Approach to Thyroid Problems

How common is thyroid disorder?

Surprisingly, 1 in 13 people will face a thyroid problem at some point in their lives.  The statistics for women are even more staggering: 1 in 8.  Did you know that more than half of all thyroid problems aren’t recognized by physicians until the problem is relatively pronounced and severe?  By that time, there may be brain symptoms as well as thyroid symptoms.

What is the thyroid gland?

Droplet of water on a leaf

When you look closely…the signs were there all the time. (Hover on the photo and zoom into the droplet) You just needed to find a doctor with a better lens to show you why you were feeling so tired.

Like the rudder of a ship, the thyroid is a small gland in the neck that controls many body functions. The thyroid is essential for healthy skin, hair, weight control, brain function (including sleep), digestion, cardiovascular function, and emotional stability.

Why aren’t thyroid problems easily diagnosed?

Some symptoms related to a thyroid problem are similar to the symptoms of other disorders (hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, diabetes) or even to some of the symptoms of menopause.  For this reason, these early-warning signs might be overlooked. On the other hand, someone might mistake genuine menopausal symptoms or a blood-sugar imbalance for a thyroid problem.

Why is Functional Medicine a better approach for treating thyroid problems?

Dr. Carrick looks at the whole body – much more than just measuring an overabundance or lack of thyroid hormone.  Although the patient may need to take thyroid hormone, treatment doesn’t typically end there. There are questions that should be addressed in order to ensure optimal patient care. For example:

  • Why is this patient’s thyroid not working properly?
  • Is there a lack of “messaging” from the brain to the thyroid gland?
  • Is there a problem converting the inactive form of the hormone (T4) to the active form (T3)?
  • Is there a problem with hormone receptor sites in the body?

Also, a patient may be suffering with legitimate thyroid symptoms, but has been told that his or her lab tests are “normal.”  Functional Medicine uses more focused parameters to determine a “healthy range” than those used by allopathic (traditional western medicine) physicians.  In addition, Functional Medicine looks at more comprehensive tests.

In treating thyroid problems, traditional western medicine uses the “replacement model.”  Treatment involves very short visits with the doctor and “replacing” what seems to be missing.  Blood tests are conducted to check certain thyroid levels. If the tests indicate low thyroid hormone levels , thyroid hormone is then typically prescribed. Unfortunately, the treatment often ends there, without any digging for clues about why this patient developed a problem, or why a patient doesn’t feel well, even with “normal” lab tests.

Comments on this entry are closed.