There are 50 different types of hormones secreted and circulated by the human body at any given time. The word “Hormone” comes from the Greek for “to excite or arouse.” Hormones are the body’s chemical messenger. All multi cellular organisms in the body produce hormones of one kind or another. The network that make and release hormones are the endocrine cells (mostly glands). The hormones enter the blood system and circulate throughout the body and activate target cells.
Organs and Glands that Produce Hormones
The glands in the endocrine system that produces hormones are pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid glands, adrenal glands and the thymus. The organs that produce hormones are pancreas, heart, kidneys, ovaries, testicles, and intestines.
What Hormones Do?
These chemical substances control and regulate the following
- Growth and development
- Contraction of smooth and cardiac muscles
- Defence mechanism
- Energy balance
- Water, nutrient, sugar and electrolyte balance in the blood
Where is the Thyroid Gland Located?
“The thyroid gland is located in the lower part of the neck, below the Adam’s apple, wrapped around the trachea (windpipe). It has the shape of a butterfly: two wings (lobes) attached to one another by a middle part called the isthmus.” = Medicine.net
What Hormones are produced by the Thyroid Gland?
Thyroid gland uses iodine (a mineral) to make its hormones such as, thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3) and calcitonin. Note that 20% of the body’s triiodothyronine is made by the thyroid gland; the other 80% comes from thyroxine converted by organs such as the liver or kidneys.Thyroid gland produces calcitonin from C-cells and the hormone is known to play an important role in regulating calcium levels in the body.
It is the pituitary gland that produces the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) which stimulates the thyroid gland to make its hormones. The hypothalamus in the brain produces a hormone called thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH) that tells the pituitary gland to produce TSH. Hence, it is important to understand that the thyroid gland is regulated by feedback mechanism of the brain. The feedback loop is called, “hypothalamic–pituitary–thyroid axis.”
What does the Thyroid Gland do?
The hormones produced by the thyroid gland ensures
- Regulated the body’s metabolic rate.
- Heart function
- Digestive function
- Muscle control
- Brain development
- Balances mood
- Proper bone health maintenance
Types of Thyroid Disorders or Diseases
- Hypothyroidism – underactive thyroid
- Hyperthyroidism – overactive thyroid
- Goiter – enlargement of the thyroid gland
- Thyroid nodules – abnormal growth of thyroid cells that forms a lump within the thyroid gland
- Thyroid cancer – cancer that develops from the tissues of the thyroid gland.
- Thyrotoxicosis – too much thyroid hormone in the bloodstream.
- Grave’s disease – autoimmune thyroid disease. The thyroid gland is stimulated by auto-antibodies, which make it overactive, resulting in increased thyroid hormone production.
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis/Hashimoto’s disease) – an autoimmune disease in which the thyroid gland is gradually destroyed.
Symptoms of Thyroid Gland Disorder:
The following are the most notes symptoms of thyroid issues
- Poor circulation (cold hands and feet)
- Hair loss
- Sluggish metabolism
- Weight gain
- Poor appetite
- Poor concentration and inability to retain information
- Muscle aches and cramps
- Swelling of the thyroid gland
Causes of Thyroid Gland Disorders
- Iodine deficiency
- Pituitary disorder
- Autoimmune condition
- Weather changes – Studies show that people with normal thyroid function tend to have higher TSH levels in the colder month because the body is trying to cope with the cold by increasing hormones to generate more heat. These people may be diagnosed with hypothyroidism but it may be just the weather effecting their TSH levels.
- Side effect of medication
Natural Remedies to Support the Thyroid Gland
Avoid Dietary Disruptors: Avoid or reduce intake of gluten containing grains such wheat, spelt, rye, barley, oats manufactured in wheat processing facility can cause thyroid conditions. Eating too many uncooked or raw cruciferous vegetables can disrupt the thyroid function. It also recommended avoiding A1 casein protein that is found in commercial dairy based products as it may lead to thyroid malfunctions.
Add Dietary Helpers: Lack of iodine can also cause some of the thyroid conditions therefore using iodized salt is beneficial and can act as a protective mechanism. Algae and various seaweeds such as, kelp, nori, kombu, wakame etc. are some of the best sources of iodine. Read m previous blog about the benefits of seaweeds in your diet. Adding selenium rich foods such as nuts, seeds will assist in avoiding Hashimoto’s condition. Tyrosine rich foods are also essential for Thyroid gland such as, oats, watercress, spinach, sesame seeds, fava beans, cabbage, pumpkin seeds etc.
