Chaos to Calm

The Thyroid Unveiled: Unlocking the Secrets of Your Metabolic Powerhouse

July 09, 2023 Sarah McLachlan Episode 17
The Thyroid Unveiled: Unlocking the Secrets of Your Metabolic Powerhouse
Chaos to Calm
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Chaos to Calm
The Thyroid Unveiled: Unlocking the Secrets of Your Metabolic Powerhouse
Jul 09, 2023 Episode 17
Sarah McLachlan

Feeling drained, foggy, or unexplainably heavy? It might be your thyroid calling for attention! This episode of Chaos to Calm takes you on a journey through the intricacies of your thyroid - the unsung hero of your metabolism and energy. Your host, Sarah, the Perimenopause Naturopath, unravels the enigma of this tiny yet mighty gland, its fundamental role in your body, and the real deal with hypothyroidism symptoms. Be prepared to master the hormonal rollercoaster as you stride through your 40s and beyond with grace and vigor.

Struggling to distinguish between perimenopause symptoms and thyroid imbalances? No worries, Sarah has got your back. In the second part of our thyroid saga, we shine a light on the signs of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) and how to decode the messages your body is trying to send. You'll discover the importance of comprehensive testing like TSH, free T4, and free T3, and learn about the often-overlooked reverse T3. Plus, you'll gain a fresh perspective on holistic health care as a powerful tool for preventative care. Join us in this enlightening episode, and understand the importance of your thyroid and its health in perimenopause and beyond so you can seize the reins of your health and wellness journey with confidence.

Find the freebie Sarah mentions in the episode here:  The Blood Test Decoder: Optimal Ranges for Women Over 40.

Send us a question for the FAQs segment or your feedback, we’d love to hear from you.

FREEBIES:

  • Caught in a hormonal storm? The Perimenopause Decoder is the ultimate guide to understanding if perimenopause hormone fluctuations are behind your changing mood, metabolism and energy after 40, what phase of perimenopause you're in and how much longer you may be on this roller coaster for.
  • Been told your blood test results are "normal" or "fine" while you feel far from your best? It's time to dig deeper and uncover the missing piece of the puzzle. Discover the power of optimal blood test analysis with The Blood Test Decoder: Optimal Ranges for Women Over 40.

To connect with Sarah and learn more about her services, visit her website at www.theperimenopausenaturopath.com.au, follow along on Instagram at @theperimenopausenaturopath.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Feeling drained, foggy, or unexplainably heavy? It might be your thyroid calling for attention! This episode of Chaos to Calm takes you on a journey through the intricacies of your thyroid - the unsung hero of your metabolism and energy. Your host, Sarah, the Perimenopause Naturopath, unravels the enigma of this tiny yet mighty gland, its fundamental role in your body, and the real deal with hypothyroidism symptoms. Be prepared to master the hormonal rollercoaster as you stride through your 40s and beyond with grace and vigor.

Struggling to distinguish between perimenopause symptoms and thyroid imbalances? No worries, Sarah has got your back. In the second part of our thyroid saga, we shine a light on the signs of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) and how to decode the messages your body is trying to send. You'll discover the importance of comprehensive testing like TSH, free T4, and free T3, and learn about the often-overlooked reverse T3. Plus, you'll gain a fresh perspective on holistic health care as a powerful tool for preventative care. Join us in this enlightening episode, and understand the importance of your thyroid and its health in perimenopause and beyond so you can seize the reins of your health and wellness journey with confidence.

Find the freebie Sarah mentions in the episode here:  The Blood Test Decoder: Optimal Ranges for Women Over 40.

Send us a question for the FAQs segment or your feedback, we’d love to hear from you.

FREEBIES:

  • Caught in a hormonal storm? The Perimenopause Decoder is the ultimate guide to understanding if perimenopause hormone fluctuations are behind your changing mood, metabolism and energy after 40, what phase of perimenopause you're in and how much longer you may be on this roller coaster for.
  • Been told your blood test results are "normal" or "fine" while you feel far from your best? It's time to dig deeper and uncover the missing piece of the puzzle. Discover the power of optimal blood test analysis with The Blood Test Decoder: Optimal Ranges for Women Over 40.

To connect with Sarah and learn more about her services, visit her website at www.theperimenopausenaturopath.com.au, follow along on Instagram at @theperimenopausenaturopath.

