Dr. David Brownstein, M.D., is a board-certified family physician and one of the nation’s foremost practitioners of holistic medicine. He is editor of Dr. David Brownstein’s Natural Way to Health newsletter. Dr. Brownstein has lectured internationally to physicians and others about his success with natural hormones and nutritional therapies in his practice. His books include Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do!; Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It; Salt Your Way To Health; The Miracle of Natural Hormones; Overcoming Arthritis, Overcoming Thyroid Disorders; The Guide to a Gluten-Free Diet; and The Guide to Healthy Eating. He is the medical director of the Center for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, Mich., where he lives with his wife, Allison, and their teenage daughters, Hailey and Jessica.

Dr. David Brownstein, M.D.

Thyroid Test: Key to Total Health

Wednesday, 09 Jul 2014 05:16 PM

By Dr. Brownstein

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There are perhaps no more important blood tests than thyroid tests. It is estimated that from 10 percent to 40 percent of the U.S. population is suffering from an undiagnosed thyroid problem.
 
Thyroid illnesses such as hypothyroidism and autoimmune thyroid problems, as well as thyroid cancer, are increasing at epidemic rates. I believe thyroid problems are the most under-diagnosed conditions physicians see today. Unfortunately, most conventional physicians are not educated on the physiology of the thyroid gland and fail to order the appropriate blood tests to evaluate thyroid function.
 
The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormone, which every cell in the body requires for optimal function. It controls the metabolic rate of the body. It is impossible to achieve health or overcome illness if the thyroid gland is not functioning properly.
 
Conventional medicine believes that thyroid testing should consist only of a thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test. If the TSH test is normal, there is no thyroid problem. If the TSH is abnormal, the doctor usually will consider prescribing a treatment for a thyroid problem.
 
However, as I describe in my book, Overcoming Thyroid Disorders,, relying solely on the TSH test to diagnose a thyroid problem will miss up to 40 percent of those suffering with a thyroid problem.
 
Why are so many people suffering from thyroid problems being misdiagnosed? The answer is simple: Patients are not having the appropriate blood tests drawn. The appropriate thyroid blood tests do include a TSH level. But in addition, the right tests will check T4 and T3, as well as thyroid antibodies (antithyroglobulin and antimicrosomal).
 
Some doctors have begun to test for T4 along with a TSH. This is still inadequate to evaluate the thyroid gland fully. T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone that improves the metabolic rate of the cells. I have seen countless patients who cannot convert inactive thyroid hormone (T4) to active thyroid hormone (T3). These “poor converter” patients suffer from an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism.
 
Patients suffering from hypothyroidism are often fatigued and suffer from brain fog, aches, cold extremities, dry skin, and constipation. I believe hypothyroidism can be a major part of the epidemic of many common illnesses, including heart disease, obesity, autoimmune disorders, and cancer.
 
Autoimmune thyroid illnesses (such as Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s disease) are woefully under-diagnosed. Estimates are that up to 3 percent of the population suffers from autoimmune thyroid disease.
 
My experience has clearly shown these numbers to be much too low. Why are they so low?
 
Because doctors are not checking for it. If a thyroid problem is detected, there are many safe and effective natural therapies that help to normalize thyroid function. Iodine, selenium, and vitamin C should be part of this regimen. If thyroid hormone is indicated for therapy, I suggest using natural, desiccated thyroid hormone over the more commonly prescribed Synthroid or Levothroid.
 
Thyroid levels should be checked at least once per year.

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