Dr. Barter’s much requested audio version of her “Thriving Thyroid” class.
[00:00:03] Welcome to the Fearless Health podcast with host Dr. Ann-Marie Barter. Dr. Barter is on a mission to help people achieve their health and wellness goals and help men and women live their best lives fearlessly. Dr. Barter is the founder of Alternative Family Medicine and Chiropractic in Denver and Longmont, Colorado.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter
[00:00:24] Thank you for joining us on Fearless Health podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Anne-Marie Barter, and today we are not going to have a guest today. We are going to just talk about thyroid biwi. I’m going to talk to you about the thyroid gland. And the reason I feel like thyroid is so important. Is so many people struggle with both underactive thyroid or autoimmune thyroid when you actually run the full thyroid panel. You catch it repeatedly in the practice over and over again in a lot of these people are presenting with things that aren’t what we would call. Oh, absolutely. That looks like thyroid. It could just be physical pain, or it could be weight issues, or it could just be fatigue or could be all of those. Right? But sometimes it’s not traced back to a classic thyroid case. Who has struggled with fatigue, cold body temperature, especially hands and feet, constipation and keeping weight low or off, especially with eating a reduced number of calories that is generally a thyroid disorder. I’m so passionate about this topic because I have struggled with thyroid disorder. In fact, how it presented with me was I love to ski. And I would end up having to wear expedition level gloves that people spend the night in outside for a day of skiing. Because my hands and my feet were so freezing, I couldn’t stand it. I would have to actually go inside. In my tests, or my thyroid stimulating hormone was completely normal.
[00:02:32] And then also. With the thyroid antibodies, I actually had elevated slightly elevated thyroid antibodies, but not out of what we would call the range. And so I would be passed over for the thyroid issues, even though treating the thyroid actually fixed me and treating the other things that was driving the thyroid gland to not be regulated like it should be. So. A lot of people think, Oh, I just need warmer gloves or, oh, I just need to have use laxatives to have a bowel movement or, you know, this is this is who I am. I just need multiple cups of coffee to get through the day because I’m so fatigued. And these are all struggles that I hear day in and day out, so if you resonate with this, I would keep listening. Are you familiar with? That’s generally the screening test when you go into your primary care and they’re checking, quote unquote, your thyroid. They screen your test each. And however, that comes back if it comes back within their range, which is very large. They’re going to tell you your thyroid gland is negative. There are multiple other factors in blood testing to check OK, but they only check one specifically at the thyroid gland. They’re not checking to see how your brain is communicating with your thyroid. They’re not checking to see how T34 is converting to T3, and they’re not checking autoimmune markers, which all really play into the thyroid gland. And so if I presented in my test, each was within their range, but maybe outside of the functional range and I presented with depression symptoms, for example, you’re just going to be put on an antidepressant and not checked further to see what’s maybe going on with your thyroid.
[00:04:43] In our practice, we’ve chosen to treat this differently, because the reference ranges that you see on the outside of labs. Those are basically what we call a standard deviation of the population, which means it’s based on how sick or healthy the population is in that year. Right. So if someone’s getting their lab work checked most of the time, they have something going on where they have complained or they wanted to get something checked in the doctor’s office. Most people just don’t want a baseline every year. Most people have some sort of symptoms that are driving them to get checked or else they don’t go in to get their labs checked. The the people that have come to me and said, I just really want a baseline, I would call that one to two percent of my entire practice. So it’s much smaller. OK. And so what that tells us is that. This isn’t necessarily people being healthy. This is people being average, and so the average person is sick, the average person has autoimmune disease. And guess what’s the most common autoimmune disease? It’s thyroid Hashimoto’s. And so this is incredibly common. I catch it every week in practice or people that have been overlooked. And so when you’re not that bad yet and you start to have these symptoms of having to wear expedition gloves when you go outside or having weight that won’t come off or being depressed or your hair is falling out, you’re not generally bad enough yet for you to be diagnosed. Right. And so you fall into an area where you’re the gray zone and you’re just waiting for your symptoms to be bad enough to actually get treated by basically be given thyroid hormone. Not treating the underlying cause of maybe what caused your thyroid gland to have problems in the first place? Right? And I think that this is really important to look at what’s driving the thyroid gland and my patients when they come in this and I say, you know, you have something going on with your thyroid gland.
