Under active thyroid natural treatment – stress, reverse T3 and adrenal support

Let me share with you one, quite often overlooked aspect in terms of under active thyroid natural treatment.

Did you know that reverse T3 “steals” you active T3 hormones and convert them back to inactive T4? So no matter what you do or even how much medication you take. If you have elevated levels of reverse T3 (rT3) you will continue to struggle with variety of low thyroid symptoms. Weight gain, hair loss, depression and fatigue are most common. Nutrient dense diet in combination with the appropriate supplements is the first step of low thyroid natural treatment. You can read more on thyroid friendly diet, what to eat and what to avoid to improve your thyroid and your wellbeing here.

However, today I would like to focus on less spoken natural remedies for under active thyroid that aim to lower your reverse T3 levels and at the same time increase your T3 production. It’s especially important if you already tried few things with no luck or you are on levothyroxine and still feeling tired .

Under active thyroid natural treatment step 1:

Understand what causes elevated reverse T3.

Reverse T3 is your body’s natural mechanism to regulate your thyroid hormones. It acts as a “break” on your metabolism during times of extreme stress or in other words when your body see the situation as a threat. You need reverse T3 to protect and activate other body’s defences when it’s needed. Reverse T3 is not a problem itself. The problem starts when you are producing too much of reverse T3. Keeping your reverse T3 levels in check is 50% of success. So what causes an increase in rT3? 

This can include:

  • calorie-restricted diet and low carbohydrate diet
  • excessive exercise
  • prolonged elevated emotional stress and high cortisol
  • chronic inflammation resulting from untreated autoimmune conditions, insulin resistance, intestinal dysbiosis or excess free radicals
  • poor liver function
  • bacteria overgrowth like SIBO and chronic infections
  • environmental toxins, pesticides and heavy metals
  • excessive caffeine intake (especially on empty stomach)
  • nutrient deficiencies: vitamin D, b12, zinc, selenium and iron.

Natural treatment for under active thyroid – how to get your thyroid levels back to normal?

There are few things you can do to reverse your under active thyroid naturally: addressing adrenal fatigue, lowering inflammation, improving your liver and your gut microbiome are essential to lower reverse T3 and increase free T3 thyroid hormones. However, from all mentioned above, improving or “calming down” your adrenals is the most important. Adrenals and thyroid closely work together. When you chronically overwork your adrenals with various stressors, you will be producing excess cortisol. That will lead to constantly elevated reverse T3 levels and that to adrenal fatigue over time. Adrenal fatigue will prevent your from healing your under active thyroid no matter how good is your diet, how much supplements or medication you take.

Under active thyroid natural treatment – step 2: lower reverse T3 levels

Here are 4 steps how to lower reverse T3 and increase free T3 levels naturally

1. Take care of your adrenals

Best natural remedy for under active thyroid is to lower your stress and cortisol levels. Stress is not only when you feel stressed at work or during job interview. All above listed factors create stress for the body. When on the top of that you add not enough sleep, not being able to switch off and emotional stress, your adrenals will stay “STOP” at some point. The most common emotional stressors are overthinking, feeling overwhelmed, being surrounded by toxic people, doing more and more to feel “enough” or even when you feel like something is lacking in your life and everyday is just another day of struggle – those small things add up and overtime your adrenals will start crying for help. Take steps to balance your adrenals as with the presence of chronic stress, your adrenals need extra support.

A. Make your sleep priority and aim for even 8-9h of good quality sleep. Ideally go to bed by 10pm the latest as adrenals regenerate best before midnight. Also consider taking B vitamins. B vitamins are essential part of the natural treatment for under active thyroid and can help you with fatigue and low energy too.

B. Epsom salt bath and using essential oils like lavender, forgive and frankincense can be beneficial too. When your body is under stress, the first mineral that you will burn through is magnesium. Epsom salt baths are not only relaxing but also one of the best natural remedies to restore magnesium levels.

C. Drink a glass of warm water with up to 1/4 of teaspoon Himalayan salt as soon as you wake up. Himalayan sea salt is rich in several minerals, including sodium, that help to restore normal functioning of adrenal glands and improve your morning fatigue.

black woman preparing for spa treatment in bathroom
cup of coffee near croissant bread

D. Take a look at you morning routine. Are you having coffee first thing in the morning, hitting the gym before work or pushing intermittent fasting till lunch time? Exercise, coffee in moderation and intermittent fasting are healthy but unfortunately not for your under active thyroid. They create additional stress for your adrenals. That means cut out and reduce as much stressors in your life and in your daily routine as possible.

