How to naturally address issues with shallow breathing or “air hunger”, a common but overlooked problem in those suffering from thyroid problems or adrenal dysfunction.
Every single tissue in the entire body has thyroid receptors. This means that the thyroid, if not functioning properly, can cause a wide variety of symptoms beyond what we would normally consider.
It is most common to question the health of the thyroid in cases of fatigue, constipation, weight gain, chilliness, and dryness.
However, it is also very common in cases of depression, fibromyalgia-like muscle aches, gastrointestinal dysfunction, and even foggy brain.
The thyroid is one endocrine organ in a delicately and intricately related chain of hormone-producing glands.
Although it may be one of the easier glands to measure, others in the chain, i.e. the hypothalamus, the adrenal glands, and the gastrointestinal system have a major effect on the thyroid’s function.
In one two-week period alone, I treated three unusual cases of thyroid dysfunction.
- One was an 8-year-old girl with Hashimoto’s auto-immune disease.
- Another is a 22-year-old male who looks like a bodybuilder.
- The third was a 14-year-old very slender female.
None of them fit the picture of a typical thyroid patient…but if you don’t test you never know!
Common Misdiagnosis in Conventional Tests
When testing the thyroid you must test several markers to understand if the thyroid is working properly:
- T4 total
- Free T3
- Free T4
- T3 uptake
- Free thyroxine index
- Thyroid antibodies
Laboratory ranges are very wide on the thyroid and, sadly, do not reflect optimal functioning in the real world.
It is very common for conventional doctors to just order a TSH and say your thyroid is fine when it really isn’t.
The reason is most doctors treat all thyroid conditions the same – give enough Levo-thyroxin until the TSH blood level is within normal limits.
This conventional approach only works for one kind of thyroid dysfunction!
There are six different types of low thyroid function with at least 22 other bodily dysfunctions resulting in a suboptimal thyroid.
How Other Organs Affect the Thyroid
I will give you a few examples of how other organ systems affect the thyroid.
If you have positive antibodies TPO or TGB, you really have an auto-immune disease where your own immune system is destroying thyroid tissue.
Shockingly, it is estimated that at least 75% of hypothyroid cases are auto-immune in nature.
This problem can really be helped by clinicians who understand the relationship between thyroid, gut, immune system and brain.
Attention should be directed to these areas:
- Resolve food allergies
- Measure and optimize Vitamin D levels.
- Heal leaky gut
- Balance the two arms of the immune system Th1 and Th2 is very important.
Pitfalls with “Immune Tonics”
Common health food store “immune tonics” such as echinacea and maitake are Th1 stimulators while caffeine is a TH2 stimulator.
If one is Th1 dominant they will frequently complain that echinacea or other Th1 stimulants make them feel bad.
It is important to realize that your individual body may not fit the common marketing scheme currently advocated in medicine or natural health care.
Iodine Can Sometimes Make Things Worse
There are other tests such as cytokine testing or TH1 and 2 challenges to get this system balanced.
It is paramount to understand that those diagnosed with Hashimoto’s or showing positive antibodies will be made WORSE with iodine supplementation.
Free T3 is the real workhorse of thyroid hormones. It is what your cells use, yet only 6% of T3 is made in the thyroid.
The vast majority is converted from T4 in the liver and from the bacteria in the GI tract. Can you start to see how important the GI tract is and the importance of fermented foods, prebiotics, and probiotics?
Thyroid and Adrenal Dysfunction Usually Go Hand in Hand
It is rare to see thyroid dysfunction without seeing adrenal dysfunction. The adrenals are the glands that deal with stress.
In our culture, most people are just worn out…usually all the time!
This leads to the under-conversion of T4 to T3.
It frequently leads to blood sugar issues which dampen communication between the hypothalamus, pituitary, and thyroid glands.
Shallow Breathing aka “Air Hunger”
Again, these problems are made worse by people skipping meals, eating low-protein or vegetarian diets, and using stimulants such as caffeine to increase the adrenal output of hormones.
I always use nutrients and whole food diets emphasizing higher protein and healthy fats for this condition.
One of the most important treatments is breathing exercises to remedy air hunger.
It is common to find people that suffer from shallow breathing when endocrine conditions present.
Shallow breathing is characterized by breathing from the chest up without using the diaphragm.
Put another way, shallow breathing involves breathing without expanding out to allow the diaphragm to create a vacuum in the lungs.
It is impossible in a short article to completely explain the thyroid gland. My goal is rather to show you the many facets of thyroid dysfunction and testing.
As in all my writings, my goal is to help you connect the dots between one particular system and its relationship to the whole body.
I hope to convey the message that if you are chronically ill and your doctor has only tested your TSH please ask for more.
Do not take over-the-counter formulas for your thyroid unless someone is specifically monitoring your case as what makes one type of thyroid condition better can aggravate another type.
Again Iodine is a very individual nutrient for certain thyroid types and not for others!