The thyroid gland is a small, brownish-red, butterfly-shaped, highly vascular endocrine gland located in the front of the neck below the Adam’s apple. It is part of the endocrine system and produces hormones that regulate metabolism and other bodily functions, such as heart rate and body temperature. When the thyroid gland produces too little or too much hormone, it can lead to a variety of health problems.
What Does It Control?
The thyroid gland controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins and controls how sensitive the body is to other hormones, specifically the catecholamines (such as dopamine epinephrine) and norepinephrine (which increases sympathetic activity).
It’s Primary Function
The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormone and calcitonin. The primary function of thyroid hormone is to control and regulate the basal metabolic rate. The basal metabolic rate (or BMR) regulates how quickly or slowly things function in the body. It controls the amount of energy expended by people while at rest. The thyroid is your master gland in charge of metabolism.
It Functions Like The Accelerator Pedal In The Car
In a way, the thyroid functions like the accelerator and brake pedals in your car. If you increase the amount of thyroid hormone, it’s like pressing the accelerator pedal – everything speeds up. If you decrease the amount of thyroid hormone, it’s like pressing on the brake pedal – everything slows down.
Why Is This Important?
Why is this important? And why can this affect other structures in the body? Every cell in the body has a receptor site for thyroid hormone. That means the amount of thyroid hormone that’s being produced by the thyroid gland will affect the basal metabolic rate of every single cell in your body. This can affect the functioning of the organs such as the heart, lungs, nervous system, kidneys, liver, intestine, sex organs, pancreas, muscles, and skin.
In other words, if your thyroid is malfunctioning, you can have problems in every other area of your body. The thyroid is the central gear in the complex web of metabolism and is extremely sensitive to imbalances in other areas of the body.