With symptoms like fatigue, depression, and weight gain, hypothyroidism is often misdiagnosed. It occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough metabolism-regulating hormones, a condition that can also cause hair loss, a puffy face, and heavy periods, says Christine Darwin, M.D., an endocrinologist at UCLA Medical Center. Left untreated, it can lead to heart disease or infertility. If you have three or more symptoms, tell your doctor and ask for a blood test.
Hypothyroidism is often irreversible and requires hormone medication for life. Natural health advocates including Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., author of From Fatigued to Fantastic! (Avery, 2007), suggest natural (as opposed to synthetic) hormones such as Armour Thyroid, which contains the thyroid hormones T4 and T3. (Most synthetics contain only T4, which the body has to convert to T3—and some bodies are better at converting than others.)
Mary Shomon, author of Living Well with Hypothyroidism (Collins, 2005), suggests these additional steps:
- Take a multivitamin. We suggest Thyro-Max Support by Country Life, which includes B complex for energy metabolism, as well as zinc, selenium, and tyrosine.
- Try a mixed fatty acid supplement. A good one is Udo’s Oil 3•6•9 Blend by Udo’s Choice to treat dry skin, hair, or eyes.
- Change your diet. Cut down on sugar and white flour, and eat lots of vegetables, olive and fish oils, and low-fat protein.
- Avoid raw cruciferous vegetables. Broccoli, cabbage, or cauliflower and concentrated soy shakes and supplements can disrupt thyroid function.
- Boost your metabolism. Try resistance exercise such as weightlifting or Pilates.
- Get adequate sleep. Aim for seven to nine hours. Also, try yoga, meditation, or deep breathing to reduce stress.