Sarah McLachlan:

Hey there, I'm Sarah McLachlan. Thanks for joining me on the Chaos to Calm podcast, a podcast designed for women over 40 who think that changing hormones might be messing with their mood, metabolism and energy and want to change that in a healthy, sustainable and permanent way. Each episode will explore topics related to health and wellness for women in their 40s, like what the heck is happening to your hormones, what to do about it with nutrition, lifestyle and stress management, and inspiring conversations with guests sharing their insights and tips on how to live your best life in your 40s and beyond. So if you're feeling like you're in the midst of a hormonal storm and don't want perimenopause to be horrific, then join me on Chaos to Calm, as I share with you how to make it to menopause without it wrecking your relationships and life. Hello and welcome to the Chaos to Calm podcast, where we always discuss how to master the chaos of those changing hormones mood, metabolism, energy in your 40s. I'm Sarah, the Perimenopause naturopath, your host, welcoming you to episode number 17. It always, not surprises me, but I always feel a bit like oh, I've done so many episodes so far, so welcome to this episode.

Sarah McLachlan:

We are going to be talking all about the thyroid today. So this episode and the next episode are all about the thyroid and we are going to unlock the secrets of your metabolic powerhouse. Doesn't that sound intriguing? Really, what it is is I'm going to talk to you about the thyroid, explain to you how it works, about your thyroid hormones and how to test it, and next time we will talk about the interplay between your thyroid hormones and the fluctuations of perimenopause and menopause and how that can impact it, because it's a big influencer on your overall health and well-being and particularly weight. So let's just get into it, shall we? Let's talk about the thyroid. What is it? Do you even know where your thyroid is? So the thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck. Sounds so lovely, doesn't it? So you can feel it in your throat like just where your voice box is. It's just kind of hiding behind that, ideally. Well, this is really hard to do in a non-visual environment. If you gently press around it, you can feel it, but you do. You need to be really careful. I'll see if I can find a good image that shows you where it is, so you can and try and feel it and I'll pop it in the show notes. Great solution, thanks, sarah.

Sarah McLachlan:

Anyway, your thyroid, it's in your throat and it makes some hormones that are essential for your energy and metabolism, and that is thyroxine, what we call T4 for short, and triiodothyrinine, which is T3 for short. T3 and T4. Much nicer, hey. So thyroid hormones, the T4 and T3. So T4 is the storage version of your thyroid hormone. It floats around in your bloodstream waiting for your body to need it, and then it gets an iodine cleaved or cut off it and it becomes T3. T3 is the active hormone that binds to your cells and essentially switches them on or tells them what to do and how fast to do it.

Sarah McLachlan:

So your thyroid hormones, particularly T3, is involved in regulating your energy production. It regulates the mitochondria, your energy factories in your cells and your metabolism throughout the body, including your brain. So when the thyroid function is impaired, whether it's slow or fast, your energy metabolism is changed, it can be compromised. If it's running in a slower rate, then you can get symptoms like fatigue and brain fog and other stuff like that. And additionally as well, your thyroid hormones have a direct impact on your neurotransmitters, on your brain compounds. So they're yeah, they influence your mood and emotional well-being as well. So they are really important, aren't they? to keep in balance. Hopefully, you can see just how much they can change your experience of the world and how you feel as you move me through the world. Now, through these hormones, your thyroid controls all of the processes of the body, all the ones related to sustaining your life, like converting food to energy and making sure that each and every one of your cells can do the job it was created for. So it really is like the really important organ in your body. I mean your heart. It keeps you alive. Your lungs give you oxygen. They're all important in their own way, but this one influences each of your cells and tissues and organs every single day, moment by moment, so it decides how quickly or how slowly your body utilizes energy. Yeah, it's just really, really important, and for so many aspects of your whole.

Sarah McLachlan:

So what can happen, though, is that there's many symptoms when your thyroid is off balance, and commonly those symptoms can be mistaken for being age-related or other factors like oh, you're in perimenopause, oh, you're a busy mum, or you know, you've got lots on your plate, you're working, doing kids, blah, blah, blah Hopefully by now in episode 17,. You know what I'm gonna say there, in that they might be common, but they are not normal and they should not be written off. Okay, sometimes, yes, those things might be related to just being too busy, but always they'll have an impact on your thyroid and other aspects of your health there as well. So it's really important not just write those yeah, anything that you're feeling. So weight gain it's one of the most common problems my clients come to me for. Yes, it's true, but it's really the first sign of a thyroid going haywire.

