I’ve already written about thyroid testing here in a previous post, but thyroid hormone testing is so controversial and improperly done it bears repeating. In conventional medicine, lab work is typically the only consideration in patients and most doctors rely solely on TSH and T4 to diagnosis hypothyroidism. This approach misses most of the patients who don’t display overt hypothyroidism.
Even in the holistic paradigm, thyroid disorders are often looked at in isolation. Holistic treatment is often defined by many practitioners as using glandulars, like Naturethroid and Armour, instead of synthetic hormone replacement, like Synthroid, and incorporating important thyroid nutrient co-factors like selenium, tyrosine, vitamin D and iodine.
In restorative endocrinology, we use much more sophisticated lab testing than just TSH and T4 and look beyond merely identifying hormone levels that are elevated or deficient and then prescribing hormones (whether synthetic, natural, or bio-identical) to suppress or replace these imbalances. The endocrine system is an intricate web of feedback loops and cellular receptors and it’s impossible to only focus on the thyroid gland when implementing a truly functional and restorative approach to managing hypothyroidism.
A quick overview of the tests I use to evaluate thyroid hormone function includes:
• Total T4
• Free T4
• Total T3
• Free T3
• T3 Uptake
• Reverse T3
• TPO Antibodies
• TGB Antibodies
• Ultrasound of the thyroid if nodules and masses present
With these markers, we can identify where in the thyroid hormone chain the dysfunction lies. To date, there have been 22 patterns of thyroid hormone disorders that have been identified by master clinicians but they can all result in the exact same symptoms – low thyroid symptoms. This is why comprehensive lab testing and expert evaluation is necessary so that the proper treatment can be identified.