It has been estimated that 1 in 8 women will develop a thyroid issue in their lifetime (1), with the most common being an underactive thyroid. When it comes to thyroid issues, you can either suffer from a hyperactive or an underactive thyroid. However, hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid issue (2) we see and the most common cause is autoimmune in nature. Asides from antibodies being a cause of hypothyroidism, there are other causes as well.
Identifying the root cause of your thyroid condition is one of the key things that allows functional medicine to be so effective in treating thyroid issues.
Essentially, knowing your thyroid type can help with your hypothyroidism symptoms and even enhance the efficacy of any thyroid medicine you might be taking.
- 𝐓𝐡𝐲𝐫𝐨𝐢𝐝 𝐑𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞: you have normal TSH levels and you are able to convert T4 into T3, however, T3 has a hard time penetrating into your cells. Focus on lowering inflammation markers and stress management (4).
- 𝐀𝐮𝐭𝐨𝐢𝐦𝐦𝐮𝐧𝐞 𝐓𝐡𝐲𝐫𝐨𝐢𝐝 𝐃𝐢𝐬𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞: this occurs when your body produces antibodies that attack either your thyroid gland or some stage of the thyroid hormone production. Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s are both autoimmune thyroid conditions (2). Lab testing for thyroid antibodies can help determine if your thyroid issue is autoimmune in nature.
- 𝐄𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐠𝐞𝐧 𝐃𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞: commonly seen in women who take oral birth control pills or who may be using estrogen creams. An increase in estrogen levels in the body lowers your body’s access to Free T3.
- 𝐋𝐨𝐰 𝐓𝟑 Converter: your body is having a hard time converting between T4 to the more potent form of thyroid hormone T3. This can be due to the poor liver or gut health or micronutrient imbalances.
- 𝐓𝐡𝐲𝐫𝐨𝐢𝐝 𝐎𝐯𝐞𝐫-𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧: seen with elevated levels of testosterone or in women with PCOS. Although we want to have more T3 than T4, too much of anything can be harmful. (3)
As you can see, there are a few different ways in which your thyroid issues can arise, which is why it is so important to properly assess your thyroid health. Running thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) alone doesn’t catch things like thyroid resistance and low T3 conversion.
Functional medicine testing of your thyroid at our wellness center will always include the following:
- Free T4
- Free T3
- Thyroid Antibodies (anti-TPO, thyroglobulin antibodies)
- Reverse T3
- Comprehensive Metabolic Panel to assess liver and gut health
- Northwestern Medicine. (2021, December 1). 7 facts about your thyroid. Northwestern Medicine. Retrieved June 12, 2022, from https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/7-facts-about-your-thyroid
- Rehan, K. M. (2014, May 27). Hypothyroidism facts & tips – endocrineweb. Hypothyroidism Facts & Tips. Retrieved June 12, 2022, from https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/hypothyroidism/hypothyroidism-facts-tips
- Cole, W. (2021, January 4). Your functional medicine guide to underlying thyroid dysfunctions + how to heal. Your Functional Medicine Guide To Underlying Thyroid Dysfunctions + How To Heal. Retrieved June 12, 2022, from https://drwillcole.com/thyroid-health/signs-and-symptoms-of-thyroid-dysfunction-how-to-heal
- Rivas, A. M., & Lado-Abeal, J. (2016). Thyroid hormone resistance and its management. Proceedings (Baylor University. Medical Center), 29(2), 209–211. https://doi.org/10.1080/08998280.2016.11929421