Posted by Debra MacIntyre, ND on October 18, 2016
Did You Know?
Currently, approximately 23% of Americans are being treated for a low thyroid condition. That's nearly 1 in 4!! Even more shocking, another 30% likely have low thyroid function, but have not been diagnosed.
Back in the day, before blood testing for thyroid, doctors looked at the patient's symptoms and if it seemed like it could be low thyroid, they would Rx a pig thyroid pill as a trial. If the person felt better, that confirmed the diagnosis.
Standard practice today- Looking at numbers instead of people
Today, standard medical practice is to run a lab test called TSH, which stands for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. This is what your pituitary gland puts out to tell your thyroid to work harder, so the higher this number is, the more sluggish your thyroid is.
Problem #1 with this is that the range considered normal is quite large.... It's common to be well within this range even if your thyroid is sluggish. Problem #2 is that TSH only tells a fraction of the story. There are several other lab tests that can show other problems with your thyroid, and I will map them out for you. But first, let's go old school and look at symptoms. Check this chart and see if you have a number of these symptoms.
These tests go further than just TSH to learn about thyroid function
First, I will remind you that I am not a medical doctor, nor do I pretend to be one. I am a firm believer in trying to get your body to produce its own hormones before looking at Rx hormones. If homeopathic and nutritional support isn't enough to get you feeling good again, then seeing a MD who specializes in treating with hormones which are compounded specifically for you can be the icing on the cake for your thyroid.
To get a good basic look (beyond your symptoms), the following are great tests to ask for. If your PCP doctor doesn't believe they are necessary, often a Gyn will be more receptive to running them. You can always order them yourself, too. It's worth paying out of pocket to get the right information. You can easily order your own labs at Direct Labs. Here are the additional tests I like:
Free T4- This tests for available T4, which is the hormone your thyroid secretes into your blood stream.
Free T3- Once your thyroid produces T4, multiple tissues and organs convert it to T3, which is the active form of the hormone and regulates your metabolism. Metabolism is a broad term that means converting food to energy and cell growth & repair, as well as breaking down old cells to be eliminated.
Reverse T3- This one is a tricky bugger and without getting into tougher-to-digest information, what you need to know is that it works against your T3. So, your T3 can be in a good range and you think thyroid can't be your problem, but elevated Reverse T3 is secretly disarming your T3.
A word about antibodies & autoimmune
An antibody is something your immune system produces to fight what it perceives as an enemy. Ideally, none of your own organs or hormones should look like an enemy, right?! But certain toxic loads can stimulate your immune system to attack you, and this is what's called an auto-immune condition. If either of the following thyroid antibodies are present, it changes the natural approaches you might take to heal your thyroid. These are tests that some MDs are resistant to ordering, mainly because there's really no medical treatment for it. But in the naturopathic realm, it's important to know!
TPO ab- This stands for Thyroid Peroxidase antibodies.
Anti-Tg ab- This stands for Anti-thyroglobulin antibodies
And finally, Vitamin D- This test is important, because it's hard to get your hormones balanced when your Vit D is low.
I do recommend these tests for people I'm working with who have slow thyroid symptoms. If you're not currently a client and have the tests run, I am always happy to do a consultation at no charge to explain what could be done to help you. This is not an exam, but is a good way to learn about what a naturopathic approach could do.
Believe me, when your thyroid is happy, you can feel much better!
This should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway: I am not a medical doctor and nothing in this newsletter should be taken as medical advice. Discuss all medical issues with your own MD.