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Hi, pod fam! 

Welcome to our very first installment of “Ask the Herbalist”! You all have been calling our hotline 

with such great questions about wellness and herbalism and life (keep ‘em coming: 929-591-6432). This new series is my chance to really dive into some of your questions in the best possible format. So excited to get to brain dump from my years of knowledge and experience and insights! I’m gonna be picking topics that a lot of you are interested in so I can give you guys as much value as possible.

This first installment is all about thyroid issues—specifically, hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s. As someone who has experienced thyroid issues firsthand, I know how frustrating it is to experience symptoms, to get a diagnosis, and then to be left wondering how to deal with this condition for the rest of your life.

On the flip side, I also know from firsthand experience just how empowering it is to be able to support your thyroid hormones and actually notice positive changes. In this ep, I’ll share what I’ve learned about nourishing your thyroid hormones through diet, lifestyle, & herbs + how to advocate for yourself in a doctor’s office and more.

Quick note before we get into it: This is not medical advice, and everyone’s situation is going to be unique. I’m simply sharing all the information I’ve learned about thyroid health to help you know what to look for, what questions to ask, and how to support your overall well-being. 

Let’s get juicy! 

Starting with the hotline question that triggered it all… 

“I’ve listened to some of your podcasts on thyroid health and specifically TCM’s approach to the thyroid. As somebody who was just diagnosed with hypothyroidism, I feel like this is a total epidemic among my friends and people in their 20s now, and I’m getting a lot of different information on how to approach this. As an herbalist, I would love to hear your advice on potential herbs or even just daily behavioral things or food that might help with hypothyroidism in hopes that this would help me and a lot of other women that are struggling with this and give them some tools.” 

So, you think you have a thyroid issue (what labs to ask for)…

Knowledge is power, and the more you can know about how your body is processing thyroid hormones, the better. Here’s what lab tests to ask for to get the full picture of your thyroid health.

  • TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) – the standard in thyroid testing; helpful, but generally not enough on its own. It’s a measure of what your pituitary gland is telling your thyroid to do.
  • Free T4 – measures the main form of thyroid hormone in your blood, before it’s converted to T3
  • Free T3 – measures how much T3 hormone you have in your blood (the active form of thyroid hormone)
  • Reverse T3 – measures an inactive form of thyroid hormone that plays a role in regulating metabolism, stress, inflammation, and other processes 
  • Thyroid Antibodies (TGA & TPO) – tells you whether your thyroid issues are autoimmune related (Hashimoto’s, in the case of hypothyroidism) or not

Here’s some more info from Dr. Amy Myers on what these tests look for and how to interpret the results. Work with your doctor to determine how often to continue re-testing, as the numbers can change (telling you more about your health). Every 6 months or so is generally ideal.

One more thing: check your basal body temp!

Dr. Broda Barnes—a leader in hypothyroidism research—found that your basal body temperature (your body temp right when you wake up, before you even get out of bed) is a reliable indicator of low thyroid function. Here’s how to check your basal body temperature. 

A quick note on thyroid medication 

I’m gonna get into some ways to support your thyroid through herbs, diet, and lifestyle changes, but those are not necessarily replacements for Western Medicine. Thyroid medication can be extremely helpful for what it is, and it can also be used as a tool to get your body to a place where it’s stronger and can potentially begin to correct thyroid hormone output on its own.

The gold standard tends to be Synthroid (generic: levothyroxine), which delivers more T4 to the body, which is then converted into T3. But it may not be enough. You may need a separate T3 medication as well or additional support to help your thyroid function optimally. 

How to advocate for yourself: Definitely monitor your labs, but also pay close attention to how you feel. If you’re still experiencing symptoms of hypothyroidism like fatigue or hair loss or constipation, tell your doctor so the two of you figure out how to address that together. Likewise, if you’re making positive, thyroid-supporting changes in your daily life, feeling better, and your labs are consistently improving, you might be able to work with your doctor to lower your dose or even taper off meds completely (yes, it’s possible!). 

Now, let’s get into some of the ways to help support our thyroid health (and general well-being).

Nutrients for thyroid support

Nutrition is a potential root cause of thyroid deficiencies, so it’s a great place to start. Here are 5 super important nutrients for thyroid support (listen to the ep for WAY more juicy details about each one).

  1. Selenium – Helps with the conversion of T4 to its active form T3—the form that helps with energy, mood, and focus (more info here and here); also helps with gut & immune support (study here). Find it in meat products, fish, pasta, rice, grains, or the holy grail: Brazil nuts. Those with clinical thyroid issues may want to turn to supplements for selenium. It’s in my ThyroPro supplement, as well as other companies I trust like Rootcology or Pure Encapsulations.
  2. Zinc – Helps support T4 to T3 conversion; conversely, thyroid hormones also help support the body’s absorption of zinc (source). Helps support gut health and a healthy inflammatory response, which can help support the thyroid. Find it in food like red meat, oysters, and chicken. May be most beneficial to take a zinc supplement (be sure to take it with food). It’s in my ThyroPro supplement, but you can also just take zinc on its own.
  3. Iron – Affects thyroid hormone production and conversion (source); may support gut health, but it’s a little tricky (source); may be best used in combination with vitamin A (source). I personally prefer to get both of these nutrients from food like grass-fed beef liver (also comes in capsule form); Nick makes some great meatballs with it!
  4. Iodine – Necessary for thyroid hormone production; considered a “goldilocks” nutrient where you need juuuust enough (not too little, not too much) for ideal support. Salt is sometimes fortified with iodine, but my favorite source is seaweed: snack on crispy sheets, use as a salad or bowl topper, eat sushi, etc.
  5. Myo-inositol – Supports thyroid and sex hormones; also helps support metabolic health. You can find it naturally in foods like cantaloupe, beans, brown rice, corn, sesame seeds, and blueberries. For clinical thyroid concerns, talk to your doctor about potentially supplementing with this nutrient for a more substantial dose.

