Millions of Americans suffer from some sort of thyroid dysfunction. What’s alarming is that most people don’t even know it! The American Thyroid Association estimates that one in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder in her lifetime.
In our clinic we see patients daily who have been to their doctor, suspecting a thyroid disorder, and leave with ‘normal’ lab results and the doctor explaining that it’s “all in your head.” The problem is that in the conventional medical model, the thyroid is an enigma. There are only a fe tests ran (usually), and a handful of different hormones to prescribe. By contrast, Functional Medicine doctors act as detectives, finding out WHY the thyroid isn’t working in the first place. Once the root cause is discovered, the individualized treatment plan can begin.
Up to 20 million people in the United States have some form of thyroid disorder. The most common thyroid problem is called hypothyroidism, which means the thyroid is underactive and can slow down all metabolic processes in the body.
Hypothyroidism can lead to symptoms such as:
- Dry skin
- Hair loss
- Poor concentration
- Weight gain
- Low libido
- Low body temperature
If you have been diagnosed and are being treated for thyroid dysfunction, or you have the symptoms listed above and suspect you thyroid is out of balance, be aware of these common blunders by the conventional medical model in diagnosing thyroid dysfunction:
- They don’t address the root cause of the thyroid dysfunction
Many patients are on thyroid medication such as Levothyroxine, however, they’re still experiencing the same symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, thinning nails and hair, weight gain or blood sugar problems. Why is this? The medication that they were prescribed was given to alleviate their symptoms, which may have worked at first, but over time, you may need more and more of the medication to function. Medications can absolutely alleviate symptoms for a period of time, but medication cannot solve the root cause of health ailment.
- You have the symptoms, but they don’t check for thyroid dysfunction
If you have conditions such as Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, or an autoimmune disease, your symptoms often will overlap with thyroid dysfunction and your doctor simply may not order thyroid lab testing.
Symptoms of thyroid dysfunction can be vague, hard to pinpoint, and often mistaken for signs of aging or stress. If someone is suffering from fatigue, anxiety, hair loss, weight gain, depression, or other symptoms, they may attribute it to aging, however this is not the case. Although these symptoms are common, they are in no way normal. Be sure to ask your doctor to evaluate your thyroid.
- They don’t test ALL thyroid markers
When your doctor checks thyroid levels, he or she may commonly check 1, possibly two thyroid markers, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and sometimes T4. TSH is considered the “gold standard” thyroid test, although TSH isn’t a thyroid hormone, it is a brain hormone. TSH tells the thyroid how hard to work and can be elevated in most with hypothyroid. However, someone can have a ‘normal’ TSH and still have a thyroid problem. Without testing all of the thyroid hormones and how they convert in the body, it is nearly impossible to accurately see the condition of the thyroid.
- They rely on a “normal” medical range instead of optimal levels
Many people can have thyroid dysfunction and symptoms and still be considered in ”normal” medical range on their labs. This can be due to a couple factors. 1 reason can be that you are producing enough thyroid hormones, but you cannot convert them into the usable form. A second reason would be that the range to identify your levels is too broad. Using the standard medical lab ranges, a very large majority of people fall into the ‘normal’ range because the of the broadness of the range. Functional medicine practitioners utilize a much more narrow range, which can detect dysfunction or trends in health before they become big problems.
- They don’t test for autoimmunity
Thyroid problems are epidemic right now, with millions affected just in the United State. We also know that 90+% of low thyroid (hypothyroidism) cases are autoimmune in nature, which can be labeled Hashimoto’s disease. Hashimoto’s is not a problem with your thyroid itself; it is an immune system problem. When the immune system goes awry, it can attack our own body, in this case the thyroid is attacked, leading to underproduction or overproduction of thyroid hormones. Unfortunately, conventional medicine uses the same treatment protocol for autoimmune and non-autoimmune thyroid dysfunction.
A functional medicine doctor sees autoimmune thyroid conditions differently, meaning that the treatment would be different as well.
- They underestimate the need for good nutrition
Listed below are vital nutrients that are needed for optimal thyroid function. These nutrients help you produce thyroid hormones and convert them from their storage form to active form. In addition they help support healthy immune function.
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin A
- B vitamins
- They don’t test hormone levels
Hormone levels are extremely important for balance in the body. We need our hormones to regulate our mood, how we heal and repair, our immune system, and communication, just to name a few. Stress hormones and estrogen levels have a remarkable impact on thyroid function. When we become stressed, our body releases cortisol, which lowers our production of sex hormones and thyroid hormones. Not only does thyroid hormone production drop, but when cortisol is elevated, we cannot utilize the thyroid hormone that we do have, a double-whammy.
Women who are on birth control pills may also suffer from thyroid problems due to the excess estrogen that binds up the thyroid hormones.
- They don’t treat the body as a whole
While your thyroid can absolutely cause problems in your body, your body can also cause your thyroid to malfunction. Your body is a complex interconnected web of systems that all have to work together for optimal health. For example, if your gastrointestinal tract is inflamed or is not digesting nutrients, you may see downstream effects in different organs of the body, such as nail ridges, fungal toes, achy joints, fatigue, hair thinning and many more. While the thyroid produces hormones, most of those hormones must be converted into a usable form by the body. In order to do that, we need our gut and liver to be functioning optimally. A well-trained functional medicine doctor will scan the entire body for dysfunction as to why the thyroid isn’t working properly.
As opposed to a conventional medical approach, functional medicine doctors spend far more time learning about a patient’s’ health history, order comprehensive blood work and other laboratory tests to find the root cause, and find ways to optimize lifestyle changes specific to each person. There is no magic pill to get healthy, and while this approach may take time and commitment, it leads to health longevity, less medications, and happier patients!
Is an thyroid condition holding you back? Do you think a thyroid condition may be to blame for your symptoms?
If this is you, we’re inviting you to attend one of our upcoming free dinner seminars so you can discover why you are still suffering and what you need to know and do in order to get well.
During these free seminars, you will learn about the underlying causes of your condition along with the 5 pillars needed to regain your health.
To see upcoming dinner seminars and to register, click here: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/core-health-12488718335
Limited time slots are available so register today!