According to the Journal of Endocrinology, half the population that has an abnormal thyroid is missed with conventional thyroid testing. What is most commonly tested are TSH levels. TSH is sent by the brain as a signal to the thyroid to regulate the production of thyroid hormones. This means the signal goes up when the brain is calling out for more thyroid hormones and the signal goes down when the brain feels satisfied with the amount it is getting. Current reference ranges are from .3 to 4.5, but the Journal of Endocrinology says that one may be suffering from hypothyroidism if the TSH is above 2.5. This means that anyone with a test result for TSH that is above 2.5 is considered “normal” in the standard of care as far as thyroid function goes, even though the Journal of Endocrinology says this is abnormal. Even if that person is experiencing symptoms that are consistent with hypothyroidism, they are told, based on dated numbers, that they are within normal range and that nothing should be done. In addition to TSH, it is common to look at T4 as well, but none of the other thyroid hormones. This is unfortunate because T3 is the most active of the thyroid hormones, and if we only measure T4 we’ve missed the one that most drives thyroid function. Most testing will also not examine the antibodies that attack the thyroid. This is important because if one is producing antibodies that attack thyroid hormone your level of thyroid hormone may be normal, but the antibodies prevent it from working as it should, and you will still have symptoms. To correct this incomplete picture, it is necessary to measure thyroglobulin antibodies as well as TPO antibodies in order to get a more global view of all the areas where the thyroid pathway can fail. In addition, stress also plays a role. Some peoples’ bodies will take the most active thyroid hormone, T3, and convert it to an inactive thyroid hormone called reverse T3. This happens when a person is experiencing stress in a way that impacts their physiology. We must address strategies to control stress in order to have optimal thyroid function and we also need to measure all of the relevant hormones in order to make sure that we have done a complete workup.
Oxidative stress testing may be helpful as well
If we are producing excessive amounts of free radicals, this will interfere with the thyroid’s ability to produce normal levels of thyroid hormones. Looking at levels of glutathione, or markers of oxidative stress can be quite important to thyroid function.
Stool tests for thyroid conditions? Yes!
It may also be helpful to look at a stool analysis because it has been shown that people who produce antibodies to their thyroid have a different microbiome than those who don’t, which means the bacteria in the gut may be much different than the norm. Those who have normal thyroid levels have a healthier microbiome. This demonstrates that correcting the microbiome is a way we can influence what’s happening in the thyroid. In fact, bacteria that are produced in the gut can send a signal to downregulate the thyroid receptors in the body, where the thyroid hormone would bind. This will mean regardless of the level of thyroid hormone, it still won’t have the desired effect on the body, because there is no receptor for it to bind to.
Food allergy testing and thyroid
Food allergy or sensitivity testing is also useful because, for example, if one is making antibodies to various foods or if one has a reaction to gluten there can be a cross-reactivity creating a reaction in the thyroid as well. Finding out which foods one is sensitive to and removing them from the diet can be critical in terms of helping the thyroid to function better.
Adrenal testing and thyroid
Adrenal testing can also be useful, as adrenals control stress or cortisol. When cortisol is abnormal this can block the conversion of T4 to the more active T3. Cortisol can sit in the receptor where the thyroid hormone would bind and prevent it from working as it should. Managing adrenals alongside thyroid will radically increase the improvement in both areas.
The thyroid is one of the critical components in the body that gives us optimal energy and a sense of well-being. When the thyroid is low, we can feel generally off and worn down. This can manifest in many symptoms that minimize the quality of life. Adjusting the thyroid is imperative for overall well-being. By utilizing more in-depth testing we can get to the bottom of what’s going on with thyroid function and treat the root cause.