What Does the Thyroid Gland Do in the Body?
The thyroid is a gland found at the base of the throat towards the front. It is made up of two lobes that grip the Adam’s apple. Its job is to release hormones into the body that tells it how fast to work and how to use energy.
These hormones effect our heart, weight, how hot or cold we feel and a host of other things.
Sometimes when there are problems, the thyroid might produce too much, or not enough of a specific hormone.
Thyroid stimulating hormone is produced in the pituitary gland.
It tells the thyroid gland when to produce thyroid hormones, and when to stop producing them. Over production of the hormones is known as hyperthyroidism and underproduction is called hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is a serious issue, coming in second place after diabetes mellitus. The disorder becomes more widespread with increasing age.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is the common method of fulfilling the deficit of thyroid hormones.
Typically, they are made synthetically or derived from animal based hormones, which are available in a variety of forms and dosages.
However, if the desired levels of hormones are not reached they are rendered ineffective.
The best supplemental ones, are the ones that match the body’s own hormones as closely as possible, and in quantities that your body requires.
While the synthetic ones may come close, they are definitely not a perfect match. This is why they fall short for many people and don’t correct imbalances.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) – Two Types of Drug Which May Not Be a Good Fit!
Currently two of the most commonly used replacement therapies in U.S.A. are estrogen, which is produced from the urine of pregnant horses and progesterone made in factories.
Both of these artificial compounds join like ‘lock in a key’ with receptors found in a woman’s body.
However, the ‘fit’ is not very good.
The human body is only capable of utilizing two out of the eight horse estrogens found in some of the commercial preparations.
The remaining six simply float around in the body and are eventually excreted.
It was thought for some time that this excess increased the risk of breast cancer, but this has now been debunked.
Estradiol is Another (Nearly) Natural Hormone Therapy
A natural pharmaceutical estradiol replacement therapy is another option.
While this is also produced in a laboratory, it is produced in a different way; from molecules that are synthetically created producing a much better fit with human receptors. The ‘natural’ progesterone is derived from a wild Mexican yam.
These compounds have shown beneficial effects and don’t even have any harmful effects.
But, it is still a ‘synthetic’ hormone, and it is a known fact that once you start doing that regularly, your body stops producing the hormones altogether.
Once you start taking HRT, you may need to take it for the rest of your life, depending on circumstances.
Should you wish to stop taking it, it could put your bones at greater risk for osteoporosis.
Maca Re-starts the Endocrine System
The ideal way to meet with the body’s needs of these vital hormones would be to just have the body produce what is needed, naturally.
To do that, a way to kind of ‘re-start’ the endocrine system is needed.
Supporters of maca claim it does precisely that.
Maca is a root, of the radish family, that grows at altitudes of 7,000 to 11,000 feet in the Andes mountains of Peru.
It is the only plant in the world capable of growing at such high altitudes.
The root is the edible portion of the plant, which houses tonic like effects on the biochemical performance of the body because of its natural nutritional content.
It is also accredited with enhancing the mechanics of the endocrine system – the system in charge of the body’s glands, and their respective hormones.
It is important to note, that the vegetable does not contain any of the hormones itself – it merely ‘nudges’ the glands to produce their hormones naturally, returning them to their healthy functioning.
Studies and Research
According to Dr. Chacon, the alkaloids in maca are thought to be responsible for stimulating the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus into balancing all of the endocrine system (1).
When Dr. Viana Muller started to study the impact of maca on menopausal symptoms, some of her patients reported they reduced their thyroid medication, and in a few cases, even stopped it altogether after taking maca for a few months.
All the women had hypothyroidism and after having taken maca for a few months they were feeling the symptoms of hyperthyroidism, which is why they had to cut down on their medication.
They all claimed to be feeling more energetic and better in general after stopping their hypothyroidism medication and consuming maca.
Over time some of the women were able to stabilize their thyroid medication at 50% of original dosage and others stop altogether.
The decrease in medication was done slowly, and thyroid function testing was done frequently so it didn’t shock the gland, and make the condition worse.
Unfortunately, no exact percentage of the women whose thyroid condition improved due to maca, could be provided by Dr. Muller because in a vast majority of the cases she did not know the women had a thyroid problem.
She was not studying that specifically, so not all of the women reported their changes to her.
Importantly, there was improvement and many of the women got excited by it and just mentioned it to her, which is how she learned of maca’s effect on the thyroid (2).
Maca Can Help Reduce Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Maca can help hypothyroidism with its high iodine content and it’s balancing characteristics, and can reduce symptoms – slowing down the normal hormonal functioning of the body, leading to a variety of physical disorders.
The insufficient quantities of hormones produced by the thyroid are gently guided by maca to reach their optimal levels.
Hormones produced this way do not put the body at risk of contracting additional diseases, and you are not stuck taking synthetic versions for the rest of your life.
However, this is something for you to discuss with your doctor before replacing maca with your current hormone replacement therapy.
1 – http://www.doctorsaredangerous.com/articles/maca.htm
2 – http://www.thyroid-info.com/articles/viana-muller-herbs.htm