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Thyroid and Its Amazing Functions


You may have heard the term “thyroid” a couple of times before. But you probably do not have a concrete and clear idea on its functions. This article will provide you with vivid information on the thyroid, the purpose of its hormones, its hypo- and hyper-functions, and the consequences of having too many or too few hormones.


What is a Thyroid and How Does It Work?


The thyroid gland emerges from two different groups of embryonic cells. The first group stems from the thickening of the pharynx’s base and works as a precursor of the T4 or thyroxine producing follicular cells. The other group is from the fourth pharyngobranchial pouches. These structures become more apparent during the 16th and 17th day of gestation. During the development of the fetus, thyroxine is produced while triiodothyronine or T3 remains undetected until the third trimester.
The thyroid is an essential hormonal gland that performs a significant part in the body’s metabolism, development, and maturation. Furthermore, the thyroid aids in regulating the different body functions through constant discharge of hormones into the bloodstream. When the body requires more energy, a greater number of hormones are released.
The butterfly-shaped thyroid is situated in the anterior or frontal section of the neck at the bottom of the voice box. It has two-side lobes on the left and right that are attached at the front part by a loose connective tissue. This tissue enables the thyroid to move and shift its position each time we swallow. The lobes are also made up of follicles that store the thyroid hormones. The two-side lobes surround the windpipe and wind up at the sides just at the back of the windpipe.


Hormones That Comprise the Thyroid


Three of the well-recognized thyroid hormones are triiodothyronine or T3, thyroxine or T4, and calcitonin. T3 or T4 are regarded as proper thyroid hormones, produced in the thyroid’s follicular epithelial cells, and with iodine as one of the primary components of the hormones.
Iodine is a trace element and that means it is not produced by the body but by the foods ingested. In the intestine, the food is the main source of iodine and iodine goes into the bloodstream. After some processes, iodine is established in the thyroid hormones through the thyroid gland. Because hormones are critically important, T3 and T4 are always sufficient in a healthy person. Some hormones are kept in the thyroid while others are attached to proteins in the blood.
When the body requires more hormones, T3 and T4 are released from the proteins in the blood. The follicles present in the thyroid tissue produce more hormones. Another hormone in the body is calcitonin. This hormone is produced in the thyroid gland and is involved in bone metabolism and calcium. Both, T3 and T4 boost the basal metabolic rate while the rest of the body cells work twice as hard and thus requires greater amount of energy. When this happens, the following effects transpire:

  • The body temperature increases.
  • The heart beats faster and stronger.
  • The pulse rate is increased.
  • Food is utilized at a quicker rate because of the breakdown in the energy stored in the muscles and liver.
  • The children’s brain maturation is enhanced.
  • Growth among children is enhanced.
  • The nervous system is activated, thus resulting in a higher attention level and more rapid reflexes.


Consequences When Too Few Hormones Are Produced


If the thyroid produces only a few hormones, the functions of the body slow down. This condition is referred to as hypothyroidism, which is either genetic or may develop later in life. There are different reasons behind an underactive thyroid such as the lack of iodine. This may sometimes result in a condition known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a condition in which the thyroid becomes chronically inflamed. Medications may also impact the production of thyroid hormones.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

  • Dry hair and skin
  • Depression
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Difficulty in focusing
  • Heavy periods that may happen frequently
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Sensitivity to cold temperature


Consequences When Too Many Hormones Are Produced


When the thyroid is overactive, this may result to a condition known as hyperthyroidism or over production of hormones. This condition quickens the energy metabolism and may render the following symptoms:

  • Trembling
  • Weight loss
  • Hot flashes or sweating
  • Hair loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyperactivity or nervousness
  • Restlessness and insomnia
  • Emotional irritability and instability
  • Fatigue
  • Racing heart
  • Potency issues

There are various reasons behind an overactive thyroid. It is often brought about by Grave’s disease, an autoimmune disease affecting the thyroid tissue. There are times when the overactivity of the hormones is brought on by thyroid axis problems. The thyroid function is typically controlled by a thyroid-stimulating hormone, which is created in the pituitary gland. The thyroid-stimulating hormone ensures a normal production of hormones. At times, the thyroid cells no longer respond to this regulating hormone. This condition is referred to as autonomy.
Whether the condition is that of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland may appear visible and bigger than its normal size. A goiter causes pressure in the neck area, thus making it difficult to swallow. When there is an enlargement of the thyroid, the tissue grows bigger downward because of the lack of space. This leads to breathing difficulty due to the constriction of the trachea or the windpipe.
There are various types of thyroid enlargement. When the thyroid’s enlargement is even, it is called struma diffusa. On the other hand, if the thyroid’s enlargement is nodular in some regions, it is referred to as goiter. To examine the thyroid, scintigraphy is utilized to measure the hormone produced. It is termed as hot nodule when there is an increased production in the spot where the nodule is, and a cold nodule when the production of hormone is low. There are instances when thyroid enlargement is an indicator of a malignant disease.


Is Thyroid Gland Important?


Yes, a thyroid gland is important. T3 and T4 go to the bloodstream to get to the cells. The hormones control the rate at which the metabolism or cells work. For instance, both T3 and T4 work together to control the heart rate and control the speed at which the intestines process the foods ingested. If both T3 and T4 are low, the condition slows down the heart rate and the person may experience weight gain and constipation. On the contrary, if T3 and T4 are high, one may experience weight loss and diarrhea.


Holistic Treatment for Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism


There are various treatments for thyroid problems. However, there are also natural ways to eliminate thyroid diseases and problems. Over 250 herbal plants are used to treat patients with hypo and hyperthyroidism. Black walnut and Siberian ginseng assist in the proper functioning of the thyroid. Relaxation techniques and yoga are also potent remedies that may greatly improve thyroid function. Yoga postures such as Asanas, ease the energy flow all over the body and enhance circulation.

Micro-current therapy, dietary changes and supplements may be other helpful options to consider in treating an imbalance of the thyroid gland.

 

References

  1. https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/thyroid-nodules/thyroid-gland-controls-bodys-metabolism-how-it-works-symptoms-hyperthyroi
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072572/
  3. http://www.livestrong.com/article/509635-ayurveda-treatment-for-hypothyroidism/
   
 
 
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