I had a slew of clients this week who were complaining about their inability to lose weight . It’s a common frustration and a symptom that has many possible root causes. As a clinician, it’s my job to hear the whole story, listen to what the body is saying and put the pieces of the puzzle together to understand the full picture. My frustrated patients had tried every diet, exercised, joined online programs and cut out major food groups, all in the name of wanting to see SOME shift on the scale. Nothing.
During our consultations, it was revealed that they were suffering in other ways that they didn’t really think much of; dry skin, slightly irregular periods, sluggish bowels and generally low energy. When asked about previous thyroid testing, they had all gone to see their MD for a thyroid ‘check-up’ and were given a pass.
It’s common for MD’s to begin by checking Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) and if this is within the normal range, no further testing is ordered. Unfortunately, the ‘normal range’ for TSH is between 0.05 - 5.00 (in Canada). But research shows that if TSH is above 2.5 or 3, a person can suffer with hypothyroid symptoms. We call this ‘subclinical hypothyroidism’.
Symptoms of subclinical hypothyroidism can include:
Feeling cold or a real intolerance to cold
Dry skin, hair and nails (brittle, cracking easily)
Decreased memory or foggy thinking
Hair loss from the outer eyebrows or head
Inability to sweat during exercise
Muscle weakness or cramping
Constipation or sluggish bowels
I ordered full thyroid tests for my clients and within a day or two I had the results. Most of they were indeed suffering with subclinical hypothyroidism and a few had an extra complication - elevated thyroid antibodies (this will be a whole other blog post in the future!). After explaining the ideal reference range for TSH vs what was suggested on the lab report, we implemented a plan to help support the thyroid gland. This includes a combination of dietary changes, lifestyle changes and nutrient support to encourage the gland to produce a healthy amount of circulating thyroid hormones.
All this to say, you don’t know what you don’t know. Many people are walking around suffering with underactive thyroid glands and are pulling their hair out trying to shift their body weight and composition. If this is you, book in with a Naturopathic Doctor to have a full assessment and figure out your why.
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 98, Issue 9, 1 September 2013, Pages 3584–3587