The Women's Journal

Let’s Talk Thyroid

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Evaluation And Treatment Of Hypothyroidism


By Dr. Melissa P. Broyles


Weight gain? Fatigue? Depression? These are just a few symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland. Thyroid hormones are needed for every cell in the body. Therefore, a deficiency of thyroid hormones can diffusely affect the body and cause a host of symptoms, including:   depression, fatigue, weight gain, forgetfulness, cold sensitivity, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, swelling, menstrual abnormalities, dry skin, hair loss, brittle nails, muscle weakness, constipation, shortness of breath and impaired kidney function.

Hypothyroidism affects 5% of the US population. However, if the diagnosis is based on symptoms and basal body temperature, not solely on laboratory results, it is possible that the prevalence of hypothyroidism is closer to 40% of the US population. This is partly due to the fact that mild cases of hypothyroidism may not be detected by blood tests. Hypothyroidism is more common in females with an 8:2 female to male ratio.

The most common cause of hypothyroidism in the US is Hashimoto’s disease. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease where antibodies bind to the thyroid gland and impair thyroid hormone production. Hashimoto’s is a genetic disease that is triggered by environmental toxins (i.e. perchlorate, iodine in excess, fluoride, and mercury.) There is also a correlation between Hashimoto’s disease, intestinal permeability (leaky gut) and food allergies, namely gluten.

Laboratory evaluation of hypothyroidism should include: TSH, free T4, free T3 and thyroid antibodies. Thyroid antibodies are used to diagnose Hashimoto’s disease and have a 90% accuracy rate. T3 hormone is 4-8 times more potent than T4 and is critical for cellular function. A subset of people are not able to convert T4 to T3 hormone.

The treatment of hypothyroidism consists of a diet rich in iodine, zinc, copper, selenium (i.e. seafood, liver, nuts and seeds), and tyrosine, an amino acid found in protein. These nutrients, in addition to vitamins A, C, and E, are necessary for thyroid hormone production. In most cases supplemental forms of these nutrients are necessary. However, it is not recommended to take supplemental iodine unless a person is iodine deficient. Iodine excess can trigger Hashimoto’s disease in genetically susceptible individuals.

Thyroid hormone replacement therapy is indicated in most cases of hypothyroidism. Synthetic treatment is available in either T4 or T3 forms. There is also natural desiccated thyroid medication which contains a combination of T4 and T3 hormones. It is important to take these medications on an empty stomach to increase their absorption and effectiveness.

Lastly, exercise stimulates thyroid function and increases tissue sensitivity to thyroid hormones. Invigorating sports, i.e. water sports, are especially helpful. Overheated environments should be avoided as they slow down thyroid function.

To receive a comprehensive thyroid evaluation and a holistic treatment plan for hypothyroidism, please call 610-459-3773, or visit  

There are a lot of choices for a person looking for an alternative to today’s traditional medical practice. Naturopathic, holistic, functional medicine to name a few. It is mind boggling trying to sort out the best options when seeking care. After years of traditional treatment for depression, and never really feeling good, I sought out Dr. Broyles for possible alternative therapies. Right from the start, I knew this was the right practice for me. Dr. Broyles takes time to listen to concerns, discusses possible causes and recommends alternative methods of treatment as well as traditional methods. In a few short weeks, I was feeling better than I ever had before. She truly treats the whole person- body, mind and spirit. Since that time, I have referred many people to Dr. Broyles, and they all are extremely happy with her practice.  – Roberta K.



* Profile photo by Roy McDowell, Royal Photography, Wilmington, DE