[00:07:02] They’re perplexed that I want to take a look at the rest of their history. What environmental exposures have they had? What infections have they had? How is their gut function? How what are their stress levels looking like? All of those things are really important because those things can underlying drive the thyroid gland to have problems. So it’s about figuring out what the root of the problem is and getting to that to help the thyroid gland ultimately. The other thing that’s really important in thyroid cases is what foods are they eating on a fairly regular basis and reformatting that as well? So thyroid disease is unfortunately so common. They say 27 million Americans have thyroid disease, and it’s estimated. You know, that’s quote unquote low functioning thyroid. It’s 80 percent of those are actually auto immune or have Hashimoto’s or their body is actually is attacking that thyroid gland. OK, so. Today, what I want to accomplish is to give better education on such a common problem of low functioning thyroid and autoimmune thyroid. Want to educate to stop the madness of what’s going on? Where are you having to go from practitioner to practitioner to practitioner? And you’re still not getting answers and you still have all these symptoms and are feeling terrible. And then I also want you to understand what subclinical hypothyroid is and that you may not need a full blown diagnosis to get this squared away and to actually start feeling better and to stop losing your hair and to stop the constipation and to stop feeling depressed and to stop the bloating and feeling like foods are so slow moving through and to stop feeling freezing all the time and to stop all of the pain and headaches. The subclinical hypothyroidism, actually, where you look, quote unquote completely normal on labs and you’re told nothing’s wrong with you, but your but your thyroid markers are outside of what we call an optimal range, not that reference range on the side, you know, and that doesn’t mean you’re healthy.
[00:09:42] That means your normal. The optimal range on lab work is really where we’ve seen patients have health and not have thyroid issues and not have thyroid problems. So that reference range is actually much smaller. OK. And so I just want to drive that point home. If you’re set your normal labs. Does that mean that you’re within the reference range of everybody else getting those labs at the same time, which means your average, which means it’s very possible you have an autoimmune condition if you’re having all of these symptoms because most people in that reference range do. In fact, 80 percent of people do and ultimately know that you have other options if you do have a thyroid condition besides being medicated for that thyroid issue. And to get to the root cause of potentially what is going on. OK. So starting with the basics. The thyroid gland is this very small butterfly gland in the front of your neck. And really, it’s very important. It regulates your metabolism. So, you know, being able to lose weight is really important for metabolism. That’s how we generally think about it. It regulates the temperature of our body. That’s why I experience cold hands and cold feet when I was going out in the skin to the point that I could barely stand it. And I would just be freezing. OK, so what’s the temperature regulator of our body? Minute also controls the enzyme reactions of our body, right in how well we are, say, digesting our food or is a big one, right? And so ultimately, if the thyroid gland is running slow, it affects the transit time. The food is actually going through our digestive system. That’s why people with hypothyroid actually have. Constipation is it is a general side effect.
[00:12:06] We also see that they have low stomach acid because they’re not breaking down their food as fast, that’s an enzyme reaction in the body. And how the food is actually moving through the GI system. So everything moves slower and a lot of times. Guess what? If everything’s moving slower, do your GI system right. A lot of times that can breed. Pathogenic bacteria in your gut, and it leads to other problems. You know what came first, the chicken or the egg was a gut problem. First, there was a thyroid issue first. It’s pretty well debated, but I can tell you, once you see those issues on labs you certainly have with your thyroid, you certainly have issues in your gut, so. Let’s talk about the thyroid signs and symptoms. A lot of people have some things that they don’t think are related to the thyroid. I’m just going to go through a list here cold body temperature, cold hands and feet, which is always cold when nobody else’s right weight gain. When you’re especially when you’re adhering to a low calorie diet, you seem like you’re doing things that are bananas to lose weight. In a lot of times, these patients come into my practice and they’re eating 900 to 1000 calories per day, and that is absolutely not sustainable and that is not going to fix the thyroid issue. Morning headaches hair’s falling out like clumps of hair. You’re going to lose about 100 pieces of hair per day, materializing clumps of hair all day long, slow wound healing constipation, which we discussed. You can get acid reflux or GERD inability to digest food or just feels like food is sitting in your stomach. Remember, that’s the remember the thyroid controls those enzyme reactions. OK, so if the food isn’t going through your GI tract? High cholesterol levels can be a cause of thyroid issues, depression, anxiety.
[00:14:21] Inability to get pregnant, so fertility issues, inability to stay pregnant. So repeated miscarriages. Fatigue. I very rarely see this one, but lateral on the outside of your eyebrow. You will lose a portion of your eyebrow. Press skin, dry, brittle hair. Poor circulation and you get sick a lot. Your immune system tends to be lower and a lot of times people. Jump to the conclusion that they maybe have a thyroid issue when potentially thyroid can also be a great Mimica and mimic other things. So don’t just go through this list and say Yes, I absolutely have a thyroid issue. I’m going to go out, I’m going to get a supplement and I’m going to treat myself. A thyroid is much more complicated than that. You really do need to work with somebody that understands what’s going on with your thyroid gland, knows what’s to know what tests to run and know how to get to the underlying cause of the issue because it’s not only about treating the thyroid at this point. Remember, it goes back to really looking at what’s going on with the gut, treating the gut and fixing the gut. What happened with your environmental exposure? What metals have you been exposed to? Have you been exposed to mold environmental toxins? What have you been exposed to that can contribute to that? What sicknesses did you get that maybe you never recovered from? What’s opportunistic and what foods are you eating? Because a lot of those things can also drive thyroid function? Right. So a lot of these things seem like they’re unrelated, but they actually are related. And another thing people don’t know about the thyroid gland is it’s not only about treating the gland. Remember, I talked about some other thyroid tests.
