The thyroid gland is one of the largest endocrine glands in the body located in the lower part of the neck. It produces thyroid hormones which play a major role in energy and metabolism. The thyroid does this by controlling the speed of energy usage, protein production, and sensitivity of all hormones in the body.
A healthy thyroid produces several hormones such as T1, T2, T3 (triiodothyronine), T4 (thyroxine) and calcitonin. In humans, the ratio of T4 to T3 is roughly 20 to 1. T4 is converted to the active hormone T3 which stimulates metabolism. The body, especially the liver, constantly converts T4 to Reverse T3 (RT3) to eliminate excess T4 in the body. In any given day, 40% of T4 is converted into T3 and 20% is converted to Reverse T3. But in any situation where the body needs to store energy and use it on something else such as in a stressful situation, these conversions can change – RT3 conversion can go as high as 50% or more and the T3 level goes down. When biological stress is excessive, the adrenal glands produce high amounts of the stress hormone called cortisol to help cope up with the situation and achieve balance or stability (homeostasis). The excess cortisol inhibits the conversion of T4 to T3 by affecting the ability of the pituitary gland to produce thyroid-stimulating hormone.
Sometimes, the ability of the thyroid gland to produce hormones can be affected by several factors or thyroid conditions, leading to abnormally low thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) or excessive thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism). Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can be detrimental to health and can significantly affect one’s quality of life because they increase the affected individual’s risk of developing heart disease, bone disorders, skin and hair problems, bleeding issues, sexual and reproductive concerns, and other debilitating medical conditions.
In general, people with hypothyroidism can experience the following signs and symptoms:
On the other hand, excessive levels of thyroid hormone cause hyperthyroidism. This thyroid condition significantly increases metabolism leading to the following symptoms:
Problems with the thyroid gland can be caused by several conditions. For hyperthyroidism, common causes are:
On the other hand, hypothyroidism can be caused by the following:
Women are at higher risk for developing thyroid dysfunction. According to research, women are five to eight times more likely to have imbalance in thyroid hormones than men, but most don’t know they have it.  Most women often overlook their symptoms or mistake them for symptoms of other medical conditions. For example, most women who gave birth experience symptoms that are very similar to that of thyroid disease.
In young men, thyroid imbalance can be easily diagnosed with a blood test. However, as men age, thyroid imbalance becomes more difficult to diagnose because the number of symptoms often decrease. To further complicate matters, older men with thyroid imbalance often experience symptoms that are very similar to the normal symptoms of ageing. These include weight changes, low mood, depression, bone problems, cognitive decline, sleeping difficulties, hair loss, and tremors.
To address the complexity of thyroid disease in both men and women, an experienced and skilled doctor must perform a blood test that measures TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), free T3, and T4. In addition to this, a physical exam must also be performed to assess the signs and symptoms. Once a correct diagnosis is done, your doctor will come up with a medical management that is tailored to your health needs.
In order to correct hypothyroidism, bioidentical thyroid hormones are used to restore the balance of thyroid hormones. Bioidentical hormones are safe and effective since they are chemically identical in molecular structure and function to those the human body produces. On the other hand, the medical approach to hyperthyroidism is different. This condition can be treated with anti-thyroid medications that interfere with the excessive production of thyroid hormones in order to bring down its levels to normal.
Since thyroid hormones play a major role in a wide array of biochemical processes in the body, including growth and development of tissues, breathing, energy production, regulation of heart rate, maintenance of brain function, regulation of body temperature, maintenance of the nervous system, digestion, and several other cellular processes, restoring abnormally low levels of these hormones can help alleviate debilitating symptoms and achieve optimal health and well-being. Thyroid hormone replacement has been used for more than 100 years in the treatment of thyroid hormone deficiency, and there is no doubt about its overall safety and efficacy. [2-3] In fact, an overwhelming body of scientific evidence and clinical trials support the diverse health benefits of thyroid hormone replacement therapy.
Fatigue-related complaints are common in people with thyroid hormone deficiency. Studies assessing the beneficial effects of thyroid hormone replacement therapy in patients with hypothyroidism show that it can help boost energy levels by combating fatigue:
Thyroid disease can affect overall mood – primarily causing depression, anxiety and low self-confidence. Generally, thyroid hormone levels have something to do with the severity of mood changes, with abnormally low levels associated with severely depressed mood. There is growing evidence that thyroid hormone replacement therapy may help boost mood in people with thyroid hormone deficiency:
Thyroid hormone metabolism and thyroid status are strongly associated with various aspects of the immune response. This suggests that thyroid hormones play an important role in modulating the immune system response and preventing a wide array of infections. Increasing evidence strongly supports the immune-modulating properties of thyroid hormones:
One of the main functions of thyroid hormones is to regulate metabolism. With increased metabolism, weight loss can be achieved. Evidence suggests that thyroid hormones may actually improve body composition and reduce body weight while improving overall health:
The body needs thyroid hormones in order to balance cholesterol production and elimination. In case of thyroid hormone deficiency, the body can’t make high-density lipoprotein or HDL (good cholesterol) and remove low-density lipoprotein or LDL (bad cholesterol) efficiently as usual. As a result, LDL builds up in the bloodstream which eventually leads to various debilitating diseases. Interestingly, researchers found that thyroid hormone exerts cholesterol-lowering properties which can help improve overall health:
Thyroid hormone also helps regulate the growth and development of nerve cells as well as different processes in the brain. Specifically, there appears to be extensive interaction between thyroid hormones and certain brain chemicals, suggesting that healthy thyroid hormone levels may be beneficial on memory, learning, and other cognitive functions. Strong scientific evidence suggests that thyroid hormone replacement therapy can help combat cognitive impairments associated with aging and other medical conditions:
Thyroid hormone has important effects on heart muscle, blood circulation, and the central nervous system – all of which are vital for cardiovascular health. This suggests that thyroid hormone levels may help predict heart health. There is growing body of evidence that supports the beneficial effects of thyroid hormone on various cardiovascular markers:
Thyroid hormone is also vital for optimum bone health. Because this hormone plays an integral role in skeletal development and establishment of peak bone mass, several high quality studies found that it can help decrease the risk of osteoporosis and other bone disorders:
Whether you’re having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, thyroid health can have a profound impact on sleep quality and quantity. This is because the thyroid gland plays an integral part in the regulation of almost all the body’s metabolic function, thus, any imbalance in thyroid hormone levels can negatively affect sleep. In fact, studies assessing the beneficial effects of thyroid hormone replacement therapy in people with sleeping problems have shown positive results:
Thyroid hormone also has a role in blood pressure regulation. After all, there are thyroid receptors found in every cell of your body, thus, fluctuations in the levels of thyroid hormone can significantly affect blood pressure. There is increasing evidence that restoring thyroid hormone to optimal levels may be beneficial in people with hypertension:
There are several interactions between thyroid hormone and kidney functions. In fact, thyroid hormones are involved in the development of the kidney and they aid in waste excretion by improving the kidney’s filtering ability. Evidence suggests that thyroid hormone replacement therapy may help improve kidney function and prevent various kidney disorders:
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