Ask Larry:

Your question: Are there any thyroid lab tests that are inclusive and conclusive, or is treating the symptoms the best we can do?

Larry’s Response: I am not a fan of hormone testing; thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and even insulin. The numbers vary minute-by-minute and it is impossible to pick the correct moment to collect the sample. Also, the ranges of normal results are exceptionally broad.

Labs end up reporting such inane results as “high normal” or “low normal”. I always wonder why there’s an issue if the number is in the normal range. To make matters worse, the normal ranges vary by age and gender, making it impossible to pinpoint anything.

The entire field makes being healthy a difficulty because the results always trumps how a person feels. Tens of thousands of people feel like dirt yet their lab results (TSH) say they are normal. Other people feel fine and some lab number suggests they aren’t really feeling well, which leads to excessive treatment – usually with deadly drugs, surgery, or radiation.

We’re seeing more problems with thyroid in people who have been treating their stomach problems (and GERD) with drugs, especially the ones that reduce acid (referred to as PPI drugs). The issue isn’t as critical when people use acid neutralizers (TUMS), but can still cause general problems. PPIs block the absorption of important minerals.

For thyroid, too many doctors prescribe Levothyroxine (Synthroid is a trade name version) because that’s what their drug company sales people tell them to do. It is usually the wrong thing. Some people get minimal improvement and many feel worse. Levothyroxine will successfully lower TSH in most people. Using test results for TSH will tell the doctor the patient is fine regardless of how the patient feels.

TSH alone isn’t enough.

Using a private lab service can also irritate the heck out of many doctors unless they are directly involved in the care. Taking private lab results to a doctor is similar to taking eggs to a restaurant and asking them to cook them for you. The doctor must be interested in helping the patient feel their best and that means time – something few doctors have.

However, getting private results might inform a person if she may have an imbalance if they know how to interpret the results. But local doctors would also do more tests because they may not trust the outside data or because they generate more revenue by doing their own tests.

This is a huge problem and it will continue to get worse. The best way for a patient to feel better is to be a pest – hounding the doctors for time and better treatment approaches.

Here are just a few things that can make the thyroid work improperly; drugs (PPIs), antacids, statins, some antibiotics, sugar, grains, peanuts and any food that causes allergies and inflammation, sedentary living, processed foods, pesticides, plasticizers, Roundup, toxic drinking water, household chemicals, cosmetic products, shampoos, MSG, sodium lauryl sulfate, mercury, fluoride, and the list goes on.

While it seems appropriate to focus on thyroid, the real culprit(s) may be hiding someplace else.