Wait just a dang minute. Why are you reading part 4 when you haven't read the first 3?! Ahem. My Health Journey - Part 1 (Overview) // My Health Journey - Part 2 (GI) // My Health Journey - Part 3 (Adrenals) Ok, now that you're following the rules, let's get into this thyroid stuff. The thyroid is a tiny organ in your throat that controls just about every function in your body. So when that goes awry, a whole lot of stuff doesn't feel right. But getting a doctor to recognize this is the issue is extremely frustrating, trying, and time consuming. Luckily, my wellness Dr. is a mad genius, who picked up on it right away. One of my initial diagnosis was hypothyroid (low functioning) and issues with my hypothalamus -pituitary axis communication. Basically meaning, the pituitary isn't telling the thyroid what to do. A lot of you are in my boat. And the rest of you are probably in my boat but just don't know it. And the remainder of you, after you do all that math, are perfectly normal! #jelly
First, I'm not going to go into the bastard that is thyroid issues and how mis/under-diagnosed they are. All I have to say is, poor American public. You are just needlessly suffering. Exhausted. Struggling against a weight battle that you'll never win. Unmotivated and depressed. This is quickly becoming a hot topic in the wellness community, and I'm so glad that people are starting to get help. But why is this such a cluster of confusion?
Knowledge. Part of the problem is that doctors aren't really trained to deal with thyroid - unless it's so bad that the tissue is 90% gone and it's almost not functioning (ala Hashimotos). This also happens with adrenal fatigue, which turns into Addison's Disease as I discussed in the previous post. And then what? Well, they put you on hormones the rest of your life, that's what. See how that works? They don't care about the problem until they can give you a drug to fix it. Kind of how it is with IBS- there's no drug, so they do nothing to help you except tell you it's in your head and prescribe Prozac! Screw early intervention where you could actually TRY to reverse the problems and recover. Screw taking into account all of your symptoms. Symptoms are only in your head, unless a doctor can point to a specific finding that lines up with your symptoms. And that applies to just about everything (especially GI). That's where you need a wellness/integrative doctor who will take into account the whole picture.
TSH. So why is it, that you can have every thyroid symptom on the planet, and yet your blood work checks out completely normal? Well, they don't do an extensive thyroid panel. In fact, most of you have probably only ever heard of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). That would be the equivalent of getting your total cholesterol number without getting the HDL/LDL/Triglyceride breakdown. IT DOESN'T TELL YOU ANYTHING. Sorry, sorry. I won't CAPS YELL. You need the whole picture - the T3, T4, Reverse T3, thyroid antibodies... all of it! And usually, only wellness or integrative doctors do extensive thyroid panels.
Normal vs. Optimal. And the last part of the problem is the scale is WAY out of whack. And props to Dr. Oz for pointing this out on his show recently. You are considered "normal" if your TSH is anywhere between .5 -- 5.0. Not only is that a super broad range, but it doesn't take into account that normal isn't always optimal. Nor does it take into account symptoms. For instance, I was on the extremely low end of the scale and had every hypothyroid symptom imaginable, but all conventional doctors said I was fine because I was "in the range." And perhaps some people feel just fine on the low end of the scale, but I didn't. That is why I had to pursue holistic doctors who looked at the WHOLE PICTURE and did THOROUGH LABS.
Wow. That was a lot of talking for someone who wasn't gonna get into it.
Iodine. The other thing that is vitally important in relation to thyroid function is getting your iodine levels checked. That's something a conventional Dr. definitely won't do for you, but a wellness Dr. will. Iodine is essential to the body, but the thyroid functions specifically by using molecules of iodine. So how can the thyroid function if there's not enough iodine? And if you've heard of the ever so common vitamin D deficiency - well you can "ditto" that with iodine. We are extremely low because guess what foods have iodine? Seaweed. And Celtic Sea Salt. That's IT. How much seaweed are you eating these days? What about fistfuls of salt? That's what I thought. Iodine is also critical for immune system function. Mine was extremely low and I was started on a supplement to get levels up.
The other things I discovered that affect the thyroid's ability to properly do it's job is fluoridated water (yes, they ADD fluoride to our drinking water, the only way to remove it is reverse osmosis). Fluoride blocks the uptake of iodine. Chlorine (also in water) and bromine (in processed bread) are also harmful. Juicing/eating lots of raw greens and goitrogenic vegetables is another issue for another day.
So, there's ALOT to discuss when it comes to thyroid, and I spent the majority of an entire year just studying and researching thyroid issues and how to recover from them. But, I was fighting a losing battle. Sometimes a low or hyper thyroid can be a SYMPTOM of a greater disfunction in the body - not the cause. Initially, I was told this was the root cause, but we now believe it is a symptom. Until the other malfunctions are addressed, the thyroid cannot function correctly. So, right now, I am simply supplementing iodine, drinking quality water, watching goitrogen intake and working to resolve my other issues first.
I'll be writing a lot more about what I learned about thyroid testing, diagnosis, treatment and natural therapies.
By the way, here are the other parts to this series:
Wondering who's the mysterious wordy genius behind these posts? Follow this little rabbit trail to read more About Me! The use of the term genius is open to interpretation.