Thyroid and pituitary glands are part of the endocrine system of the human body. This system is responsible for secreting hormones directly into the blood stream. The thyroid and pituitary glands work in tandem and are interdependent. They also support each other in the processes that the body needs to carry out. For example, whenever the thyroid is under-active, the pituitary tries to correct it by releasing an anterior pituitary hormone that stimulates the function of the thyroid gland.
Any thyroid treatment should ideally start with a physical examination to ascertain whether the thyroid gland is enlarged or not. This is done to rule out goiter, which is an abnormally enlarged thyroid that can occur due to iodine deficiency.
In cases of hypothyroidism or an under-active thyroid, it is imperative to establish the type of hypothyroidism prevalent in the patient. Generally speaking, the condition of an under-active thyroid can be classified as:
- Primary hypothyroidism - A condition that develops in the thyroid itself.
- Central hypothyroidism - A condition that implies malfunction in the pituitary gland as well.
In both cases, the end result is insufficient production of hormones that are necessary to maintain a healthy metabolic rate.
Depending upon the specific hormones that are deficient, thyroid medications for hypothyroid aim to provide hormonal supplements to augment deficient hormones. Tests are ordered to determine the levels of thyroid (T3, T4) and pituitary (TSH) hormones in the blood. Excess levels of TSH help in confirming the slowed activity of the thyroid.
There are specific synthetic hormonal supplements that are prescribed. These are available under different trade names but are essentially L-thyroxine (T4) and L-triiodothyronine (T3), or a combination of the two.
There are conflicting opinions with regards to the best hormonal supplement. T3 is the bioactive thyroid hormone. T4 is converted by body tissues into T3, which can then be used by the body. The ultimate aim of thyroid treatment is to arrive at the required level of the pituitary hormone, TSH.
The dark side of any conventional treatment has always been the side effects that they cause. Thyroid hormonal supplements are no exception, and research in this area mentions the relevant warning about potential side effects.
However, alternative thyroid treatments , like natural supplements, can be used to avoid such side effects. Natural thyroid medication has a holistic approach to the entire sphere of thyroid treatment. It includes natural supplements, a thyroid-friendly diet, and lifestyle changes.