HEALTHY LIVING: It’s the ‘butterfly’ gland

Naturopathic physician Dr. Shelby Entner looks at the thyroid, a gland shaped like a butterfly

  • Oct. 28, 2015 11:00 a.m.

Every day I practise I see a patient where I have to consider if there is an underlying problem with the thyroid, a gland shaped like a butterfly that rests in the middle of the neck.

Often these patients have had a conventional blood test done with their doctor and been told that they are fine. They come to the clinic and are unconvinced that they are fine based on the symptoms they have read about online or in a book. Common symptoms that are associated with a low functioning (hypo) thyroid are fatigue, weight gain, dry hair/skin/nails, constipation, cold intolerance and depression. These symptoms can be associated with many other illnesses but when seen in an individual it makes sense to investigate if the thyroid is working properly.

The conventional test that is used to measure the thyroid’s function is TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and is a measurement of the communication from the brain directly to the thyroid. If the test is within the “normal” range (which can vary from province to province and is quite different in other countries) then the thyroid is considered “normal” and is not a problem. However, when further testing is ordered, these other labs can pick up the markers of thyroid function that show the true activity of the gland.

Labs such as fT4 and fT3 measure the activity of the gland after it has been “woken” up by the brain. Another important blood test is to check for antibodies to the thyroid and rule out an autoimmune issue. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a disease of the thyroid that affects nearly 10 per cent of patients who have thyroid illness and is often missed by only testing TSH. In my practice, I have dozens of patients who we’ve tested for this disease and have come back positive, especially after major hormone changes (pregnancy, miscarriage, menopause, Pill use, etc). It requires a special approach compared to traditional thyroid treatments and can go undetected for years until the gland is destroyed and TSH is altered. Antibody testing is the only way to check for Hashimoto’s.

What is “normal” versus “optimal” when checking a thyroid gland? Unfortunately, our current lab values only tell us when a gland is diseased and requires a prescription to replace the missing hormone. Synthroid is the number-one selling drug in the United States with $6.9 billion in sales yearly, and hypothyroidism has become a huge health concern. Understanding lab testing, nutritional support, natural and conventional thyroid hormone replacement and seeking an “optimal” lab value is important in keeping this significant butterfly gland healthy through all stages of life.

Dr. Shelby Entner is the naturopathic physician at Vero Health and specializes in hormonal health, digestion and chronic illness (


Just Posted

First pot shop, more development coming to Lumby

Village growth includes bike park, plans for senior housing, hotel renos

Students call for climate change in the Okanagan and far beyond

Students from the Okanagan and around the world walked out of class in a call for climate action

Vernon Curling Club to kick off star-studded season

Talent, expertise and world champions will shine on local sheets

Shuswap elementary school suspends operations due to ‘musty odour’

Arrangements made for affected Sicamous students to attend class in three other schools

No injuries at car crash in front of Butcher Boys

It’s at least the second vehicle accident this September at the intersection

PHOTOS: Young protesters in B.C. and beyond demand climate change action

Many demonstaers were kids and teens who skipped school to take part

Walmart to quit selling e-cigarettes amid vaping backlash

U.S.’s largest retailer points to ‘growing’ complications in federal, state and local regulations

Climate protesters temporarily shut down road in downtown Kelowna

Protesters are demanding politicans take action to stop climate change

Security footage shows grab and go of cash in South Okanagan business break-in

Marla Black is asking for the public’s help in identifying the man who broke into Winemaster

Vehicle taken by gunpoint in South Okanagan carjacking recovered

Penticton RCMP said the criminal investigation remains very active and ongoing

Former B.C. lifeguard gets house arrest for possession of child porn

Cees Vanderniet of Grand Forks will serve six months of house arrest, then two years’ probation

Crown alleges resentment of ex-wife drove Oak Bay father to kill his daughters

Patrick Weir alleged in his closing arguments that Andrew Berry is responsible for the deaths of his daughters

How to react to Trudeau’s racist photos? With humility, B.C. prof says

‘We are now treating racism as a crime that you cannot recover from’

‘I’d do it again,’ says B.C. man who swam naked, drunk in Toronto shark tank

David Weaver, of Nelson, was drunk when he went to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto on Oct. 12 2018

Most Read