Hypothyroidism, or low thyroid function, is among the most frequent chronic hormonal problem on the planet. With approximately 20 million instances in America alone and 200 million people affected globally, hypothyroidism is a silent epidemic. What’s worse is that about half of those struggling with this health issue are undiagnosed.
Living with weight gain, fatigue, hair loss, brain fog, depression, nervousness or gastrointestinal problems can cause pain and discomfort, often making the individual feel hopeless. If your thyroid is not functioning well, nothing within your body works properly. Many people will visit their healthcare specialists to have lab tests. In case your thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH, is out of this lab range, you are given Synthroid, or even levothyroxine. If the labs are “normal,” you’re typically shipped home, without any choices left for a traditional medicine approach.
Should you still have low thyroid symptoms and your TSH is “normal”, something is not being addressed. How can we get the “normal” lab range anyhow? The reference array is based on a statistical average of the lab’s populace. That is, other than vitamin D and cholesterol levels, laboratory reference ranges will change depending upon the lab.
The people who normally have work done on labs are mathematically not the weakest segment of the population. So if the laboratory results are “normal” despite them having symptoms, what your healthcare professional is essentially saying is that you’re the same as a lot of other ill people. In functional medicine, practitioners look at a more narrow range wherever your body functions optimally and you feel great.
A functional medicine approach at your thyroid is more in depth than a T4 plus and TSH. Here are a few of the labs functional medicine practitioners perform on their patients and what they mean:
Thyroid-stimulating hormone is released from your pituitary gland to communicate with your thyroid gland. It’s sort of like your brain shouting in your thyroid, if your TSH is elevated. Research has linked a lab “normal” TSH of 2.5-3.5 mIU/mL with a 69 percent risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke. Now you can see why the optimal “functional” range is so important for your health, not just on the lookout for labs from the larger reference array.
Laboratory Range: .45-5.5 mIU/L
Optimal Range: 1.8-2.5 mIU/L
T4 is mostly inactive from the human body and has to be converted to be usable. This lab gives you a total of bound and unbound forms of T4. Hormones have to be unbound to be utilized by your entire body. Due to this, this lab doesn’t provide the action of T4 to us when quantified alone. T4 is measured together with a T3 uptake.
Laboratory Range: 4.5-12 mg/DL
Maximum Range: 6.0-12.0 mg/DL
This lab does not look at T3, but is very helpful at indirectly looking at hormones like testosterone or estrogen and their relation with the binding of thyroid hormones.
Reference Range: 22-35%
Optimal Range: 28%-38%
This laboratory shows us the amount of the active thyroid hormone. It permits a healthcare professional to verify your body’s ability also to rule out an overactive thyroid gland and to convert T4 to T3.
Lab Range: 80-200 ng/DL
Maximum Range: 100-180 ng/DL
This will let you know the degrees of free or active form of T4. This will be reduced in cases of hypothyroidism but may be normal in early stages of thyroid disorder.
Laboratory Range: 0.8-1.8 ng/DL
Optimal Range: 1.0-1.5 ng/DL
This is your thyroid hormone’s more energetic form. Low T3 syndromes are a common dysfunction seen in practice, and also a low level of the hormone is strongly linked to a greater risk of coronary attack. The issue with this if you’re taking a T4 medicine is that the hormone isn’t being converted by your body into T3, though there are other reasons why thyroid medications may not be working properly.
Laboratory Range: 2.3-4.2 pg/mL
Maximum Range: 3.0-4.0 pg/mL
Stress and cortisol may increase levels of reverse T3, which is an form of the thyroid gland.
Reference Range: 8-25 ng/DL
Maximum Range: 9.2-24.1 ng/DL
Elevated levels of thyroid antibodies reveals an attack against the thyroid gland. The majority of low thyroid cases are around the spectrum, the most typical Hashimoto’s disease.
Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) Ab Optimal Range: 0-15 IU/mL
Thyroglobulin Ab Optimal Range: 0-0.9 IU/mL
Labs to address the health of your immune system, your microbiome, along with hormones should be considered. Every one of these labs are going to be a first step into finding out which thyroid pattern which you have, and keep in mind there are thyroid dysfunctions that don’t appear on labs.
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By Dr. Alex Jimenez
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The information herein on "Functional Medicine: Understanding Thyroid Lab Tests | Wellness Clinic" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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