Problems with thyroid function are incredibly common in the clinic and should always be considered if someone has Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, metabolic or hormonal issues, including weight problems. Thyroid function is notoriously difficult to assess accurately, and by the time the problem shows up on a regular blood test it is already probably at rock bottom.
This is why so many people are walking around (or laying down quite a lot of the time) who have a sub-optimal, but functioning, thyroid. Low thyroid is not a simply positive or negative diagnosis, but rather a scale of severity, equivalent to the level to which your overall health is affected.
Although vital, the thyroid is still only part of your overall endocrine system, which works together as a marvellously complicated and integrated whole, producing a phenomenal combination of natural chemical hormones that regulate the workings of your body. If one of these glands is not functioning at 100%, then the whole system will be affected to some extent, in a biochemical domino effect. Some of these loops or axis are particularly well documented, such as the hypothalamic–pituitary–thyroid axis, but there are also loops with the thyroid-adrenal-ovary/testes axis and the thyroid-pituitary-hypothalamus-adrenal axis, which forms the basis of what we can call your metabolism.
Diagram: endocrine loops
In addition to clinical assessment, I look at core metabolic body temperature as a means of determining thyroid function, taken over several days. This is vital, as the thyroid works in conjunction with other endocrine glands in the body, and can vary at different times of the month, particularly in women.
Ways in which your thyroid can become dysfunctional
- Underactive (Hypothyroid, Euthyroid sick syndrome, T3 Syndrome)
- Overactive (Hyperthyroid, Graves’ Disease)
- Autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s)
- Goitre and tumour