“4.8, on a scale of 1–5, but it’s really nothing to be alarmed by…” she told me. “In fact, if you hadn’t mentioned fatigue, I wouldn’t have even brought it up.”

thyroid gland

Something has not been right with my health since I turned 30.

Annual physicals and clean bills of health. But something wasn’t right.

The tell-tale symptoms, only, I didn’t realize they were all directly related:
- fatigue
- sleeping luxuriously long hours, only to wake without feeling rested
- easily cold fingers and toes
- brain fog
- hair loss, particularly on the outer edges of the eyebrows
- muscle and joint pains and aches
- weight gain with more exercise and fewer calories
- infertility
- migraines
- difficulty concentrating
- elevated cholesterol
- painful periods

Sounds like the end of a pharmaceutical ad, right?

Hmm, I wondered. How many others have similar symptoms, see the doctor, run labs, and are told they’re in great health? Or worse, how many people simply think this is what the aging process feels like?

“What does this mean?” I asked the M.D. “Well, you could have a thyroid condition,” she answered. “And the treatment?” I asked. “You’d go on synthetic hormones. For life.” There was no mention of additional testing — something I’ve since learned is paramount when you think you may have a thyroid condition.

No mention of natural treatments or preventive methods.

There must be another method.


I decided to seek a second opinion, this time from a naturopath doctor. “I generally like to see my patients below a level of 1.5 (on a scale of 10).”

My thoughts began to race. Why would the M.D. say that everything was okay, and lean toward not mentioning anything to me?

Yet the N.D. wants to immediately run additional tests, and doesn’t want her patients over levels of 1.5, when I’m at 4.8, and still considered within the ‘healthy’ range according to Western medicine? How can this discrepancy exist with one school of medicine believing you to be healthy, while the other sees you in a red zone? It certainly clarifies why so many indiviudals in the States are overmedicated while still experiencing symptoms.

It is estimated that 40% of the U.S. adult population suffers from hypothyroidism, primarily women*— and as many as 60 million with an undiagnosed thyroid condition.**

The accepted range for a healthy thyroid, according to Western standards, is 1–5 mIU/L for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Anything over 5 mIU/L (and up to 10 mIU/L) is considered unhealthy.

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is autoimmune thyroiditis, according to most literature. The immune system makes antibodies against the thyroid, that actually attack it. Yes, your immune system attacks itself.

The trigger for the immune system to create the antibodies is not known.

I didn’t realize I had the trait in my family history. “Mom, I was recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism,” I said. “Oh, I think your great-grandmother had that. Graves’ disease,” she replied. “Ah, why wasn’t this ever shared in all the years I’ve asked about our family health history?” I inquired. “Well, you’re so young it didn’t make sense to discuss it,” she said. “I don’t even really know what it is.”

It turns out you can actually be susceptible to developing either hypo or hyperthyroidism even if your family gene pool only shows a trait for one of them.

You can be born with a thyroid condition, and diagnosed as early as childhood.

You can develop it postpartum. You can develop it from the Epstein-Barr Virus, among others.

It’s actually more common than you may think. Particularly in our over-worked, over-stressed, pourly-nourished and over-caffeinated society.

Great! So I have some answers, I thought.

Sometimes half the battle with dis-ease is not knowing how to treat what you don’t know you have. At this point I know a) that there’s a lot I don’t know, and b) Western screening and diagnosis is not an effective gauge for preventive functional care.

I began reading. Books like:

I learned that the thyroid function is key for most physiological and neurofunction a young person (or anyone) would want. In fact, nearly everything in your body relies on it — the metabolism, brain, heart, energy levels, digestion, sex drive, the growth of hair and nails, and the function of your glands and organs, to name a few.

All pretty important daily bodily functions in my book.

If you’re chronically experiencing any of the symptoms above, I highly recommend getting your bloodwork done and seeing a naturopath to start understanding your gut biome, and digestive & autoimmune health. It’s important to understand the blood panel and what the various TSH levels mean, since not all interpretations by healthcare professionals are the same!

Life is too short not to.

This is the first in a series on autoimmune and thyroid health. -Maggie Spicer