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Thyroid blood tests

Thyroid tests as we know them are good on the one side, but aren't on the other. It doesn't say much about what's really going on. Tests like we have them now for T4, T3 and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) are pieces of the puzzle. If you and your doctor interpret them with the mind-set that they’re indicators of a virus affecting the thyroid gland, rather than the thyroid becoming weak and letting you down, then they can put you on the right track—if your tests come back indicating abnormalities in thyroid performance. As I said, many enlightened doctors and patients have begun to notice that these tests can come back in the normal range even when every other sign points to something amiss. Here’s why: The accuracy of these blood tests is, unfortunately, inconsistent—that’s why I call them guess tests.

To begin with, thyroid hormone readings can vary widely depending on the time of day and the patient’s stress levels. It’s much like the “white coat syndrome” many people experience when they walk into a doctor’s office and get their blood pressure taken. Just sitting there under observation can get your palms sweaty and raise your blood pressure above normal levels, throwing off the accuracy of the readings. In the same way, sitting in a lab or exam room about to have your blood drawn can get your adrenals pumping, which completely changes your blood chemistry—because suddenly, adrenaline (also known as epinephrine) and cortisol (also known as hydrocortisone), both steroids, flood the bloodstream in preparation for fight- or-flight, disrupting homeostasis in the process. These high adrenaline and cortisol levels can make it look on a blood test like you’re producing more than enough of the thyroid-related steroids T4, T3, and TSH—whether you truly are or not. Or adrenaline and cortisol may be saturating your brain and putting your pituitary gland, which produces TSH, into overdrive—again, throwing off blood-test results from what they’d look like normally. Even if the sight of a needle doesn’t bother you at all, a disruption of homeostasis could still be affecting your blood chemistry. If you’re someone who experiences chronic stress, then you may live with constant elevated adrenaline and cortisol, or, as we looked at earlier, these levels may be high from compensating for your underactive thyroid, or you may have adrenal fatigue. With adrenal fatigue, the adrenal glands can produce adrenaline and cortisol erratically, sometimes flooding the bloodstream and sometimes holding back. In this case, your adrenals may be overactive when you’re getting your blood drawn even if the doctor’s office is your favorite place in the world, and so, again, the results can be inaccurate.

I’ve seen people get a thyroid blood test one week, go back to get blood taken a week later for another purpose, and have the thyroid profiles on each come back with completely different numbers. Assessing the results of just one thyroid test is too limiting; it means that doctors can unknowingly miss if a patient has a thyroid condition. With blood pressure, many doctors and nurse practitioners have learned that the best way to deal with inaccurate measurements is to take a few blood pressure readings over the course of an appointment and average them. A similar approach would help with thyroid testing—although what it would really take is a thyroid test once a day for 30 days, and then an average at the end of the month. This would be more helpful, though it still wouldn’t solve everything, because the tests themselves are antiquated. A few decades from now, hopefully medical communities will finally catch on to the true, viral cause of thyroid disease, and the testing will be better. Until then, health-care professionals and patients deal with thyroid tests that are too broad in range and not attuned to the subtle hormonal shifts that can signal a thyroid condition. The hormone guess tests are so unstable that it would almost be more accurate to make a fist for 10 seconds, release it, and see if it took more than three seconds for color to come back to your palm as an indication of a thyroid problem. Millions of women unknowingly walk around with hypothyroids that wouldn’t register on today’s tests. Sometimes it takes months or years of living with an underactive thyroid for it to progress to the point that a lab can detect it. In the meantime, a person must live with worsening health due to the virus’s progression—and no answers. While we can pretend everything is fine, that won’t get anyone better. None of which is to say that you should write off thyroid tests. You simply need the background above so you can interpret the results with perspective. If you’re going in for thyroid testing, ask to be tested for TSH, free T4, free T3, and thyroid antibodies. Reverse T3 testing is currently a fad that’s not worth dwelling on. While it does reflect genuine problems, it can pick up on so many at once that it’s hard to know what any result means. It’s fine to have your doctor order the test; it just may not help you pinpoint to a reliable degree.

Thyriod antibodies tests

Thyroid antibodies tests deserve some extra attention here, because out of the thyroid tests, these are the closest to picking up on viral activity. Again, though, it’s all about perspective. Currently, medical communities consider the antibodies detected in these tests to be autoantibodies (also called antithyroid antibodies and antimicrosomal antibodies)—that is, antibodies your immune system creates to go after your own thyroid tissue. The antibodies are taken as evidence that your body is attacking your thyroid, and you end up with an autoimmune diagnosis. In reality, this is not what’s happening; that interpretation is based completely on assumption. When scientists first discovered the antibody activity and couldn’t figure out why it was happening, it was a convenient theory to say that the body must be malfunctioning. Trouble is, neither conventional nor alternative medical communities have yet moved on from that theory. It remains undeveloped science. Remember, your body does not attack itself. The antibodies that show up in tests such as the thyroid peroxidase (TPO) test are, in fact, your saving grace. They are not going after your thyroid—they do not cause damage to the gland on any level. These antibodies are created by your immune system to target the true troublemaker: EBV. Part of what confuses medical communities is that medical research and science have not yet discovered the thyroid’s personalized immune system that we looked at in Chapter 5, “Your Symptoms and Conditions—Explained.” The special lymphocytes we talked about, which are not yet catalogued, are assigned to the thyroid area, like soldiers that guard the thyroid. Though they’re temporarily led away from the thyroid during the transition from Stage Two to Stage Three, the thyroid—a highly intelligent gland—sends out an emergency signal for the specialized lymphocytes to return once the thyroid realizes it’s under attack. Once back, the lymphocytes work symbiotically with the antibodies your immune system produces, allowing these antibodies into the thyroid so that the antibodies can attack the EBV there and get it out of your body. The confusion here is that medical communities see the antibody activity and think it means that’s the source of the problem. This is not accurate. Your special lymphocytes and these antibodies are working together to defend you. So when looking at the results of any thyroid antibodies tests, remind yourself that if antibodies show up, they’re due to viral activity in your thyroid—not a mistaken response by your body—and if antibodies don’t show up, this doesn’t mean EBV isn’t present in the thyroid. Like the others, it’s a test that’s still in progress. Unlike with thyroid hormone tests, it’s not blood chemistry that can throw off antibodies tests. Rather, the antibodies tests’ weakness is that they are not yet broad enough or sensitive enough to detect smaller amounts of antibodies. When EBV is in an early phase in the thyroid, your immune system hasn’t yet made use of all its bells and whistles, so the antibody activity may not be enough to register on lab work. Plus, there are so many varieties of EBV, with mutations continuing to develop, and this diversity means that there is also diversity in the possible antibody reactions and antibody creations they induce, with certain antibodies geared toward these mutations that are not on blood labs’ radar. Current tests only pick up some of those reactions and creations. Translation: You may well have antibodies in your system that test results don’t show. These are antibody varieties that are literally “off the chart” because they are uncharted territory—they haven’t been discovered, so blood labs don’t look for them. If a blood lab doesn’t know an antibody exists, it’s not going to be commissioned to search for it. It takes funding and authorization to look outside the box of what’s known—although you don’t need a lesson from me on red tape and regulations. I’m sure one way or another, you’re plenty familiar with these.

Part of the book Thyroid Healing by Medical Medium. Book is available in the Shop

If you also struggle with thyroid glands or more complaints, please contact me.

Regards Aschwin

Orthomolecular therapist

Lyme recovery therapist

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