Hypothyroidism (also known as an underactive thyroid) is a common issue where the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone. Given the fact that our thyroid gland produces about 1 teaspoon of hormone a YEAR, even the tiniest change can have a big impact on how we feel, act, communicate, and relate to our world.
Standard Thyroid Function Testing will not identify early changes, so analysing your symptoms and running more sensitive thyroid testing is vital to pick up early disease progression.
The good news is that if caught early, it can be corrected with Nutritional and Herbal Medicine.
The standard way to assess thyroid hormone levels is with a blood test. Your general practitioner or endocrinologist will test TSH first and sometimes the level of the thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4). Your doctor will likely check TSH first and follow with a thyroid hormone test only if the TSH is out of normal range.
However, the standard testing for thyroid disease in Australia and America misses many thyroid imbalances, as it is designed to only pick up thyroid disease states. Some people can have test results close to the edge of the normal range and not have any symptoms, but many people will be living with rather strong symptoms affecting their life quality, such as persistent fatigue, stubborn weight, low mood, hair loss, brain fog, and declining libido.
Each laboratory sets its own range, so there is no government standard and this is why different labs will have different ranges. Also, many factors may cause TSH suppression, which is a naturally fluctuating hormone. When unsure, it is warranted to run functional pathology across other hormone markers, as similar symptoms may also be due to menopause, stress and adrenal issues, nervous system disorders, and poor glucose regulation. To learn about these tests Click Here.
95% of people with hypothyroidism have Hashimoto’s disease (also known as Hashimoto thyroiditis), which is an autoimmune disorder. This is screened with a blood sample testing Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPO). If the result is higher than the normal reference range, it indicates Hashimoto’s.
From a Functional Health perspective, we are not trying to diagnose a disease but to understand how and why a thyroid may be not functioning optimally. Therefore, further testing is used to understand the complete picture behind the symptoms. We aim to treat the root cause, not just the symptoms.
This panel tests 8 markers which is essential to understanding the function of your thyroid hormone production and conversion, and to assess the presence of autoimmune thyroid markers. This test is critical for sufferers of Hypothyroidism.
Iodine is the main building block of thyroid hormones and plays many other roles in human health. Bromide blocks iodine absorption and is also toxic. This is the gold standard test to assess iodine status and toxic bromide levels.
People with lower thyroid hormones have extra stress on the adrenal hormone system to accommodate energy requirements. This leads to cortisol imbalances, and testing your cortisol at 3 points through the day is the recommended screening.
Due to the drop in energy production with hypothyroidism, patients will generally experience sugar cravings, weight gain around the middle,brain fog, and this can lead to type-2 diabetes. Assessing sugar and fat storage is an important test if weight and energy are of concern for you.
Hypothyroidism impacts the body’s ability to naturally detoxify by slowing down production of key enzymes. This leads to toxin and hormone accumulation and impacts all-over health and wellness. This profile asseses your liver function, allowing us to properly support better toxin clearance from your body.
Some key hormones impacted by hypothyroidism are Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone. Estrogen tends to accumulate leading to estrogen dominance, impacting menstrual cycles and fertility, perimenopause and menopause symtpoms, weight, and moods. Other common concerns are PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and Endometriosis.
Cardiovascular health is greatly impacted by low thyroid hormones, often accompanied by tachycardia (fast heartbeat) and palpitations (irregular heartbeat). Screening can pick up earlier signs of change.
Testing aims to pick up excesses and deficiencies that point to an issue with your metabolism. Hypothyroidism slows down the metabolic pathways early, leading to weight gain, poor detoxification capacity, and slow metabolism.
Hypothyroidism affects cell repair in the gut, leading to intestinal permeability (a.k.a. “leaky gut”). Therefore, patients with hypothyroidism develop food intolerances to even everyday healthy foods. A simple blood test will identify what is triggering you and what is safe to eat.
Most people will have had a thyroid condition for years, if not decades, before being put on thyroid medication, with the exception of cases such as damage from trauma, or medical interventions such as radiation and chemotherapy, which can damage the thyroid gland.
This is the most commonly prescribed medication for hypothyroidism.
Other names/brands for thyroxine include:
Up to 20% of people taking T4 thyroid medications may still experience the symptoms of hypothyroidism. This is usually due to an issue in the body converting the medication into its active form – free T3.
Other names for this medication include:
Some functional doctors can compound a combination of T4 and T3 for more individualised medication.
NDT is made from dried and powdered thyroid from pigs (porcine) or cows (bovine), whereas the previously mentioned medications are synthetic.
Not TGA approved for sale without a doctor’s script in Australia.
Some brands include;
Accessing natural thyroid extract can be very challenging. Practitioners at The Lucy Rose Clinic can help refer you to a doctor to access better medication where needed.
Whether you are on medication or not, integrative treatment can greatly enhance your health, and therefor, your quality of life.
Common deficiencies that contribute to hypothyroidism include iodine, zinc, selenium, magnesium, vitamin D3, magnesium, B12, and active folate (L-Methylfolate). A functional health practitioner can test for vitamin and mineral deficiencies so these can be adequately treated.
Nutritional medicine can reverse early hypothyroidism, or if you are already on medication, help you get better results from it. This is due to the replacement of essential nutrients that may not be adequate in the diet which play roles in thyroid hormone production, conversion, and clearance.
A gluten and dairy-free diet can help reduce inflammation and aid in reducing autoimmune antibodies. It is also useful to avoid any foods that specifically cause inflammation in your body (which can be detected by doing a food intolerance test).
Botanical medicines assist in supporting the organs and systems in the body. Often many systems are out of balance with hypothyroidism due to the fact that everything slows down – digestion (constipation), circulation (hair loss, feeling cold), blood sugars (sugar cravings, “hangry”), mood (depression, low motivation).
Adrenal support is essential to treat with every hypothyroid case, as these two hormone systems rely heavily on each other each day. When one is out of balance, the other will be as well. We run 3-point saliva testing to assess adrenal hormone function, and sleep/insomnia.
Book a free 15 minute consult with one of our practitioners and we’ll get you on the path to greater health and vitality.