Thyroid Q & A

Thyroid Q & A

My doctor did a blood test and says my thyroid is fine. Why am I still sluggish, cold, constipated and depressed?

Your blood test may have been measuring TSH only, and the picture is more complicated than that.

Or the doctor may have done a more complete thyroid panel and you fall in the normal range. However, those ranges are too wide and include people who are not feeling fine in the normal range.

Therefore, a thyroid blood test which includes TSH, free T4 and free T3 gives information which, correlated with symptoms, can guide treatment with medication.


I am treated for a low thyroid condition. Why would I need further testing?

 If you still have low thyroid symptoms, we want to know the cause. A complete thyroid test can give clues to a doctor who interprets it in ranges narrower than lab ranges.

In addition, further testing for thyroid antibodies comes up positive in 90% of adult hypothyroid patients, according to a 1988 study.

That is worth investigating, because when the immune system is balanced with natural remedies, the autoimmune attack stops and the thyroid gland’s function is preserved. 

How can I get the best information from a blood test?

If you are on a synthetic medication like levothyroxine, and you have T4 tested, and you took your medication 2 hours before the blood test, that level can be falsely elevated

If you are on a combination thyroid therapy such as Armour thyroid, and you took your medication before taking the blood test, the TSH level could be lower than usual because of that. If your doctor lowered your medication based on those readings, you may be feeling low thyroid symptoms again because you are not getting enough thyroid medication.

According to a published study, a thyroid test in the morning before taking thyroid medication gives a more accurate result.

What about the iodine skin absorption test?

Iodine is a basic building block of thyroid hormone. This test is promoted to determine if you are deficient in iodine. 

The test goes like this: you rubs some iodine antiseptic on your skin.  If your absorb it fast, you are iodine deficient.

That is extrapolated to mean that you have low thyroid function.

This did not hold up in a large study in the 1930’s. In people who had hypothyroidism, some were deficient and some were not.

They went so far to test the iodine on dead people, and found that absorption is completely random.

What happened for all people was that 80% of the iodine evaporated, and the rest absorbed, but there was no correlation to thyroid disease as to how fast the iodine absorbed.

What about the basal body temperature test?

This test was promoted by Dr. Broda Barnes because he saw too many patients not properly diagnosed with thyroid problems with the blood tests of the day.

Some practitioners today promote that the range of temperature between 97.8 and 98.4 degrees F denotes optimal thyroid function. The clinical reality is that there are plenty of healthy people not in that range so that it is not meaningful to diagnose this way. In fact, the range of body temperature of healthy people is degrees outside of the often quoted 98.6 degrees F.

When the thyroid is low functioning, it is true that you feel cold. Your body will attempt to keep your temperature in range until the severity of hypothyroid is so significant that the body temperature will drop.

At the other end of the scale, in hyperthyroid states, the body temperature will rise, but not until there is a thyroid storm, which can be a life-threatening state.

As it is important to regulate thyroid function within a narrow range for optimal health, the body temperature measurement will not detect changes soon enough to be of use.

What is the thyroid and what does it do?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your throat which makes hormones that regulate every organ, every tissue, and every cell in your body.

It is the master of your metabolism. It is related to how you create energy in your body.

If the function is low, you feel tired, need more sleep, feel cold – especially hands and feet, and can have dry hair and skin. If the function is high, your heart races, you lose weight, sleep less, and can be nervous.

What are the symptoms of low thyroid function?

Ask yourself – how much:

More tired and sluggish?
Drier skin and hair?
Sleep more?
Weaker muscles?
Colder than others?
More muscle cramps?
Poorer memory?
More depressed?
Slower thinking?
Puffy eyes?
Math more difficult?
Hoarser or deeper voice?
Constipated more often?
Coarser hair?
Puffy hands and feet?
Unsteady gait?
Gain weight easily?
Thinning outer third of the eyebrow?
More irregular menses?
Heavier menses?

My dose of thyroid medication has increased over the years. Why?

This is common when there is the autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s.  

As antibodies attack the thyroid gland, it is destroyed little by little. Then there is less thyroid gland to make the thyroid hormone, so more thyroid hormone is needed to be replaced in order to have normal function.

Why is low thyroid such a common condition?

In certain parts of the world, a lack of iodine is the major cause.

However, in the United States, environmental toxins which are chemically similar to iodine are to blame. Mercury and perchlorate are absorbed through processed foods, pesticides on produce and poor quality water, for example.

The older you get, the more toxins accumulate in the thyroid, and disrupt its function.