Thyroid – The Misunderstood Gland

One of the symptoms of living in our fast paced, technology driven society, is that information Is often broken down and packaged into an easily digestible format. Yet when this is done we can over simplify, misinterpret or trivialise a topic which deserves a far grater level of rumination. One area this has become particularly apparent is with regards to the function of our thyroid gland. As a result of years of type casting, our thyroid has been limited to the role of dictating metabolism, pertaining mainly to weight gain/ loss. However this is robbing the unassuming gland of its more grandiose functions.

Thyroid hormones are the only hormones that have a binding site located directly on the nucleus of our cells. This is a big deal as it essentially means that thyroid has an effect on the function of every cell in the body. As a result the symptoms for low thyroid function are multifaceted and can seem on the surface to be unrelated. As for the mechanisms behind thyroid disfunction, these are often equally verified and routinely undiagnosed. In this article we are going to highlight common Thyroid symptoms, what causes these issues and the tests you should ask from your doctor to get a comprehensive overview of your thyroid function.

Common symptoms of poor function

• Weight gain / weight loss
• Brain Fog
• Confusion
• Anxiety
• Forgetfulness
• Depression
• Constipation
• Low Body temperature
• Poor wound healing
• Fatigue
• Low energy
• Hair loss

Causes of thyroid disfunction

There are 6 major causes for thyroid disfunction, and even though each mechanism will cause low thyroid symptoms, on a blood panel they all will express a completely different pattern. The 6 “main” ( which I say with caution as I realise I am falling victim to my earlier remark regarding over simplification) of thyroid issues are:

1. Direct thyroid disfunction
2. Hypothalamus / Pituitary gland disfunction
3. Conversion issues
4. Binding issues
5. Transport issues
6. Receptor site disfunction

Now my inner nerd would love to ramble on for a multitude of pages dissecting the nuances and mechanisms of each process, but within the confines of a weekly blog my purpose is to highlight this is far too complicated a malady to be resolved by a simple blood test and a prescription of synthetic thyroxine. This being said there is only glaring simplicity that can link a number of the mechanisms of disfunction. More often than not the common denominator is the major factors that negatively impact our general health on a daily basis such as poor nutrition /nutrient deficiency, stress, inflammation and toxicity. As function can be inhibited by something as simple as a vitamin A deficiency, making positive nutritional and lifestyle modifications can have a profound effect.

Final Thoughts

There is no getting round it, this is no simple topic and my own fascination with the topic began with a seminar held by Dr Bryan Walsh who highlighted the importance of understanding fundamental physiology and clarified some major flaws with the way we regard the thyroid. If you suspect a a thyroid issue and or wish to get a broad overview of function. the below blood tests are essential to paint the whole picture of the delicate hormonal dance that must ensue for optimal function.

• TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)
• T4 (Thyroxine)
• T3 (Triiodothyronine)
• Free T4
• Free T3
• RT3 (Reverse Triiodothyronine)
• Resin T3 / T3 Uptake

Written By David Lewis April 2014