Thyroid, small but extremely significant
Thyroid disorders are common across the world and various studies project that about 42 million people in India suffer from thyroid disorders.
Butterfly in shape and weighing barely between 20 and 30 grams, the thyroid is a small but extremely significant iodine-rich hormone-secreting gland of our body. The thyroid hormones secreted by it are of critical importance to the vital functioning of our internal organs. Illness of the thyroid gland, manifesting as thyroid disorders, therefore, has serious repercussions on our health.
T4 or Thyroxine, the main hormone secreted into the bloodstream by the thyroid gland significantly influences digestion, heart and muscle function, brain development and maintenance of bones. T3 or Triiodothyronine is another thyroid hormone and its role is critical for the maintenance of metabolic rate, the optimal functioning of the heart and digestive system and for muscle control.
The function of the thyroid gland is to take iodine, found in many foods, and convert it into thyroid hormones; thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Thyroid cells are the only cells in the body which can absorb iodine. These cells combine iodine and the amino acid tyrosine to make T3 and T4. T3 and T4 are then released in the blood stream and are transported throughout the body where they control metabolism.
Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of their metabolism. The pituitary senses this and responds by decreasing its TSH production. One can imagine the thyroid gland as a furnace and the pituitary gland as the thermostat.
Thyroid hormones are like heat. When the heat gets back to the thermostat, it turns the thermostat off. As the room cools (the thyroid hormones levels drop), the thermostat turns back on (TSH increases) and the furnace produces more heat (thyroid hormones)
The pituitary gland itself is regulated by another gland, known as the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is part of the brain and produces TSH releasing hormones (TRH) which tells the pituitary gland to stimulate the thyroid gland (release TSH).
2 Types of Thyroid Disorders
Primarily, there are two types of thyroid disorders, namely, hyperthyroidism characterized by excess hormone production, and hypothyroidism marked by insufficient hormone production.
Hyperthyroidism: Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) occurs when your thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine. Hyperthyroidism can accelerate your body’s metabolism causing unintentional weight loss and a rapid or irregular heartbeat.
Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones to meet the needs of the body. The thyroid is underactive.Symptoms of Hypothyroidism include – fatigue, weakness, lack of energy and depression, difficulty in concentrating, dry skin, pale complexion, weight gain, swelling around the eyes etc.
Unravelling the emotional connect
Thyroid glands are located in the lower neck under the larynx (the voice box) and an ailment in them can be seen to be directly and intrinsically connected to one’s inability to ‘voice’ oneself enough. In other words, one’s ‘voice’ suppressed for long is the cause of thyroid.
People afflicted with thyroid disorder suffer from the inability to articulate their thoughts, opinions and feelings satisfactorily. It is usually seen that the ability to express freely among such individuals was thwarted in their childhood period. Not being able to confront people or speak at the right time, leads to large stress build -up in the body, eventually, manifesting as the diseased thyroid gland. Since malfunctioning of the thyroid is related to speak-out adequately or satisfactorily, it is unsurprising to see women (who are known to suppress a great deal) in majority reporting with thyroid problems.
Typically, suppressors often feel tongue-tied and display a definite infirmness in vocalizing. As such, much of their thoughts and feelings remain locked within them. They find themselves increasingly dissatisfied with their lives, and always appear restless, hurried and chasing things relentlessly. This persistent accelerated mode of functioning over an elongated period causes a bodily condition conducive for the development and growth in hyperthyroidism. In extreme cases, goitre, tumours and cancer in the thyroid occur.
Conversely, when disillusioned with their efforts in finding self-fulfillment, such individuals resort to a passive state of inactivity, which eventually causes hypothyroidism.
The scientific explanation
Countless studies show how emotional stress and tension have strong bearings on our physiology. How they inflict diseases in the thyroid gland, both, directly and indirectly, can be discussed as follows:
● The build-up of chronic stress has a disruptive effect on the HPA or Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal axis intrinsically connected with the Central Nervous System (CNS). Numerous studies have revealed the harm caused to the thyroid to a disturbed HPA. Inflammatory cytokines IL-1 beta, IL-6 and TNF-alpha, which are released as a stress response, down-regulate the HPA axis and drastically diminish the production of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).
● The impact of stress directly affects adrenal glands located above the kidneys and these glands significantly influences the thyroid functioning. Adrenal glands in periods of stress produce cortisol, however, when its production is in excess, it disturbs the homeostasis or the natural balance of body functions. One important result of which is that the T4 and T3 hormone levels in the bloodstream dip low.
● Emotional stress also increases blood sugar, which inhibits the secretion of hormones from the thyroid. In the case of hyperthyroidism, due to increased glucocorticoids resulting out of enhanced blood sugar, the TSH levels fall significantly.
● Adrenal stress also breaches the immunity of the guts, which have a direct relationship with the functioning of the thyroid glands. The affected gut allows a large amount of protein and antigens invade the bloodstream. When this condition persists for long, a person becomes to autoimmune diseases of the thyroid like Hashimoto.
● Increased levels of cortisol due to emotional stress also weakens the liver’s ability to clear excess estrogen from the bloodstream. As a consequence, the quantity of a particular type of protein called Thyroid Binding Globulin (TBG) increases which in turn makes the thyroid inactive.
Meditation and Stillness Healing – Permanent cure
While the role of medication should not be neglected for the treatment of thyroid disorders, it is also imperative to reach the root of the ailment and provide treatment accordingly. It is a known fact that medical treatments mainly suppress the symptoms, so one should adopt effective alternate treatment methods, especially meditation and awareness exercises which cause the negative emotions to surface and be released.
Another effectual treatment method is Stillness healing, which enables a patient to reach a state of deep calm and healing stage while releasing thyroid disorder causing negative energy.Rather than fighting disease, the emphasis of stillness healing is to support health. Healing is not just about getting rid of symptoms but about supporting and integrating individual wholeness. The body is self-healing and self-regulating but, like in this case, overwhelmed and lacks resources. When resources that support us dissipate or adapt to stressful forces become overwhelmed, disease occurs. Stillness is our source and ultimate resource. In this deep state of realization, a person discovers not just the strength and preciousness of their ‘voice’, but also their body and being.
Let your ‘voice’
trapped in your throat
let it sail
to reach your lips
without a fail
For ‘voice’ unexpressed
builds invisible waves
to wreck your little thyroid
causing it to ail
Let your vocal cords express
your heart, your mind
In your ‘voice’
let your world
in happiness blossom