Your Thyroid

Your thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system in your body. The endocrine system is in charge of body processes that happen slowly, such as cell growth. Faster processes like breathing and body movement are controlled by the nervous system. But even though the nervous system and endocrine system are separate systems, they often work together to help the body function properly.

Your thyroid gland is one of the important maestros in your body, conducting the symphony of cells that control most of the daily internal business necessary to keep you growing, developing, free from disease, hydrated and energized, to name just a few. Your thyroid directs different organs in your body to either produce more hormones or stop producing hormones when peak limits in your blood have been reached.

In Canada, it is estimated that 30% of Canadians feel the effects of some type of thyroid condition and that 50% of those living with a thyroid condition are undiagnosed. For instance, if your thyroid produces an imbalance of thyroid hormone, it can result in one of two conditions called either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, depending on whether there is an overabundance of hormone or not enough being produced. Many Canadians don’t recognize that the collection of symptoms they are living with can be diagnosed and that, once you begin working with your health care professional, relief is absolutely possible!

THE BASICS – The Endocrine System

The foundations of the endocrine system are the hormones and glands. Compared to other organs of the body, the organs of the endocrine system are very small. To collect one kilogram of hormone-producing tissue, you would need to collect all the endocrine tissue from eight or nine adults. As the body’s chemical messengers, hormones transfer information and instructions from one set of cells to another. Although many different hormones circulate throughout the bloodstream, each one affects only the cells or organs that are genetically programmed to receive and respond to its message. These are called the target cells or target organs.

Hormone levels in the body are influenced by factors such as stress, infection, and changes in the balance of fluid and minerals in blood.

Essentially, the human body, at the cellular level, has not changed in millennia. We still physically respond to danger the same way our Neanderthal cousins did.Cortisol is the hormone that is released when we are stressed, and during the time of primitive man stressful events were almost always life-threatening. Even today, the brain still prioritizes the role of cortisol over the other hormones.However, because civilization has changed, we now have a tendency to “create” dangers in our mind which initiate the same danger response in our bodies (“fight or flight”). This is because the body cannot differentiate between a perceived danger and a real one. The message the mind sends to the body is the same; prepare the body to deal with danger.

THE ANATOMICAL ANGLE – Where does the thyroid fit in?

The thyroid is one of the largest glands in the endocrine system. It is the butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck below the thyroid cartilage or where the Adam’s Apple would be on a man. Above the thyroid, located in your brain, are the pituitary gland and the pineal gland. Below, are the thymus (upper chest), the adrenals (sitting on top of your kidneys), your pancreas (sits behind the first part of your small intestine, to the left), the ovaries and the testis.

What Does The Thyroid Control?

The nervous system is “built for speed”. It uses nerve impulses to prod the muscles and glands into immediate action so that rapid adjustments can be made in response to changes occurring both inside and outside the body. On the other hand, the more slowly acting endocrine system, of which your thyroid is a part of, uses chemical messengers (hormones), which are relased into the blood to be transported leisurely throughout the body.1 This control is exerted via a negative feedback mechanism. When hormone secretion is activated by a specific stimulus, the very rise in blood hormone levels begins the end of any further release of more hormones. This control method works because an overabundance of one hormone is sensed, then another hormone is produced to suppress the production of the overabundant hormone.

Your thyroid is only one link in a chain reaction of important communications between the glands of the endocrine system.

The Calcium Connection

The thyroid secretes calcitonin, a hormone which is needed for calcium absorption into the bones. (This is why impaired thyroid functioning can sometimes lead to osteoporosis.) When blood levels of calcium drop too low because of excess absorption, the parathyroid swings into action.

The four small parathyroid glands, present on the surface of the thyroid, control the amount of calcium in the blood and within the bones. When blood calcium levels drop below a certain point, calcium-sensing receptors in the parathyroid gland are activated to release parathyroid hormone (PTH). PTH increases blood calcium levels by stimulating osteoclasts (a type of bone cell that removes bone tissue), to break down bone and release calcium back into the blood. PTH also increases gastrointestinal calcium absorption by activating vitamin D, promoting calcium uptake by the kidneys. 2

The Iodine Question

Iodine is an important component in the synthesis of T4 and T3. Fortunately, here in Canada, we have had iodized salt for two generations and there are many other sources of iodine now in our diets so that, if anything, we are receiving more iodine than in most places in the world. 3 Too much iodine can be as much of an issue as not getting enough. The best practice is to check with your health care professional and go through all the tests before deciding to supplement with iodine.

