Can Functional Medicine Fully Cure Thyroid Dysfunction?

Thyroid Dysfunction

Functional medicine is not a term most people have heard of. What is functional medicine anyhow?

Functional medicine is a branch of alternative medicine focused on the underlying cause of chronic illnesses.  Functional medicine seeks to get to the root of diseases by stressing an individual approach to treatment.

A disease may have many contributing factors.  But according to functional medicine theory, all those factors are united in some way.  They are working together to cause the disease.  Functional medicine teaches that if the patient can be treated at the cellular level, the diseases can be cured.

Functional medical practitioners believe disease results from the way genes, lifestyle, and environment work together.  A functional medicine practitioner develops an individualized treatment plan for each person based on those three factors. 

Hard to Define

Functional medicineFunctional medicine is hard to define.  Almost every practitioner describes it in a different way.

There is a rift in the medical community about functional medicine. Functional medicine is opposed to conventional established medical practices.  On the other side, medical doctors claim that functional medicine focuses on unnecessary and expensive tests and doesn’t cure anything.

By 2014, the American Academy of Family Physicians decided to withhold course credit for functional medicine classes.  It partly lifted the order four years later but still does not give credit for classes that teach doctors how to practice functional medicine.

So, it comes down to a choice that a patient needs to make.  A patient suffering with thyroid problems needs to decide if they prefer traditional conventional doctors or if they want to try the alternative medicine approach.

Some people are improved by following the dictates of conventional medical doctors.  Some people are improved by following the dictates of functional medicine.


This brings us to the question of functional medicine thyroid theories.

What causes the thyroid to malfunction?  There are two different ways the thyroid can malfunction – either it’s overstimulated, or it’s under stimulated.

The body has a rather roundabout way of stimulating the thyroid. In the brain is an organ called the hypothalamus.  The hypothalamus releases a hormone called TRH.  Then the TRH, in turn, tells the pituitary gland to release TSH.  TSH stands for thyroid-stimulating hormone.

If a patient suffers from a low TSH level, the thyroid is not sufficiently stimulated to do its work. The work of the thyroid gland is to regulate how the body uses energy.    In that case, the person is generally overweight and sluggish.

Often when a patient has too much TSH, it is first noticed because they start having bulging eyes.  They will probably also feel anxious, have trembling hands, and increased heart rate.  Many times, they lose weight.

Conventional Medical Treatment

physician-shows-to-patient-shape-of-thyroid-glandConventional medical treatment involves running blood tests to determine the level of TSH.  If the TSH level is too high, there are several treatments.  The easiest is medication.  Or radioactive iodine can be administered, but that has some drawbacks. Often surgery is performed to remove part of the gland.

When the patient has too little TSH, conventional medicine can administer synthetic hormones to replace the missing hormones.

Functional Medicine Treatment

When a patient consults a functional medical practitioner, the treatment will be entirely different.  When treated by functional medicine, thyroid illnesses will be treated with a variety of alternative therapies.

The functional medicine practitioner will conduct many more tests than are usually conducted in a conventional doctor’s office.  A conventional doctor will order a TSH test.  But a functional medicine practitioner will order a full thyroid panel plus several other tests.

Functional medicine practitioners will also test to see if antibodies are attacking the thyroid.  They will look at adrenal dysfunction, nutritional deficiencies, and inflammation.   Then the functional medicine practitioner will determine the activity level of the patient, plus their stress level.  They will question any medications the patient takes that might be causing side effects.


Gut BacteriaAfter all the testing is complete, the functional medicine thyroid treatment will be designed. The practitioner will explain to the patient how to improve their gut bacteria, encourage them to get regular exercise and look for underlying infections. They will advise the patient to switch to organic cleaning and body care products.  Lastly, they will teach stress reduction strategies.

Article Submitted By Community Writer

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