Understanding the difference hyper vs hypo thyroid imbalance, and how to help support healthy thyroid function naturally can be the missing key to experiencing abundant life health and wellness.
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Hyper vs Hypo Thyroid Symptoms
If you feel you may have a thyroid imbalance, you are not alone—more than one in ten Americans are diagnosed with a thyroid disorder at some point. In addition, women are five to eight times more likely to have thyroid issues (1) than men. More people every day struggle to understand the difference between hyper vs hypo thyroid issues and that can create additional confusion.
Not only is that a staggering number of people, it doesn’t account for people who suffer with thyroid problems, but who remain undiagnosed. Doctors and patients alike have found fault with the reliability of the thyroid hormone test and it interpretation. Which leads to even more confusion for those suffering with thyroid imbalance. So, how can you know if your symptoms point to a deeper issue—a hyper vs hypo thyroid imbalance?
It is important to understand that some people have an overactive thyroid — hyperthyroidism while others have an underactive thyroid — hypothyroidism. In either case, an imbalance may cause thinning hair, excessive fatigue, menstrual or fertility problems, and muscle weakness or achiness.
Although most overactive thyroid symptoms differ from hypothyroid symptoms, they affect many body functions. Common hyperthyroid symptoms (2) include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Unexplained or rapid weight loss
- Racing heart rate
- Sensitivity to hot temperatures, excess sweating
- Anxiety and irritability
Underactive thyroid can affect many body systems: cardiac, endocrine, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal—even cognitive and psychological. The most prevalent symptoms of hypothyroidism (3) include:
- Frequent fatigue
- Unexplained or rapid weight gain
- Muscle cramps
- Slow heart rate
- Sensitivity to cold temperatures
- Brain fog and decreased memory
To make matters more complex, certain hyperthyroid conditions may mimic hypothyroidism and vice versa, such as with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis or Grave’s Disease.
Does either of symptom lists sound familiar? Fortunately, there are more options for treatment than ever before as a result of both increasing public awareness and the efforts of pioneers in natural treatment options.
Thyroid Hormone Replacement Side Effects
The most common treatment in conventional Western medicine for underactive thyroid is Synthroid, a synthetic chemical version of your body’s natural thyroid hormone. In some cases, Synthroid is also prescribed to hyperthyroid patients after radioactive iodine is used to destroy the thyroid gland. Other options include taking actual desiccated thyroid preparations such as Armouror Nature-Throidthyroid tablets for hypothyroid patients or beta blockers and antithyroid medications for hyperthyroid patients.
Like many artificial hormones, synthetic thyroid hormone comes with a slew of harmful side effects (4) including the following:
- Lifelong dependence on synthetic thyroid hormone
- Bone loss
- Rapid pulse, heart palpitations, or other heartbeat irregularities
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle weakness
- Change in appetite
- Weight loss
- Hair loss
- Excessive sweating
- Inability to tolerate heat
- Impaired fertility
- Decreased bone density
- Changes in menstrual periods
- Leg cramps
- Complications with: heart disease, diabetes, blood clotting problems, and adrenal or pituitary gland problems, and surgery
To avoid adding these significant health problems to an existing medical condition, and for a simpler, more drug-free lifestyle, many people seek alternative therapies to address their thyroid symptoms and pursue a healthy thyroid balance.
The Autoimmune Connection
Awareness around autoimmune disorders is also growing. You may be surprised to learn that some thyroid conditions are considered to be autoimmune disorders — wherein the body attacks its own healthy cells. For example, in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, the immune system attacks the thyroid gland as if it were a pathogen in the body — the immune system attempts to destroy the thyroid gland (5).
As hypothyroid symptoms appear, many patients are told they have a sluggish or slow thyroid. Since Hashimoto’s is often diagnosed as simple hypothyroidism (or worse yet, no diagnosis is given) a correct diagnosis is often delayed, and the damage continues.
The occurrence of autoimmune disorders seems to be on the rise; however, it is unclear whether there are actually more cases of autoimmune diseases or there are better diagnostic protocols so that doctors are correctly identifying patients with these disorders more often.
What do ALL Autoimmune Diseases Have in Common? All autoimmune disease is characterized by the immune system attacking or destroying the body’s own healthy cells as it would a dangerous pathogen such as bacteria cells.
