The poor thyroid! A gland of remarkable adaptability, the thyroid gland absorbs a great deal of “punishment” with our lifestyles today. It is estimated that the prevalence of thyroid disorders is 1 in 13, or 20 million Americans! That’s staggering! As more and more Americans are suffering from thyroid disorders, one has to question “why?” The answer is not what we hope to hear – unfortunately, we bring much of it on ourselves.
It is natural that we want nice things: a nice home, convenience, electronics, a beautiful yard, exceptionally tasty foods, and personal beauty. What do these have to do with the thyroid? Lots. Each of the above come with an unusual cost, one not factored into the dollar amount when we buy things. They all contain toxins that can promote thyroid disruption. Chemicals such as polybrominated biphenyls, polyhalogenated aromatic hydrocarbons, DDT, DDE, dieldrin and other organo-chlorines, pheolic and phenolic-carboxylic derivatives, PCBs, PBBs, and many more make their way into our lives, and into our thyroid. Some of these chemicals, like DDT, have been banned in this country, but still make it back into our food supply as we buy more and more of our foods from countries we have sold our chemicals to.
These chemicals show up in our homes (textiles, home furnishings, resins, adhesives, rubber and plastic products of all types, building and construction materials), by ingestion (processed foods, dyes, pharmaceuticals, pesticides in our foods, our water, toothpaste), in our bodies (cosmetics, skin care products such as sunscreens), electronics (capacitors, electric or heat transformers, cars) and many other items.
The thyroid, coupled with a healthy immune system, is capable of resisting the impact of these environmental insults. The operative word is “healthy”. Because we endure so much stress, we burden our endocrine and immune systems until function becomes sluggish at best. To add insult to injury, we don’t even feed our fuel systems with adequate nourishment for them to run. It’s like putting dirty gas in the car. It will run, but it will sputter, lurch, cut out, and just run slower, until it grinds to a halt. We call it fatigue, depression, or lack of motivation.
In addition, the thyroid regulates the rate of virtually every organ and system in the body, including how much energy the body uses, how the body uses nutrients and glucose, the rhythms of the heart, lungs, digestive tract, brain and metabolic action of each cell. In addition to facilitating normal cell reproduction, growth, and body weight the thyroid regulates the rate of oxygen usage in all tissues, and repair of damaged or diseased tissues. It senses water balance, function of circulating systems, muscles, nerves, sex organs, fat metabolism and more. Since the thyroid controls the metabolic rate of every cell, it affects many conditions in the body.
It is in our best interest to take care of our poor thyroid. There is much we have to learn, but much we can do to help.
©2012 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.