The thyroid gland is part of the body’s endocrine system. This means it is a gland that produces secretions called hormones, which are delivered to the body through the blood. The thyroid gland is located in the neck, just under what we call the Adam’s apple. It is in the shape of a butterfly, with 2 ‘wings’ or ‘lobes’.
Controlled by the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, the thyroid combines iodine from the food we consume with the amino acid tyrosine and produces two main hormones. Over the years, in my holistic practice at my chiropractic office in Ventura, I have seen the health of many of my patients compromised by an out-of-balance thyroid.
The hormones produced by the thyroid do two important things:
1) They help the necessary enzymes and electrolytes pass into each cell of the body.
2) They help the processes of energy production in the mitochondria.
The mitochondria are the “energy-generating stations” within each cell. In the mitochondrion (singular), enzymes are used to combine carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms, forming carbon dioxide and water, and releasing chemical energy. This process of converting oxygen and the food consumed into energy needed by the body is referred to as metabolism. This conversion is imperative to carry out every function necessary to maintain life.
The hormones produced by the thyroid also perform the following functions:
1. Raise the metabolic rate of almost all the cells in the body
2. Stimulate protein synthesis and degradation
3. Stimulate the heart
4. Increase the breakdown of fat
5. Interact with the adrenals and the catecholamines (the fight-or-flight hormones)
When the thyroid is working improperly, or is out of balance, one of two conditions tends to happen. Hypothyroidism is the term referred to when the thyroid produces too little or is underproductive. The overproduction state is calledhyperthyroidism.
If the thyroid is under-producing, you may experience symptoms such as fatigue or lethargy, weight gain, cold hands and feet, infertility, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), constipation, dry skin and hair, sensitivity to cold, sinus congestion, premenstrual syndrome and depression.
An overactive thyroid may leave you with feelings of being anxious or nervous for no apparent reason, increased pulse rate and rapid heartbeat, the inability to gain weight even when eating above-normal calories daily, frequent loose bowel movements, and excessive sweating.
These are not comprehensive lists, yet they show the diversity of the effects of an out-of-balance thyroid. Because the symptoms of a thyroid condition can appear to be problems all their own, thyroid conditions are often mis- or under-diagnosed. As a holistic chiropractor, I use non-invasive procedures to determine if the thyroid gland is the culprit in my patient’s dis-ease.
Stress, nutritional deficiencies, environmental toxins and other diseases such as diabetes and cancer wreak havoc on the thyroid. Therefore developing a healthy lifestyle is just as much key to having a healthy thyroid gland as it is to your general overall health.
Ensure you are eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of water, taking omega-3 oils, eating complex carbohydrates rather than refined sugars, and limiting your fat intake. Remember the higher the quality of nutrition your body has to work with, the better quality fuel it can create.
Exercising, getting plenty of uninterrupted sleep and reducing or dealing with life-stressors as efficiently as possible, are also lifestyle factors that can help keep you running your best.
If you are experiencing any of the possible symptoms of an over-or under-active thyroid, please call Amber in our Ventura office at 805-644-0461and make an appointment with me for an evaluation.