In our next addition to our thyroid health series, we’re speaking about thyroid testing. We speak about a ‘test don’t guess’ framework here at Kaptured Nutrition and this is just one of the examples of why we do so.
Why do we test the thyroid function?
The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in the production of hormones that influence metabolism in all different organs, tissues and cells throughout the body. An underproduction or overproduction of thyroid hormones results in a wide range of symptoms including weight fluctuations, changes to skin, hair, energy levels and much more. Therefore, rather than guessing what the root cause may be, after assessing case details we may refer for testing to see how well the thyroid is functioning to target treatment effectively.
How is the thyroid function tested?
Thyroid function is generally looked at through a blood sample with a thyroid panel.
What do we look at in the results?
As holistic practitioners we look at all markers as a collective to understand the patterns of disease progression to prevent it from becoming worse. We also look at optimal ranges (where levels should be for optimal health), rather than just looking at reference ranges for individualised support and prevention of disease aswell as treatment,
Some examples of thyroid markers include;
Thyroxine is the main hormone produced by the thyroid gland. It's secreted into the bloodstream in inactive form and then most is converted to its active form Triiodothyronine (T3) to act on different target cells around the body (Sheehan, 2016).
Too little or too much may result in hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism subsequently, as discussed in our previous posts. Reverse T3 can also indicate how much T3 is actually working on the target cells.
Thyroid stimulating hormone is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland. It’s released once triggered by the hypothalamus (another gland in the brain). This signals to the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones (Uchimura, 2001).
This is tightly regulated by a feedback loop according to the amount of hormones being secreted by the thyroid gland, therefore when there is low hormone levels, more TSH is released to stimulate further production of thyroid hormones and vice versa.
As discussed in our previous blog, thyroid autoantibodies (TPO-Ab & Tg-Ab), indicate thyroid autoimmunity (Hashimoto's disease or Grave's disease). These molecules act on thyroid tissue recognising it as 'non-self' and attacking it affecting the glands ability to regulate and secrete hormones effectively (Sheehan, 2016).
This is just one example of the depth of information we can gather from testing and pathology to then direct treatment in the most effective way possible for you.
If you enjoy reading more information about what we look at within clinic to provide the best possible treatment be sure to let us know what you would like to hear more of.
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Sheehan M. T. (2016). Biochemical Testing of the Thyroid: TSH is the Best and, Oftentimes, Only Test Needed - A Review for Primary Care. Clinical medicine & research, 14(2), 83–92. https://doi.org/10.3121/cmr.2016.1309
Uchimura H. (2001). Rinsho byori. The Japanese journal of clinical pathology, 49(4), 319–324.