Other dietary strategies to consider

While the above nutrients have direct impacts on the thyroid, there are some other potential ways to help support your thyroid through your diet. These might vary from person to person, so pay attention to how you feel and talk with your doctor, nutritionist, or other healthcare provider with specific questions/concerns.

  • Gluten-free – Since hypothyroidism is often caused by the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s and autoimmune diseases often occur together, it’s no surprise that nearly half of people with Hashimoto’s are also sensitive to gluten (source). Consider eliminating gluten for 3–4 weeks and monitoring your thyroid symptoms.
  • Loading up on antioxidants & polyphenols – These nutrients naturally occur in lots of fruits & veggies (especially berries), cacao, red wine, herbs, spices, and mushrooms. They can help with gut/microbiome support, which can positively impact the thyroid. 
  • Increasing your fiber intake – Aim for ~30 different plants per week (including beans, grains, veggies, fruit, and herbs) to help increase gut diversity and support overall wellness.

Supporting your gut microbiome

Your thyroid relies on an enzyme produced by your good gut bacteria to convert T4 to T3, so supporting your gut microbiome can help support your thyroid, too. Here are some ways to help support gut health:

  • Probiotics – Eat fermented foods and/or take a probiotic supplement (here’s mine) to help feed the good gut bacteria
  • Microbiome-modulating herbs – Certain herbs may help kill off harmful pathogens/bacteria, while helping support gut health. I like antimicrobial herbs like ginger (found in The Guardian Tea) for this.  
  • Test your gut microbiome – Work with a functional practitioner or GI specialist to see exactly what’s going on in your gut and address specific imbalances. 

Lifestyle changes to support the thyroid

Your daily habits can impact your thyroid just as much as food and supplements do. Here are some other things to consider:

  • Blood sugar balance – Diabetes and thyroid dysfunction are closely linked (source), which is partially because of the stress that blood sugar puts on the body. Keeping your blood sugar in balance may help support your thyroid. See our episode with Glucose Goddess for easy ways to help curb glucose spikes. 
  • Improving your response to stress – Stress is directly related to the pituitary gland, which controls how much thyroid hormone our thyroid produces. While we can’t eliminate stress completely, we can improve our response to it. Here’s an episode on ways to improve your stress response. Adaptogenic herbs—like Ashwagandha, Eleuthero, and Schisandra found in my ThyroPro formula—can also help support a healthy stress response. 
  • Improving insulin sensitivity – Insulin resistance is correlated with thyroid function (source), but we can take steps to improve it. Consuming enough protein, eating blood-sugar-balancing meals, and increasing muscle mass can all help improve insulin sensitivity. 
  • Supporting the liver (with or without estrogen dominance) – the liver plays an important role in thyroid function (including clearing the body of excess hormones like estrogen and chemicals that can impact the thyroid). We can help support the liver and estrogen balance through these habits: 1) digestive bitters before meals (here’s mine), 2) increasing fiber intake, 3) taking probiotics, 4) consuming foods containing methionine (spirulina, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, beans, onions, garlic), 5) taking vitamin B6, 6) reevaluating coffee (can help with stress as well), and 7) consuming vitex (chaste tree berry).

A note from traditional herbalism

Hypothyroidism is considered a cold, damp tissue state. Even with medication, you may still be experiencing symptoms of hypothyroidism, and that’s where Western and traditional medicine meet. Addressing your tissue states can help you achieve balance and feel your best. Some things to consider trying:

  • Look for warming/drying herbs like Ashwagandha, Eleuthero, Codonopsis, Reishi or Schisandra
  • Bundle up in cold or windy environments (keep your socks on and your “kidneys covered”)
  • Opt for gentle exercises that won’t drain you (Pilates or resistance training over HIIT)
  • Choose to be around people who make you feel warm and at ease (as opposed to cold, drained, or tense) to radiate warmth from your heart to every cell in your body 

You don’t have to do all of this—all at once—but I wanted to give you the most comprehensive place to start because knowledge is power. I’ve spent the last 10 years amassing this information, and I hope that it saves you at least half of that time to have it all spelled out in one place. 🙂

As always, tune into the episode for allll the juicy goodness in this ep! Be sure to share your thoughts with me on IG: @shoporganicolivia.


Shop ThyroPro:

Use code THYRO10 for 10% off during the month of September.

Thyroid labs:

How to check your basal body temp: 
Recommended reading – Stop the Thyroid Madness II:
What’s the Juice Hotline: 929-591-6432

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