Do you have cold hands and cold feet? Do you have difficulty losing weight? Do you experience constipation? Do you have dry skin or brittle nails? If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, your thyroid may be out of balance.

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland on the neck which is the master metabolic regulator of the body and it does this by controlling the temperature of the body. Every biochemical process in every cell in your body needs to function at a certain temperature, if the temperature is off by even a slight amount then this can slow down or speed up the metabolism in the body.

When the temperature is lower than normal, this is called hypothyroidism and leads to a slow down of metabolism seen as cold intolerance, constipation, dry skin and hair, difficulty losing weight or weight gain, fatigue, headaches, depression, infertility, low libido, hair loss, sluggishness, mood swings and low body temperature in general.

When the temperature is higher than normal, this is called hyperthyroidism, when the metabolism is fast, you have difficulty keeping weight on. Often people hear this and say, that sounds great, but the problem is that you have breakdown of tissues including organs and muscles, anxiety, insomnia, loose stools, nervousness, sweating, palpitations, hyperactivity, eye disorders.

Here are SEVEN causes of thyroid dysfunction:

1. Nutrient Deficiencies

The enzyme that converts inactive T4 to active T3 needs zinc, selenium, B6, and B12. For the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormones there must be adequate iodine in the body. If there are not adequate amounts of these minerals and nutrients in the body, then this will affect the proper functioning of the thyroid.

2. Heavy Metal Toxicity

Heavy metals in the body from dental amalgams, cigarette smoke, cosmetics, tattoos, can interfere with the conversion of T4 to T3.

3. Liver Congestion

The liver is where the hormones are metabolized. If the liver is congested with toxins and not functioning optimally, then it is unable to effectively make hormones, including thyroid hormones.

4. Adrenal Dysfunction

The thyroid and adrenals work really closely together. If the adrenal function is challenged, then the thyroid will act as its back up plan and this will deplete thyroid function. Proper adrenal gland function is necessary to convert T4 to T3.

5. Toxic Overload

Certain medications including the birth control pill, hormone replacement therapy, beta-blockers, chemotherapy agents will interfere in proper thyroid function. Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals such as bisphenol A, phthalates, pesticides, xenoestrogens can cause toxic damage to thyroid hormone receptors.

6. Nervous System Imbalance

The hypothalamus and pituitary in the brain are the control centers of the hormonal system. Hypothalamus monitors the amount of thyroid hormones in the bloodstream. When low levels of thyroid hormone are detected it releases Thyroid Releasing Hormone (TRH), which then tells the pituitary to release Thyroid Stimulating Hormones (TSH). TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to release thyroxine (T4). If the nervous system is out of balance then it cannot effectively communicate with the hormonal system to allow the thyroid to function optimally.

7. Disrupted Microenvironment

Environmental toxins, heavy metals, infectious agents, inflammatory agents will be stuck in this microenvironment (extracellular matrix) and disrupt proper cellular communication. This is especially the case with endocrine disruption as hormones are messengers between cells if they are not able to properly travel between the cells because the microenvironment is filled with toxic substances. Disruption to proper communication leads to disruption to hormonal communication and this will lead to thyroid dysfunction.

One of the easiest ways to access if your thyroid is functioning properly is to check your body temperature. Your oral body temperature should be between 97.8ºF-98.2ºF (36.5ºC-36.8ºC). Check this for 3 days in a row. If your body temperature falls outside of this range, then you may have thyroid issues.

It is best to approach thyroid dysfunction with a comprehensive, naturopathic assessment that looks at the body from a functional, biochemical perspective and takes into consideration body temperature, comprehensive lab results and clinical presentation.