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Alternative Medicine: Maintaining thyroid health August 9, 2007

Posted by Dreamhealer in Health.
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thyroidThe thyroid is a hormone-secreting gland situated in the front of the neck. Its main function is to regulate metabolism and maintain energy production in every cell of the body. The thyroid gland can malfunction leading to either an overactive (hyperthyroidism) or underactive (hypothyroidism) gland. Historically, iodine deficiency used to be the most common cause of hypothyroidism, but with the addition of iodine to table salt, it is now rare in the United States. Other reasons for thyroid malfunction include a family history, stress, heavy metal toxicity, autoimmune disease and cancer. Common symptoms include fatigue, depression, hair loss, weight gain, dry skin, menstrual problems and constipation.

By contrast, someone with an overactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism, has excessive energy production and may experience excessive sweating, diarrhea, anxiety and a racing or abnormal heart beat.

Ways to keep your thyroid gland healthy include increasing circulation to the area using alternating applications of hot and cold to the neck and ending showers with a cold stimulation to the neck. You also can supplement with the necessary vitamins and minerals for thyroid hormone production such as zinc and selenium. Avoid foods that may inhibit normal thyroid function, such as soy and raw vegetables in the brassica family (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts).

Diagnosing thyroid disease involves a combination of certain symptoms, physical findings and simple blood tests. Contact your physician if you suspect a thyroid problem or would like to discuss additional ways to keep your thyroid gland functioning at an optimal level.

Melissa McCarty, ND, naturopathic physician and a resident, Bastyr Center for Natural Health

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