3 Major Problems With Thyroid Testing

problems thyroid testing

Its estimated that a total of 20 million Americans have a thyroid disorder, but 60% of those people are not diagnosed.

Every cell in the human body needs thyroid hormone to function properly. It effects every system of the body and helps control metabolism.  Proper testing is sorely needed.

Unfortunately there are three major problems with modern testing conventions. The normal ranges are inaccurate, testing is incomplete, and antibody tests are rarely administered.

Normal TSH Range

TSH is an abbreviation for thyroid stimulating hormone. It is released by the pituitary gland in response to the levels of thyroid hormones in the body. Increased TSH tells the thyroid gland to increase hormone production.

Most TSH ranges are way too broad. The original range was made in 1973 by testing a group of 200 people and making a bell curve. Those in the tall portion of the bell curve are considered “normal”. The problem is in this group of people they did not exclude those diagnosed hypothyroid or those who may have it and be undiagnosed. This makes the resulting range inaccurate.

The range they came up with was around 0.5-5.0 mU/L (milliunits per liter). In 2002 the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists updated it to 0.3-3.0 mU/L. Some places have adopted the new standard, but others have not. Different places use different ranges causing much confusion.

Some studies found a range of 0.5-2.5 was normal in healthy adults.  The TSH normal range needs to reflect the true normal and needs to be standardized.



Incomplete Hormone Testing

If you walk in to your doctor’s office and ask them to test your thyroid, they will most likely just test your TSH. TSH goes up in response to low thyroid hormone levels to tell your gland to make more thyroid. So high levels means that your thyroid is low.  This does make sense, however that is only part of what is going on.

The thyroid gland makes a hormone called T4. This is the inactive form of the thyroid hormone. The liver then converts T4 to T3 which can be used in the cells. If you have trouble with the conversion you could be hypothyroid with high normal TSH levels. In these cases you have enough thyroid, but your body can’t use it.

Another level of complexity is total versus free T3 tests. Total T3 is exactly what it sounds like, the total amount of thyroid hormones in the body. In order to be transported through the body it has to be attached to a carrier protein. Free T3 is the amount not attached to one of these proteins. The hormone then has to separate from the protein to cross the cell membrane and be used.

Think of the carrier protein as a car. You get in your car and drive to work. You need to get out of your car to walk through the door. You can’t fit your car through the door. If the hormone fails to separate it can’t go to work. Normal total T3 levels but low Free T3 causes hypothyroidism because the hormone is not available inside the cell.

In order to get the big picture all of the above tests need to be done. TSH is only one component of a very complex system.


Antibody Testing

Two thyroid diseases are caused by autoimmune disease. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is hypothyroidism caused by the immune system attacking the thyroid gland. It is the most prevalent cause of hypothyroidism in the industrialized countries. Similarly Graves disease is the leading cause of hyperthyroidism. It causes an antibody to be made that mimics TSH.

Hashimoto’s is diagnosed by testing for thyroid peroxidase (TPO) and antithyroglobulin antibodies (TG).  Testing for Graves disease checks for thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI).

Unfortunately, despite their prevalence, the tests for these diseases are rarely done.


Many people are going to their doctor complaining of thyroid disease symptoms and being told they are fine. I was one of them, until I was finally diagnosed with Hashimoto’s myself. If you suspect your thyroid may be the root of your problems, talk to your doctor about these tests. If they don’t listen, find someone who will.

I am not a medical professional and cannot give medical advice. Find a naturopath or holistic doctor who will help you look at your big picture.


Further reading





Inflammation Causes And Solutions

inflammation causes and solutions

For what inflammation is and its effects on the body, see this previous post.


Inflammation can be caused by many things, luckily most of them are within our control. It’s important to be aware of the many causes in order to avoid them and the diseases they would trigger.

Dietary sources of inflammation are everywhere in our society. Sugar, processed foods, trans-fats, alcohol, genetically modified foods, refined grains, and MSG are all causes. An intolerance to certain foods will also cause inflammation.

Poor sleep habits lead to inflammation.  Not getting enough shut-eye, or having poor quality sleep can be triggers. Those who get less than 6 hours a night were found to have elevated markers for inflammation.

