The thyroid gland is one of many glands comprising the endocrine system. Other endocrine glands include the adrenal gland, pituitary gland, the pineal and the pancreas. These glands are responsible for the production of hormones. So how do neurotransmitter relate to hormone production and thyroid health?
Thyroid hormone levels play an important role in the release of neurotransmitters, so thyroid hormone imbalances can cause neurotransmitter imbalances. Neurotransmitters and hormones are both messengers. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin, GABA and dopamine regulate certain body functions, including gastrointestinal tract motility, mood, appetite and sleep. Thyroid hormones serve as a release function for neurotransmitters, so they are closely tied to each other in their functionality. Therefore thyroid conditions can cause an imbalance in neurotransmitter function, and can even affect the production of neurotransmitters.
For example, hypothyroidism can lead to an increase in serotonin. Certain people with hypothyroidism may be prone to depression due to low hormone levels. When antidepressants are prescribed, they may not have a positive affect because the issue is with the thyroid hormone imbalance. Where drugs don’t work to fix the problem, functional medicine will seek the underlying issue, not simply reduce the symptoms.
Another example is thyroid hormone levels affecting the output of dopamine. Cases of restless leg syndrome have been linked to dopamine output and thyroid health.
Testing the thyroid is a good first step to determining if a primary cause of neurotransmitter imbalance is due to a thyroid disorder. Conventional medicine focuses on fixing neurotransmitter imbalances with drugs, whereas functional medicine considers nutrient deficiencies and hormone levels as a possible cause of the imbalance.
Dr. Hagmeyer offers help to those with neurotransmitter and hormone imbalance due to the thyroid issues. If you suffer from hypothyroidism, sleep disorders, mood disorders or issues with your gastrointestinal tract, you may have a neurotransmitter/hormone imbalance caused by your thyroid.