The Thyroid/Liver Connection

One of the hormones the thyroid is responsible for secreting is a tyrosine-based hormone called thyroxine, or T4 (the inactive form of thyroid hormone). This is secreted when the thyroid receives thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) from the pituitary gland. T4 travels to the liver where it is converted to T3, the active form of thyroid hormone, responsible for regulating metabolism, growth, development, and body temperature. Keeping your liver in tip-top shape helps it concentrate on converting the right amounts of T4 into T3.


In healthy people, the thyroid makes just the right amounts of T4 and T3 which, as we know, regulates how many calories we burn, how warm we feel, how much we weigh and so much more.

The two most common conditions your thyroid could struggle with are hypothyroidism (“hypo” meaning lower than normal) and hyperthyroidism (“hyper” meaning excessive).

Hypothyroidism is the most common of the thyroid disorders. It occurs when the thyroid gland becomes underactive and does not produce enough thyroid hormones. The metabolic rate falls and normal bodily functions slow down. Up to 10% of women over the age of 65 show some signs of hypothyroidism. 4

Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include, but are not limited to:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight
  • Coarse, dry hair
  • Dry, rough pale skin
  • Hair loss
  • Cold intolerance (can’t tolerate the cold like those around you)
  • Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Memory loss
  • Abnormal menstrual cycles
  • Decreased libido

Hyperthyroidism is a condition caused by the effects of too much thyroid hormone on tissues of the body. Essentially all cells in the body will respond to increases in thyroid hormone with an increase in the rate at which they conduct their business.

Common symptoms and signs of hyperthyroidism can include, but are not limited to:

  • Palpitations
  • Heat intolerance
  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Breathlessness
  • Increased bowel movements
  • Light or absent menstrual periods
  • Fatigue
  • Fast heart rate
  • Trembling hands
  • Weight loss (or weight gain in certain circumstances)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Warm moist skin
  • Hair loss
  • Staring gaze


First and foremost, you want to work with your health care professional to get the correct diagnosis for your condition. Then, your health care professional will set you on a course of corrective measures aimed at bringing you back to your very best health.

In addition, you can talk with your health care professional about some of the following natural options for assisting you with the process of balancing out your thyroid. Click on the name of each vitamin or mineral for a more complete explanation.

Vitamin A can help you with symptoms such as:

  • fatigue
  • coarse, dry hair
  • hair loss
  • dry, rough pale skin
  • weight loss, sudden and/or severe

Vitamin B1 can help you with symptoms such as:

  • irritability
  • constipation (with B12)
  • breathlessness
  • muscle weakness
  • weight loss, sudden and/or severe

Vitamin B6 can help you with symptoms such as:

  • weakness
  • insomnia

B Complex can help you with symptoms such as:

  • hair loss
  • memory loss

Vitamin E can help you with symptoms such as:

  • abnormal, light or absent menstrual periods

Calcium can help you with symptoms such as:

  • muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
  • fast heart rate
  • trembling hands

Potassium can help you with symptoms such as:

  • dry, rough pale skin
  • cold intolerance
  • muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
  • constipation
  • depression
  • palpitations
  • nervousness
  • insomnia
  • trembling hands
  • muscle weakness

Thyrosense supports optimal thyroid healthy, improves energy and metabolism. For those with low thyroid, Thyrosense:

  • Supports thyroid health
  • Improves conversion of T4 to T3
  • Enhances weight loss
  • Improves energy
  • Supports proper hormone balance
  • Improves sensitivity to temperature

For those taking thyroid medication, Thyrosense works with thyroid medication to enhance the feneficial action of supplemental thyroid hormones. Thyrosense is to be used in conjunction with your thyroid medication. Do not take Thyrosense if you have hyperthyroid without the recommendation of your health care professional.

Carol Roy is a Natural Health Practitioner, registered with Natural Health Practitioners Canada, who received her diploma from the Alternative Medicine College of Canada in Montreal, Quebec. With 9 years experience in her area of expertise, naturopathic medicine, Carol has also trained to become a fully qualified Reiki Master, Quantum Touch ® Practitioner and Reflexologist.

The suggestions by Nutter’s Bulk & Natural Foods and the contents of this article
are recommendations only and not a substitute for any medical advice or a
replacement for any prescriptions. Seek medical advice for any health concerns.
Consult your health care provider before using any recommendations herein.

Further Reading Suggestions:

1. Thyroid Foundation of Canada


1. Essentials of Human Anatomy & Physiology, Seventh Edition, Elaine N. Marieb

2. Wikipedia

3. Thyroid Foundation of Canada


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