Sarah McLachlan:

So let's have a look at the symptoms of hypothyroid dysfunction. So slow thyroid function. So when your thyroid is running slow, for want of a better description some of the common symptoms are fatigue, brain fog, low motivation, less stress, resilience, like lowered capacity to handle stress, so you'd feel quite overwhelmed quite quickly or not able to think through what to do. Sluggish bowels you might find yourself more constipated, depressed, like low mood. Thin hair maybe more of your hair is falling out than it used to. Your skin might feel dry, might get some joint pain or stiffness there and more general aches and pains. Your period might get heavier. Your iron levels can get lower. This one's harder for you to just know, but you might be more likely to get insulin resistance in a hypothyroid state and or high cholesterol, so your cholesterol can go out of range. That's something I see a lot with my clients.

Sarah McLachlan:

With an imbalanced thyroid You might find yourself having more hot flushes and feeling intolerant to hot, like extremes of hot and cold and things like a lack of sleep. That kind of does fall under less stress tolerance there. So wonder, do any of those sound familiar to you? There is a big overlap between thyroid symptoms and hormone fluctuations, the symptoms of perimenopause. So yes, it's true that there is a lot of overlap, but it's good to work out what the cause is and do some testing and we will talk about that later on today, about how to test your thyroid and the best ranges for that as well so that you can understand what's going on. So we've talked about hypo-thyroid symptoms The most common ones there of a slow thyroid.

Sarah McLachlan:

Let's talk about what happens when your thyroid is up-regulated or running fast, a hyperthyroid state. So some of the symptoms the most common ones with regard to a hyperthyroid is increased heart rate, so you might experience a rapid heartbeat or it might be irregular palpitations or even like a sensation of your heart pounding, like it's going to pound out of your chest. You can feel really anxious and nervous, really like wired or, you know, really restless or irritable, have trouble concentrating because you're, you know, almost in that hypervigilant state when, if you've ever been really stressed or really frightened and responding to a stressor Now, with a hyperthyroid, you can have unexplained weight loss. You know you might have your normal or even an increased appetite and be eating more. You have unintentional weight loss. I want to say, though, as well that in a hyperthyroid state you do not necessarily always lose weight. You can either stay the same or some women do gain weight even in a hyperthyroid state. But if you do have unexplained weight loss, please do go and get that checked out and get your thyroid checked.

Sarah McLachlan:

So fatigue and weakness you might have trouble sleeping because you're in a hyperactive state, but you'll feel tired there as well, and sort of weakness in your muscles there. You might have heat intolerance. You might have trouble tolerating heat because you are sort of up-regulated already and you might find yourself super sweaty as well. But you can see like hypo or hyperthyroid state. You might have a lot of crossover between perimenopause symptoms and when your thyroid is out of balance, and that's why I always like to do a thorough checking in the blood tests of my client's thyroid so that we can decide whether it is perimenopause or if there is something out of balance with the thyroid there. So other things for hyperthyroid tremors trembling like shaky, you might find that you have looser bowel motions or diarrhea.

Sarah McLachlan:

Even I mentioned muscle weakness, that you might feel like your muscles are really weak or tired and changes in your cycle as well, so you can experience lighter or irregular periods, but sometimes it could be heavier or more frequent. So it's a little hit and miss there. You might have a change in your appetite. It could increase in a hyperthyroid state, but it can also decrease because depending on how stressful it feels on your body. Now in hyperthyroidism you might get an enlarged thyroid, known as a goiter, and that can cause visible swelling in your neck. And that's when you'll really easily be able to feel your thyroid in your neck if you gently palpate, and sometimes you can even see like a rounding or swelling there as well.

Sarah McLachlan:

So if you, you know, i wonder, do you feel any of those symptoms? It is less common in my experience than hypothyroid, but you know, as I said, i do work in the a lot in weight loss and so that I'm probably seeing people more with weight gain than weight loss. But it's really important if you're feeling any of these symptoms, don't just dismiss them as being perimenopause or aging. Please do go and get them checked out. Now, what, like when I say checked out, let's talk about that. I segue this, sarah, thanks. So often, you know, people tell me oh yeah, have my thyroid checked? No, it was normal. Hmm, i say okay, normal. So normal in the Western medicine world doesn't represent optimal I'm just going to say that And it also often isn't comprehensive.

