It plagues millions of women: chronic fatigue, weight gain, irregular sleep patterns, hair loss, dry skin, cold sensitivity, hot flashes, and the list goes on. Depending upon age, many women relate these symptoms with the onset of menopause or associate individual symptoms as the product of a poor night’s sleep, seasonal change, or improper diet & exercise. The truth is, when the thyroid is functioning properly, the body’s endocrine system produces the right recipe of hormones necessary to keep everything in balance. All day fatigue shouldn’t occur after a full night’s sleep, and unnecessary weight gain isn’t common when diet and exercise remain constant. So what’s really going on when these unfamiliar symptoms start to stack up? Chances are, your thyroid could be the culprit.
Let’s break it down. The endocrine system is made up of multiple glands in your body, the pituitary gland, pineal gland, reproductive glands (ovaries in females and testicles in males), adrenal glands, pancreas, parathyroid gland, and thyroid gland. Each of the glands in this network run through the body-brain axis and secrete unique hormones fundamental to cell, organ, and tissue function. Metabolism, sleep & mood regulation, sexual function, fertility, tissue function, and body growth & development are all products of a healthy endocrine system. When thyroid health is compromised, the processing and distribution of these individual hormones throughout your body is immediately thrown off kilter and undesirable symptoms can arise.
So how can you get yourself back on track if you suspect a thyroid imbalance? Start by taking note of any symptoms you might be experiencing, such as:
- Chronic fatigue, lethargy
- Sleep disruption
- Unexplained weight changes
- Discomfort in your throat or neck
- Change in skin texture: dryness, redness, or sensitivity
- Brain fog
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Body temperature cannot be regulated
- Changes in menstrual cycle, heavy or scant bleeding
- Joint pain
If one or more of these symptoms has become a common occurrence in your daily life, it may be time to consider functional medicine as an approach to healing your thyroid imbalance. Unfortunately with conventional medicine, doctors automatically turn to blood testing and interpret results within a set range of numbers to either diagnose, and usually medicate, or dismiss thyroid dysfunction all together. When strictly looking at numbers, if T3 and T4 levels in the blood are considered within a “normal range”, your doctor may automatically rule out the thyroid as the issue. However it is still likely that your thyroid could be the problem. In the case of a patient with undiagnosed Hashimoto’s, the thyroid can fluctuate between being hyperactive and hypoactive, therefore blood test results can vary greatly on any given day making it difficult to diagnose the disease. Relying so heavily on test results doesn’t always give a complete picture of the patient’s health.
You Cant Rely on Thyroid Lab Reference Ranges.
When numbers from blood testing do skew outside of the normal range, the trend in conventional medicine tends to result in prescribing a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) drug treatment. This approach skips right over preventive alternatives and sometimes the drugs aren’t even effective for the patient. Leaping to medication is a quick yet, often times, unnecessary solution and the thyroid can be repaired more naturally.
For many patients, a preventative repair plan can replace the conventional method of automatically resorting to medication. Eliminating inflammatory foods such as gluten, soy, & glucose, introducing nutrition that supports immunity & thyroid health, incorporating quality vitamins & supplements, and lowering cortisol levels through improved stress management are all excellent approaches to improving thyroid function. A prescriptive drug regimen can be difficult for the body to deviate from once started, so talk to your doctor about alternatives to regulating your thyroid. Even if your test results show thyroid hormones in the “normal range”, your symptoms don’t lie. Taking a preventative approach to preserving thyroid function can naturally improve your health and alleviate symptoms.
Your doctor should take a comprehensive look at your full scope of symptoms and consider nutrition, stress management and lifestyle changes first, before drug alternatives. This functional approach can yield a more manageable long-term plan, improve thyroid health, and restore balance to your life.
Remember, the thyroid is a part of the endocrine system and works with a network of other glands to give your body the hormones it needs. When these hormone levels are out of balance, your health becomes compromised. However, blood tests aren’t the final say in diagnosing thyroid disease. Take note of your symptoms and consider functional medicine when beginning a treatment plan. Dr. Hagmeyer can help determine which tests are right for you and work with you to create an effective plan to remedy symptoms.
How Can A Natural Hypothyroid Treatment Approach Help Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s and bouts of Hyperthyroidism?
While taking synthetic or natural thyroid hormone might be necessary to manage the symptoms, associated with your thyroid disorder, this won’t do anything to address the other patterns of thyroid disease or the autoimmune component. Driving lab numbers into the “normal” range by taking thyroid replacement hormones such as T4 will not speak to why millions of the women who try it and fail to get relief. It will not stop your suffering from a poor quality of life, Brain Fog, Weight gain, Anxiety, Heart palpitations, Infertility, Depression and more.
So the goal is to detect as many triggers as possible, remove the triggers which is causing the autoimmune response, support the body in reducing inflammation, and suppress the autoimmune component of the condition. Learn more about the Triggers of Thyroid Disease.