The thyroid is the butterfly-shaped gland located just below the center of the neck. It lives on the endocrine system with its brother and sister glands–the hypothalamus, pituitary, pineal, parathyroid, thymus, pancreas, adrenals, and gonads (ovaries and testes).
These endocrine glands secrete hormones that evoke specific responses in cells, tissues, and organs throughout the entire body.
The endocrine system is one of our main communicators, using blood to deliver hormonal messages to the cells making them more permeable.
It’s fascinating the way the body communicates with itself without our having to do anything except simply exist in the world!
Contrary to what we’ve been told by medical professionals and mainstream society, the thyroid gland may not be responsible for the many ailments and discomfort you may be experiencing.
A malfunctioning thyroid gland is merely a symptom of an entire system that is out of balance.
Some common thyroid dysfunctions:
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis or Autoimmune Thyroiditis – an autoimmune disease causing inflammation of the thyroid gland, which manifests itself most often as hypothyroidism, but can cause hyperthyroidism as well
Hypothyroidism – underactive thyroid not producing sufficient thyroid hormone
Hyperthyroidism – overactive thyroid producing too much thyroid hormone
Graves’ Disease – autoimmune disease that can cause hyperthyroidism
Goiter – enlargement of the thyroid gland that can be caused by either hypo- or hyperthyroidism, or by ingesting too little or too much iodine
Nodules – benign (noncancerous) lumps on or around the thyroid
Thyroid cancer – malignant lumps, nodules, cells
The thyroid is responsible for metabolism of oxygen and glucose, and that means it’s a pretty darn important gland! But, then again, all of the glands in the human body are essential to our optimum functioning. That’s why they are there.
What amazes me about modern medical treatment and diagnosis is the focus on the thyroid gland as if it is a solo operator. Keep in mind that the thyroid does NOT work on its own. There are many more factors at work supporting, or not supporting, the proper functioning of this gland.
For example, the pituitary and the hypothalamus (glands located in the brain) control the actions of the thyroid. If thyroid hormone levels drop, as in the case of hypothyroidism, the hypothalamus secretes Thyroid Releasing Hormone (TRH), and alerts the pituitary gland to produce Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH).
The thyroid, if receptive, responds to the orders delivered from the brain by producing more or less hormone. If the thyroid is not responding properly, we need to look at some of the other glands on the endocrine system as well.
If the thyroid is not “receptive” to the orders coming from the brain, that’s a key issue we need to understand to help heal this disease. The behavioral problems of our glands’ failure to communicate effectively with each other is a BIG problem.
The thyroid regulates our metabolism, which is the body’s ability to break down food and convert it into energy. Food is fuel for the body, and everyone burns it at a different rate. Some people are quick burners, and some people are slow burners.
Generally, people with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s are characterized as slow burners, having a tendency to gain weight and having difficulty losing it. On the other hand, people with hyperthyroidism are usually quick burners, as the name suggests (hyper!), and can have trouble gaining weight.
Modern medicine treats thyroid disease without taking the entire body and/or mind into consideration. Treatment can include using synthetic hormones to unnaturally speed a sluggish thyroid. This may seem like a good idea, but can be highly detrimental and doesn’t get to the root cause, throwing the body even more off balance.
Ask some of the folks that have taken synthetic hormones for hypothyroid or hyperthyroid conditions for a few years (or just check in with yourself) and see if the symptoms are still present or have gotten worse. Initially, many folks feel better and more energized, but within a few years they often complain of feeling worse… much worse!
They begin noticing that other problems have suspiciously taken root, like adrenal fatigue (chronic exhaustion), osteoporosis, bone fractures, muscle weakness, sleeplessness, irregular heartbeat, breast or reproductive cancer, liver stress and toxicity, hair-loss, and overall poor immunity. And, more recent studies have indicated thyroid medication can lead to early-onset dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Almost every day I receive emails from people worried about their TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), or wondering how to improve their T3 or T4 (thyroid hormones). I always encourage those folks to STOP focusing on the hormone levels in the blood tests. Those tests are not accurate in the process of healing thyroid disease.
When I was initially diagnosed with my condition, hyperthyroidism and goiter, I was suffering from many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism as well; weight gain, hair loss, brittle nails, dry skin, lethargy, premenstrual syndrome, and bouts with anxiety and depression.
I refused the recommended medical treatment for my thyroid condition (radioactive iodine and a lifetime of thyroid hormone), and instead, focused on improving my diet and lifestyle. As I altered my diet, the thyroid numbers in my blood work began changing as well.
Our food creates our blood, and that blood feeds all of our organs, systems, and glands–including the thyroid gland. It’s basic common sense that as I adjusted the quality and type of food I was eating, my blood would feed my thyroid (and other glands) new nutrients that may have been lacking before.
The body is a self-healing organism. It is perfectly designed, and if we give it what it needs, it can heal itself. Going for periodic blood tests is great – it can show you what may be happening inside your body at any specific time. Or, it could create a false sense of worry and stress if you get stuck chasing the T3, T4, and TSH numbers in your blood work.
We need to look at the body in a much bigger way. The symptoms of thyroid disease are the body’s way of telling us that something is out of balance.
It’s time to look at yourself and your thyroid in a whole new way.