All of us need to eat in order to receive the vital nutrients that give us energy and sustain life. Unfortunately, this means that we expose our bodies to outside elements that are both beneficial and harmful. An apple, for example, can deliver water, fiber, and vitamins your body needs, but it could also be a conduit for chemical pesticides and fertilizers, mold, parasites, or harmful bacteria. Even if food is natural, organic, and perfectly healthy, you still need to digest it in order to glean the nutrients and expel the waste. This is where your gut flora, or the microbiome of essential bacteria in your digestive tract, comes into play.
You may be wondering why the gut flora is often referred to as a second brain. It is because your brain and your gut are inextricably linked, with each influencing the other. Not only does the health of your microbiome inform the health of your entire body, but there is also communication between bacteria and the brain via the nervous system, a process known as the gut-brain axis. And all of the signals sent between the two are designed with one goal in mind: survival. Note that you don’t necessarily have to be healthy to survive. You do, however, have to adapt. And the gut is often the first wave of defense because it is where outside elements, good or bad, are introduced into your body.
And from there your two brains – the one in your head and the one in your gut – work together to absorb and distribute nutrients, expel waste, and cope with the rising tide of toxins that are in our environment and that are introduced through consumption. Have you ever heard of a nervous stomach? This is your brain and your gut interacting, creating a physical response to mental and emotional stress. And when the microbiome is out of balance, the result could be inflammation, immune response, and corresponding feelings of fatigue, anxiety, or depression, just for example. In other words, your gut flora could be inextricably linked to all kinds of ailments that are seemingly unrelated to your digestive tract. On the upside, balancing your microbiome and maintaining gut health has the potential to improve the health of your entire body.
So in addition to helping you properly digest your food, the gut flora plays a crucial role in how your body functions as a whole and how it adapts to survive its environment and the items you consume. And just as it can be damaged by outside elements, so too can it be healed by the choices you make. When your gut flora is balanced, you will enjoy optimal health. When your microbiome is compromised, your health is sure to follow suit.
The human body is adept at healing itself. Unfortunately, the symptoms associated with natural healing are often diagnosed by allopathic medicine as disease. And thyroid disorders are a prime candidate for this type of wrongful thinking. What is taken for disease may be nothing more than the thyroid’s response to harmful factors like toxins, stress, or a lack of proper nutrients. But instead of treating the cause of these symptoms (or even seeking to understand the myriad causes that may combine to induce thyroid disorder), western medicine responds by treating individual symptoms, often following misdiagnosis. And patients are the ones that continue to suffer for this spectacular lack of vision.
There is another option. And it is essential to resolve thyroid distress because it is a precursor for further health problems. The thyroid is often one of the first organs to respond to toxins within the body, especially when nutritional deficiencies are also at play. Its self-defense mechanism is to lower metabolic processes, often resulting in fatigue, which is why thyroid disorders may first be diagnosed as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The unfortunate result is immune response, a decrease in liver function (and detoxification), and an increase of toxicity at the cellular level. Autoimmune diseases may follow if the condition goes untreated.
And yet, the onslaught of pharmaceuticals is not the answer. Treating symptoms, rather than addressing and removing causes, is pure futility. Not only do these treatments fail to treat the problem; they can also cause further damage in the long run thanks to a laundry list of side effects. And this is supposing that a thyroid disorder is even identified. Often, it isn’t until health issues have progressed to a critical state. In other words, western medicine is ill-equipped to assess and/or treat thyroid distress at every level.
The solution, then, must lie outside the scope of western medicine. Holistic medicine recognizes not only symptoms common to thyroid distress, but also that thyroid disorders are often associated with other diseases, such as heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, cancer, and more. It is not surprising when you understand the role the thyroid plays in setting metabolic rates, and further, how those fluctuations affect other bodily processes. And because the thyroid is more sensitive to toxins (due to its particular function), it can be an indicator of future health problems.
Proper treatment will vary from patient to patient, but resolving thyroid distress begins with addressing the source of the affliction, be it environmental toxins, a lack of nutrients, or several elements combined. Detoxification, diet adjustment, herbal supplements, stress reduction, cellular healing, and reversing the damage done to the thyroid are all possible treatment options. And holistic medicine is uniquely adept at both diagnosing and treating thyroid disorders. If western medicine has not served you well, it’s time to abandon the “no cause, no cure” mentality, leave the pharmaceuticals behind, and try something new.