When it comes to keeping your body in good shape — your thyroid function is kind of important.
Thyroid hormones affect vital body functions like your energy production, body temperature, skin, hair, fertility, digestive capacity, heart rate, and mood.
If your thyroid is not working properly, you may be having difficulty:
- losing weight
- feeling tired all the time
- suffering from constipation
- hair loss
- feeling anxious
- brain fog
- poor memory
- high cholesterol
- rapid or irregular heart rate
Basically you feel-like-crap!
Maybe your doctor has already checked your thyroid and said you’re fine (i.e., your labs are in the “normal range”) or maybe you are already on thyroid meds — but wait, you still feel-like-crap?
So then they tell you, “it’s just part of getting old”.
(AKA – they don’t have a solution for you so this is their best answer.)
What many conventionally trained doctors don’t know —
is that the basic thyroid test — TSH, or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone — isn’t enough to give you the full picture of what’s truly going on in your body.
Conventionally trained doctors typically only tests 2 out of 9 thyroid markers that when tested give us a more complete picture of what’s truly going on.
Furthermore, did you know TSH, isn’t actually a thyroid hormone? TSH is secreted by the pituitary gland, not the thyroid gland.
The hypothalamus (in your brain), which is responsible for managing hunger, thirst, sleep, hormones, and body temperature, among other important functions, continuously monitors the level of thyroid hormones present in your blood. If it determines that energy levels are low, it sends out TRH, Thyroid Releasing Hormone, to your pituitary gland, also located in your brain.
The pituitary gland then releases TSH which sends a signal to the thyroid gland in order to produce more thyroid hormones. So TSH is actually a measure of what the pituitary gland is doing, not the thyroid.
So by only looking at TSH (and maybe T4) you’re really not getting the full picture.
Here are four questions to consider when you still feel-like-crap (FLC) but your doctors says your labs are normal, or you’re taking meds but you still suffer from FLC syndrome.
1) Have you had a complete thyroid panel run?
The requirements to have an entire thyroid panel run is usually that TSH and/or T4 have to be outside of the clinical reference range. The standard clinical range for TSH is 0.40-4.5 mIU/L.
However, this is an out-dated reference range. In recent years, The National Academy of Clinical Biochemists indicated that 95% of individuals without thyroid disease have TSH concentrations below 2.5 µIU/L, and a new normal reference range was defined by the American College of Clinical Endocrinologists to be between 0.3-3.0 µIU/ml in 2012. (1)
Clinically, I and many others in the field of functional and integrative medicine have found that many people don’t feel better until their TSH is between 1.0-2.0 mIU/L.
Most labs have not adjusted to the new range in the reports they provide to physicians, and have kept ranges as lax as 0.2-8.0 µIU/ml. Therefore, your TSH may be considered normal by the lab’s standard and if your doctor hasn’t been educated with this information they’ll tell you its normal too.
Below are the thyroid markers that provide more of a comprehensive analysis for thyroid health.
Running a panel like this can help identify dysfunction before it turns into disease.
- T4 Total
- T3 Total
- Free T3
- Free T4
- Reverse T3
- T3 Uptake
- TPO antibodies/li>
- TG antibodies
2) If you have had a panel like this run, was a comprehensive analysis of these markers provided?
This is unlikely, unless your Endocrinologist or MD is trained in Integrative or Functional Medicine.
Each of of these markers provides an important piece of the puzzle as to whether you are producing enough thyroid hormones and/or whether your body is converting the storage form of the hormone T4 into the active form of the hormone T3. This type of testing will help us understand if it’s a production problem, conversion problem, whether or not an autoimmune condition is a contributing factor, if you’re missing the essential nutrients for hormone production or conversion, is it stress related, liver function, inflammation, toxins, gut imbalance or too much estrogen.
In addition, I often see cases where my clients are on a T4 medication and their TSH is in the “normal” range but they still feel-like-crap. When we measure their Free T4 and Free T3 levels I see they are either both too low or free T4 is normal but Free T3 is low. That means they have a conversion problem. But by not looking at the complete picture, their doctor misses this information and so they continue to suffer.
If you have a conversion problem, then you’re still going to FLC, even if you’re taking thyroid meds because you can’t convert T4 into the biologically active form of the hormone, T3. Sigh.
So you can see how important it is to have someone do a comprehensive analysis of the test results to truly understand whether your thyroid is functioning well. It’s not your doctor’s fault. It’s the institutions that train them.
3) If you have received a diagnosis like hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, have you ever been told why?
You: “Doc, why do I have this condition?”
Doc: “We don’t know why” or “It’s genetic and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Back in 2016 when I was diagnosed with hypothyroid the endocrinologist told me that they don’t know why this happens and I’ll have to live with it for the rest of my life. Luckily I already knew this wasn’t true. I was only going through the motions so I could see what my clients where going through. I had already been trained in Functional Medicine and so I knew I could reverse it.
Yes, thyroid disease does run in families but your genes only make you more susceptible to this condition. Your genes do not determine your destiny. It is how your lifestyle washes over your genes that determines whether or not you will have a condition. If I change my lifestyle and provide the right conditions then I can reverse my condition. But first I need to know this is possible. Otherwise I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, which doesn’t change the root cause and therefore the condition will not resolve.
The root cause to these conditions can be identified, supported and eliminated. Imagine finding a solution that your entire lineage can benefit from!
4) Have you ever been given strategies to improve your thyroid function instead of simply medicating it?
Medication will never heal your thyroid. Medications only manage your symptoms, and only to a point. Because eventually if the root cause is not resolved, it’s like plugging a leak without turning off the faucet. You’re going to break, it’s just a matter of time. But unfortunately that is all our current medical model has to offer. They manage dis-ease, they don’t teach you how to get to the root cause of it and they don’t teach you how to reverse it. Why? Basically because they don’t know how. They are taught how to look for disease and how to manage disease. They aren’t taught how to look at the body as integrated system and that nothing happens in isolation. They are lucky if they have had one nutrition class in their training.
This is ironic when given the fact that the father of modern medicine said “Let food be thy medicine.”.
This is why comprehensive testing and an integrative functional approach makes more sense.
If you have reason to believe your thyroid is contributing to your fatigue, weight gain, insomnia, anxiety, brain fog, low body temperature, rapid heart rate learn more about our upcoming group coaching program:
28-day FLC Rehab Program
4 Tuesday evenings April 19 – May 10 2022
Where you can find out if months and months, years and years of stress has led you to Adrenal Dysfunction, Thyroid issues, detoxification problems and how to correct it. In our Feel-Like-Crap Rehab, my colleague and fellow lifestyle-as-medicine expert, Keri Brooks and I will be going over adrenal, thyroid and sex hormones with you. Our goal is that you understand how these hormones affect your health and the way you feel, and what to do to correct them, regain your energy, patience and love for life!
We do this because the best medicine of all is teaching people how not to need it.
Take our Thyroid_screening_quest
- 2012 Clinical Practice Guidelines for Hypothyroidism in Adults: Available at https://www.aace.com/files/final-file-hypo-guidelines.pdf