Nourishing the Thyroid with Sea VegetablesRichard DeSylva, RH DNM November 2, 2015
WITH IODINE-RICH SEA VEGETABLES
The thyroid is considered by many to be the body’s major powerhouse gland. In this article, we will explore the nature of, and need for, specific nourishment regarding the thyroid. Keeping it healthy is key to its ability to perform its various and vital functions.
Located below the Adam’s apple, and wrapped around the trachea (windpipe), are the two lobes (left and right) of the thyroid gland. I have found over the course of my 37 years of practice that each organ functions as the seat of a particular emotion in the body – with the thyroid being seen as the seat of the emotive force of the will. So when we make a decision to undertake an activity, it is the thyroid that is involved in the carrying out of our ‘intent’ or will and dealing with the attendant emotional components. This intent can be considered as equivalent to a ‘Make It So!’command – a la Captain Picard of Startrek.
In this way, the thyroid sends out its hormonal messengers to the rest of the endocrine system. This in turn gears us up for action, and prepares the body for the demands about to be placed upon it. Modern scientific research has discovered that there are a multitude of receptors for these hormones found in most organs and glands (especially in the thyroid, liver, and spleen), and which are also found right inside the cell wall and the cell itself.
The problem arises in today’s world because our stressful and overworked lifestyles have drained us of our emotional and nervous system reserves. In response to this stress, our innate reserves of iodine – used in the making of the two hormones T4 and T3 – are depleted. As a result, many people today suffer from hypothyroidism, with all its attendant symptoms.
Recent studies have found that almost 90% of the population suffers from a mild to moderate degree of hypothyroidism, and that close to 90% of these people are women. These numbers are sufficiently alarming to warrant that close attention be paid to the effects of under-activity of the thyroid – in all of its varied manifestations.
For women, hypothyroidism can trigger menstrual irregularities, hormonal disruptions, fibrocystic breast disease, depression (that is written off as simply menopausal), infertility, and loss of libido (which can be characteristic for men as well). In addition, both men and women may experience hypothyroidism as lethargy, depression, weight gain (with difficulty losing weight), sensitivity to cold, constipation, hair loss, poor memory (which may also be caused by candida albicans), and a host of other varied, but lesser known, symptoms.
In my view, these symptoms are caused by a simple lack of sufficient iodine in its active form of T3. However, this member of the halogen family of gases also includes fluorine, chlorine, and bromine. Unfortunately, these fellow members will seek to attach themselves to the same receptor sites in the body, thus potentially blocking the necessary sufficient uptake of iodine.
Increasing the likelihood of this happening is the ubiquitous appearance of these other halogens in substances such as toothpaste, municipal water, swimming pools, and many foodstuffs like breads, pastries, and other highly processed foods. In other words, if the body is heavily burdened with fluorine, chlorine, and/or bromine from dietary or environmental exposures, it is less likely to be able to absorb adequate iodine to nourish the thyroid.
Proper Testing for Hypothyroidism
What then to do? What’s needed is more than just a visit to your medical doctor. The standard tests used to assess thyroid hormone levels in the body are sadly lacking – even by modern medicine’s determination. Even though the pituitary gland may be putting out sufficient Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), and blood tests show T4 levels in the normal range, we must go further into the heart of the matter.
Medical science has recently found that a more accurate tool to address the issue of hypothyroidism is to look for the ratio of T3 – the more active version – to its mirror image (r)T3. It is this ratio that can provide more definitive evidence for a potentially underactive thyroid.
Should you feel that you are suffering from one or more of the many varied symptoms, it is most important to have your physician use this (T3 ratio) methodology in assessing your health.
If that route is unavailable to you, there is still an old ‘tried and true’ approach to use: that of the original test performed by Dr. Broda Barnes MD. Dr. Barnes asked her patients to check off, on a list of almost 50 different symptoms, those that applied to them. While the ratio of the two forms of T3 is indeed accurate, so too is an examination of the above referenced symptoms.
With the use of Iridology as a diagnostic tool in my practice, not only do I check the thyroid’s position in the iris, but I repeatedly ask questions that shed light on the various ways in which an underactive thyroid will express itself in the body and the emotions. Should I have a strong suspicion of a weak thyroid, I request that the patient take their temperature (with the thermometer under the tongue) first thing in the morning before getting out of bed, again between 12 and 1 pm, and finally between 5 and 6 pm (before eating). This testing is done for five days in a row, and a record is kept of the readings. Even taking into account the body’s innate circadian rhythms, if there is a definite pattern of consistently low readings (below 98.6°F, 37 °C), along with the array of symptoms that are consistent with a low thyroid, I suggest that they start taking Dulse Tincture – generally 30 drops, two to three times per day.
Sea Vegetables to Nourish the Thyroid
Even though Kelp, Bladderwrack, and other sea vegetables contain substantial amounts of iodine, I prefer to use Dulse as it contains the highest amount of iodine, as well as a significant percentage of the trace mineral manganese. Even the purple colour of Dulse hints at the generous amount of iodine (from the Greek:‘Ioedes’ or violet) contained therein.
As beneficial as iodine is for the thyroid, it is also necessary for the proper uptake of minerals such as calcium (via the parathyroid glands), silicon, phosphorus, fluorine, and other biochemical elements. As Dr. Bernard Jensen, ND points out, sufficient iodine will also neutralize albuminous toxins before they reach the brain. With sufficient iodine entering into the formation of thyroid hormones, metabolism is quickened, heat is restored to digestive function, the mind becomes more alert, and a variety of seemingly unrelated symptoms are removed from the body and emotions.
Notwithstanding the above-noted benefits, it must also be pointed out that the use of (iodine-rich) Dulse may not be well tolerated by those with chronic heart disturbances such as arrhythmia or tachycardia. Since the iodine acts to stimulate the heart, its use in such cases is not appropriate when the rhythm of the heart is already disturbed.
For those not thus affected, and who suffer from an under-active thyroid, nourishing the thyroid with Dulse, either in tincture or tablet form, will go a long way toward restoring homeostasis and balance in the body. As with a variety of conditions noted today, many diseases are either caused, or aggravated, by the depletion or outright exhaustion of basic minerals and elements.
Is it not time to go back to the basics of how our bodies are built ?
Catch Richard at Whole Life Expo (Nov. 27, 28, 29), where he will be offering herbal formulas at The Herb Works booth #238 all weekend. For more information see the Expo Showguide in this (November 2015) issue, or visit www.wholelifeexpo.ca
1] Dr. Kent Holdorf M.D. National Academy of Hypothyroidism 2015
3] Dr. Broda Barnes M.D HYPOTHYROIDISM: The Unsuspected Illness (1976)
4] Dr Bernard Jensen N.D. The Chemistry of Man (1983)
Richard DeSylva is the owner of The Herb Works in Rockwood, ON. He is on the Boards of the Ontario Herbalist Association, and the Canadian Council of Herbalists Association. Richard is an advocate and lobbyist for the appropriate regulation of herbs and herbal medicine. For more information, email: email@example.com, or call: (519) 856-1636.