Updated: May 7, 2018
Almost every day I hear from men & women, "My Doctor tested my thyroid, and said its normal." Well guys, that is BULLSHIT! 99% of Drs believe that testing your TSH or Thyroid-stimulating hormone is evidence of how well your thyroid is operating.
If TSH is within a normal range, most doctors will “rule out” thyroid problems as a cause of symptoms.
However, there’s a problem with practicing medicine this way.
It is becoming more and more obvious that the TSH test simply does not detect all thyroid hormone problems. It does not detect any problems you may have converting T4 (the inactive form of thyroid hormone) to T3 (the active form). TSH also cannot detect thyroid hormone resistance, which happens when cells are unable to allow thyroid hormone inside because their receptor sites are malfunctioning. Both of these thyroid hormone problems are more common than most doctors realize, and they are seldom detected. The TSH test also does a lousy job of determining a correct dosage of thyroid replacement hormone.
This common practice among Drs is what tacked on over a decade of hell with me being in the dark about having Hashimotos disease. In the early stages of Hashimotos thyroiditis, the condition is very treatable and easily reversible. As the years go by, treatment & remission is much more difficult as we continue doing things that cause more problems.
Some of the common falsities doctors give, all of which I have personally heard and then some:
1. Your TSH Is “Normal”
We know now that most doctors consider TSH testing to be the gold standard of thyroid testing.
But what really is normal a normal TSH?
Well it largely depends on the lab company your doctor uses. Most labs take an average of any 100 people and base "normal" on these folks. Who's to tell if they are all healthy, have adequately working thyroids or not?! (This is for ALL lab tests)
So, do your thyroid, and make sure that you are getting in-depth testing of your thryoid.
Blood tests, such as TSH, free T4, free T3, reverse T3 and thyroid anti-bodies can help determine a course of action and help with prognosis.
The comprehensive thyroid test I like is by Spectracell Labs, who also test for other important components that get to many root causes, hormones, MTHR gene, micronutient testing, etc.
2. Your Diet Has No Effect On Your Thyroid Health
Your doctor may be well versed on pharmaceuticals…
…but when it comes to “nutrition”, it’s a WAY different story.
In the case of hypothyroidism, doctors will quickly tell you that your diet won’t make any difference.
They say this because that’s what the drug companies tell them.
Take the thyroid medication Synthroid for example…
LOTS of scientific research on the other hand tells us that your diet plays an essential role in the health and function of your thyroid.
As I spoke about in my last blog, getting to the ROOT CAUSE is the most important thing that you can do in terms of remission & living a healthy and happy life.
One reason drug companies and doctors want you to believe that your diet won’t make any difference is because it helps to reinforce this next thyroid lie…
3. You Can’t Ever Overcome Your Hypothyroidism
Is hypothyroidism a lifelong condition? Ask your doctor and odds are they will tell you so. They will tell you that you’ll need medication for life. Which for me devastated me!
Some will even go as far as to tell you that if you stop your medicine, you’ll die.
Yep, I’ve heard this personally & from more than a handful of people.
There are many factors that strongly influence your thyroid function which are within your control, such as:
Nutrition (as mentioned above)
4. The Best Treatment for Hypothyroidism is Synthroid If lying once about thyroid medication isn’t bad enough… this one actually involves lying twice.
The majority of doctors won’t even prescribe any sort of thyroid medication aside from the typical T4-only options such as:
Most doctors are quick to tell you that T4-only medications are the best or only option and that other options like desiccated thyroid are dangerous or unreliable. THEY AREN'T! I personally take a plant based combo of T3-T4 made from a natural compounding pharmacy and feel SO much better than when I was on Synthroid. I had WORSE symptoms on just synthroid than without anything at all.
5. Your Thyroid Is Fine… It’s All In Your Head
BROOOOOOOOO! This is not a laughing matter…I think I still have some unresolved resentment from the doctors who allowed me to believe this.
I was referred for a mental health evaluation during their treatment, like many other people, by my doctor.
Because regardless of what their lab tests said, I still suffered from extreme thyroid symptoms.
There are many studies showing that most thyroid patients felt no better and oftentimes worse on T4-only medications. Well, enough T4 will lower your TSH to well within that really misleading “normal” range.
So, if your labs look “normal” to your doctor then any remaining symptoms must all be in your head, right?
