How the Thyroid Works
The thyroid gland is a tricky organ to work with due to the delicate interplay between the gland itself and many other systems in the body. One of the most important roles of the brain is to continuously monitor the function of your body. Thyroid metabolism is initiated by the brain when it recognizes there is either too much or too little active thyroid hormone present in the body.
The hypothalamus then sends thyroid releasing hormone (TRH) to the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland then releases the infamous TSH, known as thyroid stimulating hormone, to the thyroid gland. At this point, TSH causes thyroid peroxidase activity to cleave iodine in order to create T4 and T3 hormones.
During this stage the thyroid produces 7% T3 and 93% T4. The T3 hormone is active and ready to be used but T4 is inactive at this point and needs to be converted to T3. T4 becomes T3 by conversion in the liver, the gastrointestinal tract, and a small amount of T4 is converted to T3 in the peripheral tissues.
Now let’s look at hypothyroidism. If you are suffering with hypothyroidism your TSH will be high. Why? Because when the brain recognizes there is an inadequate level of thyroid hormone in your blood stream, it intelligently thinks the thyroid is not making enough hormone. Therefore it will tell the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormone by releasing more TSH. Conversely, if you are producing too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) you will have a low TSH.
Think of it this way, if you want to encourage an otherwise lazy person to do something, you may try stimulating them by being more encouraging. Hence, the “lazy” thyroid has increased TSH (the encourager) and vice versa.
Knowing the cascade of thyroid metabolism has hopefully stimulated many questions for you. You can see that by only looking at TSH, there is an inadequate amount of information to diagnose what is transpiring with a thyroid patient. Hopefully, you see that, more often than not, you don’t have a thyroid condition, but rather a host of sluggish or improperly functioning systems in the body, which in turn causes the thyroid to react.
Think about it: if your liver isn’t functioning optimally, how is it supposed to convert T4 to T3 like it’s supposed to? Exactly, it doesn’t.
More Than Just a Gland Problem
Most people don’t just have a thyroid gland problem. Instead, they have a breakdown in the communication with many of the organs in the body. Due to the thyroid’s sensitive nature in relation to the functions of the entire body, one of the first things we see is a change in the blood chemistry of all of the thyroid hormones, not just the TSH.
At the basic level, you can see that if your gut and liver are not functioning well then it’s impossible for your body to properly convert your thyroid hormones into the active forms for use by the cells and organs of the body.
Other factors critical to maintaining healthy levels of thyroid hormone include adrenal health, blood sugar regulation, immune health, and more. As mentioned above, a thyroid problem is usually secondary to something else going on in your body.
For instance, chronic blood chemistry issues affect how the brain communicates with the thyroid; it can decrease the firing of signals bilaterally, but usually one side of the brain will suffer more than the other. Chronic stress releases cortisol into the blood stream. Cortisol is extremely toxic to the gut and the brain. Stress weakens the communication with the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and the thyroid, inhibiting the conversion from T4 to T3, and creating sluggish detoxification pathways causing hormone resistance, break down in the gut barrier, the immune system, and the brain.
Furthermore, poor adrenal health disrupts a person’s appropriate level of hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone. If you don’t have your blood sugar regulated it will throw your adrenals, immune system, and thyroid for a wild ride.
I hope you see this is more than a thyroid issue. Most people have a web that has to be untangled since the thyroid is so sensitive to many other systems of the body.
Two Helpful Tips for a Healthier Thyroid
If you have gotten to this point, you’re seriously in the game and need to know about gluten and antibodies for thyroid peroxidase (TPO). If you have antibodies for TPO you have an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. You MUST stop eating gluten immediately. The gluten molecule looks exactly like TPO, therefore every time you eat gluten you are creating an immune response in which your body attacks itself in addition to the gluten compounding your health issue significantly.
The other absolute must at this point is stop taking iodine. If you haven’t tested your antibodies you could be making things worse. Iodine stimulates TPO production which increases the immune response and the body will increase its attack on itself.
You Can Heal, and We Can Help!
If you’ve been trying to get to the bottom of a thyroid condition—maybe the labs appear normal and you’ve been on a roller coaster ride trying to get things under control, but you’re about to give up, please listen:
We have answers and we can help!
We look at the entire person, leaving no stone unturned. Due to the fact that that, most of the time, the thyroid is a secondary reaction to something else transpiring in the body we must look at everything from food sensitivities, gut health, immune panels, adrenals, blood sugar, anemia, hormones, full thyroid panel, thyroid antibodies, and the brain.