Expert Guidance From Louise O’Connor - The Thyroid Naturopath { Discover More! }

What Are Thyroid Nodules? Can Natural Treatments Shrink Them?

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what are thyroid nodulesThyroid nodules often appear as a lump, or some type of abnormal growth within the thyroid gland.

They may be solid, or filled with fluid. If you have one, or more nodules you may be aware of swelling at the front of your neck, or you may feel pressure or discomfort when swallowing.

Investigating Thyroid Nodules

Thyroid nodules can be easily felt during a physical examination, while others are hidden deep within the thyroid tissue.

A thyroid ultrasound should be performed for all those with known, or suspected nodules. An ultrasound of the thyroid region uses sound waves to generate images, and is therefore not associated with any risks.

Thyroid nodules are investigated to check if there is any serious thyroid abnormalities. Fortunately, the vast majority of nodules are benign, not cancerous. If nodules are found to be cancerous, or even highly suspicious they are surgically removed.

Hot vs. Cold Thyroid Nodules

When radioactive iodine is given nodules appear as hot, or cold on an x-ray image.

  • Hot nodules absorb more iodine and are darker when scanned. These nodules are classified as being ‘hot’ and are usually non-cancerous.
  • Cold nodules are non-functioning and absorb less iodine. These ‘cold’ nodules carry a higher risk of being cancerous as cancer cells accumulate less of the radioactive iodine.

What Causes Nodules On The Thyroid?

Experts agree thyroid nodules are common, especially in women but there’s no clear cut reason why thyroid nodules develop.

It’s likely they form for multiple reasons and I list them here;

# You are more likely to develop thyroid nodules if you have an autoimmune thyroid disorder such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Did you know Hashimoto’s is the most common hypothyroid disorder, especially among women?

> >  You can learn more here: What is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?

# You have a nutritional deficiency such as low iodine, and selenium.

Specific nutrients support day to day thyroid function. This includes nutrients such as selenium which support immunity within the thyroid gland.

> > You can learn more here: Selenium {The Missing Link for Thyroid Health?}

# You have a gluten sensitivity.

Gluten is a common food ingredient that can easily irritate the lining of the digestive system. Once this happens the body launches a swift immune response as it reacts to gluten as something foreign. This creates inflammation that spreads like wildfire throughout the whole body.

> >  You can learn more here: Want To Know Why A Gluten Free Diet Could Help Your Thyroid?

# You have a chronic infection that is undermining your general well-being.

Infections that were once thought to only cause short lived symptoms may in fact remain active in the body. This can give rise to a range of diverse symptoms depending on the original infection, or multiple infections involved.

> > You can learn more here: Testing For Viral Infections {Does It Matter When You Have Hypothyroidism?}

# Exposure to environmental toxins can contribute to the development of thyroid nodules.

Did you know studies show there’s a definite link between environmental chemicals and thyroid function? This is an important link to consider if you have been diagnosed with thyroid nodules.

> >  You can learn more here: Environmental Chemicals And Thyroid Function

# Radiation can affect your thyroid.

Exposure to radiation treatment around the head, neck or chest, or nuclear fallout also increases the risk of developing thyroid nodules.

The ‘Watch And Wait’ Medical Approach

The good news is, the majority of thyroid nodules are benign. For this reason, most people are advised to take a ‘watch and wait’ approach along with regular medical check-ups.

As a Naturopath I believe thyroid nodules develop when the thyroid is under significant stress. It’s therefore wise not to watch and wait. Rather, it’s time to get proactive with uncovering the root causes, and developing an effective treatment strategy in consultation with your healthcare practitioner.

There is no specific natural treatment to help shrink thyroid nodules.

A natural treatment approach seeks to find the underlying root causes, so all aspects of your health can be addressed. In other words, rather than simply treating your thyroid symptoms, an individualized treatment plan addresses the underlying factors to help get your thyroid health back on track.

> > You can click here to read my blog post: Natural Treatment For Thyroid Nodules {Your 5 Action Steps}

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  1. lisa george says:

    Writing to you about my sister who has nodules on her thyroid gland. One large and two small . Her doctor had a thyroid ultrsound sound done and a biopsy. Results normal TSh and nodules fluid filled. However, since the last test nodule seems to be getting bigger and her symptoms have always been hgih blood pressure and low enrgy ,extreme fatigue and hair breakage. She is on high blood pressure medication and recently had this medication increased.
    These symptoms are not going away and been asked to monitir and return in 6 months for another biopsy. In the meantime ntohing else has been offeered to deal wit this health change- I feel a diet consul and overall hormonal work -up shoild be done. This wait and see approach is very unsettling and Iwe want to be pro-active about this.
    She is i her mid forties and her blood pressure is a concern as medications she is on is only to me masking the underlying cause and would like a more detailed investigation be done. However, lookng for the right doctor to do this. Please help!!

