So what is the thyroid and what does it do?

The thyroid is a hugely complex, yet incredibly important organ in the body, but sadly, there is a lot of misinformation and confusion about what it is and what it does, let alone what it means to have an autoimmune condition such as Graves or Hashimoto’s disease. For this reason, consider this article your Thyroid 101 Guide, where I’ll be covering what the thyroid is, what is does and what it means when the thyroid is not working as it should.

So to begin with, what is the thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits in the neck, below the Adam’s apple and in front of the oesophagus. It’s considered a gland because it produces thyroid hormones. Thyroxine (known as T4) is the main hormone produced by the thyroid, along with small amounts of triiodothyronine (or T3 for short). These hormones are released into the blood and circulated around the body to various tissues, where a percentage of T4 is converted into T3. T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone, meaning it is the form that exerts an effect in the body.

So what do thyroid hormones do?

Many of us are familiar with various hormones in the body, such as oestrogen (considered the ‘female’ sex hormone), testosterone (the ‘male’ sex hormone) and cortisol (the ‘stress’ hormone). But what does thyroid hormone do? The answer is pretty much everything.

Thyroid hormone is responsible for setting our metabolic rate, which means it affects everything from our heart rate and blood pressure, to our metabolism, body temperature, menstrual regularity, digestion, hair growth and even our sleep. This is why thyroid dysfunction can cause such as huge array of symptoms such as:

  • Weight gain or weight loss

  • Increased or decreased appetite

  • Feeling too hot or too cold

  • Excessive sweating

  • Constipation or diarrhoea

  • Indigestion

  • Anxiety and depression

  • Dry skin, brittle hair and weak nails

  • Insomnia and/or excessive fatigue

  • Menstrual irregularities, infertility and more!

This list is a major part of why I am so passionate about optimising my patient’s thyroid function, as it literally affects every system and organ in the body, and thus is integral to feeling healthy and vibrant! We need our thyroid to be functioning well to ensure optimal digestion, great energy levels, luscious hair, refreshing sleep, menstrual regularity, healthy moods and more. If any of these symptoms sound a little too familiar to you, I’d recommend you book an appointment with your doctor or naturopath to double check your thyroid function, as well as explore any other factors that might be causing you trouble.

In later posts, I’ll be diving deeper into the signs of both under and over-active thyroid function, as well as the specific nutrients needed to support healthy thyroid hormone levels. Make sure to subscribe to so you can receive these posts direct to your inbox.

Until next time,

Niki x

Note: If you’re reading this post because you were recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, I recommend you check out this post as well!