Are you feeling tired, depressed or experiencing mood swings? Are you struggling to lose weight? Are your periods heavy or irregular? Having troubles starting tasks or completing tasks? Can you not remember the last time you just plain felt great?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you might have low thyroid function, also known as hypothyroidism. Believe it or not, this condition is not rare. In fact, it’s the most common hormonal problem in the world, affecting more than 20 million Americans.
So you’d think everyone suffering from hypothyroidism would know all about it, right? Wrong! Many people don’t even know thyroid dysfunction is what’s causing their unpleasant symptoms, so they continue to suffer unnecessarily with a condition that is TREATABLE.
You might have even had your thyroid hormone levels tested, and your doctor has said nothing is wrong. Unfortunately, standard medical blood testing of thyroid hormone levels only tells us part of the story and often fails to identify the problem. This leads to classic statements (or some version of them) I hear so many times in my practice: “My thyroid testing is normal, but I always feel tired,” or “I am on thyroid medication and my doctor says my tests are normal, but I still feel bad.”
That is why it’s extremely important to find a practitioner who doesn’t just look at basic lab work and use conventional drug therapies to treat low thyroid function. A thyroid problem isn’t just a thyroid problem – it’s an entire body problem.
THE AMAZING THYROID
The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck. It makes thyroid hormone, which is carried throughout your body in the bloodstream. Thyroid hormone controls metabolic activities, including how fast you burn calories and your heart rate. So, it stands to reason that when your thyroid is underactive, you feel tired, sluggish, gain weight and experience other unpleasant symptoms. And, hypothyroidism affects more women than men. It can cause women to experience menstrual problems, and symptoms can even be mistaken for menopause.
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF AN UNDERACTIVE THYROID
If any of the following symptoms are affecting you – even if you are on thyroid medication or your blood tests are “normal” – you may be suffering from low thyroid function:
1) Weight gain despite healthy diet and exercise. Did you know that exercise itself doesn’t cause weight loss? Instead, exercise triggers hormones that cause you to lose weight by boosting your metabolism and helping you to lose fat instead of storing it. The thyroid hormone thyroxine is one of those that help us lose fat. If you are having trouble losing weight despite putting in an effort, it may very well be a sign of an underactive thyroid.
2) Being tired and/or not sleeping well. Thyroid imbalances, along with adrenal gland imbalances, are a major cause of fatigue. The thyroid gland and adrenal gland (a gland located on top of your kidneys) work hand-in-hand to support your energy levels. Therefore, it’s important to understand exactly how they are functioning. In our clinic, we help many patients who are suffering from thyroid and adrenal problems that are at the root of their ongoing fatigue.
3) Depression, mood swings, brain fog, and lack of motivation. An underactive thyroid reduces the speed at which your body functions. Basically, low thyroid hormones = low energy. This often leads to inactivity, weight gain, depression, a feeling that you can’t think clearly and lack of motivation to start or complete tasks. When you do not have adequate levels of thyroid hormones, oftentimes you stop feeling alive.
4) Other symptoms. There are many other symptoms which could indicate an underactive thyroid. They include: poor digestion/constipation, sinus or allergy problems, heavy menstrual periods, headaches/migraines, low body temperature, decreased libido, heart palpitations, blood sugar spikes, aches/pains, and even thinning hair, dry skin and brittle nails.
It’s a long list, we know! That’s why it’s so important to get to the root of what’s ailing you. After all, you can’t fix a problem until you find out what it is. Which brings us to our next point …
THE PROBLEM WITH STANDARD THYROID LAB TESTS
Mainstream medical lab testing normally assesses thyroid function by testing levels of only three markers: T4, Free T4 and Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). However, there are some big problems with what’s considered “normal” lab results. For one, the standard normal lab range for TSH is .45-4.5 mIU/L, a range that is simply too large. I find there is a big difference from how a patient who tests at 4.2 mIU/L feels when compared to a patient who tests at 2.4 mIU/L.
Most primary care physicians look at T4 levels because they treat low thyroid function with this form of the hormone. Did you know that 95 percent of prescription thyroid medications (including Levothyroxine, Levoxyl, Synthroid, etc.) are made of synthetic T4? The problem is T4 is not very active and needs to be converted to the more active form of T3 to have a meaningful effect on the way your body feels. And standard lab tests typically do not test T3 levels!
If your body is not converting T4 to T3, you may still feel poorly despite having “normal” lab tests. In our clinic, we offer advanced thyroid hormone lab testing that will go way beyond standard testing of TSH and T4. This advanced testing will help you find out if your thyroid is functioning as well as it should be. (You can read more about advanced thyroid hormone lab testing here.)
WHAT YOUR DOCTOR WON’T TELL YOU ABOUT HASHIMOTO’S DISEASE
Finally, I want to discuss Hashimoto’s disease. Most experts agree that Hashimoto’s is the No. 1 cause of hypothyroidism in this country. Hashimoto’s is actually an autoimmune disorder, where the body mistakenly attacks the thyroid, preventing it from making enough hormones.
If you suspect a thyroid problem or have already been diagnosed with one, advanced lab tests to indicate the presence of antibodies that tell us if an autoimmune disease is attacking your thyroid gland are THE MOST IMPORTANT TESTS YOU CAN HAVE!!! I can’t reiterate this enough, and I’ll tell you why.
The typical treatment for Hashimoto’s is prescribing the patient a synthetic thyroid hormone (Levothyroxine, Synthroid, etc.). Natural hormones are now being artificially replaced by synthetic versions, so the thyroid gland shuts down its own hormone production. The problem is this treatment does NOTHING to address the cause. Instead, the autoimmune disease continues to progress and lead to more and more health problems.
This, my friends, is really a tragedy. In our clinic, we are finding the diagnosis of Hashimoto’s in THREE OUT OF EVERY FOUR PATIENTS WE TEST for the disease who are currently taking thyroid medications!!!
Once we discover a patient has Hashimoto’s, we don’t treat the thyroid, but instead treat the immune system – which is where the problem is occurring. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Yet, most primary-care doctors don’t follow this line of treatment. This is why our patients get such excellent results.
THE PATH TO TOTAL WELLNESS
As you can see, there are some very big problems with the current standard medical approaches to both testing for and treating hypothyroidism. But the biggest problem is standard treatments do nothing to find the true cause of why your thyroid isn’t functioning properly. In turn, the treatments do even less to improve your condition and restore your body to optimal health.
That’s why we at Integrative Wellness Centers believe it’s extremely important for you to find a practitioner who doesn’t just look at basic lab work and use conventional drug therapies as treatment. As I said before, a thyroid problem isn’t just a thyroid problem – it’s an entire body problem! I recommend you take a more holistic, natural approach to balancing your hormones and seek help from a board certified functional medicine practitioner (C.F.M.P.) who is trained to look at all aspects of your health.
If you have questions or want to schedule a free consultation, contact us at (734) 779-1650 or click HERE to schedule an appointment.
You can also take the FREE Online Health Evaluation right now. This analysis is your first step to discovering what systems of your body may be keeping you from obtaining the health you deserve.
Chris has now lost a total of 80 pounds!