What Your Thyroid Does

A common question: “I’ve just been diagnosed with an underactive thyroid. What can I do? I don’t want to take medication. I want a natural solution.” Usually, there’s a spicy descriptor that precedes the word medication. In response, the Memos this week are about the thyroid: What does it do? What happens if it doesn’t function properly? What are the treatment options?

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland that resides on the front of the neck just above the collarbone. The best word to describe what the thyroid does: metabolism. How does it do that? By producing the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). It’s actually an elegant process that includes the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. The hypothalamus monitors the blood for status reports. When it senses a need for an increase in thyroid hormones, it signals the pituitary and the pituitary releases thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which tells the thyroid to increase the release of hormones.

Back to metabolism. That’s the rate at which cells function from calories burned, heart rate, muscle growth and repair, and many other processes. If the thyroid starts to fail, it can wreak havoc just about everywhere in your body. That’s what we’ll talk about on Thursday.

What are you prepared to do today?

Dr. Chet


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