Thyroid Misdiagnosis May be Due to Lack of Use of Functional Medicine
Assessing thyroid problems
Everywhere you go you hear someone talk about their thyroid problems, you may have them yourself. I bet if you asked some people you know, you would find quite a that are taking hormones for their thyroid. Usually you will hear about medications like; Synthroid and Levothyroxine. While checking patients charts and paperwork they bring in, I’ll see this particular class of medications the most. Because I was seeing this so often I started asking myself, if all of these people could really have hyperthyroidism? Or could there be a reason their thyroids are acting this way.. So I started asking my patients exactly how their thyroid dysfunction was being monitored. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the full complexity of the thyroids dysfunction was not being looked at or treated.
Diagnosis and treatment with traditional medicine
Standard approaches to thyroid management begin, and often end, with the hormone TSH. TSH influences the thyroid glands output of hormone, but provides no insight into how the gland itself is functioning. On occasion, thyroxine, also known as T4, is measured. This is the hormone produced by the gland. At this point, you may be thinking what else would you need? While this is not a bad start, it only scratches the surface of total thyroid function. In fact, active thyroid hormone is not considered when only looking at TSH and thyroxine. Yet, if traditional medicine is your choice of care, this is what you are limited to, even in some specialty clinics. Worse, the underlying causes of having abnormal TSH and thyroxine are ignored. The blanket solution becomes hormone.
The difference with Functional medicine
What are you supposed to do? Before you realized it you are tangled in the web of being told nothing is wrong when in reality thyroid dysfunction exists. Or maybe your story is different. Your levels are out of range and you are taking replacement thyroid hormone, yet feel no different. Know that if this is where you find yourself, you are not alone. You have received the standard of care. However, the standard of care ignores functional medicine.
Functional Medicine goes a step further
When functional medicine is employed in thyroid management, the assessment does not end at the gland or on a test report only looking at thyroxine. TSH and thyroxine are starting points. Understanding bodily function and biochemistry is a cornerstone of functional medicine and its ability to address underlying causes of dysfunction. In the case of the thyroid, many systems beyond the gland require consideration. These include the role of the liver in converting thyroxine to active thyroid hormone T3. There is also the effect of other glands such as the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract. Beyond this, other hormones and nutrients play a role as does the immune system. All of these areas interacting together constitute normal thyroid function, not the thyroid gland and the hormones TSH and thyroxine acting in isolation.
When choosing functional medicine you can find what is really making your thyroid dysfunctional. It’s time to stop using a band aid and start getting to the root of the problem, so that you can honestly find out how to get your thyroid physiology functions back to normal with out just focusing on the gland itself. f you are like so the so many people I see in my practice, that always have to have their hormone levels manipulated, then your main problem is probably not just your thyroid, but a secondary problem that is making your thyroid act the way it does. If this is you, it’s time to turn to functional medicine and treat the root of the problem and not just the symptoms!