At the base of your throat resides a small butterfly-shaped gland called the thyroid. This endocrine gland is responsible for producing hormones that regulate your metabolism and help you grow and feel energized. It makes sense then that if you have a dysfunction with your thyroid, you will likely have significant problems with your overall health.
Unfortunately, the symptoms of a thyroid disorder can be quite sinister, lurking sneakily behind the chaos of daily life. Many people deal with the burden of their thyroid issue for a long time before being diagnosed and properly treated. It is often the case that conventional medicine is only able to detect thyroid dysfunction once it has reached a severe state. At this point, doctors can treat thyroid conditions with medication or even surgery, but they have few methods for treating mild cases and preventing them from worsening.
At Seed & Soil Wellness, we are trained to detect thyroid conditions at all stages and can therefore help you before the problem is out of hand. In this article, we cover how the thyroid functions when healthy versus unhealthy, what can contribute to issues with this endocrine gland, and how we detect an imbalance.
How a Healthy Thyroid Functions
To understand how a thyroid imbalance is detected through bloodwork, you must understand the basic physiology of how your hormone systems interact.
Thyroid hormone production is triggered by a gland in the brain called the anterior pituitary. When the pituitary detects there is an inadequate amount of active thyroid hormone in the bloodstream, a messenger called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) tells the thyroid to step it up. A healthy thyroid then produces an inactive hormone called T4. This is then converted to T3 in the liver, kidneys, and brain, which then enters various kinds of cells to signal the body with instructions for energy production.
Symptoms of a Struggling Thyroid
If your body is unable to create enough active thyroid hormone, you enter a state called ‘hypothyroidism.’ On the other end of the spectrum, too much T3 production is called ‘hyperthyroidism.’ Both can take a toll on your health, but no need to lose hope. There are many steps you can take to take back control of your thyroid.
Not all cases of hypothyroidism cause symptoms. However, if your body is having trouble making T3, you might experience the following:
Hair loss & dry hair
If your body is actually overproducing T3, you may deal with these challenges:
Anxiety, nervousness, and too much energy
Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and palpitations
How Thyroid Dysfunction is Detected
A standard thyroid lab evaluates the thyroid’s state with a TSH measurement. If your TSH level is higher than a certain threshold, this implies the brain noticed T3 levels in the bloodstream were low, so the thyroid needs to get on it and make more.
The opposite is also true. If TSH is low, the brain tells the thyroid to back off. Many labs also have an inaccurate reference range with a ‘normal’ TSH level sitting between 0.5 to 8. The majority of individuals will feel their best with a TSH between 1 and 2. Most people will start to feel terrible around 4, so waiting until you’re completely outside of the ‘0.5-8’ range is not necessarily the best strategy.
If you receive lab work with a TSH over two, you should receive further evaluation and treatment to prevent your thyroid becoming more dysfunctional.
The Thyroid Labs You Should Test
Past a TSH test, you should take a test to learn the following levels:
It is common for people with a TSH over 2 to have slightly low T4 and T3 levels. If your T4 and T3 levels are relatively normal, but your TSH is on the higher side, this is referred to as ‘subclinical hypothyroidism.’
While many doctors will test T4 and T3 levels, not all will look for anti-TPO or anti-TG. These are the antibodies that your immune system creates to attack the thyroid, which happens from an autoimmune disease called ‘Hashimoto’s.’ Thyroid issues can have completely different underlying conditions, and therefore, they require very different methods for treatment.
Learn More > The Gut-Brain Axis
Causes of Hypothyroidism
With integrative medicine, we don’t simply treat the surface symptoms. We work to reach the root of your problems so that we can provide the best lifestyle changes and treatments to help you heal. There are many potential causes of hypothyroidism like:
Stress - Our hormones are constantly interacting and engaging with one another. Too many stress hormones can cause inflammation and stop the processes of the thyroid.
Other Imbalances – Other high hormones like estrogen can interfere with the function of your other endocrine glands
Nutritional Deficiencies – Your body needs tyrosine, iodine, iron, selenium, zinc, and methylfolate. If you have issues getting enough of these nutrients, your body will likely struggle to make enough T3.
Autoimmunity – The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s. This is when your body begins to attack your thyroid.
Excessive fluoride intake through municipal water, toothpaste, and dental cleanings. Fluorine and iodine are both halogens, but the molecule fluoride will outcompete iodine for binding sites.
Blocked throat chakra – Not speaking your truth, not vocalizing your opinions, or feeling unheard can disrupt vital energy flow. Everything is energy, even matter.
These are some of the most common causes of thyroid dysfunction. As you can probably imagine, they each require completely different approaches to healing.
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Heal from the Root Up
When it comes to your hormones, you should do your best to be proactive in your health. It is best to be your own advocate, and trust your body when you know something is off. Your thyroid is an incredibly important gland with highly delicate responsibilities, so take care of it!
If you are ready to get your hormonal health back under control, Dr. Damon at Soil & Seed Wellness will get you there. Call us today!