Suzy Cohen, Suzy Cohen Healthy Lifestyle
Dear America’s Pharmacist,
I want to get healthy this year. I have all sorts of problems that plague me and curious to know if you were my “doctor” what lab tests would you have me do to uncover the root cause?
Answer: It’s a good question because some of you are taking lab tests that don’t even matter that much, like the standard thyroid test called “TSH” for thyroid stimulating hormone. This test requires blood and the result of it has no bearing whatsoever on your tissue levels of thyroid hormone, meaning what’s inside your cell. That’s really what we need to know, not your TSH, a hormone produced in your brain. Regardless, the TSH is drawn thousands of times a day in this country and I think it is relatively meaningless. Here are some lab tests that are better at detecting health concerns:
Ratio of Free T3 to Reverse T3: This is a ratio of two levels that are measurable in the blood through lab tests. It’s really the best indicator for thyroid function. I think the ratio should be greater than two in order for you to feel good. This is a way to really see how your thyroid hormone levels are doing and much better than TSH. If this ratio is under two, you could have symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, depression, hair thinning, cold hands and feet, brain fog and memory loss. You can do this at any lab such as Quest or Labcorp.
TPO and Thyroglobulin Antibodies: This is a measurement of antibodies that are attacking your thyroid gland. You can have normal thyroid hormone levels but the antibodies can be sky high and it would explain why you’re holding on to weight.
Serum insulin: Most practitioners are focused on your “FBS” or fasting blood sugar but that is not as useful as your insulin (which reduces blood sugar). Your FBS will be normal for many years while your insulin is frantically being pumped out of your pancreas to offset high blood sugar caused by the foods you eat. You’ll be told your FBS is normal, so not to worry about diabetes. I’m saying the insulin is a better clue to your health because if it’s high, that says you’re in trouble. One day your pancreas will give up and then your blood sugar rises but that new “diabetes” you just got diagnosed with was in the making many years ago, and your serum insulin level lab tests, would have told you! More in my Diabetes Without Drugs book.Also, high insulin correlates with increased risk for prostate cancer. DirectLabs.com/SuzyCohen
Ferritin: This is your stored form of iron. It can be dangerously low (less than 15) even though your iron and hemoglobin lab tests are normal. Measure it! Low Ferritin slows down your conversion of thyroid hormone into an active form making you clinically hypothyroid, despite a normal TSH.
Methylation: This is a blood test for “MTHFR” that specifically evaluates if you have a mutation, that prevents you to detoxify properly, due to insufficient folate and glutathione. A methylation defect can cause high homocysteine. The expert on the is Dr. Ben Lynch at www.MTHFR.net and here is a great article I wrote on this topic Click Here
**This article originally featured on SuzyCohen.com**
About the Author
Suzy Cohen, RPh, has been a licensed pharmacist for 24 years and a Functional Medicine practitioner for 15 years. In particular, she loves Mother Nature’s medicine cabinet and thinks our planet Earth provides every “drug” we need. Does she ever advocate the use of pharmaceuticals? Absolutely, medications can be a blessing at certain times. Her mission is to teach about natural options that work as well, or better than medications. At 49 years old, she totally ‘gets’ that vibrant health is our most important blessing and feels like we’re in this together. Because she has intense training in human biochemistry and metabolic pathways, she knows exactly how natural herbs and drugs affect your body. The Functional Medicine perspective, married with her pharmacy background and combined with 20 years as a caregiver gives her incredible perspective on ways to get YOU better! Additionally, she has personal experience with thyroid issues and discusses it in her newest book, Thyroid Healthy. Best-selling author, Suzy Cohen, RPh, is also a syndicated columnist. Follow her at SuzyCohen.com!