Often when we discuss or read about organs and glands to be kept healthy, it is focused on the liver, kidney, or the heart. We rarely focus on the likes of the pancreas, close to the liver or the small thyroid gland that is right in front of our necks. These components are also important for a healthy lifestyle.
Our ignorance in regard to the thyroid gland is further highlighted when we consider that 60% of the approximately 20 million Americans with some form of thyroid issue are not aware they have them. However, those that are aware of their issues, which vary from one person to another, know that treatments for these issues may only work for a while, and sometimes not at all.
These cases have led them to seek a common solution to tackle their varying problems. Cannabidiol, CBD, has been showing some promise however it should be noted that in-depth research on human thyroid problems is yet to be carried out. Before we come to thyroid issues and how CBD may help, let's see why the thyroid gland is so important.
Why is the Thyroid gland Important?
The thyroid gland is butterfly-shaped and it is found just below our voice box, in front of the trachea, sitting almost at the base of our neck. It is a significant part of the endocrine system and it secretes two essential hormones called thyroxines- T4 (tetraiodothyronine) and T3 (triiodothyronine). The two thyroxines are responsible for the control of our body’s metabolism and energy usage, whilst maintaining our body temperature and heart rate.
These functions of the thyroid gland put it at the centre of the management of our metabolism which is imperative for the regulation of weight, mood, physical and mental energy levels. Since the thyroid gland carries out its function by secreting the hormones we mentioned earlier, any significant fluctuation in their levels will adversely affect the functions of the thyroid gland in our body. This is usually the cause of thyroid issues, though thyroids issues vary greatly with unique risks, causes and diagnoses. Today we look at the two main issues;
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland secretes lower amounts of certain hormones than is needed by our body. The thyroid, in this case, is said to be underactive. This under-activeness may be due to autoimmune diseases (Hashimoto's disease), radiation therapy, hyperthyroidism treatments, a congenital disease, a disorder of the pituitary gland, and even some certain medications.
Hypothyroidism has many symptoms including, pain, muscle weakness, stiffness, and swelling in the joints, impaired memory, thinning hair, weight gain, and a surging blood cholesterol level.
It is diagnosed through blood tests. The level of thyroid-stimulating hormones (TSH) in your blood determines if one is positive for the condition or not. The main treatment has been the use of a daily synthetic thyroid hormone. While these medications may successfully treat hypothyroidism, excess of these drugs in some cases can cause problems, including heart palpitations, shakiness, insomnia, and/or increased appetite.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid is overactive. The condition of over-activeness in this case, is said to be when the thyroid gland secretes too much thyroxine, which leads to rapid or irregular heartbeat, weight loss, sleeping troubles, and other symptoms.
One of the main causes and types of Hyperthyroidism is Graves' disease and one of its symptoms is thyroid enlargement which we all know as goiter.
The diagnosis of Hyperthyroidism is done by combining a physical examination and blood tests to confirm low levels of TSH. Sometimes, additional tests are carried out-- biopsies, imaging scans (iodine scans ultrasounds) --to determine why the thyroid is overactive.
Medical treatments over the years have included radioactive iodine, anti-thyroid medications, beta-blockers, or surgery to remove most of your thyroid. However, these treatments have only not been enough but cause extra problems including skin rashes, fatigue, liver damage, joint pain, and sexual dysfunction.
Other thyroid issues include silent thyroiditis, subacute thyroiditis, radiation-induced thyroiditis, drug-induced thyroiditis, Riedel’s thyroiditis, and acute thyroiditis, thyroid cancer, small lumps known as thyroid nodules which may cause the production of hormones in excess, thyroid storm (this also leads to hormone secretion at a high level. It is, however rare).
How could CBD help?
As we have seen, due to the many side effects of medical and most alternative treatments for thyroid issues, people with these issues prefer to use Cannabidiol (CBD). This is because it has no significant side effects.
CBD is a non-psychoactive substance derived from Cannabis. Similar to Endocannabinoids, it helps to keep us healthy by fitting into the CB1 and CB2 l receptors on the Endocannabinoid System, which is important for maintaining homeostasis. Note that fluctuations in hormones, homeostasis imbalance, cause thyroid issues.
To understand how CBD may help with thyroid issues, scientists have found cannabinoid receptors are on thyroid gland cells. They have also found these receptors within the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN). PVN is responsible for sending signals to the thyroid gland and regulating its activities.
A study carried out in 2009 shows that CB1 has a direct influence on the neurons that send signals to the thyroid gland. These findings imply that CBD can influence the functions of the thyroid gland, and in turn, control thyroid issues. Although, how, exactly, it does this is yet to be known.
Most people are unaware of the importance of the thyroid gland in our metabolism, reproduction, respiration, etc. And those who are aware, often do not get full relief from their thyroid issues because the treatment processes are laden with critical side effects. This has made CBD a sought-after and exciting potential alternative. Although CBD works in helping with thyroid issues still more research is needed. Testimonies and successful trials have shown real promise.