Our team views our guests multi-dimensionally. Through the focal point of functional medicine and beauty - Justin (guest post) brings light to how your thyroid may be the first place to look if you are experiencing hair loss.
Below are only a few symptoms of low thyroid function (hypothyroidism):
Thinning hair (most common)
Thinning hair or hair loss is a hallmark sign for low thyroid function.
The hair follicle requires thyroid hormone to produce hair. As thyroid function begins to lower due to stress or an autoimmune condition, it’s possible to see negative changes in your hair quality and or amount. It’s also possible to see hair come off in clumps from your scalp or just see a thinning of the outer third of your eye brows.
Auto-immune hypothyroid patients (Hashimotos) are known to suffer from alopecia or hair loss (1, 2). There is a higher chance of having allopecia or hair loss if you have a hypothyroid condition.
The systemic inflammation underlying most thyroid conditions can be a driving factor of hair loss by decreasing thyroid hormone. Chronic stress will cause in increase in Reverse T3 which has an effect of decreasing active thyroid hormone at the receptor site level. Reverse T3 can also decrease thyroid conversion from T4 (Inactive) to T3 (Active) (3).
Reverse t3 appeared to inhibit the conversion of t4 to T3 with a potency which is about 100 times more than propylthiouracil (4).
Reverse T3 has also been show to to be an excellent indicator for thyroid function even though it’s ignore by most mainstream endocrinologists.
This study demonstrates that rT3 inversely correlates with physical performance scores and that the T3/rT3 ratio is currently the best indicator of tissue levels of thyroid (5).
It’s important if you are suffering from hair loss that you receive a full thyroid panel (not just TSH and T4) including thyroid antibodies, free and total fractions of T4/T3, reverse T3, and T3 uptake.
Having a complete lab panel will allow your Functional Medicine Doctor more information to assess your overall thyroid function and provide a plan that will provide a lasting solution.
Do You Have An Autoimmune Thyroid? Over 5% of the population has an autoimmune thyroid disorder and conventional medicine is ill equipped to address it.
Did you know most mainstream MD’s don’t measure thyroid antibodies? The reason is, it doesn’t change the medication they would put you on in the first place. Being a holistic physician, knowing a patient has an auto-immune thyroid disease can make all the difference in the world in helping the patient get better.
What You Can Do To Assess Thyroid Function Measuring body temperature is an excellent indicator of thyroid function. It can help assess your thyroid function without lab testing and can be an early indicator that you may have a thyroid problem. I always recommend combining thyroid temperature testing along with a comprehensive thyroid lab panel.
What If My Thyroid Tests Are Normal?
Most patients never get a comprehensive thyroid test to being with. When the are told they are normal it’s usually their Doctor letting them know their TSH is out of the pathological range >4.5. Below is an example of lab work looks to most Doctors.
It’s important to note that 95% of the population comprise the so called “Normal” range. Just go look around and you’ll be hard pressed to find 95% of people you know with normal health. As the population gets sicker, the references get wider, decreasing the chance of conventional labs picking up on your thyroid condition.
Functional Medicine Doctors look at thyroid tests on a functional spectrum of thyroid health. This allows more patient’s with thyroid issues to be detected and not slip through the cracks like they would in the conventional medical world.
It’s possible to have a normal thyroid blood test and still have a low body temperature. It’s always best to look at both temperature, thyroid function and adrenal functional when addressing harder thyroid cases.
Adequate body temperature ranges between: -97.8-98.2 degrees for the axillary area (armpit). -98.2-98.6 degrees for the oral area (mouth).
Healthy thyroid temperature shouldn’t vary more than 0.3 degrees per day. If you see a variance of great than 0.3 degrees per day, this is a sign of adrenal stress. Adrenal fatigue can also contribute to thyroid dysfunction.
Some individuals may need small amounts of natural thyroid hormone to jump start their system, others may need a more comprehensive approach that looks at addressing the adrenal glands and the nutrients required for healthy T4 to T3 conversion. Either way I strongly urge anyone in this situation to get a comprehensive assessment to figure out which approach is best.
From a functional medicine paradigm it’s important to know if you are auto-immune because it changes the overall approach to how the thyroid is treated. Any time any auto-immune condition is present the focus needs to more on the immune system and the gut and less on the thyroid or injured gland.
Most Important Lab Tests
TSH: Pituitary hormones that signals the thyroid to make T4, a poor marker of thyroid status unless elevated. Total T4: 98% of T4 thyroid hormone that is inactive and protein bound. Free T4: 2% of T4 thyroid hormone that is active and freely bound. Total T3: 98% of T3 thyroid hormone that is inactive and protein bound. Free T3: 2% of T3 thyroid hormone that is active and freely bound. Reverse T3: Sign of a stressed physiology and a slower metabolism. Thyroglobulin: Increases with BCP’s (birth control pills) and higher levels of estrogen, decreases with elevation in testosterone like in PCOS. T3 Uptake: How much active thyroid hormone is taken up by the receptor site. Elevated upate can be a sign of higher levels of testosterone commonly cause by PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome) in females. Low uptake can be caused by elevations in estrogen primarily seen by BCP’s. TPO Antibody: 70% of auto-immune patients are positive for TPO. TBG Antibody: Less likely positive but should still be tested to rule out auto-immunity. TSI Antibody/Thyrotropin receptor antibodies: Auto-immune condition that causes hyperthyroidism or Graves Disease.