Although such self-destructive conditions may seem hopeless, great strides are being made in the natural treatment of autoimmune disorders, so if Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is your diagnosis, don’t despair, but do work with a trusted health care professional.
5 Essential Oils for Thyroid Imbalance Relief
Many people find that essential oils help manage and reduce thyroid symptoms and greatly improve quality of life throughout the healing process. Whether dealing with hyper vs hypo thyroid issues, these oils may be beneficial to you. Learn more about the best essential oils for thyroid imbalance here.
1. Frankincense for Hormone Balancing
Frankincense gently balances female hormones and displays adaptogenic properties — meeting your system at its point of greatest need and improving balance and wellbeing (6). This sacred oil seems to have been specially designed to meet your thyroid balancing needs, addressing immune health, chronic and inflammatory diseases, brain and memory disorders, and autoimmune disorders (7).
Application Idea: Dilute in a carrier oil and massage in neck directly over the thyroid gland.
2. Lavender to Ease Sleep Disturbances
So many thyroid sufferers experience anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances, but lavender can help (8)! There is no significant healing without adequate sleep and peace of mind. It is also an antioxidant, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory (9).
Lavender can be used in many ways—diffuse at bedtime for better sleep, or apply diluted in your favorite carrier oil to soles of feet for peaceful interactions, or to temples for anxiety and irritability.
3. Geranium for Inflammation Control
Not only is geranium a joyful rosy scent, it can improve adrenal function, thereby returning balance to your hormones. It fights inflammation (10) by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines. Use in conjunction with cilantro and tangerine oils, and apply a massage blend in your favorite carrier oil to small of back.
4. Cilantro to Support Detoxification
Although it may be most popular for its fresh aromatic flavor in salsa, cilantro effectively detoxes your body from an overload of heavy metals (11) and other toxins while protecting your liver. It is also full of antioxidants (12). Simply rubbing (diluted) cilantro essential oil on the soles of your feet at bedtime, or diffusing through a room, is a powerful detox.
5. Tangerine for Overall Health & Energy
Tangerine, as with many citrus oils, has been shown to fight cancer cells and provide antioxidant flavonoids (13). Almost everyone loves to diffuse tangerine oil to freshen the whole house, and lift the mood, but especially when used with geranium and cilantro, it is also potent medicine.
Strategies for Naturally Healing Your Thyroid
You can do a lot to address thyroid imbalance at home whether you’re dealing with hyper vs hypo thyroid issues. Some people will need to work with a health care professional, but your health depends largely on lifestyle changes you can make.
Detox Your Environment: First and foremost, if you believe you may have a chronic illness such as a thyroid disorder, try to detox your environment — all your healthy eating and natural healing efforts may be hindered or even completely negated if your toxic home environment continues to poison your body.
Some of the most common culprits are endocrine (meaning all hormones—including thyroid hormone) disruptors found in seemingly innocuous items all around you, such as plastics containing BPA in food packages, PVC conditioners in shower curtains, and non-stick coatings on cookware.
Avoid Inflammation in Your Diet. Some foods are common triggers for thyroid sufferers. Sugar tops the list because it also may exacerbate other symptoms such as weight gain. Other potential problem foods include PUFA oils and processed dairy.
Know Your Disease and Track Your Personal Health: Learn all you can, so you can differentiate hyper vs hypo thyroid symptoms then track your symptoms until you can clearly define a pattern.
Sleep Well for Optimum Health: Thyroid issues can wreck havoc on a quiet night’s sleep. But sleep is essential for peak health. It may help to create a bedtime routine and a time window to enjoy it every day.
Work With a Functional Health Practitioner: Consult a natural health practitioner regarding ridding your life and diet of toxins. Toxin overload can overburden any bodily system, and disease is often a cry for help from your body tissues. A detox process can help improve your health.
Daily Activity Can Make a Huge Difference: Spend a little active time each day to balance your times of rest. Simple and free often works best, so consider a walk or other outdoor activity. It can boost your mood with endorphins and partner with your other strategies to get your thyroid back on track.
Understanding thyroid function and dysfunction does not need to be an insurmountable task. Consult with a trusted medical health professional and share your concerns and symptoms.
As you work toward a solution, try to do something for yourself each day to promote healing and balance, whether including great thyroid balancing foods, adding a gentle workout, indulging in essential oil therapy, or simply researching the differences between hyper vs hypo thyroid conditions.