Why Thyroid Tests Aren’t Accurate
It wouldn’t be an understatement to call thyroid disorders a growing epidemic. The American Thyroid Association (ATA) conservatively estimates that as many as 20 million people have some form of thyroid disease, and 60 percent of people may be unaware of their condition.1 Why? The long list of symptoms below could also be symptoms of many other conditions.
To make matters worse, the cause of thyroid problems in the medical community is “largely unknown,” according to the ATA. But this doesn’t change the fact that more than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop some kind of thyroid condition within their lifetime. We also know that women are five to eight times more likely to have thyroid problems than men.
Easy-to-Miss Symptoms of a Thyroid Disorder
The following is a list of possible symptoms for someone with an underactive thyroid. Do you recognize many of them in yourself?
Along with nourishing healthy fats, like coconut oil, pumpkinseed oil, raw butter, cod liver oil, and egg yolks, concentrated minerals, like Body Ecology’s Ancient Earth Minerals, can help to “reset” a weakened thyroid.
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Cold/heat intolerance
- Dry skin and hair
- Easy weight gain
- Hair loss
- Headaches and migraines
- Fluid retention
- Low motivation and ambition
- Low sex drive
- Poor concentration
- Poor memory
- Unhealthy nails
- And much more
Let’s say you are now concerned that your thyroid is not working well, and you go to your doctor to have your thyroid tested. Will the test be accurate? Most likely, it will not.
The Problem with Thyroid Test Results
Thyroid tests currently do not honor the Body Ecology Principle of Uniqueness. You are unique, and your own thyroid hormone levels are not like anyone else’s. Thyroid tests will not give you an accurate indication of your ideal thyroid hormone level, simply because they are missing a critical piece of information — your peak thyroid level when you were young and healthy.
Most medical professionals admit that it’s easy to misdiagnose a thyroid disorder, like hypothyroidism, because the associated symptoms are so vague in nature. It’s also possible to have a thyroid disorder without experiencing any symptoms at all. Common hypothyroid symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, muscle aches, weakness, and thinning hair may be related to stress or another illness, yet all of these collective symptoms could also point to a sluggish thyroid. Once a diagnosis is made, a doctor may be quick to prescribe replacement hormones to treat and manage hypothyroidism, without addressing the cause of the condition.
But there’s a danger in this diagnosis that is seldom talked about and that Dr. Steven Hotze, founder and CEO of Houston’s Hotze Health & Wellness Center, pointed out in his interview in The Emporia Gazette: Thyroid disorder misdiagnosis is a problem, but thyroid disorder mistreatment is a different and often more devastating issue altogether. “First, it means you are not being treated for what’s actually causing illness; second, a misdiagnosis can lead to inappropriate treatments and medicines with side effects that can cause you harm,” Hotze said.2
Even normal thyroid test results can be misleading.
Should your thyroid test results indicate that you are in the “normal” range — say 5.5 — you may still have an underactive thyroid if you would have tested at 9 in your younger years. At 5.5, you may feel very tired, yet your doctor will tell you that your test results are “normal.”
Another reason that the tests are often inaccurate is because they only show what your thyroid hormone levels are on the day of testing. Your thyroid is a tricky organ to both diagnose and treat since its hormone levels fluctuate all the time. What you eat each day has a tremendous and immediate impact on it, and how much hormone it secretes. Thyroid tests also do not indicate if your thyroid hormone is really entering your cells. Your thyroid may be manufacturing plenty of hormone, but your cells may have become resistant to the hormone and are not able to utilize it.
The accuracy of thyroid test results can be hindered by a genetic component too.
Unless you have undergone genetic testing and have interpreted the results specific to your thyroid function, there is no way of knowing if you have the FOXE1 gene that has been correlated with various thyroid disorders, including autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s) and hypothyroidism.
While lifestyle factors do play a more significant role than genetics in thyroid function, understanding your genetic road map can provide a clearer picture of your thyroid health. In 2013, Chilean researchers explored the influence an individual’s “gene signature” can have on the thyroid. Using a new genetic test, the research team consistently diagnosed thyroid nodules, or benign growths, to avoid unnecessary surgical intervention in the thyroid cancer screening process.3
In 2015, University of Arkansas researchers were stunned when a trained scent dog was able to detect the presence of thyroid cancer in urine samples with over 88 percent accuracy.4 While this innovative form of testing — coupled with genetic testing — may provide hope for the early diagnosis of more serious thyroid conditions, including cancer, basic thyroid testing used to measure day-to-day thyroid function still leaves much to be desired.
Help for ‘Normal’ Thyroid Test Results
The National Academy of Hypothyroidism (NAH), a group of thyroidologists headed by Dr. Kent Holtorf, agrees that conventional thyroid testing is not as reliable as we have been led to believe: “The TSH is thought to be the most sensitive marker of peripheral tissue levels of thyroid, and it is erroneously assumed by most endocrinologists and other physicians that, except for unique situations, a normal TSH is a clear indication that the person’s tissue thyroid levels are adequate (symptoms are not due to low thyroid). A more thorough understanding of the physiology of hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis and tissue regulation of thyroid hormones demonstrates that the widely held belief that the TSH is an accurate marker of the body’s overall thyroid status is clearly erroneous.”5
The NAH does not currently consider TSH and T4 testing to be reliable markers of thyroid tissue levels, as previously believed.
