The thyroid is an endocrine gland in the neck, consisting of two lobes connected by an isthmus. It is found at the front of the neck, below the Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland secretes thyroid hormones, which primarily influence the metabolic rate and protein synthesis. The hormones also have many other effects including development. The thyroid hormones triiodothyronine and thyroxine are created from iodine and tyrosine. The thyroid also produces the hormone calcitonin, which plays a role in calcium homeostasis.  There has been a startling increase in the prevalence of thyroid illness in western countries and the cause is poorly understood and often poorly managed.  Nutritional deficiencies, chemical & nutrient toxicities and inflammation may be a contributor. According to Dr Norman Wong, MD of the University of Calgary, residents of Alberta have double the rate of thyroid disease compared to those in Ontario.

There are many symptoms caused by a poorly functioning thyroid. These include:

  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Hair loss
  • Cold intolerance
  • Depressed mood
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle pain, weakness and wasting
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Joint pain
  • Dry skin

Conventional treatments often lack the desired improvements, and this is frustrating to individuals who are making an effort to eat well, exercise and manage stress; without experiencing the benefits of these healthy habits. It is most common to manage hypothyroidism by monitoring TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), with little regard to the active forms of circulating thyroid hormones. This seems dismissive of the importance of feeling well to each patient. They are seeking help because they don’t feel fantastic, only to be told they are “normal”. This can be distressing and humiliating for one’s health concerns to be dismissed. More thorough evaluation is available and is often very helpful in finding that state of good health we all deserve. Dr Joe Klassen, ND takes patient’s concerns very seriously and does his level best to respect your goals and concerns. He feels that a full thyroid panel (TSH, free T4, free T3 and thyroid antibodies) is a better starting point in evaluating thyroid function. This allows us to see if there is a discrepancy between these values that might indicate an excellent therapeutic target; creating a plan tailored to the individual patient.

Another perspective on evaluation is to use a nutritional/toxicity approach. Iodine and selenium are key nutrients for thyroid function. Iodine is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones. These hormones are named T3 and T4 because they contain 3 or 4 iodine atoms respectively. T4 is the main hormone produced by the thyroid gland, and it is less potent than T3. T3 can be created by the removal of an iodine from a T4 in peripheral tissues, increasing the metabolism where increased energy is needed. Selenium is a required cofactor in this conversion and if it is not present, this conversion is impaired. This creates a functional state of hypothyroidism. This may occur even when an “normal” TSH is present.  Contact us to book your initial assessment and get on the road to feeling energetic and healthy.

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