health spotlight

The Integrative Approach to Diagnosing and Treating Thyroid Problems

by Catherine Waller, M.D.

The Integrative Approach to Diagnosing and Treating Thyroid Problems, Image:

Almost everyone with significant fatigue or extra weight around their middle has thought, “I wonder if I have an underactive thyroid.” Few people realize that thyroid hormone is vital for our survival and required for all the major functions of our body. Every cell in the body has thyroid hormone receptors on it.
There are major differences between the approaches of traditional and integrative medicine practitioners. The origins of the controversy are both philosophical and political, but the crux of it is this:

Traditional practitioners believe:
You only need two lab tests to diagnose thyroid disorders (thyroid-stimulating hormone and free T4).
If your labs are “normal” (i.e., in the standard reference range), you are fine.
T4 (Synthroid) is the only treatment needed for low thyroid.

Integrative practitioners believe:
You need at least six lab tests to find out what’s going on in the thyroid: TSH, free T3, free T4, reverse T3, anti-thyroglobulin antibodies and anti-thyroid peroxidase antibodies.
Your labs can be in the “normal” range and you can still have low thyroid symptoms that will improve with treatment, because there is a better part of the range to be in.
T3 plus T4 (Armour Thyroid, Nature-Throid or NP Thyroid) is more effective for treatment.

Here are some things you can do to improve your thyroid function:
Exercise at least 30 minutes five days a week (in nature if you can).
Learn stress reduction techniques, and minimize stress as much as possible.
Get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
Eat a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet.
Minimize toxin exposures (and fluoride).
Do a comprehensive detoxification program once or twice a year.
Supplement with iodine and other nutrients for added support.

If you end up needing the help of a physician, see which approach makes the most sense and choose the path that’s right for you.

Catherine Waller, M.D., is the founder of Waller Wellness Center in Auburn Hills, MI. For more information, call 248-844-1414 or visit

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