Sarah McLachlan:

So usually, because of the way Medicare set up in Australia and you will only have one hormone tested and that is your thyroid stimulating hormone. That is the one that comes from your brain, from the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, to the thyroid to tell it to wake up and get going. Now, this can be. Yeah, it's really a brain hormone. It's not actually even a thyroid hormone, but it's what your brain produces to stimulate the thyroid to do its job, so it can give us a warning of uncontrolled thyroid disease. It doesn't pick up every case because it can be slow to change. And also, the ranges, the normal lab ranges. Well, they're very broad, So you can be feeling really crappy even if you're in the normal range.

Sarah McLachlan:

So ideally, like I, like TSH to sit between one and two, but some lab ranges will let that go up to five before your GP will want to do anything about it or talk about medication, because that's essentially the tool that they've got is medication, whereas from a naturopathic perspective we've got acres of land in there that we can do some stuff with food and herbs and nutritional medicine to help try and get your thyroid back into balance. And that's the advantage of using holistic healthcare is that we can do preventative care. We can't wait until there's a dysfunction to take action. So that's the problem with normal testing or GP testing is it tends to only do one aspect. What I like to test and to give a true understanding of your thyroid, we really need to know, yes, your TSH. So if it's low it's going to indicate an overactive or hyperthyroid And if it is high it's going to tell us there is a hypothyroid situation happening there. But we want to know your free T4. We want to know how much of those actual thyroid hormones are circulating And we want to know your T3, your free T3 as well. This is really important because it tells us how much of the active hormone there is in your blood and how much of that is circulating around and doing its thing.

Sarah McLachlan:

Some other thyroid hormones or hormones that can tell us a bit more about what's going on in your body reverse T3. Now this is how your body reduces the active hormone T3 and slows the body down. It's a protective mechanism. It's really primal. I think there as well. If you've got too much on, there's too much stress, too much busyness, then you're going to have higher levels of reverse T3. Now, reverse T3, it looks to your body like the T3, the active T3 hormone. It binds to yourselves in the same way that active T3 hormone does, but it doesn't do anything. It doesn't tell yourselves to do anything, so it's like interfering with those active hormones. It's like you're crawl into a cave and lie down their hormones. So it's higher during states of stress.

Sarah McLachlan:

It's good to know the reverse T3, but it's not essential. Most women in their 40s or 50s and peri menopause or menopause it's the busiest phase of life I tend to assume that their reverse T3 is elevated. But it is good to know rather than assume. So if you can get reverse T3 measured. That is great.

Sarah McLachlan:

Now the other thing I like to measure especially if there's a family history of autoimmune thyroid conditions like Hashimoto's, or someone has a history of allergies or intolerances, or even just in perimenopause is your thyroid antibodies. These tell us if the if there's the thyroid dysfunctional imbalance is an autoimmune condition. You can have normal levels of T3 and T4 still early on in thyroid dysfunction, and the opposite is true as well. You might have changed T4 and T3, but your TSH hasn't quite changed there as well. So it is nuanced and it's good to have a practitioner familiar with looking at thyroid hormones to look at your results and help you work out whether there is a problem there or not. But looking at thyroid antibodies, the earlier we spot them, the more we can do to prevent and protect your thyroid from further damage. And we really want to do that, because antibodies against your thyroid means your immune system is going to attack the cells of your thyroid and you're going to lose function. You've got less cells able to make those thyroid hormones there.

Sarah McLachlan:

Now Medicare doesn't cover all of these tests. That's the problem with normal or GP testing. There They will generally only do TSH and they'll only do T4 or T3 if TSH is out of range. Now, if TSH is out of range, there's a problem, and it's been going on for a while. So, yeah, i don't want to keep ranting here about it, but I do just want to remind you, yes, that within range or fine that you might get from the GP doesn't always mean optimal for you. So the current range of normal TSH in Australia is 0.5 to 4, but the research suggests that it should be more along in the lines of like between 1 and 2. That's where I like my clients to sit.

