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Thyroid & Memory Problems

I wanted to share with you about how the thyroid controls memory problems but I forgot where I put my notes. All kidding aside, though, if you often feel that you are living life in a fog, sometimes irritable and often sleepless, and have memory problems, thyroid dysfunction may be the cause. There are nearly 15 million people affected by thyroid conditions yet half of them are probably at a loss as to why they feel the way they do. Hyper/hypo thyroidism are probably the most under-diagnosed and under-treated health ailments plaguing our population.

Why the Unawareness? Perhaps one reason thyroid problems don’t get the attention they deserve is because many people don’t even know what the thyroid is. This obscure little gland, shaped like a butterfly, wraps its “wings” round our windpipe and is the command center for our body’s entire metabolism, issuing hormones hither and yon or, perhaps, depriving a body of the hormones necessary to regulate bodily functions properly. This oft-overlooked little gland does not enjoy the notoriety it should considering that it affects virtually every single system, organ, and cell. It controls how much we weigh, how often our heart beats, how cool or hot we feel and how much energy we must embark on our life pursuits. And often people dismiss symptoms as simply what is to be expected as we age.

Making A Memory: Memories are tricky things. There are different classifications of memories. Take, for example, flashbulb memories . These are like clips of a movie scene taken from life events that are significant, emotionally charged and have powerful effects. These are more often than not the types of memories formed by witnesses to something like 9/11. Many people can easily recall where they were and what they were doing when an event on this scale happens. However, these types of memories are not always reliable when it comes down to the details. This may be related to how the human perspective changes over time. Each time a flashbulb memory is recalled, the person is no longer the same. These personal changes affect the memory. But there is more to shaping a memory than emotions and personal perspective. There is chemistry and biology and that’s where the thyroid comes in to play.

Memory Mechanics:Scientists are now able to map exactly where a particular memory is stored and observe the brain as it recreates an event. Researchers in one particular study observed the brain activity of subjects as they watched television. The hippocampus and entorhinal cortex were very busy during this activity. Afterwards, subjects engaged in “free recall”, remembering whatever they pleased, as well as instructed to recall specific clips. Memories in “free recall” were the strongest memories, resulting in the same neurons strongly firing in the brain as when they watched that particular clip. This meant that researchers knew where to expect to see strong neural activity to recall a memory based on previously seeing it formed.

Creating A Signal: The entire process of the brain firing off a synaptic signal requires electricity and chemicals to form a partnership. Thyroid function affects how efficiently information is transmitted. Every neuron has a membrane called a voltage gradient. In other words, this is the biological component that manages the speed by which electricity travels along a neuron. Any number of biological variations can affect the speed of transmission. Metabolic differences in sodium, potassium, choloride and calcium, on the cellular level, can mean the difference between a mind being sharp as whip or stumbling around in brain fog.

Electrolyte Control: Sodium, potassium, chloride and calcium are the minerals that comprise electrolytes. Electrolytes are controlled by the thyroid. The National Institute of Health (NIH) spells it out quite succinctly. The thyroid is the culprit behind electrolyte disorder. If you have an electrolyte disorder, your memory will be affected. Although there is not much data that is definitive, there is enough for the NIH to assert that those suffering with hypothyroidism, as well as hyperthyroidism, can both experience electrolyte dysfunction.

What Can You Do? If you believe your thyroid is the root of your problems, the first thing to do is to have it professionally diagnosed. There are a variety of thyroid disorders, as well as a number of risk factors and causes. Treatment approaches differ according to type of thyroid disorder and patient dynamics. It is also important to have the guidance of a health professional in order to create a thyroid nutrition plan that complements any prescribed treatment. And that is the good news. Effective treatment and nutrition can enable you to say good-by to brain fog and hello to better recall.

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