Have ever suspected you have an imbalanced thyroid…
…but yet your tests came back well within what’s considered “normal”?
This happened to me, and is unfortunately all too common. But is your thyroid really “normal”?
I’d actually estimate that about 95% of my clients have undetected thyroid issues.
Thyroid issues are incredibly common — about 12% of the US population suffers from some form of thyroid disease according to the American Thyroid Association, with women being six to eight times more likely than men — and important to properly diagnose given the many important roles of the thyroid gland and hormones it produces, from regulating the metabolism to cardiovascular and bone health.
Unfortunately, they so often fly under the radar of conventional medicine and standard lab testing. It’s estimated that about 60% of people with thyroid issues go undiagnosed.
Common symptoms of thyroid imbalance
Even if your lab results come back as “normal” but you experience more than a few of these symptoms, I encourage you to not rule out the thyroid!
The most common issues with the thyroid are hypothyroidism, when the gland doesn’t make enough hormones, and hyperthyroidism, when it makes too many.
Do any of these symptoms look familiar to you?
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism:
- Larger appetite than usual
- Sudden weight loss
- Heart palpitations
- Anxiety or irritability
- Trembling or tremors
- Excessive sweating
- Increased sensitivity to heat
- More frequent bowel movements
- Muscle weakness
- Trouble sleeping
- Thinning skin
- Fine, brittle hair
Symptoms of hypothyroidism:
- Often feeling cold
- Dry skin
- Brain Fog and memory loss
- Weight gain
- Increase in cholesterol levels
- Muscle weakness
- Thinning hair
- Voice hoarseness
- Infertility and pregnancy loss
- Irregular menstrual cycles or heavy periods
Autoimmune Thyroid Disease like Graves or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is a condition in which your immune system attacks your own thyroid gland and begins to destroy the tissue responsible for thyroid hormone production. It’s the most common cause of hypothyroidism and thyroid disease.
Why do thyroid imbalances so often pass as “normal” with standard lab testing?
How frustrating, right?
Here’s why this is unfortunately so common: I don’t know enough about this – could you quickly add 1-2 sentences under each H3 heading to explain a bit?
Measuring TSH only won’t tell us how well the thyroid hormone is being converted to its active form and how well the tissues are using the thyroid hormone at the cellular level to drive metabolism.
Improper interpretation of labs
The range for “normal” TSH levels is quite wide, 0.5 – 4.5. This is due to flaws in the studies used to originally determine this range.
Generally, from a functional perspective, we like to see TSH under 2 but this can vary slightly from person to person.
Symptoms can pop up before the thyroid shows significant imbalances
A big problem with conventional or western medicine is that they often only want to look at your labs. They don’t factor your symptoms into account. You could be bed ridden, but if your labs look “normal” you may be told that you are in perfect health. Frustrating right?
That is why it is so critical for a good practitioner to not just look at labs. We are so much more that just numbers on a piece of paper. We deserve better than that. So if you have symptoms then NO you aren’t in perfect health and you don’t just have to manage.
Blood levels of thyroid hormones may be normal but they’re not getting into the cells
It is possible for thyroid labs to look normal but still have thyroid symptoms. This can be due to certain mineral imbalances.
I always run hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA) tests with our clients to assess minerals. This is SO important because minerals are the spark plugs of the body and can influence your metabolic health.
Two particular minerals we want to look at for thyroid function is calcium and potassium. Calcium slows the thyroid down and potassium speeds it up. If your calcium is too high especially in comparison to potassium it can put you into a hypothyroid state. If potassium is too high in comparison to calcium it can put you into a hyperthyroid state.
When calcium is high on a HTMA test it often means calcium is going into soft tissue instead of the bones and teeth. This can be a big problem for many reasons. But high calcium can also create a shell around your cells and prevent things like thyroid hormone from getting where it needs to go.
High calcium and low potassium are by far the biggest pattern we see. No wonder such a large percentage of the population has thyroid problems.
How to properly test for thyroid imbalances
In most cases, doctors test TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and T4 (the storage form of thyroid) only. But this doesn’t give us a complete picture of thyroid function.
We also want to test for:
Free T3 and Free T4
These are the free forms of thyroid hormone that circulate in the blood. T3 is the form of thyroid hormone that our cells primarily use. Low free T3 levels often explain symptoms of hypothyroidism despite “normal” TSH and T4 levels.
Reverse T3 (RT3)
T4 can convert to T3 (the active form of thyroid hormone) or RT3 (an inactive form of thyroid hormone). RT3 can occupy T3 receptor sites in your cells, preventing free T3 from doing its job.
Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (anti-TPO), thyroglobulin antibodies (anti-TG), and thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI) are antibodies that can be helpful in identifying autoimmune thyroid disease or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
Don’t forget your Minerals
I don’t like to rely on thyroid blood tests alone. The information can be very helpful especially when you are looking for trends over time. But I personally believe that a HTMA test is also a critical aspect of looking at the thyroid and helping to address some root causes.
Related Podcast: Hormones in Harmony: Thyroid, minerals and mindset
Underlying root causes that contribute to thyroid imbalances
The standard medical treatment for thyroid disorders (when they are actually diagnosed) is to focus exclusively on the thyroid gland itself rather than to focus on the underlying causes. But instead, we should be asking WHY and WHAT is causing the thyroid to not properly do its job.
As always, nothing in the human body exists in the vacuum. The body is one complex, interconnected system. So of course, thyroid imbalances don’t just spring up out of nowhere!
There are a number of common root causes that can contribute to an imbalanced thyroid and so deserve some investigation should you suspect or test positively for an imbalance. It is about doing the deep work not just looking at the surface area stuff:
When we work with clients, we don’t just look at one or a few symptoms — we take a look at the entire picture and dig deep into root causes.
This approach is essential for truly healing thyroid imbalances and overcoming symptoms, not just managing them.
Navigating and addressing thyroid imbalances can be complex, confusing, and frustrating when you try to go it alone. But it’s our job to take all the guesswork and stress out of the equation for the women we work with.
Ready to dive deep into your health? To take a root cause approach to your thyroid and hormonal health? To know exactly what your body and or true healing?
Now let’s keep the conversation going in the comments below!
Do you have or do you suspect a thyroid imbalance?
What did the labs say?
Are you taking a root cause approach?
Please let us know so we can continue guiding you in your health journey!