Optimal thyroid hormone production is one of the most important factors to whole body health. In response to TSH signals from the pituitary gland, the thyroid gland produces the vital T4 and T3 hormones that set the basic metabolic rate for every cell in the body. This includes brain, heart, lung, bone, muscles, your immune system, digestion, liver and kidney function and everything else.
Sub-optimal thyroid function can cause a wide range of chronic or debilitating symptoms including: fatigue, depression, weight gain, brain fog, cold intolerance, hair loss, constipation, low bone density, and poor immune function.
With a system this important, you might think that conventional medicine would be completely up to date on how to keep track of this vital hormone. However, if you thought that conventional medicine had this well in hand, you’d be completely wrong.
Naturopathic and functional medicine practitioners often interpret conventional labs more carefully than just a binary determination of “normal/abnoral”. There is good reason for this. A more careful look at lab values can an ammount to a life preserver for medical refugees who are castaways from strict interpretations.
Shoe size is a good analogy regarding lab interpretation. Most labs define “normal” as the average result of a pool of asymptomatic patients plus or minus 2 standard deviations. This covers about 90% of the “normal” population. If you were to use this standard to determine what the average shoe size was, it would probably be somewhere between 6 and 12. Given biological individuality, it becomes rather absurd to suggest that you could give any human being a shoe between size 6 and 12 and expect it to fit. Continue reading “What does “normal” really mean when it comes to lab tests?”
The Adrenal Glands
Gram for gram, the adrenal glands receive more blood flow than any other part of the body–including the heart and the brain. The body is an efficient machine, so this relatively massive dedication of blood flow is an indication of how important these often tiny organs are. Theysit on top of your kidneys weigh in at a mere 3-5 grams each and measure are 1/2″ tall and 3″ wide.
The Adrenal Medula & Cortex Your adrenal glands have two layers that secrete different sets of vital hormones. The outer layer of the adrenal gland (the adrenal cortex) secretes steroid hormones which are made from cholesterol. Cortisol is, by far, the major hormone product of the adrenal cortex. It is called a “glucocorticoid” because of it’s effects on raising blood sugar (glucose).
Healthy cortisol levels have a “diurnal” cycle, with normal levels being highest around 7AM and lowest levels occurring around midnight. This morning cortisol boost is intended to wake you up with plenty of blood sugar and blood pressure. If you wake up feeling unrested, groggy and wrecked there may be a problem with your sleep or your Adrenal glands may be fatigued or exhaustred. That’s what this article is about.