Treating Hypothyroidism

Resolve hypothyroid symptoms even if your lab values are “normal”

Treating hypothyroidism, or controlling hypothyroidism, is not as straightforward as you might think. More than 27 million Americans suffer from thyroid dysfunction, half of which go undiagnosed. Part of the reason that so many go undiagnosed is because traditionally doctors only look at one lab value (TSH) to determine thyroid health (due to cost, insurance restrictions, etc). Physiologically there are many different patterns of thyroid dysfunction-only one of which is caught by solely running TSH (these conditions are more accurately described as Euthyroid because technically the thyroid gland itself is fine-it is the metabolic pathways associated with the thyroid that are impaired). So it is entirely possible that your levels of thyroid hormone (T3 and T4) are completely normal, but you have hypothyroid symptoms because another bodily system is creating a situation where the hormone cannot be properly utilized.

Treating HypothyroidismAnother problem is that laboratory ranges are not necessarily determined by what would be considered ideal function. Oftentimes (ranges vary between labs and location) values are determined based upon a bell-curve analysis of patients having blood work performed. Who typically has blood work run? Sick people. Hence there is a difference between what is considered a healthy “functional” range and lab ranges-just one more hurdle for treating hypothyroidism.

Traditional treatment usually involves hormone replacement (Synthroid, Armour, Levoxyl). This makes some people feel better, but for many the relief is short-lived. What one must ask oneself is “Why?” Why is my thyroid under-active? The thyroid gland is a highly sensitive part of the endocrine system that sets the body’s metabolism. If you are cold the thyroid revs up your system to create more heat. If you have a virus it stimulates your immune system. If you are overly stressed it will put on the brakes before something catastrophic happens. So if your thyroid function is down it only makes sense that you investigate the “Why?” instead of masking the symptoms by pumping your body full of external hormones. That would be like taking the battery out of the smoke detector without seeing what is causing all the smoke.

Some common causes of depressed thyroid function include irregular immune function, poor blood sugar metabolism, gut infections, adrenal problems, or hormonal imbalances. It is therefore quite obvious that treating hypothyroid conditions involves a whole-body approach that oftentimes includes extensive laboratory testing, lifestyle modifications, and nutritional supplementation.