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Thyroid Function and Testing

Hi. I’m Dr. Emily Parke with your Functional Health Minute. Today I’d like to talk to you about thyroid function and getting properly tested for thyroid function. So in traditional medicine, most commonly the only lab test that gets ordered is something called a TSH, which stands for thyroid stimulating hormone. It’s what the brain is telling the thyroid to do, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. It doesn’t really tell us what the thyroid is actually doing. So in order to find that out, you need to have other laboratory tests ordered like something called a free T3 and free T4. Those are the free thyroid hormones, meaning that’s more what the thyroid gland is actually doing, actually producing.

Types of Tests

You also want to get a number called reverse T3 checked and that’s important because reverse T3 looks a lot like regular T3, but the problem is it’s not as biologically active as regular T3 but it binds to the cell at the same site so it competes for the good regular thyroid hormone and therefore you could, even though you might have enough regular T3, if that reverse T3 is taking up the good sites, your cells are still starving a little bit for the actually T3 thyroid hormone. So that’s why you want to get that one checked.

And you also want to check to see if you have thyroid antibodies. So these are specifically thyroid peroxidase, and thyroglobulin. Those are the two names of the thyroid antibodies that are present in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. And you may have one or both of the antibodies. And typically, over time, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis will cause hypothyroidism, although you can still flip a little bit between hypo and hyper at certain points during Hashimoto’s.

And then there’s something called Graves’ disease, which is really more hyperthyroidism, but as part of a full thyroid panel, you do want to at least have a TSH, free T3, free T4, reverse T3 and thyroid antibodies checked. And in certain other thyroid conditions I would also want to check a total T4 and a total T3 as well, to be super complete.

This is Dr. Emily Parke with your Health Minute on thyroid testing.

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