Damage to the intestines caused by poor diet, food allergies, or antibiotics allows partially digested particles of food into the blood stream.  The immune system attacks these particles because they are not where they belong.  This is often referred to as “leaky gut” and causes inflammation as well as other problems.

Chronic bacterial, viral or yeast infections, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, stress, hormonal imbalances,  environmental toxins, allergens, and some medications are other causes.


Avoiding the foods that cause inflammation and adding anti-inflammatory food to our diet can be a big boost to our health. Ginger, turmeric, green tea, tart cherries, omega-3 from nuts and fish, fiber and vitamin E in dark leafy greens, beets, garlic, onions, and some all fight inflammation.

Using probiotics either in supplements or fermented foods can help heal damage to the intestines, blocking a cause of inflammation.  Bone broths can also help with this.

Lifestyle changes such as adding regular exercise, getting plenty of sleep, and making time to de-stress are important in fighting inflammation. Adding a vitamin D supplement has also been shown to help.

Inflammation is a big factor in how we feel. By avoiding triggers and using some of the simple solutions in this article you can take charge of your health.


Grzanka, Alicja, Edyta Machura, Mazur Bogdan, Maciej Misiilek, Jerzy Jochem, Jacek Kasperski, and Alicja Kasperska-Zajac. “Relationship between vitamin D status and the inflammatory state in patients with chronic spontaneous urticaria.” 112.2 (2014): n. page. Web. 7 Feb. 2014. <http://www.journal-inflammation.com/content/11/1/2>.

 Marquis, David. “How Inflammation Affects Every Aspect of Your Health.” Mercola. N.p., 07 Mar 2013. Web. 12 Feb 2014. <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/03/07/inflammation-triggers-disease-symptoms.asp&xgt;>.

 Hyman, Mark. “Is Your Body Burning Up With Hidden Inflammation?.” Huffington Post. Huffington Post, 27 Aug 2009. Web. 12 Feb 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/is-your-body-burning-up-w_b_269717.html>.

Mitchell, Traci D. “9 Foods That Cause Inflammation.” Get Fit Chicago. N.p., 09 Sep 2013. Web. 20 Feb 2014. <http://www.chicagonow.com/get-fit-chicago/2013/09/9-foods-that-cause-inflammation/>

 Klein, Sarah. “Inflammatory Foods: 9 Of The Worst Picks For Inflammation.” Huffington Post. N.p., 21 Mar 2013. Web. 20 Feb 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/21/inflammatory-foods-worst-inflammation_n_2838643.html>.

 Macmillan, Amanda. “14 Foods That Fight Inflammation.”Health . N.p.. Web. 20 Feb 2014. <http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20705881,00.html>.

Paddock, Catherine. “Poor Sleep Tied To Inflammation, A Risk Factor For Heart Disease, Stroke.” Medical News Today. 10 Feb 2014.

Nordqvist, Christian. “What Is Inflammation? What Causes Inflammation?.” Medical News Today. N.p., 12 Dec 2012. Web. 7 Feb 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248423.php>.

Inflammation What it is And What it Does to You


Inflammation is a response of the immune and cardiovascular system to some form of trauma.  The trauma could be physical, such as stubbing your toe, or chemical, such as an allergen. Inflammation is actually an important part of the healing process, but it becomes a problem when the body’s response is inappropriate in strength, length of time, or location.

Chronic Inflammation is inflammation that has gone on for months or years.  It leads to tissue damage and eventually necrosis, or tissue death. This often happens without  the person having any clue that inflammation is to blame.

There is a simple blood test that can reveal your levels of inflammation. The C-reactive protein test measures the level of the protein that rises as inflammation occurs.  Addressing this problem could be a lifesaver. In a study of elderly patients who were otherwise healthy, those with high levels of the C-reactive protein were 260 times more likely to die within 4 years. People rarely think to have this test until they are rather ill and damage has already been done.

Many diseases have inflammation as a root cause, and almost all modern diseases can count it as a factor. Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, atherosclerosis, migraines, gum diseases, thyroid problems, dementia, depression, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, the list goes on and on. Even autism and obesity have been linked to inflammation.

What often happens is that people end up on multiple medications (often with nasty side effects).  The underlying cause of inflammation is rarely addressed, but their symptoms are put under some semblance of control. Despite the person feeling normal, the damage to their body rages on.

