So your doctor told you your thyroid is out of whack!!! Now what? You have most likely been started on medications (which BTW, I am not advising you not to take)!!! Let’s talk about this.
What does the Thyroid do?The function of the thyroid is to maintain metabolism. Metabolism is the chemical process that occurs in the body in order to maintain life. So if your thyroid is out of whack, you could have symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, constipation, heavy periods, dry skin, hair that is thinning or falling out. That is hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid. The opposite of that is hyperthyroidism. This is where everything speeds up!!! Your heart may palpitate or you have diarrhea or you can’t sleep. Your periods can be next to nothing and you may lose weight rapidly. The thyroid is vital for basically controlling everything.
The first step in treating thyroid disease is to figure out which one it is. If it is hypothyroid you will most likely start thyroid replacement medication. If it is hyperthyroid then you may need a scan of the thyroid to make sure there are no other causes to be treated.
This is the traditional approach to thyroid disorders. When the TSH and FT4 are checked, if they are normal, in allopathic medicine, that is where the investigation stops. You may hear
“Your labs are normal, you are getting older” etc. It doesn’t fix your symptoms though.
How is Functional Medicine Different?
Functional Medicine is a systems biology–based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. Each symptom or differential diagnosis may be one of many contributing to an individual’s illness. https://www.ifm.org/functional-medicine/what-is-functional-medicine/
In allopathic medicine, I have found that digging deep is not the norm. We just give a pill and that’s about it. If you have frustrating symptoms like weight gain, or irritability or constipation or insomnia or fatigue and your labs are normal (the regular routine labs done by most providers) then your symptoms are brushed off. I have personally been guilty of this and I want to apologize to all the women I treated that way. In fact, I have been guilty of saying that your TSH and FT4 are normal so there is nothing else to look at!!!!! Big dose of humble pie with a huge helping of I’m sorry on top!!!!
What should happen then after those initial labs were drawn and you were told they were normal? It would be good to evaluate a COMPREHENSIVE THYROID PANEL which would include:
Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
Total Thyroxine (T4)
Free Thyroxine (T4)
Free Tri-iodothyronine (T3)
Thyroglobulin antibody (TAA)
Thyroid Peroxidase antibody (TPO)
Lifestyle changes to support thyroid disease
1. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. This is generally the recommendation for any chronic problem. We are what we eat!!! Focus on fresh richly colored vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and fish. Cut waaaaay back on processed sugar. Fruits are ok because that is a natural source of sugar but packaged cakes, cookies, ice cream etc, can increase fatigue and inflammation. Some fruits have a higher sugar content so you may need to avoid bananas, pineapple, mango, grapes. You may need to avoid gluten as well.
Your functional medicine provider may recommend supplements to help support the thyroid. In Southern Illinois, I can recommend Amy Kinzie at Integrated Health in Carterville. She is a functional nutritionist full of knowledge about the thyroid and other autoimmune diseases.