Perhaps you've been told by a doctor that you have a sluggish thyroid--hypothyroidism--, and you would like to supplement your hormone replacement pills with natural remedies. Or perhaps your test results are borderline, and you'd like to try home remedies before talking about prescription medication with your doctor. In either case, there are natural steps you can take that will support good thyroid function.
Watch Your Diet
Several foods are known to either interfere with the absorption of your thyroid hormone replacement medication or directly interfere with the functioning of the thyroid. These include cruciferous vegetables in the Brassica family, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. A diet generally high in fiber can also interfere with the absorption of thyroid replacement medication.
Other foods to watch out for include soy, large amounts of dairy, canola or rapeseed oil, cassava -- the main ingredient in tapioca --, pearl millet, walnuts, sweet potatoes and corn. According to the University of Michigan Health System, however, there's evidence that cooking inactivates the chemicals in these foods that interfere with thyroid function. Some doctors recommend avoiding these foods altogether, but others merely suggest eating them several hours before or after taking your thyroid pills to avoid problems with absorption
Some dietary supplements may help your thyroid function, though proof of their effectiveness is mixed. Supplements sometimes recommended for a sluggish thyroid include the herb bladderwrack, vitamins A and B-3 and the minerals zinc and selenium. But there is no strong scientific evidence that these are helpful to those with a sluggish thyroid unless they are suffering a deficiency of one of these vitamins.
The evidence supporting the effectiveness of iodine supplements, or food high in iodine, is mixed. It is true that many people used to develop hypothyroidism and goiters from lack of iodine, but because iodine is routinely added to salt and several other processed foods, most people today are not deficient in it. If you are considering taking one or more of these supplements, talk over dosage guidelines with your doctor, since some vitamins and minerals--for instance, selenium--can be dangerous to your health at high dosages.
Anyone with a sluggish thyroid should also be aware that some supplements can lessen their thyroid function by interfering with the absorption of thyroid replacement hormones. Therefore, Cigna Health recommends taking iron and calcium supplements at least four hours before or after taking a thyroid pill.
Take Care of Yourself
Since fatigue is one of common signs and symptoms of a sluggish thyroid, it can help tremendously to make lifestyle changes to maximize your overall health and energy levels. Stick to the basics of common sense: get enough sleep, eat a healthy, balanced diet, get regular exercise and, if you smoke, quit. Experts at the University of Michigan Health system say there's evidence that being exposed to high levels of toxic chemicals or heavy metals on the job can make your thyroid sluggish, so if you have been exposed, talk with your doctor about how it may be affecting your thyroid function.
If you have been prescribed medication for sluggish thyroid, it is important to continue to take it even while trying home remedies. Speak to your doctor before making lifestyle changes that will affect thyroid medication.