Understand YOUR Thyroid: Are you ready to take it beyond Synthroid?
This month in practice I’ve noticed an increase in patients coming in asking questions about their thyroid and wanting me to review their blood work and symptoms – which is fantastic because understanding the thyroid can be tricky and best not left to Dr. Google!
It gets complicated when we start investigating things a little deeper. From what lab tests are most important to understanding what they mean, and how they tell the full story about our thyroid!
The most common symptoms related to a thyroid imbalance are fatigue and low energy – but these often get justified by having a busy lifestyle. It’s always best to check with your primary care provider about which tests are RIGHT for you. In my practice: I like to see a complete blood count, Ferritin, serum B12, TSH – which would be the most basic. If there is any suspicion of a thyroid condition or if TSH comes back abnormal, then more lab work is certainly needed. [Stay tuned for post on 5 most important tests for your thyroid and why!]
It’s Not Just Your Thyroid…
Interestingly, this powerhouse gland does not act alone but rather it plays a major role in the function of other organ systems. And with the thyroid being the master endocrine gland (meaning it controls our metabolism and how our body makes energy), if it’s functioning poorly, it will influence the following systems:
- Adrenal glands
- Gastrointestinal tract or the “GUT”
- Immune system
- Reproductive System
Aside from understanding that thyroid condition involves way more than just the thyroid, I wanted to share with you some of my personal and professional experience with thyroid health and what steps you can take to understand your thyroid and take control of how your feel!
My Thyroid Journey
For me, the journey started when I was finishing undergrad about to start Naturopathic medical school. The overwhelming stress of deciding my future, career path, academic studies all at the ripe age of 22. While an exciting time in my life, my thyroid seemed to have another plan for me. And here’s the thing with stress, our bodies can produce a physiological response to stress, while our brain is telling us we are OK and that we are not stressed. Seems weird, but the fact is that our bodies are smart and they’re protecting us so we can survive extremely stressful situations.
Medication for the Rest of My Life?
For me the most difficult part was being in my early 20’s and having to wrap my head around having a thyroid condition that I would need to be on medication for the rest of my life and there wasn’t really a “cure” for it. Nor could it be explained how I got it, other than “it’s genetic.” Not knowing any better, I was on Synthroid for many years and it wasn’t until Naturopathic Medical school where I learned about the adrenal glands and about Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – which is the underlying cause for a diagnosed hypothyroidism in over 80% of people. I was shocked because NO one had mentioned that to me.
You Have Thyroid Treatment Options
If you are someone who is newly diagnosed or has been diagnosed with a thyroid condition for years, please know that you have options! There’s so much you can learn about other systems that are influenced by a poorly functioning thyroid and natural ways you can support and heal your body.
There’s Always Space For Improvement
What I’ve learned is there is always more you can do and it’s about talking to an expert and asking those questions. These five steps that have not only significantly helped me work through my thyroid health journey but as a Naturopathic Doctor that supports many people with thyroid conditions, this is always my starting place:
1. Get the full story: Ask for all your labs or take it one step further and download them from your online account (if using Lifelabs). You are entitled to copies of your blood work and you should have them for your records. If your doctor won’t run a test for you, the reason is likely that OHIP restricts them from doing so (this has to do with health policy and treatment guidelines). If that’s the case, don’t freight! Your Naturopathic Doctor can privately order the test for you (meaning not OHIP billable). In my clinical experience, there’s huge value in having all the information. It helps objectively guide treatment in a healing direction and it motivates people to change!
2. Stress: is all around us! The difference between individuals is how we cope with it. As mentioned above, stress and the adrenal glands are one of the most significant influencers of thyroid function. Everyone is at different stages of the stress response journey, I recommend salivary hormone testing to map out your individual response to stress by showing your cortisol levels at 4 times during the day. This information tells us how to best support your adrenal glands that will the influence how your thyroid functions, making you feel more energy, less fatigue and allows your body to better cope with stress.
3. Yes, diet matters. As Hippocrates said: “let food be thy medicine” – I couldn’t agree more with this statement and it couldn’t be more critical to your thyroid, gut health and immune system (which are all connected!).
4. Vitamin D: studies have found a link between elevated thyroid antibodies, as seem in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and a vitamin D deficiency. This is frequently overlooked in conventional care but one of those easy fixes! All we need is to get your vitamin D level checked and manage your supplement dose accordingly. For many North Americans the recommendation is 1000IU of vitamin D per day but if you have a thyroid condition and a vitamin D deficiency this does is likely not enough.
5. Get to the root cause: Understand where your thyroid condition originated? This will help direct treatment. For some the cause from environmental toxins, food sensitivity, autoimmunity, adrenal fatigue, and these are just to name a few.
Don’t wait to feel better but ask an expert your questions today!
Dr. Antoinette is a naturopathic doctor and women’s hormone health expert. She wants you to understand YOUR thyroid, so you can optimize your wellbeing at every stage of your journey. As a woman with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis herself, she’s navigated her way through the fatigue, brain fog, inability to lose weight and other issues related to thyroid imbalance and has helped many women successfully get their balance back so they can finally feel their best.
Questions about Natural Desiccated Thyroid hormone and whether it’s a good alternative to your current treatment or medication, book a complimentary meet-and-greet visit with Dr. Antoinette, get answers to your questions and find out if working together toward your thriving thyroid health is a good fit.