rarefactive: (a non-standard use) — the condition of becoming less frequent; under-functioning
By far the most common cause of thyroid hormone deficiency or hypothyroidism (historically known as myxedema for a type of puffy swelling and rash in the legs) is progressive destruction of normal hormone-producing tissue by the process of colloid degeneration. Owing to the metabolic role of thyroid hormone, most body functions then slow, resulting, for example, in reduced heart rate and weight gain. For the brain, somnolence and depression may be accompanied in extreme cases by disordered mentation known as 'myxedema madness'.
Under normal circumstances, the anterior pituitary gland, stimulated by the brain's hypophysis, plays a key role as the 'master gland' in regulating hormone production. When the thyroid gland is flagging, the master gland increases its production of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), a messenger that is excreted into the bloodstream, targeted to normalize the peripheral gland's production. Fortunately, the robust sensing mechanism in the hypophysis and pituitary, not impaired by the metabolic slowdown elsewhere, produces high levels of blood TSH so reliably that a simple test can be used as the best test for detection of the hypothyroid state.
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