In part 2 of our series Healthy Thyroid Function we will learn what a healthy thyroid is supposed to do (Read Part 1). This complicated little butterfly shaped organ is quite remarkable in its function and influence on our health.
The word thyroid comes from the Greek word thyreos, which means shield. The thyroid gland not only resembles a shield wrapped protectively around our larynx and trachia, but it acts very much as a protector of our body and our health. This, the largest endocrine gland in our body, releases hormones into our blood which travel to our many organs to regulate many of the functions that keep us alive and well.
The thyroid gland releases three hormones, triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4), and calcitonin. These hormones are essential for normal growth and development. A child with extreme hypothyroid function (low function) will develop retarded mental and physical development known as cretinism. We will discuss disorders of the thyroid more fully in later posts.
Actions of Thyroid Hormones
- Increase basal metabolic rate (metabolism) in ALL of our cells
- Maintains normal body temperature
- Stimulate protein synthesis
- Increase use of glucose and fats for energy production
- Reduce blood cholesterol levels
- Indirectly affect heart rate and blood pressure by enhancing effects of adrenaline and noradrenaline
- Accelerate body growth
I am fortunate enough to sometimes work alongside one of the foremost experts on the thyroid, Dr. Datis Kharrazian, author of The Thyroid Book. Dr. K (as I like to call him) teaches seminars on many health issues to other practitioners. He recently taught a class on Mastering the Thyroid in San Francisco that I helped Here is a quote from Dr. Kharrazian:
Every cell in the body has receptor sites for thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones are responsible for the most basic and fundamental aspects of physiology, the basal metabolic rate. Lack of ideal thyroid hormone leads to global decline in cellular function of all bodily systems. The thyroid is the central gear in the complex web of metabolism and extremely sensitive to minor imbalances in other areas of physiology.
I hope you can now better appreciate the importance of having a healthy thyroid. Our energy levels, body temperatures, ability to handle stress and normal development are all affected by the thyroid gland and its hormones. Next we'll look at the major effects of having low thyroid function.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of Healthy Thyroid Function.
A thorough blood test of the thyroid hormones and those that stimulate it can reveal any issues with the thyroid. Primo Blood Chemistry Analysis is a tool I use to uncover many nutritional issues, including those related to impaired function of the thyroid.