Hypothyroidism and the Problem With Conventional TSH Analysis

Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid disorder in the United States.  Unfortunately it is one of the most mis-managed and incorrectly treated conditions in the United States.  A main reason for this can be traced back to the blood work analysis initially performed to diagnose a patient for hypothyroidism.   The main marker that most people are familiar with for assessing thyroid function is TSH, which stands for thyroid stimulating hormone.  This is the gold standard marker in conventional medicine for either diagnosing or not diagnosing someone with a thyroid condition.  There is a range for TSH with a high and low side.  If a person's TSH value is within that range, thyroid function is dubbed normal.  If the value is below or above that range, a diagnosis is given.   The problem with this is in the range itself.  There is a very big difference between the “pathological” blood work range used conventionally to analyze TSH, and the “functional” blood work range for assessing TSH, and I’ll explain the difference between the two. 

The pathological ranges in blood work are great for diagnosing diseases that require medical treatment, but they aren’t a good indicator for gauging good health.  What most people don’t know is there is no standard of pathological ranges for blood work markers, including TSH.  The pathological ranges are simply the averages of all people who have had blood work analyzed regionally by a lab for a given period of time.  Because of this patients are being compared to other patients who have visited a lab or that hospital.  Functional ranges, on the other hand, are tightened up, and are a better indicator of health because they are comparing a patient with other relatively healthy people.

For example, the pathological range for TSH on a standard conventional thyroid panel is 0.5-5.5 mU/L.  This is a very broad range, and is basically black and white.  If you’re within the high and low, you are considered healthy, even though you may be exhibiting numerous symptoms.  If you are outside the high or low values, a diagnosis is given and typically a prescription for some type of synthetic thyroid hormone replacement is given.  The functional range for TSH is 1.8-3.0 mU/L, and  is much narrower.  This allows one to get a glimpse into the “gray area”  of a patient on their way to a full blown condition if they are outside this functional range, but still within the pathological range.  This way it is not justblack and white.   By analyzing blood work , and in this case specifically TSH, in the functional range, much more can be done naturally by a patient and their natural medicine doctor to reverse the thyroid disease process before it’s too late and it becomes a full blown condition.  

If you are suffering with a thyroid disorder and are being told your blood tests are normal, but you are still exhibiting symptoms, ask to see your blood work, and look at these ranges and where your TSH markers are.  It’s your health!  Question your doctor.  This example with TSH is one of many different indicators to assess blood work functionally. 

This form of analysis and treatment falls under the umbrella of functional medicine, and is relatively unknown to the general public.  Practitioners who do this type of blood work analysis generally include naturopaths, chiropractors, and other doctors or health care practitioners who practice functional medicine as a niche.  A great resource on this topic is Dr. Datis Kharrazian’s book, Why Do I Still Have Yhyroid symptoms When My lab Tests Are Normal?   This book gives great insight into the mismanagement of thyroid conditions by conventional means, and how to get back on track.



Blood work