The thyroid gland and its importance
The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped organ , delicate like a butterfly, and sits at the base of the neck. It release hormones into the blood which travel to all cells of the body. These control the way our bodies respond to energy and are important in heart and lung function, cell structure, the nervous system, muscles, body temperature, weight, the menstrual cycle and much more. It regulates the distribution of heat and fluids throughout the body.
The hypothalamus in the brain tells the thyroid to increase or decrease thyroid hormone release, the 2 main ones being T3 and T4, which are made by the thyroid gland (in part using iodine from our diet).
Two main problems can be that there is too little or too much T3 and T4 resulting in hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism respectively.
Typical signs and symptoms can include
Hypothyroidism- tired, fatigue, weight gain, feeling colder, muscle aches and pains, constipation, dry skin and hair, slower heart rate, heavy periods.
Hyperthyroidism- weight loss, feeling warmer, increased sweating, nervousness, anxiety, agitation, tremors, diarrhoea, hair loss.
Chinese Medicine and the thyroid
All primary channels and some complement channels cross the thyroid and can have an influence on the endocrine system.
Thyroid pathologies can be addressed by using Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine while working closely alongside Western Medicine using regular blood tests and western medications when necessary. Both can play a key role in thyroid maintenance and treatment - as well as various formulas for different pathologies dietary changes, including supplements, may be necessary.
Vitamin imbalances can affect thyroid balance also- calcium, sodium, vitamin A, vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin K, glucose. Thyroid dysfunction can cause vitamin deficiency and cholesterol level variations.
Other supplements that can assist the thyroid if necessary include Iron, Zinc, tyrosine, iodine, selenium, chromium, probiotics, choline, inositol.
Stress and fasting can also have an adverse affect on the thyroid. Fasting can suppress T3 and T4 levels. ( T3 drops with fasting )
Thyroid activity also increases during pregnancy. If there are thyroid problems going into a pregnancy then the thyroid needs to be monitored to avoid later problems.
Thyroid hormones help your liver process blood. When thyroid levels are low the liver is processing at a slower rate which can result in higher levels of cholesterol which can cause a cholesterol build up in the arteries.
.......Don't lose the beat
The thyroid is like a drummer in a band who sets the pace for cellular metabolic activity, including the brain cells, homeostasis, appetite regulation and energy. If the beat becomes too slow or too fast the result can be hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) made in the anterior pituitary (AP) tells how much thyroid to produce in response to high or low levels. If TSH is too high the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism ensue- "tired, cold, grumpy, hungry, palpitations" which can manifest as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, hypothyroidism, thyroiditis or pituitary disease.
If TSH is too low it can result in agitation, heat, dryness, palpitations, anxiety and manifest as Graves' disease, hyperthyroidism, thyroiditis, pituitary diseas