Chakra Series: Chakra Five
Through the fourth chakra we feel love. Through the fifth we have the ability to express it. Throughout history humans have chanted as a form of praise or to enter deep states of meditation and worship. All of nature chants, from thunder to birds to the rustling leaves of the aspen tree.
The closest thing to chanting for modern humans is at a sporting event. As a result we have become disenchanted with our world. To become enchanted literally means to be roused to ecstatic admiration.
A number of years ago I heard a tape which had crickets chirping over a background of what I thought was a choir chanting. A few moments into this beautiful mix a woman explained that what was being heard was not a human choir. The “Choir” was the exact same recording of the crickets slowed down to a frequency resonant to that of humans. The intended effect was a dazzling and delightful way to show that the natural world and all of creation exists in a constant state of praise and gratitude. This is our natural state. It is not in praise of some being far removed, but in praise of being itself. The sound of praise, emitted in a million different ways through vibration, creates the universe.
This belief that sound is responsible for the creation and maintenance of the material universe is held by many spiritual traditions. Our vocabulary is full of associations that reinforce this concept. A destructive idea, someone whose judgment is falling apart and an unstable structure are all called unsound. The fact that we use the word “spell” to describe the creation of words, as well as the invocation of magic, shows the inherent creative power we attribute to language and sound.
The endocrine glands which interface with the fifth chakra are the thyroid and parathyroid glands. The parathyroid glands rest upon the surface of the thyroid and are responsible for maintaining calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck in front of the trachea or windpipe. The thyroid acts as a thermostat which controls the body’s temperature and regulates metabolic rate of every cell in the body
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which is secreted by the pituitary gland, controls the amount of hormones produced by the thyroid gland. Thyroxin or T4 accounts for roughly 80% of hormones secreted while the remaining the remaining 20% is liothyronine or T3. T4 refers to the presence of 4 iodine atoms attached to several molecules of the amino acid tyrosine. T3 is produced, in the thyroid and throughout the body, from T4 by the enzymatic removal of one specific iodine atom. T3 is 4 times more metabolically active than T4.
Whether the thyroid is under- or overactive the deleterious consequences of its malfunctioning can be extensive.
Hyperthyroidism is due to an excessive amount of thyroid hormones. Symptoms include an increased body temperature, jitteriness, restlessness, anxiety and insomnia. Hyperthyroidism frequently triggers an irregular rapid heart rate called atrial fibrillation. This is an arrhythmia which if left untreated can sometimes be fatal.
Hypothyroidism results in an underactive metabolism most often due to an insufficient amount of thyroid hormones. The problem can occur from a failure of the thyroid gland or from a deficiency of the hormones that stimulate the thyroid like TSH.
Hypothyroidism manifests as a wide variety of clinically recognized symptoms. The more common ones include fatigue, depression, infertility, weakness, menstrual disturbances, diffuse muscle aches and pains, thinning hair, dry skin, repeated infections, constipation, carpal tunnel syndrome, memory and cognitive disturbances, cold intolerance, cold extremities, and weight gain. Elevated cholesterol is extremely common in patients with hypothyroidism.
Not all people with hypothyroidism will have all these symptoms, and not everyone with these symptoms will have hypothyroidism. Western medicine considers measuring the levels of TSH and free T4 to be the gold standard for diagnosing hypothyroidism. Relying solely on these two blood tests misses a significant number of patients who in fact have hypothyroidism.
Patients who have an insufficient amount of T3 or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are often missed but frequent causes of hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease which produces antibodies that interfere with the production and function of the thyroid hormones. Testing the levels free T3 and checking antibody levels in addition to the standard thyroid panel will result in more accurate diagnoses.
Broda O. Barnes, M.D., a longtime researcher of, and clinician specializing in, thyroid physiology estimated that as much as 40% of the American population may suffer from some degree hypothyroidism. Medical diagnostic standards have continually evolved and improved. In spite of these advances Dr. Barnes found the simple measurement of basal body temperature to be a reliable indicator of one’s metabolism.
