If you’re concerned about having high cholesterol, or any other imbalance in your fat metabolism (“dyslipidemia”), poor function of the thyroid may be a contributor.
Producing thyroid hormone is the main way your body controls how quickly your metabolism is running. Low thyroid function (“hypothyroid”) contributes to many other illnesses, and is a known cause of dyslipidemia and high cholesterol.
When your thyroid is way out of whack, it will be picked up with routine blood tests. But those in the functional medicine world are concerned that many patients have diminished thyroid function even when their basic blood tests are normal.
There are complexities to the chemistry of thyroid hormone that don’t show up on a routine screening. For optimal thyroid functioning, three steps are needed:
- Producing the hormone in the first place. That’s the T4 form of thyroid hormone, secreted by the thyroid gland.
- Converting T4 to T3. This takes place inside each cell. The T3 is the active form that actually gets into the cell’s nucleus to create most of the effects of thyroid hormone.
- Activation (by T3) of receptors inside the nucleus to change the rate of DNA transcription. More transcription of DNA into working proteins means that the cell will perform more metabolic work more quickly.
If you have a concern, there are two other types of test that you can have:
Comprehensive thyroid panel
- Another form of thyroid hormone called reverse T3
- TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone, which triggers the thyroid to do its job), and
- Antibodies to thyroid hormone. These will be elevated in those who have autoimmune disorders affecting the thyroid gland.
Basal body temperature
The allopathic medical model has brought us many, many health benefits. But it doesn’t offer a complete approach to improving health. In the case of a common health problem – elevated cholesterol, for instance – the allopathic model often suggests the long term use of pharmaceuticals. Perhaps that’s the best answer for some people. But sometimes it pays to look deeper.