The thyroid gland is made up of two lobes,
one on each side of the windpipe just under the voicebox. The lobes
are joined by a small interconnecting mass of tissues. If for some
reason the thyroid gland enlarges, it is known as "goiter."
The thyroid is one of the endocrine glands,
which secrete chemical compounds into the body for various types
of control. These compounds are known as hormones, internal secretions,
or chemical messengers. The endocrine glands are also known as the
ductless glands of the body because their secretions are put into
general circulation, rather than sent through a duct to a specific
area to influence only a portion of the body.
There is considerable interplay among the
endocrine glands. For example, the thyroid is stimulated to produce
its hormone, thyroxine, by a portion of the pituitary gland (another
endocrine gland) by way of one of its thyrotrophic hormones. The
thyroid, in turn, influences the reproductive glands and their hormone
production, and also controls a portion of the adrenals.
There are two major control systems in the
body, the nervous system and the endocrine system. There is an interplay
between these systems. The nervous systems controls the glands of
the endocrine system; in turn, the glands have an influence on nerve
control of body functions.
Modern science is learning more and more
about the control of these two very complex systems; however, there
is a great deal more to be learned about them and their continual
When a thyroid involvement is suspected, the entire endocrine and
nervous systems should be evaluated because of this interplay.
One of the chief activities of the thyroid
gland is to regulate the body's metabolism. Metabolism means, basically,
the rate at which the body builds up and tears down. In other words,
it is the speed at which the body lives. When the thyroid is not
functioning correctly, the first - and most prominent - symptoms
develop as a result of metabolic change.
Hypothyroidism means that
the thyroid is no longer as active as it should be. The term "hypo"
means "under" - thus under-thyroid.
One of the major symptoms of hypothyroidism
is fatigue. Fatigue is a generalized symptom that is present because
of the many lowered activities resulting from thyroid hormone
Because of lowered metabolic activity,
there is a tendency to gain weight which does not correlate with
an individual's food intake and/or physical activity.
Protein is the major building block in
tissue growth. Thyroxine, the hormone from the thyroid gland,
increases protein use within the body. When there is a hypothyroid
condition, protein is not deposited as effectively in the tissues.
As a result, a child with a thyroid deficiency does not develop
adequately. In the adult, tissue health suffers significantly
because of hypothyroidism. All body tissues, with only a few exceptions,
There is a process in the body that breaks
protein down into sugar for aid in sugar balance. This process
is called "gluconeogenesis." It does not work adequately
in the presence of hypothyroidism. Thyroxine also influences the
rate of sugar absorption from the gastrointestinal tract; consequently,
it has some control over how much sugar is absorbed from the food
eaten. Another effect of thyroxine on the body's sugar utilization
is its ability to increase the rate glucose is used by the cells.
Anyone who has a sugar handling problem should have his/her thyroid
evaluated because of its significant role in sugar absorption,
utilization, and conversion of other factors to sugar.
The breakdown of fat to sugar is also
influenced by thyroxine, which decreases the quantity of circulating
fats in the blood and also the quantity of fats in the liver.
Because of the role of thyroid gland secretions in the control
of fat utilization, any individual with an elevated triglyceride
level in his/her blood or a congested liver should have the thyroid
Some of the body's minerals are regulated
by thyroxine. Of particular note is calcium. Thyroxine increases
calcium removal by the kidneys. There is another hormone that
comes from the thyroid and parathyroid glands which has a bearing
on the deposition of calcium in the bones. The parathyroid glands
are four small glands located adjacent to the thyroid; they are
not part of it.
Symptoms indicting the need
for thyroid evaluation are the following: extreme tiredness, sluggishness,
decreased heart rate and blood pressure, and increased weight.
There may be constant fatigue on dieting, constipation, mental
fatigue, thin and slow-growing hair, scaliness of the skin, and
a frog-like, husky voice. Emotional symptoms may include going
to pieces easily, crying, and dislike of working under pressure.
There may be associated menstrual problems, a constant feeling
of fullness, swelling-especially in the face-increased cholesterol
levels, and brittle, easily broken fingernails. Hypothyroidism
symptoms are widespread because the thyroid gland affects the
metabolism of all body tissues.
Hyperthyroidism is overactivity
of the thyroid gland and, consequently, too much thyroxine in
the blood. "Hyper" means "over" - thus, over-thyroid.
The symptoms of this condition are exactly opposite those of hypothyroidism;
the body's metabolism is increased. Symptoms can be nervousness,
inability to sleep, and increased heart and cardiac output. There
may be thin skin, fine features, and poor balance when standing
on one leg. The individual may have an increased appetite, decreased
weight, and erratic, flighty behavior.
There are several methods
for examining the thyroid. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Blood tests are commonly used;
there are several types. The general disadvantage of blood tests
is the effect of different medications and nutritional supplements
on the test results. The treatment factor used by the doctor,
either to supplement or improve thyroid function, may render the
test inappropriate while the patient is on that therapeutic regime.
Consequently, dosage must be regulated by how the patient feels
rather than by exactly determining the level of function.
The basal metabolic rate test is
an older test, rarely used today. It measures the amount of oxygen
used by an individual to determine the speed of body function.
The test has been abandoned because of the many inaccuracies inherent
in the testing procedure.
Achilles tendon reflex test measures
- to the millisecond - muscle contraction upon nerve stimulation.
The speed of muscle action is inversely proportional to the thyroid
activity. This test can be used while a patient is on a therapeutic
regime, because it basically measures body activity rather than
Applied kinesiology has several ways of
testing the thyroid by using muscle tests to evaluate different
energy patterns within the body.
Natural or artificial thyroid
hormone has been administered for many years as a supplement therapy
for thyroid activity. When the thyroid gland is unable to produce
thyroxine, this therapy may be necessary. If the problem is hyperthyroidism
and too much thyroxine, antithyroid drugs are used.
The best approach is to return the thyroid
to normal function by improving the body's energy patterns, and/or
nutritional supplementation. Applied kinesiology is geared toward
this end. This approach is best because of the normal body's ability
to regulate thyroxine up and down as it is needed. When medications
are used for supplemental thyroid or anti-thyroid effects, there
is no control to regulate the up and down levels necessary from
hour to hour during a day. This interferes with the intricate
interplay among the body's glands, and the glands' interplay with
the nervous system.
Whatever treatment approach is used for
thyroid function, it is important to have a periodic review to
determine the effects of the treatment.