Thyroid disorders are a very common hormonal disorder in the US. Unfortunately, many cases are missed and people suffer unnecessarily. In fact, the American Endocrine Society has recently changed it's parameters in measuring "sublcinical hypothyroidsm", AKA normal lab tests with hypothyroidsm signs.
Thyroid's impact on weight and metabolism is only one of its important roles in a variety of body regulatory processes. Thyroid hormone aids in carbohydrate, protein, & fat assimilation, vitamin utilization, mitochondrial function and ENERGY, digestive processes, muscle and nerve activity, blood flow, oxygen utilization, hormonal balance, and more.
Due to the fact that thyroid hormones interplay with such a variety of biochemical messengers including neurotransmitters, low thyroid function (hypothyroidism) has many symptoms. These include: dry skin and hair, weight gain, physical weakness, muscle cramps, decreased libido, brain fog, menstrual irregularities, fatigue, and yellowed skin tone (thyroid hormone plays a role in the conversion of vitamin A in the liver to beta carotene). Specific emotional imbalances of hypothyroidism include depression-like symptoms, irritability, and anxiety.
Some common causes of thyroid deregulation that I see in my practice are hormonal imbalances (such as high estrogen decreasing thyroid hormone availability), stress, immune conditions, digestive disturbances, food sensitivities, toxicity, and nutritional deficiencies.
One way to help me determine the cause of hypothyroidism is serum lab tests. Many doctors only run a TSH test; however, this is not sufficient to measure thyroid hormone FUNCTION. I always recommend my patients to request a fT3 and FT4 level from their conventional doctor as well. Also, a rT3 level can determine if someone is using their thyroid hormones effectively.
Other tests to consider are: specific antibody tests to rule out autoimmune causes of thyroid imbalances, hormonal panels with a cortisol/DHEA ratio, insulin and glucose, nutritional assessments, lyme panel, intestinal permeability labs (especially for autoimmune issues), heavy metals, and stool analysis..
It is important to rule out the cause of thyroid dysfunction rather than to simply treat the symptoms, even with natural methods.