Lab testing is foundational to functional medicine, and for good reason if you have a hormone or thyroid imbalance. It can show you what is causing your symptoms, if you are headed toward other autoimmune diseases (even if you don’t have symptoms), track the progress of your protocol, and motivate you to stick with your treatment plan.
Lab testing includes many different tests. Some examples of testing used in functional medicine for thyroid patients include:
Thyroid antibody testing. Conventional medicine normally only tests TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). However, most cases of low thyroid are caused by an autoimmune attack against the thyroid. This is important to know as it affects treatment. Although you may still need thyroid hormone medication, if you have Hashimoto’s thyroid autoimmunity, you also need to manage your immune system with a functional medicine protocol in order to avoid further damage to the thyroid. Screening for TPO and TGB antibodies is one strategy to test whether Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism is causing your hypothyroidism.
Food sensitivity testing. If a food you eat regularly causes inflammation, this contributes to chronic health disorders. Studies have shown a link between gluten sensitivity and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
Gut testing. Gut problems contribute to thyroid disorders and a host of other medical conditions. Tests can screen for leaky gut, gut function, parasites, bacterial overgrowth, and autoimmune reactions.
Blood chemistry panel. This is an excellent starting point in functional medicine testing and includes the use of functional medicine ranges (versus lab ranges). Blood testing can catch a trend toward a disease while there’s still time to reverse it.
Chemical and metal sensitivity testing. As with foods, an immune reaction to chemicals or metals can trigger symptom flares.
Adrenal testing. Adrenal testing reveals the relationship between your health and stress handling. The most important test is the second one because it shows if your treatment plan is working. If not, you need to dig deeper to learn the causes of your symptom flares.
Hormone testing. Hormone imbalances profoundly affect health. Testing screens for excesses, deficiencies, feedback loops, and how well you metabolize hormones.
DNA genetic testing. Genetic testing delivers insight into disease risk and genetic metabolic variations that affect health. An example is the MTHFR variance.
These are just a few examples of the types of testing used in functional medicine when working with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. What type of testing you need depends on your symptoms and health history.
Why lab testing is important when you suspect a thyroid disorder
Functional medicine is based on peer-reviewed science and finds the root cause of your symptoms. There are a variety of factors that can lead to thyroid and hormone disorders, depression, fatigue, chronic pain, poor function, and other chronic health disorders.
Functional lab testing shows a trend toward disease
In conventional medicine, doctors use labs to screen for disease. Once a condition has become a disease, such as diabetes or autoimmune disease, the damage is significant. For instance, despite having thyroid symptoms, you may not be diagnosed with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism until your TSH reaches a certain range, despite autoimmune attacks on your thyroid. Also, TSH can fluctuate.
Functional medicine uses lab testing to catch a health trend that is on the way to disease but that can still be slowed, halted, or reversed. For instance, lab markers that show elevated blood sugar, inflammation, and poor liver function allow you to easily reverse the march towards diabetes.
Another example is autoimmunity. A significant amount of tissue must be destroyed before conventional medicine can diagnose autoimmune disease. However, by testing for antibodies against tissue, the autoimmune progression can be slowed or stopped in its early stages.
Functional lab testing tracks progress of your treatment plan
Although the first test is important for identifying health problems, subsequent testing is also crucial to let you know whether your protocol is working. If there is no improvement, it means you have not hit on the right protocol or discovered all the underlying causes.
Lab testing improves compliance and social support
Seeing the results of a lab test makes it easier to stick with a treatment plan. It also can encourage a disbelieving spouse, family member, or friend to support you. Many people think gluten sensitivity is just a fad, or that your symptoms aren’t real and you simply complain too much. Your lab results validate your symptoms and can help others be more supportive as you work to manage your symptoms and reclaim your health.
Contact our team to learn how easy it is to order the necessary tests (anywhere in the US)!