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Tricky Thyroid Tests: Is there something wrong with my thyroid in spite of “normal” tests?

Overview of the thyroid system (See Wikipedia:...

Image via Wikipedia

Suffering from fatigue, constipation, weight gain, depression, brain fog, cold intolerance, hair loss, irregular menstrual periods, low libido and perhaps a host of other unexplained symptoms? Had tests for thyroid and results come back normal? Could it be that the “thyroid tests” only consisted of TSH (a pituitary hormone) and T4? Let’s say that “all” the thyroid tests were done and everything came back “normal”, is it still possible to have some underlying thyroid issues? Have you been tested for free T3, thyroid antibodies or reverse T3? Is there a family history of thyroid problems? Any history of sub-normal body temperatures (average body temperature less than 98.6)? Are you “freezing” all the time? Do you ever get a fever when you’re fighting off an infection? If any of the above questions got you thinking “could I possibly have thyroid issues?”, then you may be right. It’s always helpful to listen to your body (or intuition) coz in this society, we are brainwashed to think that medical authorities know our body more than we know it ourselves (although in certain instances, we need “expert’s”  opinions).

Back to making a diagnosis of thyroid issues. Free T3 is the metabolically active form of thyroid hormone. If it’s “low normal” and if a person has concomitant low thyroid symptoms, then it will be helpful to support the thyroid. In a holistic practice, one may start with nutritional support of the thyroid and if that doesn’t work, a trial of actual thyroid hormone could be used. The use of animal glandulars with both T3 and T4 such as Armour thyroid is preferable since some people who use synthetic T4 alone may not be able to convert it to T3 due to nutritional deficiencies including that of the mineral selenium. By the way, it’s also important to address adrenal dysfunction if a person has thyroid issues in the first place. In Chinese medicine, these are considered yin yang organs and are supposed to support each other. Substances that help the adrenals are called adaptogens and include rhodiola, ashwaghanda, ginseng, cordyceps and holy basil. Nutrients such as vitamin C and pantothenic acid also support adrenal function.

Anyway, for those with auto-immune type of thyroid conditions, it would be helpful to test for food sensitivity as well. Sometimes, getting off offending foods could resolve the thyroid issue. Interesting, huh?

Why is it that we’re seeing a lot of thyroid problems nowadays? The thyroid is one of the most vascular organs in the body. Toxins that we’re exposed to on a daily basis usually affect our thyroid. Some of these toxins are so ubiquitous in the environment that it’s sometimes difficult to avoid them. Some could be avoided entirely though (such as water that’s been purified with halides such as chlorine, bromine or fluoride). They all compete with iodine in the formation of thyroid hormone. Stress also affects thyroid function (elevated cortisol preventing the conversion of T4 to T3). Nutritional deficiencies also plays a major factor in the prevalence of thyroid disorders nowadays.


BHRT: Is It Right For You?

Cropped version of Image:Suzanne Somers USO 1.jpg

Image via Wikipedia

Long before bioidentical hormones became a hot topic, there were already doctors using the therapy with great success.  It took Suzanne Somers, a celebrity actress and health promoter, however, to bring the topic of bioidentical hormones to the general public.  I am fortunate to have learned about this therapy (from some of the pioneers in alternative medicine) about 13 years ago.  One thing I learned from these generous individuals is that everybody is different. Such is the concept of biochemical individuality.  What does this have to do with bioidentical hormones?  What this means that everyone is unique and as such, a program that works for one person may or may not work for another.

What are bioidentical hormones?  These are hormones that have the exact molecular structure that our bodies produce.  Any structure that deviates from the original endogenous molecule is synthetic and as such is not bioidentical.  Therefore, a person who gets a synthetic hormone is not having his or her hormones replaced.  What they’re getting is hormonal substitution.

A medical doctor just recently appeared on the Oprah show, who said that bioidentical is just a marketing term.  Dr. Christine Northrup, M.D. one of the main proponents of the use of natural bioidentical hormones, gently corrected her.  I’m still amazed at how people in the mainstream don’t think for themselves but just follow the “party line.” It’s like having an “earth is flat” mentality.

I believe that our hormones are like a symphony orchestra. If one is off, the rest get affected. Even so-called “minor” hormones have a great role to play. That’s why it’s important to balance everything. In my practice, I’ve encountered people who are just taking one hormone thinking that that would resolve their issue.

I believe in the concept of yin and yang in Chinese medicine.  For instance, when I treat the thyroid, I look into it’s sister organ, the adrenals. Their functions are closely linked together. Thus, it’s important to support both organs.

When I see a new client, I am always humbled because of all the new things I learn.  I look into a person’s signs and symptoms as well as their lab work.  One is as important as the other.  As the saying goes, “if it talks like a duck and walks like a duck, then it must be a duck.”  The problem with “what’s going on” is that if a person falls within a normal range, even though they may be symptomatic, they may be denied proper treatment.  What we do as healthy aging  practitioners (also known as anti-aging), is that we look at optimal ranges rather than normal ranges.

For individuals who may not be candidates for bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), there are alternatives available.  Besides the use of herbal medicine, I’ve used medical aromatherapy with essential oils and spagyric/homeopathic remedies.

For anyone seeking answers to their health issues, my advice is to listen closely to your body and to always keep an open mind.

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