Dear Pharmacist: I want to get healthy this year. I have all sorts of problems that plague me, and I'm curious to know if you were my doctor, what labs would you have me do to uncover the root cause? — A.C., Newark, N.J.
Dear A.C.: Some of you spend money on tests that don't matter, like the standard thyroid test called TSH for thyroid stimulating hormone. The TSH does not indicate cellular (tissue) levels of thyroid hormone, meaning what's all over your body. TSH is a hormone produced in your brain, and your brain and body don't match up. It shocks me that TSH is drawn thousands of times a day on all of you, and it offers no clue about your tissue levels. In fact, it's normal many times, while you feel sick, tired, depressed and miserable.
Here are some lab tests that offer better clues:
Ratio of Free T3 to Reverse T3. This is a ratio of two measurements that speak to how your thyroid is doing. The ratio should be higher than 2 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 less than 2, you could have symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, depression, hair thinning, cold hands and feet, brain fog and memory loss.
Serum insulin. Many 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 sky high, because it's frantically being squirted from your pancreas in an effort to quell the high blood sugar. So your blood sugar is normal for years. You'll be told your FBS is normal, so not to worry about diabetes. I'm saying insulin is a better clue to your health because if it's high, that says you're in trouble. How long do you think your insulin will help you? One day your pancreas will give up, stop making insulin and then your blood sugar goes up! Your "diabetes" didn't happen overnight. Your serum insulin level would have told you! You can read more in my "Diabetes Without Drugs book", and learn why statins cause high blood sugar, too.
Leptin. Leptin resistance may be causing weight problems. Leptin gets affected by yo-yo dieting. You will feel tired and heavy if leptin resistance is the problem. If you test above 12, it's a slam-dunk you have leptin resistance.
I've listed some labs here for my newspaper column, but I know of more that can help you with all sorts of diseases, where to buy them affordably, and how to interpret them. If you'd like to read the longer version of this article, see my website.
This is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Go to DearPharmacist.com.