If you are told your TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) is normal but you have symptoms of a slow thyroid, what should you do?
Don’t dismiss your symptoms too quickly!
I’m going to move slowly through the functions of the glands, organs, hormones, and processes necessary for your thyroid function to be optimal within my blog series. I think it is important to understand each stop in the process to see the big picture. I don’t expect most to remember all of the hormone information that follows but it may be helpful when doing some blood work or looking for clues related to thyroid symptoms. I’m highlighting the hormone names for easy identification.
Where does the process begin?
The multiple functions of the thyroid start in your brain. The hypothalamus is where your process starts as it produces TRH (Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone) to signal your pituitary gland known as the ‘Master Gland’. This gland is about the size of a pea and sits behind your nose. It is the metabolism regulator.
The hypothalamus makes 2 sets of hormones. The first set is stored in the posterior or back of the pituitary gland before it is released into the blood stream.
- Anti-Diuretic Hormone (Vasopressin) which controls blood pressure and water balance in the kidneys.
- Oxytocin helps sperm move in men, sexual arousal and feelings of trust. It also helps in stimulating the uterine contractions during labor and milk secretion for breastfeeding.
The other hormones the hypothalamus creates in the anterior or front lobe of your pituitary are:
- Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone stimulates the skin to produce melanin in the skin cells.
- Dopamine is your “happy hormone” that increases Serotonin producing Oxytocin (the love hormone) causing you to feel relaxed, psychologically stable and trusting. It also signals nursing mothers to “let down” the milk supply when the baby latches on.
- Corticotrophin-Releasing Hormone (CRH) drives the body’s response to stress. It tells the pituitary gland to produce Adrenocorticotropic Hormone to turn on the Adrenal glands for fight or flight. Too high of levels may trigger inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and Psoriasis. Too little is linked to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Alzheimer’s Disease, sleep or memory disorders, and poor concentration.
- Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone stimulates and regulates growth, metabolism and your body structure. It stimulates the actual Growth Hormone (GH) to be made within the pituitary gland. It can effect sleep, memory, and hunger. Excessive amounts can cause tumor growths, an enlarged pituitary gland, swollen hands/feet/face and organs.
- Somatostatin inhibits the secretion of Growth Hormone, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, Cholecystokinin, and Insulin. It can act as a neurotransmitter in your gut can regulate reproduction of cells. This amazing hormone is also produced in the pancreas and gastrointestinal tract. Excess amounts can lead to diabetes, gallstones, and intolerance of fat digestion.
- Gonadotrophin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH or LHRH) which stimulates hormones in the pituitary mostly for reproduction.
As you can see your hypothalamus is very busy and thankfully isn’t a problem in the thyroid dysfunction often. Next we will move into the following step of the pituitary that stimulates the thyroid gland.
To find answers let’s talk!
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