No coffee on empty stomach, proper breakfast in the morning and reducing exercise intensity can make big difference! Choose between low-impact exercise like walking, pilates or yoga. High intensity exercise put strain on the adrenals causing excess cortisol to be produced and that raises reverse T3 and lower your active T3 levels. Sound so simple but lowering your cortisol is one of the best natural treatments for under active thyroid. When your body is relaxed, it will heal:)

2. Lower inflammation

Everyone knows that inflammation is bad but very few people realise the real impact on the body. The inflammatory cytokines IL-1, Il-6, C-reactive protein (CRP), and TNF-alpha will significantly decrease D1 activity and reduce your tissue T3 levels. D1 is an enzyme that converts inactive T4 to active T3 throughout the body. T3 is ultimately the hormone your need to feel good, have energy and easily start losing weight. D1 can be suppressed and down-regulated in response to stress, liver dysfunction, insulin resistance, inflammation, gut dysbiosis, etc. Studies have shown that these inflammatory cytokines affect thyroid hormone conversion, reducing T4 conversion to T3 and also increasing rT3. 

Knowing the source of the inflammation is the key. However there are few natural remedies that work quite well for lowering systemic inflammation. One of the most known under active thyroid natural cures are omega 3 fatty acids and curcumin. 

glass of apricot carrot juice on blue wooden table

3. Support your liver and improve gut health.

Your thyroid gland makes T4 and tiny bit of T3. What matters is your liver as this is where the most conversion of T4 and T3 occurs. Studies have showed that optimal levels of reverse T3 are dependent on liver health

For liver support, ensure you consume antioxidant rich foods like blueberries, beetroot juice and sulphur rich foods like garlic or onions.

Milk thistle could be as an additional boost for your liver health too. If you think your liver is your weak spot, take a look at this comprehensive guide how to improve liver detox phase 1 and 2

When looking to treat your under active thyroid naturally taking care of your liver and gut is very important. Disruptions in gut health as dysbiosis (an imbalance between good and bad gut bacteria), gut inflammation or leaky gut may reduce your body’s ability to convert T4 into the active T3 hormone.

4. Gut health – what else you can do?

Removing harmful factors is even more important that introducing all gut healing and gut supporting foods in terms of treating your under active thyroid naturally. So what is disrupting gut microbiome? From all the foods I would say sugar is the worst and artificial sweeteners are not better.

Did you know that overusing stevia which is considered as a natural and healthy sweetener can disrupt communication between gut bacteria leading to imbalances?

Other big knowns gut disruptors are lack of sleep, excess alcohol and gluten, undigested foods, excess lectins present mostly in beans and legumes, strenuous exercise and stress.

smiling woman eating pasta in restaurant

Reverse T3 and Free T3 ratio – the most sensitive thyroid dysfunction test and early detection tool

As with all hormones it’s never about a number only. It’s about ratios. Ideally you should have 20 times more of free T3 in relation to reverse T3 for optimal thyroid function.

That means we are looking at Free T3 to reverse T3 ratio to be at least between 10 and 20, ideally >20. Looking at your full thyroid panel and thyroid ratios will help you understand how well your body is converting T4 into T3, if the medication and dosage you are taking is actually working, put your symptoms in context and help you understand other relevant factors. Moreover Free T3 to reverse T3 ratio is the most sensitive measurement and early detection tool for thyroid dysfunction.  It will indicate thyroid dysfunction very early on and becomes abnormal long before other measures of thyroid function such as TSH and free T4.

Key take aways

Under active thyroid natural treatment involves considering all relevant aspect that may be disrupting your thyroid function. Elevated reverse T3 is one of those components that none of GPs is testing and not many people are aware of till they start looking for answers and natural solutions for treating under active thyroid naturally after years of struggling with low thyroid symptoms despite being on medication or trying various things that didn’t work.

High reverse T3 = Low free T3

In other word high reverse T3 leads to low active free T3 levels. With low T3 levels your thyroid won’t be able to perform all important functions in your body necessary for you to feel good, sleep well, have glowing hair and nails, fell more energetic and being able to lose weight easily.

If you’re interested in discovering more about your own levels of reverse T3 and how you can improve your under active thyroid naturally contact me and we can discuss your health concerns and what would be the best approach in your case 🙂

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