[00:16:23] It’s also looking at what is the liver doing because we know that. T4 converts to T3 in a large percentage in the liver and also in the gut. The GI tract. So that’s why that’s also important and also in the peripheral tissue. So how is your liver functioning? Do you have fatty liver? You’d be surprised at how many people actually have fatty liver in their their liver is running. Slow is slow, right? And that’s common in hypothyroidism. So this all works together in all creates. This issue that we have. And so if these relate, what I would recommend doing is getting a more complete lab workup from somebody that again understands the thyroid and having them test all of your levels, not just test age three, four and three, but testing everything in your levels and. We have seen a variety of issues where somebody doesn’t have any of the other thyroid issues, right? So you don’t have to have all of them, you may just have one or two of them, right? So in our practice, we’ve had people walk in and just had a variety of have just multiple miscarriages and ultimately we found out. She was being treated for hypothyroid, she had actually been on a mad or that, but it. The bottom line problem was she had autoimmune thyroid that had never been diagnosed and we had to regulate and clean up her immune system. Her thyroid, we had to clean up old infections in all the exposures and clean up her gut and change her diet. And when that happens, people get pregnant relatively quickly. When you start to clean up all the other issues that could be causing that autoimmunity. Right. So even if you are being treated for a thyroid issue and you’re still having these problems, there’s a possibility you have autoimmune to that thyroid gland as well.
[00:18:50] And it’s also important to look at the rest of the lab workup. And again, repeatedly, people tell me over and over again, Hey, Doc, I don’t know why I need to bring in old labs or I don’t know why we need to run labs because, you know, everybody’s told me my lab work is fine. It is very rare. I have ever seen somebody walk in with perfect lab work. Most people have low. We call subclinical issues on lab work, meaning that there are issues that are driving those symptoms that are being written off by everybody else. The depression is a symptom. Anxiety is a symptom not being able to focus as a symptom. Constipation is a symptom. What are driving those things? What is the rest of your labs look like? So I think to drive this point home, we look at, you know, the current reference ranges to evaluate thyroid health and you’re looking at each. There’s a huge range depending on where you are. I’ve seen it be anywhere from four point four to 5.0. That’s a pretty big range. And. These ranges, again, are based on the health or sickness of a population, so let me drive this home in another way in Georgia. So here in Colorado, where I practice blood sugar ranges generally go from 65 to ninety nine. In Georgia, blood sugar ranges actually on some of the labs will go up to 120. OK. And so ultimately, you’re that’s a huge difference from state to state. The American Diabetes Association says that one twenty seven is four one diabetes, right? So is being at 120 in optimal reference range? Or is that more based on what the rest of the population looks like and in? Is that true health? Is that actually really what you want? So I think that it’s really important to understand how these reference ranges have deviated.
[00:21:01] And if you have these symptoms, it’s really important to get checked by a functional medicine doctor to figure out potentially what could be going on in what can be driving these these issues or these symptoms. And once you get these things change, you start to feel so much better. I also had a patient that that presented into my office, which was primarily all kinds of aches and pains and joint problems. And she started breaking bones easily. OK. And she she couldn’t lose weight and was having massive headaches. And any time she got treatment when she would get body work, it would help for a little bit of time. That symptom, that issue would always come back when something keeps coming back. You have to go back and you have to look at pain. This is probably not just an issue that needs body work. Maybe there is something underlined writing that. Inside to affect, you know, inflammation levels. And so in this particular case, I’m working on the gut cleaning out environmental toxins and regulating the thyroid gland, stabilizing the blood sugar and cleaning up the liver health. It ultimately. In her autoimmune antibodies completely dropped, and she was able to feel so much better and not have the musculoskeletal aches and pains and not have all these issues that you she presented with initially. And so I think it’s just really important. It depends on if you want optimal health or if you want to just limp along with symptoms. And what I hear day after day is Doc. I didn’t know how good I could feel or I didn’t really know how much this one issue was impacting all of these other issues. If you have something that comes back structurally, repeatedly, again and again without injury, there’s something underlying driving that inflammation, and it’s really important to get to the root cause of what that is.
