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It’s an undeniable fact that thyroid disease is on the rise. More than 12% of the US population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime and up to 60% of people with a thyroid problem don’t know they have one.

Conventional medicine overlooks major aspects of thyroid health and even integrative and alternative practitioners have their blind spots.

If you have a thyroid diagnosis and are on thyroid medication but are still experiencing symptoms, your doctor may be missing some of the key factors that are holding you back from optimal health.

And if you’re dealing with fatigue, weight changes, brain fog, hair loss, mood imbalances, constipation, or temperature sensitivity you could have an undiagnosed thyroid problem.

So let’s look at 7 myths about thyroid disease so that you can get a clearer picture of your thyroid health and your path to a symptom-free life.

Myth #1 Thyroid dysfunction only affects women

While it’s true that women are 5 to 8 times more likely to develop thyroid dysfunction, men are not immune!

I’ve worked with plenty of male patients who were dealing with thyroid issues. In fact, we have a great case study video from a male patient I worked with to reverse his Graves’ disease (the autoimmune form of hyperthyroidism).

Before coming to see us, his diagnosis was completely missed by his conventional doctors, likely because they weren’t even considering thyroid issues. Yet he was losing weight rapidly, his heart was working overtime putting him at risk for heart damage, and he was so fatigued that he couldn’t even hold his infant son for more than a few minutes.

However, after getting to the root cause of his thyroid dysfunction, we were able to reverse his condition, restore his energy and optimal weight, and he’s now fully recovered and doing great.

So if you’re a man dealing with unexplained symptoms it’s definitely worth looking into your thyroid function.

Myth #2 If your labs are “normal” your thyroid is fine

I cannot say this enough – if you’re continuously fatigued, constipated, your hair is falling out, or you feel like you’re living in a fog, that is not normal!

We see so many patients who’ve either been told their thyroid labs are fine and they don’t have a thyroid problem, or they’ve received a diagnosis, started medication, and their labs are now “normal” so there’s nothing to worry about even though they’re still struggling with symptoms.

The problem is that many conventional doctors are using outdated reference ranges for thyroid markers. In 2003 the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists recommended that the lab reference ranges become more narrow, but institutions have been slow to catch up.

In functional medicine, we look at optimal references and listen to you as the patient to determine your course of treatment, because you know your body best.

Myth #3 TSH is the only lab marker that matters

If you go to your conventional doctor and they suspect a thyroid issue, chances are they’ll only run a test for thyroid stimulating hormone, known as TSH.

Your body has a very intricate system for regulating your thyroid hormones, and when it senses they are low, your hypothalamus sends out TRH or thyroid releasing hormone, which signals your pituitary gland to produce TSH to increase thyroid hormone production. So your TSH level is actually an indication of what your pituitary gland is doing based on your body’s internal feedback loop, not how your thyroid is actually functioning.

You may have plenty of T4, which is the inactive form of thyroid hormone, but if you’re not converting it into active T3 you’ll still experience hypothyroid symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, constipation, and hair loss.

If your doctor only tests for TSH they’re not getting a complete picture of your thyroid function and they could overlook a diagnosis or stop digging for the real cause of your symptoms.

That’s why at GrassRoots Functional Medicine clinic we run a complete thyroid panel, along with other hormone and functional lab tests so that we have all of the pieces to the puzzle.

Myth #4 TRH and TSH don’t matter at all

Just as conventional medicine has blind spots, integrative medicine does too. Many integrative thyroid experts have swung too far in the other direction and don’t look at TRH and TSH at all, which can be just as harmful.

This is problematic because TRH affects your autonomic nervous system which controls your fight or flight response. Many thyroid patients are dealing with high stress levels and adrenal fatigue, so you want to make sure the whole system is in balance.

TRH also affects your stomach acid, HCL, which is key for breaking down food, it plays a role in producing serotonin to regulate your mood, and it impacts insulin and blood sugar levels.

We have to be looking at the bigger picture and viewing the body as a whole when it comes to treating thyroid dysfunction because changes in one area can have far-reaching effects.

Myth #5 Stress isn’t important for managing your thyroid

Along those same lines, your stress hormones have a big impact on thyroid hormones because they’re both part of your endocrine system.

You can think of your endocrine system as a symphony where all of your hormones need to be playing together in harmony. If your stress levels are high for a long period of time due to chronic stress, it can suppress thyroid hormone production, keep your thyroid hormones stuck in their inactive state, and even lead to thyroid hormone resistance.

So if you’re dealing with thyroid imbalances, we want to make sure we’re addressing your stress levels through lifestyle changes and giving your body the support it needs to manage and relieve stress.

Myth #6 Gut health doesn’t impact thyroid function

Gut health is all the rage right now, and for good reason! Your gut affects virtually every system in your body and thyroid function is no exception.

About 20% of your thyroid hormones are converted from their inactive state to their active state in your gut. Your digestive tract is also where you absorb the nutrients necessary for thyroid function, including iodine, selenium, zinc, and iron.

