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Thyroid Related Conditions

The thyroid is a small butterfly shaped gland located in the front of the neck. Thyroid hormones help regulate many vital bodily functions in including metabolism, breathing, the central and peripheral nervous systems, heart rate, cholesterol etc.  It is a good idea to check the thyroid levels of kids who come from institutionalized backgrounds.  A blood tests can check the levels of thyroid hormones TSH, T3 and T4, which are indicative of how well the thyroid is functioning.

Thyroid conditions are diagnosed and treated by endocrinologists. Functional or integrated medicine practitioners look at finding the cause of the condition (which could include gut healing, etc).

Below are several types of thyroid-related health issues sometimes seen in adopted children:


Hypothyroidism is a condition where the body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. It must be treated early, or there can be long-term issues with growth and development. Some common symptoms include: unexplained weight gain that is not related to diet, fatigue, coarse dry hair and skin, intolerance to cold temperatures.

The typical treatment for hypothyroidism is to take a synthetic thyroid medication (Levoxyl, Synthroid etc). The functional medicine approach for hypothyroidism can be to try to heal the gut and figure out why the thyroid is sluggish.


Hyperthyroidism is a condition where there is too much thyroid hormone being produced. Some of symptoms of hyperthyroidism include nervousness, anxiety, increased heart rate, weight loss – essentially the speeding up of many body processes.

The typical treatment varies from drugs suppressing thyroid production to radioactive iodine to thyroid surgery. The functional medicine approach to hyperthyroidism is different and aims to fix the root of the problem.

Hashimoto’s disease

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition, in which the body attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. People with Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis have a gene that can be turned on due to different conditions. The diagnostic test for Hashimoto’s is either a blood hormone and antibody test, which checks for the antibodies – TPO Ab (thyroid peroxidase antibody) and TgAb (thyroglobulin antibody), along with TSH, T3 and T4 hormones. [Note: The traditional tests for thyroid functionality only include the TSH, T3 and T4 hormones. If the TSH/T3/T4 are not in the normal range, then it’s important to get TPO Ab and TgAb tested as well to check for Hashimoto’s.]

People with Hashimoto’s can have symptoms that swing between hypo and hyperthyroidism. The mainstream medical treatment for Hashimoto’s controls the symptoms using medication for hypothyroidism, if the TSH levels warrant it.  The functional medicine approach to Hashimoto’s involves finding the root cause.


  1. Book:“Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause” – Isabella Wentz (2013)

See also

  1. Gut, Diet and Health Interventions

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