The thyroid is a highly integrated and powerful gland that influences nearly every bodily function. It does this by regulating the production and function of numerous hormones. You may think that acquiring an accurate representation of your thyroid function would simply require testing this single system. However, even though assessing thyroid hormone function is important for proper bodily function, it is greatly beneficial to examine other areas as well. To truly understand your thyroid in order to optimize its function, testing other “non-thyroid” related areas are essential.
Why Thorough Testing is Important
To properly treat your thyroid, there must be a clear understanding of the various systems involved. Any effort to improve your thyroid health without examining other pertinent systems such as the adrenals and the gut is like trying to complete a puzzle while only looking at the back of the pieces.
Certainly, it’s possible to acquire better thyroid health through trial and error but it will take a significantly longer time and cause unnecessary trouble along the way. Unfortunately, many doctors are unwilling to run the following tests, resulting in poor diagnosis and treatment – here’s how you can find a thyroid doctor that will.
Vitamin D, despite what the name suggests, is a hormone needed for healthy thyroid function. The final metabolic process that allows hormones to enter and act within the cells requires Vitamin D to be present. If you’re lacking Vitamin D, thyroid hormone cannot effectively influence cell metabolism resulting in widespread dysfunction and fatigue.
Those with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s frequently experience Vitamin D deficiency. The International Journal of Health Sciences published a study conducted in 2013 that found those with thyroid problems have significantly reduced levels of both Vitamin D and Calcium.
Recognizing the presence of a Vitamin D deficiency may allow you to catch a thyroid problem early, or help resolve a preexisting issue by optimizing Vitamin D levels.
Sadly, tests needed to gauge Vitamin D levels are frequently avoided and their results disregarded. If your Vitamin D levels are below 40 ng/dl, you should take the appropriate steps to increase them – most doctors prefer the levels between 60-70 ng/dl – this would include supplementation and more sun exposure. Unfortunately, many medical professionals hold to a false belief that a level remaining in the low 30s is acceptable. Even though symptoms of deficiency may not be present at this level it does not mean it is optimal.
At any given moment, your body is experiencing billions of chemical reactions. If these chemical pathways become defunct or malfunctions occur, hypothyroidism and other health conditions can develop. Analyzing the efficacy of these chemical actions can help create a more accurate understanding of your overall health including thyroid function.
This wholly natural occurrence of chemical action results in various byproducts that can provide pertinent information. After the reaction has occurred, organic acid byproducts are transferred to urine so it can be properly disposed of. This allows easy acquisition and analysis through a simple urine test.
The elements and processes evaluated with byproduct testing include:
- Fatty acid metabolism
- Energy production
- Methylation markers
- Antioxidant markers
- Bacteria prevalence
- Carbohydrate metabolism
- B Vitamin markers
- Neurotransmitter metabolism
- Detoxification indicators
- Yeast and fungus levels
These different factors can influence or indicate malfunction within multiple bodily processes, including the thyroid and the gut.
The gut is important to your overall health partly because it prevents the escape of harmful substances into the rest of the body. A properly functioning intestine allows nutrients and other helpful substances to safely pass through while rejecting and blocking other harmful elements such as bacteria, undigested proteins and fats, yeasts, and toxins.
A malfunctioning intestinal lining can leak resulting in harmful substances entering the bloodstream and other areas of the body. This event frequently triggers a significant immune response resulting in widespread inflammation and dysfunction.
Furthermore, a leaky gut can contribute greatly to the development of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
The gut also holds the majority of your immune system, about 70%, and can greatly influence thyroid function. Healing the thyroid should include testing and optimization of the gut in the following areas:
- Immune function
- Bacteria balance
- Parasite removal
- Metabolic function
- Inflammatory action
Testing and recognizing the presence of a malfunctioning gut can better inform you and your doctor of what needs to be done to resolve the thyroid issues.
Cortisol and the Adrenals
The adrenals are a significant hub of hormone production. This system, much like the thyroid, is essential for various functions including blood pressure regulation, immune function, and stress response. Cortisol, also called the stress hormone, is one of the primary hormones produced by the adrenals.
Adrenal fatigue and cortisol deficiency exhibit symptoms similar to hypothyroidism and are often misdiagnosed as such. However, because the adrenal and thyroid are so closely connected it is possible that an issue with one of the systems may result in malfunction of the other.
Cortisol levels are expected to be high in the morning to kick start the body and continually wane as the day continues. A good night’s sleep restores cortisol levels so they can be appropriately utilized throughout the day. This is necessary for a healthy hormone cycle. However, for many with hypothyroidism, this cycle is reversed resulting in notable fatigue during the day and high-energy or “wired” feeling at night.
It is critical that you identify if you are experiencing adrenal fatigue prior to treating your thyroid condition with thyroid replacement therapy. Thyroid hormones increase metabolism, which further amplifies adrenal fatigue. Additionally, when experiencing adrenal fatigue, your body may be entirely unresponsive to thyroid treatments making diagnosis and treatment even more challenging.
Treating the Thyroid
The status of each of the above areas is dependent on the individual. Therefore, it is necessary that a patient-specific approach is used when treating and testing for thyroid dysfunction. Assessing and understanding your unique state of health allows for more efficient and practical treatment.
Removing the guesswork from a thyroid condition can prevent a great deal of suffering caused by trial and error methods and incorrect diagnosis. By utilizing tests and exams focused on areas other than the thyroid, you can expedite treatment and achieve greater thyroid and bodily wellness!