If you’re dealing with gut imbalances such as dysbiosis, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, known as SIBO, or a deficiency in HCL, these processes are disrupted.

There’s also a really common bacterial gut infection called H. pylori that can lead to stomach ulcers and has been linked to thyroid dysfunction. One study found that 86% of autoimmune thyroid patients had an H. pylori infection, yet it isn’t commonly tested for.

Again, this all goes back to looking at the body as a whole and seeing how interconnected systems are affecting each other and impacting your health.

Myth # 7 Giving up gluten is a cure-all for thyroid dysfunction

This is a big one floating around the internet so I really want to make sure I address it. Yes, it’s true that gluten can play a major role in thyroid health.

Gluten leads to inflammation and triggers leaky gut, both of which can lead to thyroid dysfunction, especially autoimmune thyroid disorders, including Hashimoto’s and Graves. Gluten also has a similar protein structure to your thyroid hormone so it can trigger an autoimmune attack on your thyroid through a mistaken identity phenomenon called molecular mimicry.

And yes, I do recommend that thyroid patients remove gluten from their diet at least temporarily to see how your body responds and if your symptoms and lab markers improve.

However, as we’ve just learned, there are so many factors that play a role in thyroid function. I wish the fix was as simple as just removing gluten, but that’s just not always the case.

We have to look at the whole picture – labs, stress, gut health, nutrient deficiencies, and even toxins and infections to truly understand what’s causing your thyroid imbalance so that we can restore optimal function long term.

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Thyroid Disorder Testimonials

Dr. Darren Schmidt, DC
"This really works! I’m a 65 year old fairly healthy woman and I’ve had so many noticeable changes in my health since starting as a patient of Dr. Darren Schmidt. I wanted to get off my medications when I started in early July 2018 and after two weeks, quit using my steroid inhaler. I’ve tried to quit before but after 3-4 weeks, my chronic cough would return and I’d have to start using it again. But four weeks went by and no cough. It’s now been five months and it’s still gone and I haven’t used the inhaler once. And..."
Dr. Darren Schmidt, DC
"I had no energy! I felt terrible all the time. I wasn’t sleeping and had extreme anxiety and depression. I was seriously considering going on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs. My digestion was horrible and I had been on Armor Thyroid for years! I feel like a different person! I’m sleeping great. My digestion is so much better, I have energy and my anxiety is so much better. I was actually able to go off of all of my thyroid medications- my family doctor even told me to go off of it. I never thought this would happen! I’m no longer..."
Dr. Frank Aieta, ND
"When I first came to Dr. Aieta, I had been to various specialists trying to get my thyroid under control. I had been placed on the thyroid medicine, Synthroid a few years back but still seemed to be suffering from symptoms of low thyroid. My symptoms included extreme fatigue, water retention and an inability to lose weight despite intense daily exercise and following a strict diet. Every doctor I would go to would look at my blood work and tell me that my thyroid was working properly and there was nothing more they could do. They would tell me I..."
Dr. Darren Schmidt, DC
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Dr. Nicole Schertell, ND, CCT
"I went to Dr Nicole Shertel for my thyroid after years of symptoms and no one would acknowledge I had an imbalance. She did blood tests and then explained the results like no other doctor had ever taken the time to do. I always leave with a better understanding of my body, and I love that. Not to mention I feel so much better. She definitely knows her stuff along with being very kind. I share her info with everyone. "
Dr. Nicole Schertell, ND, CCT
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"I live on the East Coast and several years ago, I had some medical issues that multiple doctors (like 5) could not diagnose properly. One doctor said I had ADHD and depression at the same time! Desperate, I called Dr. Muth's office (as I grew up in Wisconsin and was very familiar with Dr. Konetski) and bought a plane ticket. Dr. Muth solved my issue (which was thyroid) in the matter of minutes and tested to verify. Later, my husband and I were having fertility issues - we..."
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Dr. Rachel Rozelle, ND
"I came to Dr. Rozelle last year with insomnia, anxiety/shaking, heart palpitations and an inability to stabilize my hypothyroid symptoms. I had previously been seen by my primary care doctor, a cardiologist and several endocrinologists with no relief of symptoms. I actually had little hope that any of my problems would be resolved, but Dr. Rozelle was very positive and confident. After a few visits she was able to formulate a plan of care that has not only greatly improved my sleep and ALL other symptoms, but has also been able to stabilize my thyroid levels. While..."
Dr. Debra Muth, ND
"Debra Muth has been my primary care provider for 7 years - her approach to whole system wellness is the best medical experience, exactly what I need. She has successfully diagnosed and treated my hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue, torn meniscus, hyper extended knee and menopause expertly, with the latest medical knowledge and information. In the past I spent over $ 4000 during a 10 month period with Pro Health and their system of referrals for back pain. I was forced to finally buy my own MRI to find a herniated disk, pay a Radiologist to tell..."

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