JUST TO CLARIFY, "THE THYROID PATHWAY" ISN'T A REAL THING....
It's not a medically sanctioned term, just a Kylie Term that I started using to make it easy to say - "This is what happens from here to here". Just privately I'm waiting to see if it catches on!
I don't do medical terms a lot. Can I? Sure! I have so many textbooks it's bordering on the ridiculous! However, I remember when I was in the first half of my Thyroid Journey and more importantly, I remember the day I started studying Naturopathy and I had to look up every second word in the dictionary. It was a very slow read! So for kindness on our brains, I don't do medical terms, unless I have to name something.
SO WHAT IS THE THYROID PATHWAY?
It starts in a part of the brain and it's then kind of like Chinese Whispers. Ever played that game?
One part of our brain gets a piece of information then passes it on to the next part which adds their information until eventually the thyroid hormone ends up in our cells and we feel amazing..... Don't we????? Well if we did, I wouldn't be typing this and you wouldn't be reading it.
KNOWING THE THYROID PATHWAY IS CRITICAL TO GETTING WELL
This will be a game changer for many of you. Once you understand the process or pathway then you can see how easily it can be that our thyroid tests say we are fine when clearly we are not. So bare with me as I explain the process.
Before I get started - for the science people that want ALL the facts and figures this is not the place for you! This is just an easy conversation, for the majority of us.
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STEP 1 - HYPOTHALAMUS MAKES TRH
So, the hypothalamus is a part of our brain and it senses if the body needs more thyroid hormone. So it sends TRH (Thyrotropin-releasing hormone) to the pituitary Gland.
STEP 2 - PITUITARY GLAND MAKES TSH
On receiving the TRH, the pituitary gears up for action and makes Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). To make TSH our body needs Vitamins A & E. The job of TSH is to alert our thyroid on HOW MUCH hormone to make. So if it is pumping out alot of TSH (think of someone yelling) it means our body needs more hormone because it is deficient. If the pituitary holds back on the amount of TSH (think of someone being silent) it is because there is already far too much and we don’t need any more.
STEP 3 - THYROID RELEASES T3 & T4
The hormone our thyroid releases is mostly inactive T4, which is what most people with hypothyroidism is given by the doctors as a replacement. To make T4 we need Tyrosine, Iodine, Iron, Selenium, Vanadium, Vitamin B2 and Vitamin C. As an added bit of work, to make the Tyrosine we also need protein, zinc, Vitamins B1 & B6 and good levels of stomach acid. But assuming we have all of those, we release appropriate amounts of T4.
STEP 4 - CONVERSION OF T4 TO T3
Even though our thyroid releases a tiny bit of T3 (active hormone) in the last step, it is not enough to feel well, but more so an amount to stop us dying. To convert all the T4 into T3 we need a healthy liver and healthy gut function. About 70% of the conversion happens in the liver and 20% happens in our gut. We also need Selenium and progesterone.
STEP 5 - GETTING IT INTO THE CELLS
So let's just pretend we all have fantastically healthy livers and gut function and we have converted our hormone because we also have all the appropriate amounts of vitamins and minerals we need for the process, it still has to get into our cells. To do this, it hitches a ride with TBG (thyroxine-binding globulin) which is essentially a taxi cab for the hormone to get to where it needs to be. The issue we have here is that the taxi cab can only carry one passenger at a time and other potential passengers are excess oestrogen, polyunsaturated fatty acids and heavy metals. If one of these other passengers is on board, then the T3 can not get in.
STEP 6 - THE CELL DOOR GUARD
So let's assume for a second we have converted our T4 into T3 and that all our TBG taxi cabs were available to take the Active hormone to our cells, there is still something that can go wrong. If we are stressed...... yeah I know, who isn't ..... then we produce Reverse T3 which is like a guard at the cell door saying "Nope, you can't come in". Why does it do that? Because in its wisdom our body thinks if it keeps out the T3 we will have no energy which will keep us too tired to go out into the world and cause ourselves further damage. It's actually a safety mechanism.
SO WHOSE THYROID PATHWAY RUNS SMOOTHLY LIKE THAT?
Yep, not too many I suspect. But now that we can see the pathway, it makes it easier to understand why our blood tests may say we are fine. You see our blood tests can't tell us what is in our cells! It can only tell us how hard our body is yelling to make more or less T4 right back at the start.
The way forward is boring I'm afraid. It is taking care of our liver and gut health. It is reducing the amount of stress we have. It is detoxing any heavy metals, oestrogen and other toxins.
It is the little things we do day in and day out that are going to achieve the pathway functioning the way it should. This is the subject of my third book “Thyroid Habits”, essentially it contains 50 everyday habits that are mostly easy to implement that have a huge knock-on effect towards making our Thyroid Pathway healthy and efficient.
So that we feel well.
I mean, isn’t that the goal???