Thyroid Antibodies and Graves’ Disease
Many people with Graves’ Disease actually have a negative test for thyroid antibodies. So while a positive test for thyroid antibodies, along with a positive Radioactive Iodine Uptake test will confirm you have this condition, one can’t rely on the thyroid antibodies blood test alone. So while some doctors will recommend a TPO or a different blood test to detect thyroid antibodies when they suspect someone has Graves’ Disease, others won’t recommend any of these blood tests at all.
What is the purpose of receiving a blood test for thyroid antibodies? Well, normally antibodies are formed to protect the body from foreign molecules, also known as antigens. With Graves’ Disease, which is an autoimmune thyroid condition, the antibodies attack its own thyroid gland. So tests for thyroid antibodies such as the TPO can help determine the presence of these antibodies, although as mentioned above, one can’t rely on these tests alone.
As a holistic healthcare professional who was personally diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, I can tell you that while I do consider the test for thyroid antibodies to be helpful, there are other more useful tests which will actually determine the cause of this autoimmune thyroid condition. After all, while it’s nice that there are tests to confirm you have Graves’ Disease, there are other tests which can help determine the cause of this condition. Although most endocrinologists and other doctors consider Graves’ Disease to be incurable, many people have had their health restored back to normal by following a natural treatment protocol.
Other Tests Which Can Determine The Cause Of Graves’ Disease
If you are looking to determine the cause of your condition, and avoid taking anti-thyroid drugs and/or receiving radioactive iodine, then in addition to the thyroid antibodies blood test and other thyroid blood tests which can help diagnose your condition, there are a few tests that can help determine the cause of your condition:
Test #1: Adrenal Stress Index (ASI). Such a test is useful to determine the state of the adrenal glands. Although this test measures a few different hormone levels, perhaps the most important values are the cortisol levels. Cortisol has many different functions in the body, and one of the more important functions is to regulate the blood sugar levels. When someone eats poorly over a long period of time or deals frequently with chronic stress, this in turn can weaken the adrenal glands, which will affect immunity. This in turn can lead to the development of an autoimmune thyroid condition. This was a very valuable test when I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, as both my early and late morning cortisol levels were low, which meant I needed additional adrenal support. I use the company Diagnos-Techs for this test, as they have a great reputation and haven’t let me down so far.
Test #2: Hair Mineral Analysis. A hair mineral analysis test can also be useful, although it tells us a different “story” than an ASI. This test will tell you what is happening at the cellular level, detecting deficiencies in minerals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and other minerals which also can affect thyroid health. Most endocrinologists would laugh at you if you told them you wanted to obtain such a test. But done by a quality lab, a hair mineral analysis can provide some valuable information to help determine the cause of your condition. Obviously a deficiency in one or more of these minerals isn’t only related to the cause of your autoimmune thyroid disorder, as these deficiencies can lead to numerous other conditions as well.
Test #3: Hormone Panel. I also use Diagnos-Techs for this test, as this is yet another saliva-based test, and it can help determine if you have a hormonal imbalance which is causing or contributing to your autoimmune thyroid condition. It measures the hormones estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and numerous other hormones which can be imbalanced and be causing or contributing to your condition.
It’s important to point out that it takes many years to develop Graves’ Disease. As a result, not only does it take time to develop a hormonal imbalance, adrenal fatigue, etc., but it takes time for these problems to lead to an autoimmune thyroid condition. And of course sometimes these don’t directly cause Graves’ Disease, but are instead contributing factors to this condition.
Which of these tests should you receive? It depends on numerous factors, and some holistic doctors will recommend that each of their patients receive all three of these tests initially. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea, as they all provide valuable information which can help determine the cause of Graves’ Disease. On the other hand, some holistic doctors will recommend only one or two of these tests based on the patient’s symptoms. So for example, if someone is having the symptoms of estrogen dominance, then the doctor will most likely recommend a hormone panel. If they are experiencing symptoms of adrenal fatigue, then chances are an Adrenal Stress Index will be recommended.
Using Tests To Follow Up On One’s Progress
In addition to using tests to help diagnose Graves’ Disease and determine the underlying cause of the condition, these tests can of course also be valuable in determining one’s progress when following a natural treatment protocol. When I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, it was a great feeling to see the thyroid blood tests which were once positive become negative again. It was equally gratifying to see the other tests normalize as well, such as the cortisol levels in the Adrenal Stress Index test.
How frequently should one use these tests as a followup procedure? There is really no exact answer to this, as I personally recommend that my patients receive follow up tests every 3 to 6 months. This pertains not only to the thyroid blood tests (TSH, free T3 & T4, thyroid antibodies, etc.), but also to the three tests I mentioned above. Some doctors will recommend that their patients receive them more frequently. Of course patient finances do play a part in this, as while I don’t see anything wrong with someone wanting to obtain these tests every 6 to 8 weeks, some patients simply can’t afford to do this.
Similarly, while I prefer that patients receive follow up tests every three months until they have normalized, some people can only afford to receive them every six months. And as long as they are improving from a symptomatic perspective, I don’t see a reason to test them too frequently. This of course isn’t to suggest that I only pay attention to the symptoms, as this definitely is not the case. However, a reduction in symptoms is a good sign that the patient is improving, and so if someone keeps on getting progressively better, then there isn’t as much of an urgency to repeat a test when compared to someone who isn’t getting good results.
On the other hand, many patients who are getting significant improvement from a symptomatic standpoint can’t wait to obtain follow up tests in order to see the improvement. I know this was the case with me, as I was excited to see the positive changes on the tests, as in my mind this really confirmed that the natural treatment methods were working. So even though I began experiencing an improvement in symptoms after only a few weeks of treatment, seeing the improvement in the follow up tests was what really got me excited about this.
Who Can’t Be Helped By Natural Treatment Methods?
While I have so far raved about the effectiveness of natural treatment methods, the truth is that not everyone with Graves’ Disease can have their health restored back to normal. However, most people can benefit from following a natural treatment protocol. After all, anti-thyroid drugs do nothing but manage the symptoms. And while this is sometimes necessary, especially when someone has a high pulse rate and/or palpitations, it is no cure for this condition. The same thing applies to radioactive iodine treatment, as while this will usually eliminate the hyperthyroid symptoms, the person will frequently become hypothyroid and will need to take thyroid hormone for the rest of their life.
Your best bet is to seek the advice of a competent natural endocrine doctor, preferably one who has a great deal of experience dealing with Graves’ Disease cases. Unfortunately there aren’t too many of these doctors out there, but there are some good holistic doctors which can recommend a protocol to help you restore your health back to normal.
In summary, thyroid antibodies can help determine whether someone has Graves’ Disease, but having this test alone isn’t enough to diagnose this condition, as well as to measure the progress of someone. Other tests need to be performed, but just remember that the tests commonly recommended by endocrinologists and other medical doctors don’t determine the actual cause of Graves’ Disease. In order to accomplish this, other tests are needed, and can be extremely valuable for anyone looking to restore their health through a natural treatment protocol.
Thyroid Antibodies and Graves’ Disease