Up Next: Inflammation: Causes and Solutions.


Nordqvist, Christian. “What Is Inflammation? What Causes Inflammation?.” Medical News Tosay. N.p., 12 Dec 2012. Web. 7 Feb 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248423.php>.

Marquis, David. “How Inflammation Affects Every Aspect of Your Health.” Mercola. N.p., 07 Mar 2013. Web. 12 Feb 2014. <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/03/07/inflammation-triggers-disease-symptoms.asp&xgt;>.

Hyman, Mark. “Is Your Body Burning Up With Hidden Inflammation?.” Huffington Post. Huffington Post, 27 Aug 2009. Web. 12 Feb 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/is-your-body-burning-up-w_b_269717.html>.

“Doctor speaks on health effects of chronic inflammation.”News Medical. N.p., 17 Feb 2011. Web. 12 Feb 2014. <http://www.news-medical.net/news/20110217/Doctor-speaks-on-health-effects-of-chronic-inflammation.asp&xgt;>.

Why Organic

organic label 2So what’s the big deal about eating organic? Its becoming more and more popular for many reasons. Are you wondering if its a good idea for you and your family? Read on to find out.

  • No Poisons

    A Harvard study says that 60% of herbicides, 90% of fungicides, and 30 percent of insecticides could cause cancer.. A study among farm workers showed exposure to pesticides increased the risk of Parkinson’s Disease by 70%. Like apples? If you eat a conventionally-grown apple, even if you washed it, you eat 20-30 different kinds of poisons.

  • No Hormones

     Six different kinds of hormones are put into meat, and rBGH is in milk. There have been no studies to determine if they have an effect on the hormone balance in the humans who consume the meat. The European Union has decided this is unacceptable, and has banned the importation of U.S. grown beef due to questions about its safety. We however continue to eat it. The rBGH, or bovine growth hormone, in milk is linked to infection, sores, and disease in cows. And high levels if IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor) have been found in the milk of cows treated with the growth hormone. IGF-1 has been linked to colon and breast cancer.

  • No Antibiotics

    Animals used for the food industry receive a cocktail of antibiotics to prevent infections that they would get due to other chemicals put in their systems combined with unsanitary quarters. The widespread use of antibiotics is causing bacteria to evolve and become more resistant to these drugs. This means that when we get sick the antibiotics no longer kill the bacteria. For example, MRSA is a term for a specific type of resistant bacteria. In 2000 the average resistance level in the US was 29.6%. By 2009 that number has jumped to 52%. This means that the drugs we have that can save our lives are slowly no longer working. This is partly due to overuse in agriculture. To watch the spread of the resistance go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ov3G9GQo0fg .

  • Not Genetically Modified

    Organic foods cannot contain GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms). The number of problems potentially caused by GMO’s is shocking. Food allergies, autism, gut and bowel issues, high blood pressure, the list goes on and on. However the companies that make and sell them have been given top positions in the FDA. The agency that is supposed to keep food safe is run by people high up in companies who sell possibly toxic food. Because of this it is hard for studies to be done. There has been a study in Canada showing that the toxins in GMO’s are in the blood of pregnant women and their fetuses. This toxin breaks open the stomachs of bugs, killing them. It is likely eroding the lining of our stomachs, causing disease.

  • Better for the Environment

    Chemicals used in agriculture enter the water table. Hormones in the manure of animals enters lakes and streams where they alter the reproductive cycles of fish. According to the EPA half of Americans drinking water supply has been contaminated with pesticides. We our poisoning our own water.

  • No Additives, Preservatives, Flavorings

    Various additives in our food have been linked to things like food allergies, asthma, hyperactivity, high cholesterol, liver and kidney damage, heart defects, cancers, birth defects, vitamin deficiency, heart attack, and stroke.

  • Safer for Children

    If you have kids you have an even stronger incentive to eat organic. Children are more sensitive to toxins. Since they are smaller the toxins in their bodies are more concentrated. A small amount that my barely affect an adult can wreak havoc on a child. They are still developing so their bodies are more susceptible to damage. Exposure to pesticides doubles a child’s risk of developing ADHD.

So, have I convinced you yet? Organic food is not just a passing fad. It is not an attempt to cheat you of your money. Eating organic is necessary for the health of ourselves, our children, and for future generations.