Functional Thyroid Testing Demystified

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Functional Thyroid Testing Demystified

As part of my health coaching practice, I coach people on how to take ownership of their lab results. I work with them on reaching their health goals, their mindset, their habits, and their overall lifestyle including relationships, diet, sleep, spiritual life, finances, careers, stress, and many other components that come together holistically to give them a life of health and happiness. And yes…taking ownership of your lab work and leading your doctor to conform to how you want to manage your health is also one of those areas. Three topics that continually come up are Blood Sugar, Cholesterol, and the one we are discussing today, Thyroid.

First, let’s talk about what standard ranges mean, and why they are not conducive to optimal health. Standard ranges were put into place to decipher whether people are on the brink of disease and death. That hardly sounds optimal does it? So, you feel terrible, no energy, many health issues…but…your numbers say that you are not in danger of scurvy, so all is good. Or, on a scale of the average of all patients walking into a doctor’s office, you are right in there…so all is good. Have you looked around?

 

I don’t know about you, but I want optimal health, not average health.

 

Average health is not for me.  I want an A not a C.  That’s why functional medicine ranges are much more narrow than conventional ranges.

Today we are focusing on the thyroid. First, the actual tests that need to be done are more extensive than what many people are getting. TSH for instance doesn’t even measure the thyroid hormones at work in the body, it measures what your brain is telling your thyroid to produce. The thyroid may or may not be actually producing it. Your liver could be crying out for more, but your brain thinks everything is A-ok. Yet, continually I see that this is the only number my clients are having tested.

These are the tests you should be getting, and where the functional numbers should be coming in at:

TSH – 1-2 UIU/ML (As an aside, a high TSH signals hypothyroidism, which raises LDL cholesterol numbers. Hold the statins folks! Get the thyroid under control before going down that path.)
Free T4 – >1.1
Free T3 – >3.2 pg/ml
Reverse T3 – Less than a 10:1 ratio RT3:FT3
TPO Antibody – <4 IU/ML

 

Symptoms for Hypothyroidism

 

• Fatigue after sleeping 8 to 10 hours a night or needing to take a nap daily
• Weight gain or the inability to lose weight
• Mood issues such as mood swings, anxiety, or depression
• Hormone imbalances such as PMS, irregular periods, infertility, and low sex drive
• Muscle pain, joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, or tendonitis
• Cold hands and feet, feeling cold when others are not, or having a body temperature consistently below 98.5
• Dry or cracking skin, brittle nails and excessive hair loss
• Constipation.
• Mind issues such as brain fog, poor concentration, or poor memory
• Neck swelling, snoring, or hoarse voice

 

Symptoms for Hyperthyroidism

• Hot flushes, sweating
• Unintentional weight loss
• Frequent stools, loose stool or diarrhea
• Difficulty sleeping and insomnia
• Anxiety, irritability, or constant fatigue
• Elevated heart rate
• Changes in menstrual cycles
• Reduced libido
• Bulging eyes
• Thick red skin on shins or feet
• Increased appetite
• Osteoporosis
• Hand tremor
• Muscle weakness

There are many reasons why your thyroid may not be functioning optimally, and many things that you can do at home to strengthen and improve its function. We will cover these in upcoming posts, but in the meantime, you can go here and here.

Don’t have a doctor who will order the tests for you, or isn’t sure how to read the tests in a functional medicine manner?  You can get your own thyroid panel test here.

 

 

Disclaimer:
I am not a doctor. I use functional medicine practices and guidelines to help guide my clients and lead them to the root cause of their issues. I defer to Functional Medicine Doctors as the authorities on all things medical. For thyroid function, I defer to Dr. Amy Myers, Dr. Isabella Wentz, and Dr. Will Cole among others, not to mention my own doctor, Dr. Ellen Antoine who also influences my practice. Please take these posts as informational and defer to the personal physician of choice.

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