The small, butterfly-shaped gland in the neck—the thyroid—is responsible for metabolism, and it can affect, mood, energy, weight, and more. There are many medical and surgical options used to treat thyroid problems, but alternative care may also hold answers.
Signs of Thyroid Problems
There are many signs that a person has thyroid problems. Some patients may have a discomfort in the neck, including swelling or a hoarse voice. A “goiter” or “enlarged thyroid gland” may also appear. Others will present with hair and skin changes, including brittle hair and hair loss, or coarse and scaly skin. Another issue could be muscle and joint pains, including carpal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, and tendonitis. Some people may have bowel problems, such as IBS or constipation, depending on their particular glandular condition. Women may have fertility or menstrual problems. Some patients may have depression, or even anxiety. Family history is said to play a role (often called “goiter” or “gland trouble”). For many patients, fatigue is a sign of glandular issues, including exhaustion or insomnia. Weight changes—in either direction—can also be a sign of trouble with the gland.1
An over-active thyroid leads to a condition called hyperthyroidism. Those with this condition may sweat often, feel shaky, have a faster heartbeat, lose a lot of weight, have more bowel movements, experience hair loss, or feel nervous. Some, however, may have no symptoms at all. Without treatment, though, a “thyroid storm” can occur, along with bone and heart problems. The typical cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ Disease. Doctors diagnose this condition with blood tests. Various medications can be prescribed, such as radioactive iodine (to destroy part of the gland), or antithyroid medications. The latter is for those with mild symptoms, and those medications damage the thyroid. If they don’t work, the radioactive iodine may still be prescribed. Some people will end up taking medications for the rest of their lives if their treatment turns their hyperthyroidism (too much hormone) into hypothyroidism (too little hormone).2
In hypothyroidism, the gland is under-active. Sufferers of this condition may feel tired, have high cholesterol, feel depressed, have brittle nails or dry skin, experience trouble with cold, be constipated, and have heavy/irregular menstruation. This condition, in the U.S., is typically caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the thyroid).3 Worldwide, hypothyroidism is from iodine deficiency, and sometimes from lithium antidepressants4, thyroid removal surgery, and cancer radiation. The standard medical treatment is hormone pills, which may need to be taken indefinitely. Left untreated, people may enter a “myxedema coma”.5
Alternative Treatment Support
Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are two problems that are typically treated with medication and surgery. It is critical for patients, however, to work towards healthy lifestyle choices. Chiropractic care can help with overall health. Nervous system imbalances can increase the stress on those with thyroid conditions. Chiropractors can assist with prevention and wellness.6 A chiropractor will also include nutritional counseling and exercise as part of treatment. Lifestyle choices can help a patient improve their overall health. Dr. Datis Kharrazian, DHSc, DC, MNeuroSci, author of Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests Are Normal?, noted that a nutrition-based approach can help people with such conditions and that a chiropractor may be the one professional to first realize the patient has these problems. Although medication may still be needed, “The answer is simple — to provide guidance in a healthy lifestyle, sound nutrition, and a good diet”.6