I Feel like My Thyroid is off, but My Doctor Says…
One of the very most common reasons that someone comes to my office today (other than for COVID-related issues, of course!) is to discuss concerns that they believe to be associated with their thyroid. They will tell me that, for some period of time, they have been experiencing at least several clinical symptoms widely known to be related to these glands, including, but not limited to:
§ Weight gain
§ Loss/shedding/thinning of hair
§ Change in the texture of nails or hair
§ Loss of the outer third of eyebrows
§ Poor sleep
§ Diminished concentration or memory/brain fog
§ Irregular or slowed heartbeat
§ Menstrual irregularity
§ Increased sensitivity to cold
§ Dry skin
§ Puffy face
§ Vocal hoarseness
§ Swelling/ pressure in the lower neck
§ Lack of motivation
Typically, they have already asked their primary care docs to check their thyroid, and lo and behold, they are told that their tests came back “normal”. But they don’t feel “normal”. And that is often when these folks come to consult with me.
There are SO many aspects to thyroid function and efficacy that need to be addressed when someone is experiencing “hypothyroid symptoms”. For whatever reason, the in-depth investigation of the thyroid often falls into province of functional physicians such as myself.
For many physicians, thyroid testing consists of a TSH test (thyroid stimulation hormone that emanates from the pituitary gland). If this number is elevated, it will trigger a response with medication. The functional “cutoff” for a “good” TSH vs. a not-so-good TSH is quite different from the traditional/lab cutoff. This is one of many distinctions in the traditional, as opposed to the holistic, approach to establishing thyroid status.
Some physicians will also check “T4”, the precursor to the active thyroid hormone in the body, known as “T3”. A decent T4 level does not insure adequate ACTIVE T3 levels, as sufficient and accurate conversion is by no means guaranteed. Therefore, it is critical to check not only for actual T3 levels, but also for levels of poorly manufactured and hence ineffectual, T3 (so-called “reverse T3").
Other considerations in a thorough evaluation would include:
1 – Is there adequate iodine in the body to support thyroid function?
2 – Are other nutrient levels that support thyroid function optimal?
3 – Is thyroid hormone being well-received in the body’s tissues?
4 – Is autoimmune disease interfering with thyroid function?
5 – (A big one!) Are the adrenals that partner with the thyroid glands in good shape, doing their part in working with the thyroid to produce “good thyroid” results or not?
In finding the answers to these questions, we are in a much better position to understand why someone may indeed be experiencing thyroid-like symptoms, even though their most basic tests are coming out seemingly “normal”. Once we discover exactly where the issues, lie, it is not difficult to treat and correct the problem or problems at hand and alleviate symptoms, restoring a patient back to a more robust level of health.Robin Ellen Leder, M.D., was mentored by Robert Atkins, M.D., author of The Atkins Diet. She has been providing alternative medical care, including intravenous treatments, for more than 30 years at A Better Alternative Medical Center, in Hackensack.