[00:23:27] Yes, you might have a an injury somewhere in your body, but it’s also important to look inside and figure out what is going on. And so. Thyroid, it’s so commonly overlooked, and so I just want to make sure that, you know that so the tips that I would say to take home is what I have every patient do when they first come in is I put them on an elimination diet. I do an elimination diet for 30 days. In my elimination, diet is pretty much protein, fruits and vegetables. And in certain cases, I’ll do nuts and seeds, OK? And that’s pretty much what they eat. And I don’t want people to adhere to this diet long term. OK. What I want to do is I want to see how many of their symptoms go away on this diet. And the reason for that is because I want to know what food is driving their issues. What we do is we slowly reincorporate the food and each regroup one by one. And why that is important is to see when they start to get symptoms back. In the meantime, I also will do a supplemental protocol. And so within the first month, I like to see patients improve between 50 and 80 percent. It’s just what I like to see people feeling better. I generally tell patients to fully get their health back. It’s going to take a year because of everything that we have to detoxify. They like to see measurable changes to what we call the activities of daily living in one month. I want to see them thinning out and hiking again, enjoying life, doing things that they were once passionate about. I want to see their depression and anxiety lift it. Whatever it is that they present with the infertility case was pregnant within a month.
[00:25:25] I think you have to look at that and see what you want to change in your life. So that’s the first thing that I definitely do in practice. And I think something else that I really love in practice and I personally do myself, I think is so important is we’re exposed to 70000 chemicals every single day, 7000 chemicals. A lot of those have not been studied to see what they do inside of our body. And so for me, I think sweating and showering after you sweat is incredibly important. I’m a huge proponent of the infrared sauna. I personally sauna three to four times a week, sometimes even more than that, because what that does is that allows us to get out all of those chemicals that we’re exposed to. When I personally ran an environmental tox tests on myself. I was horrified at the results. I ran to see what nonmetal components I was exposed to. Like, for example, gasoline byproducts. I think we can all agree that we we drive every day, we fill up our cars with gasoline. We’re generally exposed. But I was very exposed. I had off the charts level of benzene MTBE in my system. And we know that ultimately that can be carcinogenic. So for me, it’s really important to get those environmental chemicals out of my body. I also had some moderate levels of glyphosate or roundup, and that is sprayed on grain crops. And they’ve also, I don’t really eat much in the way of wheat products is very, very rare. And it’s been that way for a very long time unless I get gluten somewhere. But I just don’t feel as good on it, I don’t have an allergy. I just I just don’t feel good.
[00:27:33] And so I like to me. I like to eat the foods where I feel better and have optimal health, but I have low grade levels of that and it’s it’s been talked about that it is actually in the water supply. So it’s potential that you know you can even if you’ve eliminated gluten, it’s possible that you could be getting it in the water supply. The other thing that I personally was exposed to was I have high levels of mold in my system, as well as some opportunistic infections in my system. And so ultimately, all of those things dysregulated my thyroid gland. So for me, signing is really important because signing helps us to excrete mold. It also does. It also helps us to get rid of some of those environmental chemicals that I just spoke of. Right. You know, the gasoline byproducts and getting that out through the sweat as well as doing other things. I also think it’s a really, really important. Of getting tested every year and having somebody look at your labs that looks at different reference ranges. I think that that is so incredibly important to see what is going on. There’s so much advice out there and I will tell you that I don’t really put people on the same protocol when it comes to thyroid issues. Everybody is different on why their thyroid gland has dysregulated. One thing I do see him practice with thyroid is I primarily see women that have the issue and especially with autoimmune thyroid, and they tend to be women that are dependent on a lot. They tend to be in a very pillars in their community, high profile jobs, high pressure. They tend to be very reliable. They’re the friend that you call to ask to help move will drop everything for you, completely reliable, completely caring, and they’ll do it at the detriment of their own health.
[00:29:37] That’s actually the personality type that I see associated with this condition. So I think it’s also important to prioritize if you are somebody that resonates with this, maybe you’re burning the candle too much at both ends. Maybe you’re pushing too hard, right? Some people talk about adrenal adrenal problems. You know, you have to see what’s what’s driving your adrenal gland, and you have to put some of those boundaries up to create some more boundaries around this. And I think it’s really important to be on the right supplement protocol, depending on what your thyroid. Looks like in every. Thyroid panel and pattern looks different, so each treatment option is individualized, right? And so there’s not just an across the board approach to it. But those are the things that I would take home if you know that you have Hashimoto’s. I’ve seen those numbers drop. I’ve seen people have complete normal lives where they don’t feel like they have the autoimmune Hashimoto’s anymore. You know, we say that we don’t, you know, cure autoimmunity because you never know when it can flare back up and in what situation. But you can get your life back and you can stop having all of those symptoms that were once plaguing and driving you. You can feel great and fantastic, and you can get your life back and do those things that you actually want to do. Thank you so much for listening today. I’m so grateful to have you guys listen, and I hope that you got something out of this podcast. Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed learning with us today, please give us a five star review. Comment like and share our podcast with your friends and family. As always, if you’d like to learn more information about today’s guest, please head over to FearlessHealthPodcast.com for links to their site and other educational resources.