* Follow a healthy, wholefood, nutrient-dense diet to complement conventional treatments to restore thyroid function:
* Eat foods rich in iodine, such as seaweed, seafish, eggs and milk. Kelp and sea vegetables have high iodine content
* Avoid raw cabbage, turnips, swedes, peanuts and mustard (these interfere with the body's ability to absorb iodine)
* Consume foods that are rich in B vitamins and selenium, such as buckwheat, organ meats, legumes, lentils, soya oil, cod liver oil, nuts, avocado and eggs
* Consider supplementing with all the major vitamins plus calcium, magnesium, selenium and zinc. Vitamin A (not carotene) taken with protein is essential for T4 to T3 conversion, as is magesium, selenium and zinc. Those with a non-existent or underactive thyroid cannot absorb B12, a serious deficiency of which can cause mental illness, neurological disorders, neuralgia, neuritis and bursitis.
* Take Armour Thyroid, a natural thyroid hormone derived from pigs - containing both T4 and T3 - if you don't wish to take synthetic thyroid replacement therapy. It can be prescribed by any GP on a green prescription (FP10; Thyroid UK Information Pack, p 39); the chemist can obtain it from IDIS World Medicines, Millbank House, 171-185 Ewell Road, Surbiton, Surrey KT6 6AX (tel: 02084 100 700; fax: 02084 100 800; e-mail: email@example.com or idis@ idis.co.uk for orders; www.idis.co.uk). Other brands are also available
* Consider alternative medicine. Kinesiology - a technique based on the idea that organ dysfunction is manifested as muscle weakness - is safe, gentle and relaxing, and purports to be able to identify thyroid and nutritional imbalances (contact Association of Systematic Kinesiology [ASK], tel: 01424 753 375).
Bach Flower and homoeopathic remedies, energy balancing and cranial osteopathy may also be useful (contact Dr Edward Bach Centre, tel: 01491 834 678; Society of Homeopaths, tel: 01604 621 400; www.homeopathy-soh.org; Zero Balancing Association, tel: 01308 420 007; The Sutherland Society, tel: 0845 603 0680; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Another possibility is reflexology (contact Association of Reflexologists, tel: 0870 567 3320, e-mail: email@example.com; www.aor.org.uk)
The book Your Guide to Metabolic Health by Drs G. Honeyman-Lowe and J.C. Lowe (McDowell Health Science Books, 2001) contains a vast amount of self-help information (www.McDowellPublishing.com; for copies, contact Linda Thipthorpe, tel: 01872 240 337; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
* For added support, contact the charity Thyroid UK, 32 Darcy Road, St Osyth, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex CO16 8QF (tel: 0125 582 1733; e-mail: email@example.com; www.thyroiduk.org), which provides an information pack including a list of GPs with a special interest in thyroid problems and their fees; contact details of local UK groups; other useful addresses; books; website information; important research studies; information on thyroid functions and dysfunctions; supplements; private tests and costs, and a newsletter
* Get yourself tested. NPTech Services Ltd (tel: 01638 665 350; fax 01638 664 913; e-mail: info@NPTech.co.uk) provides comprehensive thyroid and adrenal function tests, among others, including progesterone, oestradiol, oestrone, vitamin B12 and iron. Wellbeing Diagnostic Laboratories (tel: 020 7730 7010; fax: 020 7730 7447; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.iwdl.net) offers a wide range of blood, urine and saliva tests, in-cluding DHEA levels, adrenal stress index (saliva) and total thyroid screen (blood).