In my two previous posts on these health, I discussed the potential problems associated with diagnosing and treating them. As I stated in my first post, thyroid problems are frequently under diagnosed, primarily because of inadequate testing and incomplete understanding of the complexities of thyroid function. At the same time, they are often treated in ways that further compromise function.
In my post last week, I introduced the topic of thyroid health and the many misconceptions that the medical profession has about diagnosing and treating thyroid disease. In general, thyroid problems are under diagnosed because the standard blood tests used to evaluate function are woefully inadequate. At the same time, an underactive thyroid is often over treated with thyroid replacement hormones—which frequently cause even greater dysfunction. In my experience, a much more effective approach is to focus on the factors that underlie the dysfunction, providing the support needed to restore balance and function to an endocrine system that has gone awry.
Unfortunately, conventional “modern” medicine insists on viewing the thyroid as an independent entity, and treats any dysfunction by addressing only the thyroid. But in fact, the thyroid sits at the epicenter of the endocrine system and oversees the critical job of regulating the body’s metabolism. Although the thyroid gland weighs less than one ounce, the hormones it produces affect virtually every cell in the body.
While over 20 million people are currently being treated for clinical and subclinical hypothyroidism, there may be as many as 13 million more Americans suffering the ill effects of an undiagnosed thyroid problem–making it one of the most under-diagnosed health conditions in the United States. At the same time, because the thyroid is intimately intertwined with the other glands of the endocrine system, supplementing with thyroid hormones may be counterproductive if the problem is rooted in adrenal fatigue, dietary and lifestyle factors, and stress. Many factors affect thyroid health, including common stressors such as inadequate sleep, exposure to environmental toxins, or minor illnesses. Even the normal physiological changes associated with aging are stressors that are detrimental to thyroid function.