The reality is that you still don’t feel better because you’re still hypothyroid.
Sometimes you just have to find the right doctor that’s willing to actually listen to you.
And sometimes you just need a different approach that can can't.
A different Approach
Functional medicine doctors are often not covered on insurance, and it took me a long time to understand that I needed to invest in myself, that I was worth it.
It wasn't until I saw the integrative doctor that I got the diagnosis if you remember. At that time though, I was still looking for a quick fix. After being tested for food sensitivity & being told to cut out gluten, dairy, sory, corn, eggs, etc etc. I basically told dude to go eff himself. I wasn't ready!
Since that time, I've learned that there's much more than Celiac disease (which I was negative to) to the gluten-thyroid connection... a study in the journal of European endocrinology found that 43% of people with Hashimoto’s showed activated mucosal T cell immunity, which is correlated with gluten sensitivity.
I also learned that it's not just gluten that can be a triggering food for Hashimoto's! The most common food sensitivities are going to be to gluten, dairy (this was my biggest one), soy, grains (especially corn), nightshades (like potatoes, tomatoes and peppers), nuts and seeds.
Food Sensitivities in Hashimoto's
The most common triggers in Hashimoto's are nutrient deficiencies, food sensitivities, intestinal permeability (leaky gut), stress, an impaired ability to get rid of toxins and in some cases, infections.
Food sensitivities are different than food allergies. Food allergies are generated by the IgE branch of the immune system and are going to be immediate, occurring within minutes after eating a reactive food. The person may present with anaphylaxis; hives, facial swelling, difficulty breathing; this type of reaction can be life threatening. Shellfish and nuts are the most commonly implicated foods.
Food sensitivities, on the other hand, are going to be governed by different branches of the immune system, IgA, IgM and IgG have been implicated. The IgG branch is also thought to be responsible for creating thyroid antibodies in many cases of Hashimoto's. These reactions may take as long as hours or even a few days to manifest, and may manifest as acid reflux, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, palpitations, joint pain, anxiety, tingling or headaches.
Recognizing and eliminating reactive foods can be a life-changer for most people with Hashimoto's.
Reactive foods trigger an inflammatory response in the GI tract, leading to malabsorption of nutrients (gluten sensitivity in particular has been implicated in causing a Selenium deficiency, a well known risk factor for Hashimoto's), and can also produce leaky gut whenever they are eaten.
Most people will see a dramatic reduction in gut symptoms, brain symptoms, skin breakouts and pain by eliminating the foods they are sensitive to. Some will also see a significant reduction in thyroid antibodies! An additional subset of people, will actually be able to get their Hashimoto's into complete remission just by getting off the foods they react to, normalizing their thyroid antibodies, and some even normalizing their thyroid function!
Others may need to dig deeper, looking at infections, toxins and stress, but getting off reactive foods almost always helps the healing process. For example, if a leaky gut is caused by a gut infection such as a parasite, in order to heal the gut, we not only have to get rid of the infection, but we also need to stay off the reactive foods for at least 3-6 months. So, after diagnosis, I always recommend starting with food.
There are a plethora of food sensitivity tests out there, and none of them are perfect. Some may have false negatives, others may have false positives, or a combination of both.
The test recommended by a few of the leading thyroid health experts is the Cyrex Labs food sensitivity test. If a food comes up positive on that test, that it is a reactive food for that person. In some cases, especially if the person has been off the foods for some time, this test may have false negatives, so in the case that people come up negative for one of the big reactive foods, its recommended to try to go off it, and introducing it. *Please note that getting the environmental/Chemical sensitivity testing is important too. For example, I am NOT sensitive to almonds, cashews, peanuts HOWEVER, I am highly allergic to mold-which is in ALL nuts sadly. This will cause a reaction for me when I eat nuts due to the mold.
The most accurate test for food sensitivities is going to be an elimination diet, but if you are someone that is not quite ready to do one, or needs to see things in black and white, you may want to look into food sensitivity testing.
Again, one of the most important things I have learned during this journey is that an investment in myself was not just necessary but life saving. If you have a doctor that is unwilling to dig deeper or simply does not know about all of what we discussed today, look for another doctor. In the end, you are the only one who suffers by not getting to the root of your health.
Brianna, Holistic Healing Fit Club