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 labs would you have me do to uncover the root cause?” –A. C., Newark, New Jersey
Answer: It’s a good question because some of you are taking 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. 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 would have told you! More in my Diabetes Without Drugs book.Also, high insulin correlates with increased risk for prostate cancer. www.DirectLabs.com/SuzyCohen
Ratio of glucose to leptin: This is an excellent new way to also uncover diabetes. You can do this at any lab such as Quest or Labcorp.
Ferritin: This is your stored form of iron. It can be dangerously low (less than 15) even though your iron and hemoglobin labs 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. I wrote a great article on Genes, Methylation and Your Health, so just CLICK HERE if you have 5 more minutes.
You can buy directly because I’m one of their affiliate practitioners. www.DirectLabs.com/SuzyCohen
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.