Thyroid: Spiritual Dimensions
Thyroid abnormalities are extremely common in all populations. In the United States about 50% of the population may have microscopic nodules, one in 20 have a clinical manifestation of having too much or too little thyroid hormone- hyperthyroid or hypothyroid while twice that number (1 in 10) have a thyroid level imbalance that doesn’t cause obvious symptoms1. In this series I will delve into how we can look with a humanizing Anthroposophic approach to this important medical problem. This appraoch can help give new understanding and also new treatment approach to thyroid problems. The thyroid relates intricately to the fourfold human organization. Physically we see symmetry bilaterally in its form with its usual location in the neck. Thyroid hormone affects the overal metabolism of the body. It is intricately realted to the life and growth process. Low thyroid is so important as a preventable cause of growth and mental developmental delay that it is routinely screened for at birth in most countries. The soul element is relayed by the thyroid hormone staying in balance. Hypothyroidism is associated with low energy, depression, and even poor reflexes. Hyperthyroidism shows the opposite tendencies. The piloting (I organization) activity of our spirit can take hold of the entire body through the thyroid’s influence. There is not a cell who’s metabolism is not affected with near homeopathic amounts of this important hormone. The body works in concert. We see the manifestation of too little warmth in hypothyroid and too much warmth with hyperthyroidism. We would see it as foolish to think that a room full of instruments alone were responsible for a great symphony. Likewise we should not ignore the unseen workers that act in the organism through the instrument of thyroid hormone.
Thyroid Hormone and Development- Lessons From Nature
Amphibians are the first creatures to bring their soul life (the astral) deep into their organism. It is telling that many people worried about animal welfare will often draw the line at eating meat beyond fish. There is little astrality tied up with the fish as compared to the amphibian. The frog develops into a creature that can interact with the air element- not only breathing the air on land but even vocalizing. We can see this soul effect in one effect of thyroid hormone deficiency- in severe hypothyroidism we can see an enlargement of the tongue (macroglossia)- the tongue loses its soul nature (speech and music) and tends more to function only metabolically (swallowing food).
Thyroid hormone plays an essential role in the metamorphosis of a tadpole into a frog. If more is present then the transformation occurs faster. If not enough is present then we see it either slowed or stopped2. We can see the effect on the threefold nature as well. The amphibian becomes more differentiated in its hands and feet (metabolic system), it is able to breath and vocalize (rhythmic system), and it has a more distinguished head and nervous system (nerve-sense). Thyroid hormone brings the astral body (and I organization) into a working relationship with the organism.
I have an interesting memory of a professor in medical school (only conventionally oriented). We saw a patient who had very high thyroid levels and was not on his medication. This person filled the room with their astrality to such a degree that it generated an oppressive air in the room. It was clear this was felt by both of us as when he left my professor turned to me and said “wouldn’t want to meet that fellow in a dark alley.” I think this feeling could be different depending on the nature of the astrality. I worked with a lovely nurse who was always slightly hyperthyroid and declined treatment from her doctor. Her sunny disposition spilled over- often therapeutically bringing her sick patients a needed boost of “astral sunshine”. Patients with low thyroid have the opposite effect- another endocrinologist would often become impatient with these patients as they were “too little present”. Severe cases of hypothyroidism can even manifest as similar to hibernation.
We will continue this study of the thyroid onwards into the human being so we might find the best treatment pathway for thyroid imbalances.