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Could it by my thyroid?

by on May 29, 2017

Thyroid conditions are one of the most commonly misdiagnosed and mistreated conditions. So many people, especially women, live with a thyroid condition without even knowing it. Feeling tired and lethargic, slowly gaining weight for no apparent reason, hair loss, depression, constipation… But why is it so common and why isn’t it diagnosed properly?

The thyroid gland, a butterfly shaped gland that sits in our throat, is responsible for many processes in our body, and when it isn’t functioning optimally, we can experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss
  • Dry skin
  • Cold body temperature
  • Infertility
  • Constipation 
  • Heartburn / Reflux
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Irregular periods
  • Sugar cravings
  • Hoarseness
  • Memory loss

 

How is a thyroid condition diagnosed?

The most commonly used diagnostic test is a blood test that measures TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). Hypothyroidism is diagnosed when this number goes above a certain value. Although this is a valuable test, it is not the most valuable test for a few reasons: 

  1. TSH is not an active hormone – it is a signalling hormone or a messenger – so it doesn’t paint the whole picture.
  2. TSH doesn’t identify a thyroid condition is caused by an auto-immune condition such as Hashimoto’s or Graves disease.
  3. If TSH is within normal range, even if there are symptoms of hypothyroidism, it doesn’t give any answers.

 

To get a whole picture of what is going on with the thyroid gland, these tests are important:

  • Free T4
  • Free T3 (the most active hormone)
  • Reverse T3 (an inactive hormone)
  • TPO (thyroid antibody)
  • TG (thyroid antibody)

With this information, a proper diagnosis can be made.

My lab tests are “normal” but I still don’t feel right

It’s also important to remember that lab ranges vary. When hormone levels are at a certain number, they can be within range, but that doesn’t mean they’re optimal which results in not feeling optimal. Unfortunately, this happens way too often and we are left feeling much less than our best without any solution.

The good news is that with Naturopathic Medicine, there are solutions. First of all, I look at lab values to see if they are at an optimal level, not just within range. Just this can help identify what is going on. 

Another important part of my philosophy as a Naturopathic Doctor is that I look at the whole person, not just blood work. Although it is important, blood work is only part of the picture – the symptoms that are felt are a much more important piece of the puzzle. This is how we can identify what is going on even when lab tests come back “normal”.

Will I ever feel better?

This can be a scary question to ask because what if the answer is “no”. In most cases though, when a holistic approach is taken to health, the answer is yes. When we work to restore balance in the body, we can restore health and greatly improve all symptoms.

If thyroid medication is being used, this doesn’t necessarily mean being able to stop taking this medication, but it does mean being able to live a full happy and healthy life, even with a thyroid condition.

How is this done?

I have a step-by-step approach to working with thyroid conditions which include:

  • Detoxing the body
  • Restoring the gut
  • Addressing nutrient deficiencies
  • Restoring the adrenal glands and balancing blood sugar
  • Restoring overall hormone balance

In more persistant cases, more intense treatment may be needed, such as in the case of persistent infections or heavy metals being part of the cause of a thyroid condition. Each person also varies greatly in what their body requires for each of these steps, which is one of the many benefits of using a natural and holistic approach to thyroid health.

If you are one of the many people living with a thyroid condition or experiencing any symptoms that resemble a thyroid condition, there is hope for you. With the proper guidance, work and patience, you can heal your thyroid condition.

 

Dr Renée Purdy is a naturopathic doctor in Moncton, New Brunswick. In her practice, she values making health achievable and long lasting. She likes to explore the mind, body, spirit connection in health, and her approach includes using food as medicine, herbal medicine, acupuncture and lifestyle counselling. Her focus is on digestive health, hormone balance, thyroid health and adrenal fatigue.

 

 

 

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