Have you presented to your GP feeling exhausted, gaining weight, constipated, depressed, with cold hands and feet, hair loss, dry skin, and just feeling generally not great? The doctor may have run some blood tests, and tested your thyroid… and more often than not, told you that it’s “fine”.
Your thyroid probably hasn’t been tested properly.
Unfortunately, and all too commonly, only TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is tested on a blood test. There are a couple of issues with this.
- The reference range is outdated, and far too broad
- TSH is not actually testing the thyroid gland. TSH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland, in the brain. TSH is testing the communication from the brain to the thyroid gland. It is not testing the thyroid gland itself, or any of the actual thyroid hormones that the thyroid gland makes. So when you are told that your thyroid has been tested, it probably hasn’t.
In order to completely test the thyroid, we need to look at these additional hormones:
- T3 (triiodothyronine – active thyroid hormone)
- T4 (thyroxine – inactive thyroid hormone)
- Reverse T3
- Thyroid antibodies: TPO and Tg
You can have “normal” levels of TSH but have low T3, T4 and elevated thyroid antibodies. Antibodies occur in autoimmune thyroid conditions (such as Hashimoto’s disease) and attack the thyroid tissue. This requires holistic treatment to reduce the inflammation and hyperimmune response which is responsible for creating the antibodies, and thus the symptoms.
Naturopathic and functional medicine reference ranges for thyroid hormones are much stricter than conventional ranges. So, your GP may tell you that your TSH is fine, but in reality it is far from optimal and there may be plenty of room for improvement.
If your TSH is shown to be too high, you may be given thyroxine (T4 – inactive thyroid hormone). T4 needs to be converted to T3 (active thyroid hormone) in order for the body to utilise it. The conversion of T4 to T3 is dependent on certain nutrients including zinc, iron and selenium. If you do not have enough of these nutrients, conversion will not occur and you will not have enough T3 (active thyroid hormone). Good nutrition is essential for healthy thyroid function, and iron deficiency will absolutely contribute to low thyroid – further impacting low energy and fatigue.
If you are ready to get your health back on track, book a 1:1 consultation to get to the bottom of your thyroid concerns and create a specific treatment plan that is tailored to your unique health. Or, if reading is more your thing, grab your copy of How to Heal Your Thyroid which details everything you need to know about optimising your thyroid function. If you want to learn more about reading your own blood tests and the optimal reference ranges, you can purchase a copy of ‘How to Read Your Own Blood Tests‘.