Your thyroid gland is the VIP of your endocrine system – it does so much and is integral to many of your body’s functions.
Its job is to produce hormones that regulate some of your most important bodily functions, such as your heart rate and breathing.
Manypeople have questions about how efficiently their thyroid is functioning.
As one of the naturopathic doctors in Toronto here at Annex Naturopathic, I help a lot of patients with therapies that relate to thyroid hormones and thyroid function.
If you have questions about your thyroid, read on below.
What Is Your Thyroid?
Before we start, let’s get to know your thyroid a bit better.
Your thyroid is a small gland with two ‘lobes’ – two halves.
The two lobes are connected by an ‘isthmus,’ which is simply a small band of thyroid tissue.
As a result, it’s often described as shaped like a butterfly.
It lies along your trachea, and is located just below your larynx.
The thyroid produces hormones that include triiodothyronine and thyroxine, also known as ‘T3’ and ‘T4’ respectively.
It does this by processing iodine that you get though various foods that you eat every day.
When it produces these hormones is regulated by the hypothalamus; whenever there’s a thyroid hormone shortage, it sends out a stimulating hormone to get the thyroid gland revved up again.
What Are Thyroid Hormones?
Pretty much every cell in your body requires thyroid hormones in order to regulate their metabolism.
Roughly eighty percent of the hormones your thyroid produces are T4, and only twenty percent are T3.
Let’s have a closer look at these two hormones and what they do.
Triiodothyronine – usually referred to as T3 – is produced in one of two ways; it is either produced by the thyroid gland itself, or it is produced as a result of enzymatic conversion in tissues throughout your body.
Triiodothyronine primarily helps brain function and development, your heart, digestive functions, muscle control, metabolic rate, and bone health.
Thyroxine is produced by your thyroid, and is regulated by your hypothalamus and pituitary gland.
First the hypothalamus releases ‘thyrotropin releasing hormone.’
This causes the pituitary to then release thyroid stimulating hormone.
T4 – thyroxine – floods throughout the body once stimulated, and stops once it exists in sufficient quantities.
When it starts to run low and your body requires more thyroxine, the process starts again and it is duly replenished.
What Do Your Thyroid Hormones Control?
Thyroid hormones control your metabolism, which determines how your body breaks down what you eat into energy.
Sometimes my patients come to me because they’ve gained weight and feel sluggish.
This can be a result of an unbalanced thyroid.
When we bring it back into balance, their energy levels often return to normal.
Yes, weight gain and loss is regulated by the hormones that your thyroid produces.
For those who are menstruating, their thyroid hormones control their menstruation – how heavy or how light their flow, and how frequently or rarely they have their cycle.
Thyroid hormones control how fast your heart beats – it’s not just your amount of cardio that determines that.
Lung capacity and how deeply you ‘normally’ breathe are also impacted by your thyroid hormones.
Our muscle strength is also determined by thyroid hormones, and where those muscles more easily develop.
Your hair, skin, and nails are impacted by your thyroid hormones.
Even cholesterol levels can be traced back to thyroid function.
Conditions Linked To Your Thyroid
Sometimes, when the thyroid isn’t regulating properly, your thyroid hormones can fall out of balance
When you have too much T3 and T4 in your bloodstream, it’s called hyperthyroidism.
When you have too little, it’s called hypothyroidism.
Both of these can be autoimmune conditions – conditions where your immune system mistakes part of your own body for a pathogen and attacks it.
Each has unique set of symptoms, so have a read and see if any of these pertain to what you’re experiencing.
When you have too little T3 and T4 hormones in your body, you are suffering from hypothyroidism.
Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Joint and muscle pain
- Sensitivity to cold
- Difficulty concentrating
- Chronic fatigue
- Trouble sleeping
- Dry skin or dry hair
- Frequent or heavy periods
If these sound familiar to you, it can be very simple to have your thyroid levels tested to confirm.
Hyperthyroidism is the opposite – it is when your thyroid produces too much T3 and T4.
Some of the symptoms we frequently see for hypothyroidism:
- Very light or infrequent menstrual periods
- Sensitivity to hot temperatures
- Hand trembling
- Hair loss
3. Thyroid Cancer
The main symptom for thyroid cancer presents as a lump in the neck, even though ninety percent of people who reach old age will at some point in their lives have exactly that.
Many people, from young to old, will grow a ‘nodule’ in their thyroid, and in almost all cases it will be benign.
Less than one percent of all nodules end up being cancerous and malignant, and are usually discovered during your annual physical or while getting an x-ray for another reason.
However, there are some other uncommon symptoms, which include:
- Change in voice
- Pain in the neck, though very rarely
Book An Appointment At Annex Naturopathic
While delightfully complex in function, thyroid issues can be easy to diagnose by getting a simple blood test.
Because the thyroid is so entrenched in all your body’s functions, it’s worth keeping an eye on and supporting with good nutrition and other therapies.
Call now to book an appointment at Annex Naturopathic, and we’ll make sure yours is working optimally.