According to a study by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHAES), roughly 10 percent of the US population has undiagnosed thyroid disorders and roughly 20 million Americans have overt hypothyroidism. Symptoms for thyroid disorders are so common — difficulty losing weight, fatigue, or the dreaded “brain fog” — that they are often overlooked.
In conventional medicine, the most common approach to balancing the thyroid may be utilizing Synthroid or other synthetic thyroid hormones. However, people who are treated with synthetics, and whose tests often say they are “fine” often still feel symptoms. As George Carlin once said, “People are not fine. Hair is fine.” If you are still not feeling well, the chances are that there are additional factors that need to be tested to get optimal thyroid support.
Part of the issue with understanding thyroid issues is, in my opinion, a problem with under diagnosis. Typical diagnosis of thyroid is done by measuring TSH, or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. This is not a direct measurement of thyroid function, but is instead an indirect measurement by looking at a pituitary hormone that changes in response to thyroid output. However, multiple sources in the medical literature suggest that TSH is a terrible indicator for thyroid conditions, particularly when compared to the value of the actual functional circulating hormone, Free T3.
There are several factors that can make this worse, including deficiencies in Iron, Selenium, Vitamin D or Iodine. Autoimmune issues may comprise up to half of the actual cases of hypothyroidism, particularly with a condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In cases of autoimmune driven thyroid issues the situation becomes even more complicated, as this is not directly a thyroid problem, but instead represents an imbalance in the immune system where it starts attacking the thyroid itself. Multiple studies have linked this very strongly to food allergies and gut-related disorders.
While this may all seem very complicated, many alternative practitioners approach thyroid support from a more integrative standpoint and can help you sort out which tests need to be run what approaches might be available to you if your thyroid function needs some additional help.
Want to learn more on natural support for thyroid disorders? Dr. Carsrud will be explaining all at his talk, “The Trouble of Thyroid” at Peoples Rx on South Lamar, October 18 at 7 PM.
N.D. Victor Carsrud, DC, MS, DABCI, DCBCN, is Board Certified in Family Practice, Management of Internal Disorders and Clinical Nutrition. Known for his public lectures on a wide variety of subjects, he is a frequent co-host of Peoples’ radio show on KJCE. Dr. Carsrud treats a wide variety of issues, but particularly specializes in anti-aging and hormone balancing, autoimmune issues, food and seasonal allergies and chronic disease management.