By Josh Redd, DC on January 30, 2018
Did a doctor tell you your tests were normal and you were perfectly normal when you had low thyroid symptoms? Unfortunately, this is a very common scenario for many patients, the majority of them women. Doctors tell them their thyroid symptoms are due to stress, aging, depression, or hypochondria. This is because most doctors use conventional lab ranges on blood tests when functional medicine ranges give us more information about Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
Conventional lab ranges look for diseases while functional ranges look for trends toward disease that may still be reversed or halted through diet and lifestyle applications. For example, blood lab parameters for diabetes are actually high, but functional ranges alert you to dangerously high blood sugar while you still have time to correct it before it damages your brain and body.
In another example, many people with clear and obvious symptoms of low thyroid function are told they are fine for years while autoimmune Hashimoto’s destruction of the thyroid gland continues unchecked and untreated, worsening symptoms all the while. Had it been identified early enough, the patient could take the necessary steps to slow or even halt its progression.
Functional blood test ranges alert you to disease before it's too late
Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of conditions such as Hashimoto’s low thyroid. Conventional medicine waits until a condition has progressed far enough that it needs to be treated with drugs or surgery, such as thyroid removal (which still doesn’t help many patients as thyroid tissue remains behind, triggering autoimmunity).
In other words, functional ranges define good health while lab ranges define disease.
Additionally, lab ranges are based on a bell-curve analysis
of patients who had their blood drawn at that center, many of whom are likely quite sick. Americans are among the most chronically ill people in the world, so this can skew ranges. For instance, lab ranges for hypothyroidism have been found to be too broad and fail to identify many patients with low thyroid function.
Functional medicine looks for patterns in blood markers
Functional medicine lab testing looks for patterns among various different blood markers. All systems in the body are connected and a health issue can be reflected as an out-of-range marker in several areas.
This can help identify what type of anemia you have, whether high blood sugar is inflaming and damaging your body and brain, whether your low thyroid function is related to a hormone imbalance, or whether your immune imbalance is related to a virus, bacterial infection, allergies, or even parasites.
A functional blood test includes more markers
Another difference between functional and standard blood testing isn’t just the ranges used, but also how many markers are ordered. A conventional blood test typically includes far fewer markers than a functional medicine one.
We certainly see this in testing for low thyroid function. Conventional tests usually only look at thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). However, 90 percent of cases of low thyroid function are caused by Hashimoto’s, and autoimmune disease that attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. They don't test for Hashimoto’s because it does not change treatment in conventional medicine.
However, in functional medicine we test to identify autoimmune Hashimoto’s and other causes of low thyroid function. Knowing what is causing hypothyroidism symptoms determines the best way to manage low thyroid function and improve health.
A blood panel is an important tool in the functional medicine evaluation. Ask my office for more information about identifying and addressing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
How to learn if you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid
Many patients are not diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s until after several years and going through several doctors. It is a demoralizing journey richly illustrated in my book The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto's Low Thyroid Disease
, through real-life stories from patients in my practice. Managing Hashimoto’s goes far beyond using thyroid medication as you must work to stop the immune system from attacking the thyroid. For more information on identifying and managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid, contact
About Dr. Josh Redd, Chiropractic Physician — Utah, Arizona, New Mexico functional medicine
Dr. Joshua J. Redd, DC, MS, DABFM, DAAIM, author of The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto's Low Thyroid Disease
, is a chiropractic physician and the founder of RedRiver Health and Wellness Center
with practices in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. He sees patients from around the world who suffer from challenging thyroid disorders, Hashimoto's disease, and other autoimmune conditions. In addition to his chiropractic degree, Dr. Redd has a BS in Health and Wellness, a BS in Anatomy, and a MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine. He speaks across the nation, teaching physicians about functional blood chemistry, low thyroid, Hashimoto's, and autoimmunity. You can join his Facebook page here