Add Herbs and Spices: Add circulatory spices such as ginger, turmeric and cinnamon to combat cold hand and feet. These spices are beneficial for the thyroid health. Ayurvedic herbs such as, Ashwagandha, Gotu Kola, Guggulu are extremely popular to improve thyroid health. One of the issues we often face is NOT all herbs are good for everyone. One must seek advise from their local Herbalist or a ND to find out what would be the best herbs for their thyroid condition.
Avoid Autoimmune Response Triggers: Work with you primary health care practitioner and your Natural Health Care Practitioner to find out what triggers your autoimmune response in order to avoid those triggers. For autoimmune conditions try eliminating the usual suspects such as, wheat, gluten, dairy to begin with.
Avoid Fluoride: Excessive fluoride in your body may lead to many health hazards including iodine deficiency which in turn can cause thyroid dysfunction. Avoid fluoride in water and toothpastes I use the filter below and if you are following you may know that I make and sell my own toothpowder.
Castor Oil Packs for Swelling: Applying warm castor oil pack on the thyroid gland will reduce the swelling of the gland. To do this one must apply castor oil over the thyroid gland, put a flannel cloth over it and apply mini heating pad on top of it.
Sunshine or D3: Sunshine has many benefits than just Vitamin D production in the body. Studies have shown that sunshine can positively affect or can be protective against autoimmune condition. For thyroid related autoimmune conditions exposing the thyroid gland to sunshine for a small period of time can assist with lessen trigger response. Vitamin D3 supplementation is required when sunshine is missing.
Reduce Plastic (including BPA) Exposure: Plastic and BPA containing plastic disrupts our natural hormone balance. These toxic materials can cause thyroid diseases as well. Read my previous blog on how to reduce plastic materials from our lives. BPA is also in can’s can contains canned foods Note when reducing plastic start from the kitchen and then move on to toiletries, cosmetics and personal care products.
Reduce Exposure to Heavy Metals: It is hard to avoid heavy metal exposure in this modern world. If you can’t reduce exposure then increase foods that are high in Vitamin C in your diet as well as add cilantro and parsley leaves in your diet. Both these herbs are considered heavy metal detoxifiers by naturopathic doctors.
Pranayama or Breathing Exercise for Thyroid: One of the best Pranayam to stimulate the thyroid gland is “Kapal Bhati” or the breath of fire, where the focus is on forced exhalation. One should always work up the stamina to increase the length of their pranayama. Start with a set of 20 and work up to 100 breath of fire. Ujjayi Pranayam or “ocean breath” is also highly beneficial for thyroid health which can be performed by making oceanic sound in your throat. Last but not the least “Anulom Viloom” or alternative nostril breathing is essential to reduce stress and improve thyroid health. Read my blog on Benefits of Pranayam.
Yoga Asana & Stretches to Improve Thyroid Functions: Neck stretches and rotations are absolute key to improve overall thyroid function. I am linking a website here that I really liked to perform neck stretches. Lion’s pose (Singhasana) is also known to directly impact the thyroid gland. More challenging are the shoulder stand, supported head stand, wheel pose (or upward bow pose), plough pose and boat pose. Whereas, less challenging poses are fish pose, bridge pose, cobra pose and upward dog pose. Before attempting any Yoga Asana it is important to contact a health care practitioner and certified Yoga teacher.
Above are some of my recommendations for improving Thyroid Gland Function or keeping it in balance. It is important to keep a Basal Body Temperature track to find out if you thyroid is working well. Ask you ND or alternative health care practitioner to do a physical thyroid examination for swelling and an iodine test to rule our iodine deficiency thyroid gland disorders. Many MDs and NDs send patients with Hashimoto’s condition to a compounding pharmacy to desiccated thyroid gland.
As you are aware I am a Clinical Herbalist with background in Nutrition, Yoga and Ayurveda. For live consultation in Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in Canada or skype consultation click here to book an appointment.
If you have seen improvement in you thyroid condition by following any remedy please share with us and leave a comment. Share this blog in your social media so others can benefit from these remedies.
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