    • Louise O'Connor says:

      Hi Lisa, is your sister in Australia? I can help you find a doctor here. Best wishes, Louise

    • Elizabeth Cooper says:

      Lisa, your sister may need to have the nodules removed, surgically is the quickest way as I believe iodine therapy is too risky in view of her high BP & her age. She then needs to be on thyroxine or T4 as this delivers thyroid hormone to all the cells of the body. TSH is not a measure of thyroid health hence her other symptoms . Thyroxine will not affect blood pressure meds but may improve this. Change doctors if he/she does not agree. Also might be good idea to have your thyroid antibodies measured as chances are Hashimoto’s is also looming large.

  2. Tamara Barbee says:

    Hi I have an enlarged thyroid and multiple nodules all over my thyroid, with one pressing against my windpipe. My TSH levels are normal, so are my t3 and t4. One of the levels are closer near hyperthyroidism. I have both hyper and hypothyroidism. Some of them are memory loss, fatigue, numbness in my fingers and toes, weight gain but also can’t lose weight, hair falling out, muscle weakness, insomnia, fibromyalgia, etc. I have an appointment to get a total thyroidectomy soon, but am afraid. Do you know why I have both types of symptoms and can I heal my thyroid?

    I live in the US.

  3. Louise O'Connor says:

    Hi Tamara, it sounds like your thyroid is under enormous stress which can explain why your thyroid hormones levels are fluctuating. Have you had your thyroid antibodies checked? This will uncover an autoimmune thyroid issue. Unfortunately most Drs recommend thyroid surgery if your thyroid is enlarged to the point it is pressing against your windpipe. This is serious as it can affect your breathing. If you are trying to save your thyroid you always have the right to seek a second opinion. Best wishes, Louise O’Connor

  4. Hi Louise,

    I would like to please hear your opinion if you could, thank you.

    I am 34 yrs old and 36 w pregnant and noticed a swallow ball in front of my neck and extra discomfort to breathe when lying down. (Looking at pics this started in Nov 17 or 4 months ago). Tests were done early Feb and discovered my left side is 7cm (right 3.5cm/normal) with 2 solid nodules 2.5 & 2.8 cm. Biopsy showed 15% & 30% suspicious. My TSH levels are normal for now but GP diagnoses is that I’ll have issues in the future equals to Hashimoto’s. We asked the specialists to do a second biopsy and she said No… she recommended to operate and remove all left side after baby is born 4-6weeks after and maybe a second operation to remove the right side and be on medicine for the rest of my life. I would like to consider other non-removal options like wait until baby is born and monitor the thyroid and hormones levels. I never had an issue like this and don’t want to rush into a surgery and be on pills for the rest of my life unless it’s completely necessary. She said no natural treatment will help. I’m not sure what to do as I am not a big believer of traditional medicine and their protocols and looking at what’s different from before I got pregnant, started to take pregnancy multivitamin and iron as I was deficient. I live in Sydney. Can we wait and do other test, biopsy etc when my hormone levels are back to normal? Any thoughts?

    Many thanks

    • Louise O'Connor says:

      Hi Marcela, surgical removal of the thyroid is a big undertaking and requires careful consideration. All patients have the right to seek a second opinion and should be encouraged to do this if they have concerns or wish to discuss natural alternatives to standard treatment. I recommend seeking out a functional medical practitioner. Functional medicine considers the interaction of nutritional and environmental factors with human biochemistry and physiology, and the resulting symptoms and pathology. Nutritional deficiencies, gluten sensitivity, chronic infections, and exposure to environmental toxins can contribute to the development of thyroid nodules. These factors should be investigated. Also ensure you are getting comprehensive testing that includes TSH, free T3, free T4, thyroid auto antibodies and reverse T3. Best wishes, Louise O’Connor.

  5. Stacy Belmore says:

    I have a nodule on my right thyroid which was biopsied 3 years ago it was a 1.7 and just really just didn’t bother as the doctors didn’t seem concerned. I went for an MRI of my breast and the nodule came up as I need to follow up. So i went to my doctor he recommend removing it. I went to the Endocrinologist and she also wants it removed as it 3.7 in size. My blood work came back good.
    TSH 2.71
    CALCUIM 9.0
    T3 TOTAL 107
    T4 8.3
    I have been eating clean an vegan for the last 3 weeks. I also started taken Emerald Thyroid Care. I put Aztec Bendonite clay on mixed with apple cider nightly on my throat. I am scared and worried on how my life will be with out a thyroid. OMG I am scared do you have any suggestions. I had 3 opinions so far. My doctor, Endocrinologist, Surgeon. I am going to Moffitt on the 17th of October to see their surgeon and ask for a biopsy to be done, but I am being told it's too big and it won't shrink.

    • Louise O'Connor says:

      Stacy, are you saying the surgeon wants to remove the nodule or the entire thyroid gland? If full thyroidectomy it’s cause for concern as removing the thyroid is a big step. Is it possible to get another opinion from a functional medicine practitioner? They will investigate the root causes inc why the nodule has gone from 1.7 to 3.7 in size in three years, and may offer alternative treatment strategies. They may also assist with interpreting your blood test results. That is, look at why free T3 is low end of normal, should RT3 be tested, should you be checked for EBV, CMV and other retro viruses, etc? The biggest concern with nodules is that they may not be benign – that is why the thyroglobulin test was done, and if nodules are large and close to the windpipe it impacts your ability to breathe properly. Best wishes, Louise O’Connor

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