As a thyroid hormone specialist, I want to talk about thyroid testing and the different type of tests that are available for you to assess how well your thyroid is functioning.
Conventional Thyroid Hormone Testing
The conventional tests that are done are just TSH, or thyroid stimulating hormone. TSH comes from the brain and stimulates the thyroid gland to tell the thyroid to make hormone. This has been the conventional test for decades; however, it does not get the whole picture.
Complete Thyroid Hormone Testing
Now, there are a couple of other tests that are still done pretty conventionally which will give a fuller picture of how your thyroid is functioning:
The Thyroid Hormone Production Process
Thyroid stimulating hormones stimulate the thyroid gland to make T4 first, which can be thought of as our storage form of the hormone. T4 is a little bit less metabolically active and has to get converted into T3 to be the active form of the hormone.
So TSH stimulates -> T4 to make -> T3.
T3 then goes out into the bloodstream and stimulates metabolism in every single cell in the whole body. It stimulates your heart, your gut, your brain, your reflexes, and your mood.
So TSH stimulates Free T4 to Free T3. When you get these tests measured, you want to look at the reference ranges and make sure that you’re not out of the conventional reference range.
Thyroid Hormone Normal and Optimal Reference Ranges
There’s a huge difference between normal reference ranges and optimal reference ranges.
Conventionally, the TSH hormone should be less than about 4.5. Now, some labs say less than 4. Some say less than 4.5. The American Endocrine Society generally wants this to be less than 3. In the naturopathic community, we’re really looking for optimal functions, so I usually like this number to be even lower, preferably less than 2.
Now, your T4 hormone ideally should be higher than 1, which would then get converted into T3. The general idea is that you want your T4 to triple or quadruple into your T3. So I want my free T4 to be greater than a 1, and I want my free T3 to ideally be greater than a 3, even greater than a 3.5 would be ideal.
Additional Thyroid Tests
These tests are checking for autoimmune hypothyroid or Hashimoto’s Disease. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system starts making antibodies that attack our own thyroid gland. The thyroid gland can either overproduce hormone or under produce hormone. However, The more common situation is under produce hormone, and that’s hypothyroid.
So to find out if you have an autoimmune version of hypothyroid, you want to get your thyroid antibodies measured which is TPO (topoisomerase) and TGA (thyroglobulin antibody).
Generally, I follow the conventional reference ranges when those labs get tested. As long as they’re normal, the patient does not have Hashimoto’s or autoimmune hypothyroid. If they’re elevated, you’re dealing with an autoimmune version of hypothyroid.
If you are interested in getting your thyroid more thoroughly checked, we can do a free 10-minute consultation with you. To schedule a free ten-minute consultation, click here or call 480-588-6856.