogen properties with the exception fo the motherwort. (The motherwort treats palpitations related to the thyroid and is added since this is a “supposed” patient.) The other herbs, in addition to being adaptogens, improve mental clarity. A doctor may tell a patient to take 30-90 mL (1/2 to one full dropper-full) of the mixture two to three times a day. It is important to remember that herbs are drugs. Consult you health care practitioner at all times.
Our approach at Fratellone medical treatment center in New York City is to provide our patients extensive ongoing conventional medical care, while providing the most effective integration with alternative treatments.