It’s important to remember there are other causes of a low body temperature. To test basal metabolic rate, shake a glass thermometer down before you go to bed and leave it on your nightstand. Upon awakening and before getting up or moving around, place the thermometer in your underarm, not your mouth. Leave it in place for 10 minutes. Take at least six readings, on different days, and average them together.
Menstruating women should do the test during the first week of their cycle. Postmenopausal women and men can do it anytime. If the average falls below 97.4 degrees F., and you have several
of the symptoms described above, you might very well be suffering from hypothyroidism.
Another old-fashioned but invaluable indicator of hypothyroidism is a simple reflex test of the Achilles tendon. A delayed or sluggish response is strong indicator for hypothyroidism.
Natural and synthesized thyroid hormone preparations are available to treat hypothyroidism. The standard Western medical treatment is thyroxin or T4 (brand names: Synthroid and Levoxyl). This is not always effective for, or well tolerated. Cytomel is a commercially available prescription containing only T3. Alternative replacements which contain both T3 and T4 include Thyrolar Armour Thyroid using desiccated bovine or porcine thyroid glands like Euthroid and Armour Thyroid. Some of the benefit people have reported from glandulars to have attributed the presence of a complete range of thyroid hormones. Additional variation, Thyrolar, is commercially available combination of T3 and T4. These work well for many but are not appropriate for everyone. Compounding pharmacies can create exacting customized prescriptions.
It may take several trials with various preparations and dosages to discover what is optimal for you. It is also important to recheck the thyroid blood panel periodically. An improvement in the signs and symptoms, however, is often the most important indicator of optimal dose.
In addition to tyrosine and iodine, proper thyroid function depends on a variety of other nutrient cofactors. These include certain B vitamins, essential fatty acids like evening primrose oil and the minerals zinc, copper, manganese and molybdenum. Iodine, in excess of 600 micrograms per day however, and its close relatives fluorine (fluoride) and chlorine can all inhibit thyroid hormone formation. Mercury from dental amalgams and food contaminated with other environmental toxins have also been reported to reduce metabolic efficiency. Choose your food and water sources carefully.
Activities to harmonize the fifth chakra and balance your metabolism involve expression and creativity. Sing, speak your mind, chant or join a drum circle. Learn to play a musical instrument. Generously praise the people in your life. Sit quietly in nature and enjoy to the symphony of sounds around you.
Governs: metabolism during activity; determines our resting metabolic rate.
Main issue: communication and self expression.
Externalizes: as both the thyroid and parathyroid glands.
When balanced: we feel harmonious.
Color: a harmonic of BLUE.
Key words: vibration, creativity, voice, language, myth, harmony, resonance, rhythm, talking, listening, music, singing and chanting.
Influences: the neck, cervical spine, shoulders, trachea, vocal chords, throat, mouth, gums, teeth, tongue, ears and jaw.
Deficiencies: manifest as stifled creativity, repressed communication and an inability to speak our truth. Sometimes these feelings are described as a lump in the throat or that “the cat got your tongue.”
Excesses: appear as incessant chatter, or loud and boisterous behavior.
Imbalances: manifest physically as chronic sore throats, strep throat, neck and shoulder pain, earaches and infections, canker sores, swollen glands in the neck, laryngitis, hearing loss, and hyper- or hypometabolism.
The chakras are a metaphysical system of the body from the yogic tradition, used in both religious and medical Hindu and Buddhist canons. The chakra energy centers are usually depicted as seven lotuses of rainbow colors arrayed along the spine and up into the head. Understanding of this system has long been used both to heal illness and to promote spiritual enlightenment.
Todd Mangum, M.D.’s series on the chakras explains how this conceptual framework can be used to expand our understanding of how our bodies work. He covers the traditional and contemporary interpretations of the chakra system corresponding to various systems of the body.
To be healthy is to have a free and balanced flow of energy through the body. Engaging this powerful symbolic system can help us to achieve and maintain health in a far more nuanced and active way than Western medicine can by itself.