I hear this question nearly every day – from both patients and conventional medical doctors.
The thyroid is influenced by multitude of factors ranging from simple lifestyle attributes, dietary choices, genetic mutations, mental emotional dispositions and life circumstances, chronic illness, gut disturbances etc. These factors can be assessed based on Lab tests and a thorough assessment of all aspects of life and health. An approach is then tailored based on the specific needs of the individual.
The Thyroid Works Together With Every Other Bodily System
The interplay of thyroid with other systems is absolutely fascinating to me and other naturopathic doctors in Singapore. It is important to consider the whole system when working with thyroid disorders. An illustration I make to my patients is a shape of a diamond. The legs of the diamond represent- 1.Thyroid hormones, 2.Adrenals 3.sex hormones 4. Body Iron levels. If one of the legs of the diamond is broken, this can lead to imbalances in the rest of systems that make the diamond. Therefore, a thorough evaluation of all the aspects that influence is crucial. In my practice, I have not yet seen any patient with thyroid disorder and without disturbances in the related systems mentioned above.
Who Should be Screened for Thyroid Dysfunction?
Any patient suffering almost any ongoing symptoms should have labwork done to test thyroid function. People dealing with ongoing chronic illness, fatigue, digestive disturbances, insomnia, ongoing stress and anxiety, issues with weight gain or loss, hormonal disturbances, anemia, fertility problems and more — the list goes on and on.
What Tests are Necessary To Properly Test Thyroid Function?
1. TSH: The brain releases this hormone in order to stimulate thyroid gland to produce its own hormones.
2. Free T4: Represents 90% of the total T4, but only 10% is used by the body.
3. Free T3: Represents 10% of the total T3, but 90% of the T3 is active and biologically utilized by the cells for its function. Therefore this form of T3 is absolutely essential to gauge thyroid gland function.
Conventional medicine labs usually stress on the total T3 or T4. It is important to do the free form, as it is the free form of the hormones that interact with our cells to produce energy. The free- refers to unbound form that circulates in the blood without being bound to proteins.
4. Reverse T3: Under stressful conditions, our body can stop converting T4 to T3 and instead gets converted to Reverse T3. This form of the hormone is not utilized by the body and can slow down metabolism.
5. Anti TPO, Anti TG, TSI: These are critical markers to evaluate if there is an attack by the immune system on the thyroid gland. Most doctors, do not see the need for testing the antibodies as they do not have any options to treat and address it. As a naturopathic doctor, I strongly disagree with this approach. Most cases, the antibodies elevate almost 7-10 yrs. prior to beginning of a thyroid disorder. If we are able to catch it early and arrest the autoimmune process, we can prevent a full blown thyroid dysfunction from happening in the future.
Other Tests that would include in my list would be a salivary or blood Cortisol levels to check adrenal function, Serum Ferritin, and iron levels, vitamin D, Sex hormones as needed. Heavy metal testing, CDSA (comprehensive digestive stool analysis), food sensitivity tests are functional tests that help finding the root cause in most cases.
Naturopathic medicine can treat the root cause of the problem with thyroid dysfunction and with natural therapies help create its own level of hormones. With every patient, in addition to evaluation of related systems, I discuss the role of nutrition and a customized plan that will work to support the thyroid health. If there is autoimmunity as being the underlying cause of the problem, the immune system needs to be managed and inflammation needs to be controlled. If the thyroid has deficiency producing hormones, lifestyle, environment and nutrient deficiencies need to be looked at.
Essential fatty acids, B vitamins, Iodine, botanical adaptogens are a few general examples of natural therapies.
From my experience as a functional medicine practitioner in Singapore, thyroid condition does not exist in isolation and all related systems need attention. Thereby regulating it can be tricky and should be done by a qualified healthcare physician.
Look out for my upcoming blogs with more insights on managing thyroid naturally!
If you have a thyroid condition and would and would like to manage it naturally, call us to make an appointment. Look forward working with you,
Stay healthy, stay happy!