"Sophia" is an intelligent 40-something woman who loves life. During her first webcam health consultation with me, I found out that that she works out in the gym daily and eats clean. But despite her best efforts, no matter how much she tried, it was impossible for her to lose weight. She also suffered from debilitating fatigue and a worsening brain fog.
When these symptoms first started she was told she had a low-functioning thyroid, so her doctor put her on a thyroid replacement hormone. The medication helped for awhile but after a few months her symptoms came back worse than ever. She went from doctor to doctor, specialist to specialist, with no answers. She was told that her labs were all "normal" and that if she just worked out a little more and ate a little less, her problems would be solved. After hearing that so many times, she started to believe that maybe it was just all in her head.
The truth is, Sophia wasn't just imagining her health problems; they were real. Sadly, over the years I've heard similar stories from thousands of women all around the world. People with real health issues were told their labs were normal and it was all in their head.
What's going on here? Well, when it comes to the mainstream medical model, the paradigm is to diagnose a disease and match it with a corresponding drug. When a low functioning thyroid is suspected, your doctor will typically run a TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) blood test. This is all that's needed to be put on a thyroid replacement drug.
If your symptoms persist despite a normal TSH, we have to clinically investigate the underlying reasons of what is going on. In reality, your TSH is only one piece of the thyroid puzzle. There are many different thyroid dysfunctions that won't show up on a typical lab.
In this article I want to give you a six-step plan to investigate your unique case so you can uncover why you feel the way you do. Only then can you overcome your health problems and start feeling like yourself again!
1. Get a comprehensive thyroid blood analysis.
In functional medicine, running TSH by itself is like looking at one piece of the puzzle: incomplete and inadequate. Some other labs I run on my patients are Free T3, Free T4, T3 Uptake, Reverse T3, Thyroid Peroxidase and Anti-Thyroglobulin Antibodies. These labs will give a more comprehensive look at your health.
2. Check for any food intolerances.
Many of my patients instinctively know that they have some undiagnosed food intolerance, but have no way of knowing for sure. Foods containing gluten and soy can have a negative impact on how your thyroid works. Comprehensive Food Intolerance labs will give you insight on this piece of the puzzle.
3. Uncover any underlying gut issues.
Gut health can be both the cause and the effect of thyroid dysfunction. When your body's gut defenses are compromised, that attack to your immune system can give rise to autoimmune thyroid conditions like Hashimoto's disease. In return, a thyroid hormone dysfunction may cause harm to your gut. Getting comprehensive gut diagnostics is the first step to start breaking this vicious cycle.
4. Find out how your body is handling stress.
Stress, like overexercising, can play a significant role in your thyroid's health. Running comprehensive testing to look at how your body's major stress hormone, cortisol, is functioning throughout the day can be helpful. What is commonly called "adrenal fatigue" can be a factor in your case.
5. Look for any nutritional deficiencies.
Deficiencies in nutrients like iodine and selenium have been linked to thyroid disorders. Having your vitamin D levels and selenium levels checked can be an easy step toward optimal thyroid health. Refueling those nutrients should be through food sources and if you are under a practitioner's care, condition-specific supplementation may be necessary.
6. Determine if your body is accumulating toxins.
Toxins like heavy metals can wreak havoc on your thyroid's health. Going through clinically supervised detoxification protocols may be needed, but there are some simple steps that you can do to start eliminating toxins in your life.
With these six steps people can start getting answers to their unanswered health questions. If you are wondering how Sophia is doing now, three months after clinically investigating and starting her customized health program, she has lost over 50 pounds and has regained her long lost energy and vitality. She was also able to get off the three medications that she was put on! To say that I love my job is an understatement.