Sarah McLachlan:

So you can definitely have normal air quotes are happening there and still have a subclinical thyroid disease. And there can be things keeping your TSH out of balance inflammation, chronic stress, some medications. They can impact your thyroid there and you can be totally feeling the hypothyroid state but still have normal bloods. But if we look at them from the optimal perspective, then not in that optimal range. They're more that subclinical picture there. So it's not bad enough to be declared a thyroid dysfunction or disease, but it's starting to impact you and how you're feeling. So you could totally have symptoms of, you know, brain fog, weight gain, feeling tired, even if you're sleeping eight, nine hours a night or whatever, and so you can even get a cellular hypothyroidism there, which is when your cells are not using enough thyroid hormone for what they need to do. It's almost like insulin resistance, but it's in with your thyroid hormones there instead. So that was what I wanted to talk to you about today, just to introduce your thyroid, our wonderful thyroid hormones, how they work, and a bit more about that hypo and hyper thyroid state that we can get into.

Sarah McLachlan:

And yeah, so we've looked at that beautiful butterfly shaped thyroid gland that produces the hormones T4 and T3 that are really vital for your energy and metabolism. We've looked at how the thyroid controls your body's processes, how it impacts your energy balance and influences how much fuel you use. And we've looked at or unveiled the common symptoms of thyroid dysfunction. You know whether hyper or hypothyroid, and they're often mistaken for natural aging or perimenopause or something else. So, thinking, you know, from fatigue to brain fog, to lowered motivation and stress management issues, there's lots of different symptoms that you can experience. It has a broad. You can see the broad range of influence that your thyroid has to your well being. And so, yeah, we've looked at that link as well. You know the link between your thyroid and your emotional state and your brain neurotransmitters. There It really does influence from head down to your toes. So fatigue, brain fog, constipation, depression, joint pain, even influencing your cholesterol levels in the hypothyroid state and then the hyperthyroid state, more that heart rate. Think of that racy sort of agitated, upregulated state there.

Sarah McLachlan:

Now the thyroid testing. I've talked about the limitations of standard testing today and I really hope you understand that we need a fuller picture than what you can normally get with Medicare And you can work with a natural health professional to get additional testing done or you can request your GP to refer them and pay the difference yourself there. So, but we really want to look at TSH, t4, t3, reverse T3, your thyroid antibodies to get that really complete picture of what's happening with your thyroid. And then, if we need to, we can take it further and look at some nutrients like iodine and things like that. When we understand the thyroid's role and how it's influenced in perimenopause which is what we'll talk about in the next episode it really allows us to be proactive and supporting body and nourishing it with what it needs to optimize its function and recognizing those symptoms and also understanding that they're not. You know, just don't write them off as perimenopause or aging, you know and addressing those imbalances, supporting the glands to work effectively. You really get to choose how you move through this phase of life and enjoy it with greater vitality, absolutely.

Sarah McLachlan:

So before we finish, I want to let you know to check the show notes, because I've created another freebie for you a comprehensive cheat sheet of the optimal ranges for the blood markers that are most commonly out of balance for my clients in perimenopause. So these are going to tell you what my optimal ranges are and where you want your results to sit. How cool is that? It's, I think, really valuable for you. So it'll help you understand and interpret your thyroid-related blood test results, but also some other common studies that are done in your blood tests. So go find that and the show notes and other stuff at www. chaostocalmpodcast. com and join us in the next episode, because we will be exploring how perimenopause hormone fluctuations can contribute to dysfunction in the thyroid. So you will understand your thyroid, how it works. We'll just talk through that today, but then you're going to also see how your hormone fluctuations of perimenopause can impact your thyroid and why we need to be aware of that, and how to look after it. So don't forget to find the show notes and much more at www. chaostocalmpodcast. com.

Sarah McLachlan:

Please. I would love it if you could rate and review this podcast on Apple. It helps other women like you to see my content and be helped by it so that they also can enjoy a smoother transition to menopause. So that is all from me today. Thank you so much for sharing your time with me and until our next podcast episode, please remember, it is possible to master the chaos of changing hormones, mood, metabolism and energy and make it to menopause without it wrecking your life and relationships. It's really common for women over 40 to experience the chaos of changing hormones, mood, metabolism and energy, but I hope you know now that common doesn't have to equal normal for you or them. You can help others understand they aren't alone in feeling this way and that perimenopause doesn't have to be horrific By subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with other women in their 40s and beyond. Thanks so much for listening and sharing your time with me today in this chaos to calm your conversation.

Understanding Thyroid Function and Symptoms
Understanding Thyroid Function and Symptoms