Misdiagnosed Thyroid Health

A growing number of misdiagnosed patients suffering from thyroid issues have been increasing over the last few decades. This view point is often met with some skepticism, however, the evidence of thyroid misdiagnosis is clear. A study published in the August Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, along with other recent studies, supports the increased incidence of thyroid disease. [1]

Properly diagnosing your thyroid is not an easy task...

With respect to thyroid health and testing, numerous methods were developed to measure thyroid activity. Unfortunately, there isn't a single perfect test. Physicians typically used a variety of methods to ascertain thyroid function, until the advent of the "gold standard," which was developed in the 1970s. Since then, this test, called "Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)", has been exclusively relied upon.  The problem is...

This test does not work!

Prior to the development of the TSH test, doctors primarily diagnosed a thyroid problem via physical exam (physical signs), patient history, and lab testing. Upon an evaluation, a patient would be followed up with to ascertain how they feel after a trial on thyroid hormone.

The following are general indications of potential thyroid hormone problems: 

• Brain fog and poor brain function

• Constipation

• Depression

• Dry skin, weight gain

• Fatigue

• Hair loss

• Headaches

• Menstrual disorders

• Poor eyebrow growth

• Cold intolerance 

Why No Single Test for the Thyroid is Effective

First, we will examine the TSH test. Thyroid stimulating hormone is secreted from the pituitary gland (located in the brain). Like its name suggests, TSH stimulates the manufacture and release of thyroid hormone. When the body detects a need for thyroid hormone, the pituitary gland, in turn, will increase production of TSH.

Upon stimulation, the thyroid gland releases thyroxine (T4 hormone), which is taken up by every cell in the body. Subsequently, it is then converted into a more active thyroid hormone known as Triiodothyronine (T3 hormone). Triiodothyronine is responsible for both energy and metabolism. 

Both of the primary thyroid hormones (there are others) can be measured with blood testing. Regardless, blood testing fails to tell us the concentration of thyroid hormone within the cells. As of the date that this article has been written, there is no way at present to measure intracellular activity of T3 hormone. The crux of the matter is that a thyroid sufferer may have normal blood levels of thyroid hormones, yet still suffer from many symptoms or signs of low thyroid function.

While levels of T3 and T4 in the blood may be indirect, sometimes disparity can be made if they are at the bottom or top of their reference ranges. However, when it comes to the reference range for TSH, it is far too broad to make a judgment about thyroid performance.

For example, the thyroid stimulating hormone reference ranges from 0.5 to to 5 mIU/L. This estimated range was not determined by healthy people, but to the surprise of some, a collection of lab tests. No determination was made in assessing the health parameters or thyroid activity in each of these patients, whose data were modeled into statistical analyses.

Assuming for a moment that all patient data were derived only from healthy individuals, the test would be 95% accurate. Unfortunately, the reality is far closer to half of that estimate.

A TSH Reference Range Closer to Reality

Based upon the work of clinicians who examine a full thyroid panel, including physical signs and symptoms, an optimal level for TSH for most patients is closer to 1.0 mIU/L. 

What is the Reason for a Growing Thyroid Population?

Many patients that receive a "normal" test score for thyroid (based on TSH) frequently have a T4 conversion problem. In such cases, the thyroid gland already produces sufficient amounts of T4 (thyroxine), however, it fails to convert into the more active form of the hormone, T3 (Triiodothyronine).

You may be wondering... what's behind a T4 conversion problem?  Typically, a medication, a vitamin / mineral deficiency, or both. For example: birth control pills, antidepressants, and some blood pressure medications can interfere with a proper conversion.  

From a nutritional perspective, here are some common nutrients in which deficiencies of the below are known to disrupt this conversion:

• Iodine

• Magnesium

• Vitamin A

• Vitamin B1, B6, and B12

• Zinc

This bears repeating, as these deficiencies are commonplace today. The fundamental reason for these deficiencies is that our food supply lacks essential minerals. Since there is no financial incentive for farmers to replenish their soils with enzyme-producing minerals, few farmers do and the result is a food that may look and taste like an apple, but is hardly an apple.

Action to Take 

1) Insure a healthy intake of minerals. Eat as organic and local as possible, and talk to your local farmers about how they care for their soil, if they engage in crop rotation, and what other practices they use to ensure nutrient-rich soil.

2) Take a well-tolerated nutrient complex that also assists with body detoxification processes.  We recommend one such product that satisfies all of these criteria, that being Ortho Nutrition™ Thyroid Boost.  Click here for further information.


[1]. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism August 1, 2012 vol. 97 no. 8 2543-2565