I received this letter from Georganna in Albany, NY:
“I am constantly fatigued, my hair is thinning, and I am gaining weight. My doctor says that I have hypothyroidism and prescribed Synthroid. Can you give me more information about thyroid medications and natural ways to help myself?”
The answer to that is of interest to approximately 20 million Americans who have some form of thyroid disease. You are fairly fortunate that you have the correct diagnosis, because so often, the major symptoms are overlooked: Fatigue, hair loss and weight gain.
Because there are about 40 possible other symptoms related to low thyroid, it is commonly misdiagnosed as something else, usually depression or immune dysfunction. Other symptom can cloud the diagnosis including allergies, goiter, depression, swollen eyelids, brittle nails, infertility, irritability, constipation, menstrual irregularities, psoriasis, eczema, constant infections, yeast overgrowth, fibromyalgia, heart palpitations, high cholesterol, memory impairment, cold intolerance, and diabetes. That last one is a shocker to most people but it’s true –low thyroid often precipitates diabetes and all of it’s potentially devastating complications.
Doctors often prescribe Synthroid (sold generically as levothyroxine). It provides your body with a precursor to thyroid hormone called T4. Your body converts T4 into T3 which is really what you want because T3 does all the work for you.
T3 is active thyroid hormone.
All thyroid medications should be taken on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning unless otherwise directed. It is usually taken orally or sometimes sublingually.
Your doctor could also prescribe “Armour Thyroid” or Nature-Throid for you, which may work better because it provides both T4 and T3 in one pill. Nature-Throid is gluten-free and contains NO artificial colors, flavors, soy, peanut or rice. These are both T4/T3 replacement hormones that come from pig thyroid gland (porcine-derived), and they are purified and contain other naturally occuring cofactors that you’d find in a gland, such as T1 and T2 and trace iodine.
Progressive doctors may also call the local Compounding Pharmacy to order a more customized combination of thyroid hormones for you. Dosage in that case, would be very individual, and based on your personal blood levels, as well as your primary symptoms, and basal body temperature (your body’s lowest temperature during sleep).
Adaptogenic herbs like some of the ones shown in my graphic can be helpful. Ashwagandha in particular is useful, I talk about that one down below.
Here are some other suggestions:
Switch your regular table salt which only contains “sodium chloride” to sea salt which contains a full range of minerals. Your thyroid gland loves minerals and makes thyroid hormone more efficiently in the presence of natural minerals.
Researchers have found a significant link between wheat allergies (Celiac disease) and people with thyroid disease (especially Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease). Antibodies may come down within months of going gluten-free. If you are not sure whether this gluten-free trial is going to work, then give it at least 2 months to find out. It’s not a diet for everyone.
Limit intake of certain supplements.
For example, alpha lipoic acid could interfere with the amount of active T3 your body makes. Keep dosages low (or avoid) in thyroid disease.
I don’t think you should limit biotin, but there is a little shape-shifting that occurs with thyroid hormone if you take very high doses of this B vitamin, known to help with beautifying your hair, skin and nails. Read my article, How Biotin Impacts Your Thyroid.
Limit intake of certain foods.
For instance, processed soy foods (tofu, tempeh, soy milk) and cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower) work against your thyroid.
In addition, depending on what your doctor says, supplement with the following:
People with reduced levels of zinc, iodine, selenium, copper and magnesium have difficulty making active T3 thyroid hormone.
a natural dietary supplement that is rich in precious iodine which helps drive the production of thyroid hormone if you are low. You might be low if you take antidepressants, or if you just bought a new car in the last year. Testing for iodine deficiency is best done using a urine test.
This is an Ayurvedic herb that appears to nourish the thyroid gland, make thyroid hormone and provide antioxidant protection.* There was a fascinating, double-blind placebo-controlled STUDY using KSM 66 Ashwagandha (which is the same brand that I put into my Thyroid Script supplement) and the researchers concluded:
Treatment with ashwagandha may be beneficial for normalizing thyroid indices in subclinical hypothyroid patients.*
They looked at TSH and T4 and some other biomarkers and virtually normalized things within 2 months! Super clean form of Ashwagandha and the best-known type to use for thyroid support.
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.