While the NAH concedes that there is no “perfect” thyroid test, testing free triiodothyronine, reverse triiodothyronine, and triiodothyronine/reverse-triiodothyronine ratios may provide more accuracy when checking for low tissue levels of active thyroid hormone.
Unfortunately, many of today’s younger generation will not have the excellent test results that their forbearers had because they are not enjoying the same level of health as their grandparents did two generations ago. Because of today’s American diet, our young people will likely never experience outstanding thyroid health — unless they are encouraged to change their eating habits to include principles and foods like those of the Body Ecology Diet.
If you are experiencing symptoms of a thyroid disorder, lifestyle changes can help bring the thyroid back into balance — regardless of your thyroid test results:
- Support the body. The Body Ecology Diet includes the fats (coconut oil, pumpkinseed oil, raw butter, cod liver oil, and egg yolks) and the mineral-rich foods (dark, green, leafy vegetables; young coconut kefir; Celtic sea salt; and ocean veggies) that help tremendously in building a strong, robust thyroid. You can also supplement with concentrated, thyroid-nourishing minerals found in Ocean Plant Extract and Ancient Earth Minerals. The full-spectrum Digestive Care Multi can aid in the absorption of these healthy fats and vital nutrients.
- Support the gut. When it comes to regulating thyroid health, this may be the most important point of all. Probiotics have a big impact on the thyroid — 20 to 30 percent of inactive T4 is converted to active T3 in your gut. Body Ecology’s Bifidus Power Blend can support this thyroid hormone production in the gut, while keeping the digestive and the immune systems strong.
- Support the liver. Another common hindrance to thyroid function that is also difficult to detect through lab testing is chronic yeast infection that has spread throughout the body. Once it becomes systemic, Candida yeast can interfere with thyroid hormone activation at the level of the liver. Supplements that support and cleanse the liver, like LivAmend, can bring balance back to the body — and to the thyroid.
- Supplement with ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb used in Ayurvedic medicine that may regulate both hyper- and hypothyroidism. By definition, an adaptogenic herb can be used to help the body “adapt” by working with its natural systems. Studies show that ashwagandha may help to stimulate T3 and T4 production, while lowering elevated cortisol levels to support the adrenals.6,7
When your thyroid test results don’t accurately reflect what you are experiencing in your body, all hope isn’t lost. We now know that thyroid reference ranges may be different for everyone. Even with “normal” test results, you may still need to look further if your symptoms continue. For many of us, repairing the gut is the missing piece that can bring thyroid health back on track.
What To Remember Most About This Article:
Sadly, most medical thyroid tests do not reflect the fact that every person’s thyroid hormone levels are unique. Thyroid test results may also be inaccurate since they are not able to compare peak thyroid hormone levels from your youth. Overlooking a thyroid disorder with supposedly “normal” test results can be dangerous. In some cases, another illness may be diagnosed and treated instead of the underlying thyroid condition that is at the root of your health problems.
Even with “normal” thyroid test results, you can correct plaguing symptoms and restore your thyroid to optimum health:
- Support your body. As a system of health and healing, The Body Ecology Diet recommends plenty of healthy fats, mineral-rich foods, and thyroid-nourishing mineral supplements like Ocean Plant Extract and Ancient Earth Minerals. Taking a daily Digestive Care Multi can also improve the absorption of healthy fats and essential nutrients.
- Support the gut. Repairing the gut can have a major impact on thyroid health — up to 30 percent of inactive T4 is converted to active T3 in the gut. Body Ecology’s Bifidus Power Blend can help to support thyroid hormone production by keeping the gut and the immune system strong.
- Support the liver. Systemic Candida yeast, which is not detected in conventional thyroid tests, can interfere with thyroid hormone activation in the liver. Gently cleansing the liver with LivAmend can help to rebalance the thyroid and the body.
- Supplement with ashwagandha. This adaptogenic herb may help to regulate hyper- and hypothyroidism — potentially stimulating T3 and T4 production, while lowering elevated cortisol levels to support adrenal health.
Though there is no one-size-fits-all solution to a thyroid disorder — since we are all so unique — sometimes, correcting a lifelong thyroid imbalance can be as simple as supporting your body and healing your gut.
- “General Information.” American Thyroid Association.
- “Hypothyroidism: ‘Silent epidemic’ of misdiagnosis.” The Emporia Gazette.
- Endocrine Society. “‘Gene signature’ test diagnoses benign thyroid growths.”
- “Researchers Use Scent-Trained Dogs to Detect Thyroid Cancer.” University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
- “How Accurate is TSH Testing?” The National Academy of Hypothyroidism.
- J Pharm Pharmacol. 1998 Sep;50(9):1065-8.
- Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2003 Jun;75(3):547-55.