Hypothyroidism (also known as myxedema) is a common, but often asymptomatic condition affecting the metabolic processes throughout the body. This condition is far more prevalent in females than males, some reports suggesting as much as 6:1.
Due to the common lack of symptoms associated with early-stage hypothyroidism, diagnosing the condition primarily relies on lab testing. Thyroid function tests look for levels of TSH, T3, and T4. Autoimmune conditions affecting the thyroid like Hashimoto's disease are also common so labs will often test for antiobodies associated with this condition.
Hypothyroidism can cause significant drops in basal metabolic rate (up to 60%) resulting in unexpected weight gain, fatigue, and aversion to cold.
The most common cause for hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis. In this condition, white blood cells invade and attack the thyroid gland, which is one of the most vascular organs in the human body. This leads to a gradual destruction of the thyroid, and an interfereance of thyroid hormone production by antibodies.
+ Primary Hypothyroidism
- Nutritional dysfunciton
- Hashimoto's thyroiditis (autoimmune)
- Postpartum (Transitory)
- Subacute (Transitory)
+ Secondary Hypothyroidism
- Hypothalamus dysfunction
- TRH or TSH deficiency
- Pituitary disorder
Aches and pains
Delayed muscle relaxation
Primary hypothyroidism is demonstrated by an elevation of TSH, and low T4 or T3.
Thyroid Function Testing
|Hyperthyroidism (Primary)||Low||High||High (first)|
|Hyperthyroidism (Secondary)||High||High||High (first)|
|Hypothyroidism (Primary)||High||Low (first)||Low|
|Hypothyroidism (Secondary)||Low||Low (First)||Low|
Normal Thyroid Hormone Ranges
|Free T4||10-25 pmol/L|
1. Hormone Replacement Therapy
Not a herbal approach, but the best treatment currently available. Herbs offer supportive treatment alongside thyroid hormone replacement.
- Iodine-containing herbs (Fucus vesiculosus)
2. Support The Cardiovascular System
Hypothyroidism leads to an increased chance of developing atherosclerosis.
- Cardiovascular tonics (Crataegus spp., Ginkgo biloba, Allium sativum)
3. Symptomatic Relief For Associated Skin Conditions
- Emollients ()
- Circulatory Stimulants ()
4. Symptomatic Relief For Other Negative Side Effects Of Hypothyroidism
- Hepatic Laxitives (Rumex crispus, Juglans cinerea, Rhamnus purshiana, Senna spp.)
5. Treat Autoimmunity (If Applicable)
If Hashimoto's thyroiditis is suspected, address with immunomodulators and immunosuppressants.
- Immunomodulators ()
- Pituitary tumor
Herbs For Hypothyroidism
- Bladder wrack
- Medicago sativa (Alfalfa)
- Chondrus crispus (Irish moss)
- Alaria esculenta (Kelp)
|Herb Name||Ratio||Amount in mL|
|Fucus vesiculosis||1:1||40 mL|
|Coleus forskohlii||1:1||35 mL|
|Withania somnifera||2:1||25 mL|
Other Endocrine Conditions:
The Sunlight Experiment
- Weatherby, D., & Ferguson, S. (2002). Blood Chemistry and CBC Analysis: Clinical Laboratory Testing from a Funtional Perspective. USA: Bear Mountain Publishing
- Melbourne haematology (2013) retrieved from http://www.melbournehaematology.com.au/pdfs/guidelines/melbourne-haematology-guidelines-iron-studies.pdf