The thyroid is a small gland consisting of two lobes that is located just below the larynx (voice-box). This gland is made up of two kinds of cells, which secrete three different hormones and perform two major functions in the body.
The first function of the thyroid hormones is regulating metabolism (the conversion of calories and oxygen into energy).
Thyroid hormones T3 and T4 (also known as thyroxine and triiodothyronine) communicate with all of the cells in the body, stimulating them to make proteins and increase the amount of oxygen used by the cells. The level of these hormones determines the rate at which the cells unlock energy from nutrients and use that energy to create proteins.
While the thyroid produces much more T4 than T3, it is said that T3 is the “stronger” hormone of the two.
The thyroid creates T3 and T4 by converting iodine into these hormones. Iodine is also essential for the health of the breasts (iodine is present in even greater quantities in the breast than it is in the thyroid), heart, cognitive function, and mental health.
The other role of the thyroid is regulating the amount of calcium in the body. The third hormone produced by the thyroid, called calcitonin, works together with the parathyroid hormone to regulate the body’s calcium balance.
Stress is known to be a significant contributor to thyroid dysfunction. This is due to a synergistic relationship between the thyroid hormones and the adrenal-secreted stress hormone cortisol.
The thyroid hormone can only work properly when there is just the right amount of cortisol in its proper receptors. Not only does the function of the thyroid hormone depend on this, so does the function of all the tissues in the body. When there is too much cortisol, as is the case when stress is elevated for a long period of time, the body stops responding to the thyroid hormone, and even though the level of thyroid hormone may be healthy, the tissues no longer respond to its signal.
Therefore, rebuilding from long-term stress is key in balancing the function of the thyroid and its widespread effects in the body.
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