Testing for Optimal Health: Part 1

Are You Struggling with any of the Following Symptoms?

  • Stubborn weight
  • Poor recovery or performance
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Gut/digestive issues
  • Low libido
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Blood sugar issues
  • Depression/anxiety
  • Acne
  • Poor muscle gain
  • Hair loss or unwanted hair

If so, you may have already worked on trying to resolve them – by eating clean, exercising, taking supplements, taking care of yourself…working really hard to do things right.

Maybe you’ve done some research on your own and your symptoms sound just like low thyroid…or adrenal fatigue…or low testosterone…or hypoglycemia…or leaky gut, IBS or SIBO…or food intolerance…or that “it’s just part of getting older”…or any number of other issues.

When Things Aren’t As They Seem

On paper, symptoms can look like they fit into a certain category, but in reality it can be very different. Here are a couple of examples from patients with whom I’ve worked.

JT is a 30-year-old man with symptoms of:

  • Weight gain
  • Thinning hair
  • Muscle loss
  • Low motivation
  • Some depressed moods
  • Decreased libido

Sounds a lot like low testosterone, right? Maybe some low thyroid function or adrenal fatigue?

All of these are completely reasonable thoughts given the symptoms he’s dealing with. In reality, testing showed a very different picture: his testosterone and thyroid results were perfect, while his estrogen levels were sky high and his adrenals were actually in overdrive.

The high estrogen was creating a relative testosterone “deficiency”…the issue was too much estrogen rather than not enough testosterone, and since his body was converting testosterone into estrogen, giving testosterone support would have made the whole situation worse. For his adrenals, since his cortisol levels were actually too high, giving adrenal support for adrenal “fatigue” also would have made the issue worse.

AC is a 42 year old woman with symptoms of:

  • Fatigue
  • Stubborn weight
  • No libido
  • Brain fog
  • Constipation

This looks like classic low thyroid function, doesn’t it? Maybe some adrenal fatigue in the mix?

She’d previously had some basic thyroid testing done which did confirm her thyroid was running low. She was prescribed Synthroid (levothyroxine) and sent on her way. Initially, she noticed some improvement, but it soon disappeared, so her dose of Synthroid was increased. This time, she didn’t feel any better, and actually started to feel worse over time. The basic testing was repeated and she was told that her thyroid was normal. I began working with her and we ran a comprehensive thyroid testing panel for her along with a full adrenal and sex hormone panel. With that, here was the answer – clear as day: her body was converting the Synthroid into an inactive thyroid hormone called reverse T3…when that hormone gets too high, it interferes with normal thyroid function.

In her case, the more Synthroid she took, the worse her thyroid function became because it was getting converted to reverse T3. The reasons why this happened is beyond the scope of this article, but the takeaway message is if we hadn’t done the appropriate testing, she would have continued to suffer!

Now, this isn’t to say that the symptoms you’re experiencing don’t actually fit into the category they seem to. And no, you definitely don’t have to have every test under the sun. Instead, the key is to really dive into your health history first and connect the dots of your main underlying causes. This way, you can find out which areas of testing to focus on so you can stop guessing and really see the best results possible from all of your hard work.

In Testing for Optimal Health: Part 2, I will discuss reasons why and show sample reports for some of the most common tests I use.

-Dr. Karen Hufnagl, DC, MS


Dr. Karen is currently available on Wednesdays at CrossFit Sanitas. You can book online directly or through the front desk at 303-449-4635.

*Through the month of October, Dr. Karen is offering a $155 discount on your first two appointments.*

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.