How can a Naturopath assist with my Thyroid problems?
Identifying The Problem
Half the journey is actually being provided with a clear picture of thyroid health, so thorough testing is important.
Since the thyroid hormone is needed by every cell in the body, it’s a great place to start when your symptoms are many and varied.
Getting the right tests done means going beyond the standard TSH testing, ensuring that Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3 and thyroid antibodies tests are included in a screen.
The single most important test any patient can have done is thyroid antibodies (anti-TPO and anti-TG) used to rule out or identify an autoimmune condition associated with thyroid function. Further types of antibody tests can be useful to identify Hyperthyroidism when suspected, usually TRAbs (Thyroid Receptor Antibodies).
Often thyroid issues can be secondary to something else for example nutrient deficiencies or adrenal fatigue, so it is preferable to incorporate further related tests such as Vitamin D and Iron studies, cortisol and DHEA levels. Getting the bigger picture can make all the difference to coming one step closer to solving health issues.
How can Naturopathy help with Establishing the Right Diagnosis?
Differential diagnosis could be hypothyroidism, subclinical hypothyroidism, T3 hibernation, euthyroid sick syndrome, post-viral thyroiditis, postpartum thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s Disease, hyperthyroidism, Grave’s Disease or multinodular goitre. Some thyroid issues are ‘subclinical’, meaning that symptoms appear well before blood tests are out of the reference range. For example, the range for TSH is 0.3-3.5 but anything over 2 would indicate the need for further investigation.
It’s not always about the thyroid gland but the activity of the hormone in the body at a cellular level. Often this is why thyroid problems are easily overlooked when a TSH is normal while further testing could show low T4 or T3 levels. Since the liver converts 80% of our T4 into T3, which essentially is the biologically active form of thyroid hormone, impaired liver function can have a flow-on effect to cause sluggish activity of the thyroid hormone. It is all about putting things into context to treat the individual.
What can a Naturopath do for a patient suffering from Thyroid Problems?
Naturopaths prefer to work clinically with blood tests and evidence regarding thyroid health to ensure the best treatment approach. Depending on how long the condition has been diagnosed, there may be many systems that require healing to bring the body back to balance. Healthy digestive function is often a priority to improve constipation, healthy liver and therefore improve the body’s ability to detoxify and convert thyroid hormone into its active form. Some patients may want to focus on improving their fertility, recognising the interrelationship between the thyroid and reproductive hormone health. Preconception care is also a great time to make sure the thyroid is in good working order.