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Hypothyroidism – Medication & Treatments

5th September 2008

Hypothyroidism – Medication & Treatments

Part four of the ongoing hypothyroidism series will address the various forms of treatment for people diagnosed with hypothyroidism. This information is available after the jump, but first, I’ll share what happened at my follow-up appointment with the endocrinologist this week. I think the experience sums up some of the many frustrations other people with hypothyroidism face when seeking out treatment.

Since I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in my early 20s, I’ve always gone to my family doctor for annual blood tests and prescription refills. My tests all read normal but I’m still highly symptomatic so I saw an endocrinologist in July with hopes that a field specialist would be better able to help me. I prepared a two-page agenda with my questions, concerns and symptoms before my first appointment and discussed all of them with the doctor. She agreed with me that I shouldn’t be having these symptoms and bumped up my Synthroid prescription to from 112mcg to 125mcg. She also promised to consider adding Cytomel to my regiment at my next appointment in six weeks should my symptoms persist (Cytomel works on T3 whereas Synthroid is T4-only).

I met with my doctor again on Tuesday and reported feeling no noticeable difference from the medication increase. I repeated my interest in adding Cytomel and again, my doctor seemed agreeable in adding it, but wanted to do a blood test first to see how the medication increase affected my TSH levels. She said she would have the office call me with the results and the new prescription. They called yesterday and here’s how that conversation went:

Nurse: Hi, we have the results and your thyroid is low, so the doctor wants to reduce your dosage back to 112 mcg.

Me: Oh, okay. We had also discussed adding Cytomel. Did she mention that?

Nurse: Hmmm… no, but I will ask her and call you back.

Several hours later….

Nurse: Hi, the doctor said that since your thyroid was low, she didn’t want to try Cytomel at this time. So, it’s just the prescription for 112 mcg of Synthroid.

Me: Wait… I don’t understand. I thought we had discussed the Cytomel and she agreed to add it. I was on 112 mcg when I first came to see her and yet I was still having hypothyroid symptoms. Obviously, Synthroid alone isn’t working and now I’m right back at square one.

Nurse: And what were those symptoms again?

Me: They’re the same ones I discussed with the doctor at length at both of my appointments [I give her another brief rundown]. I’m really frustrated now. What was the point seeing a specialist if she’s just going to prescribe the same prescription my family doctor — who has a much cheaper copay — already prescribes? I’m still having the same health problems I had on 112mcg and now I’m right back where I started. Why did I even come in?

Nurse: Hmmm… I’ll have to talk to the doctor. I’ll call you back tomorrow.

That was yesterday. I have yet to hear from the office or my doctor. You can see how frustrating this is. Two appointments with an expensive specialist and I’m right back at square one. I’m prescribed the same medication and dosage I was taking initially that left me with recurrent symptoms. I still suffer from a variety of symptoms that affect my quality of life, but because the test reads normal, my doctor dismisses me as fine. Test results are important, sure, but doctors should listen to patients first and foremost when determining health care.

If you are being treated for hypothyroidism and your test results read normal but you still experience symptoms, you aren’t well. Other available treatments and medication are available, but it is often the patient who has to first initiate conversation about them with doctors. More information after the jump.

So, you’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and chances are, you’ve been prescribed Synthroid (levothyroxine). Medication can sometimes take up to a month to kick in, but if you’ve given it a reasonable amount of time and you’re still feeling symptomatic, you’re obviously not well. Yes, even if your TSH levels measure in the normal range. So, what treatment plans are available to you? This section explains exactly that.

Thyroid Hormone Replacement

Natural Thyroid – Non-synthetic thyroid hormone replacement is made produced from the thyroid glands of pigs slaughtered for food, and therefore work on both T4 and T3 hormones. The top seller in this category is Armour Thyroid, but other brand names include Naturethroid, Westhroid and Biotech. All are legal, regulated, prescription-only drugs. Armour Thyroid has been on the market for more than 100 years and in 2002, saw more than two million prescriptions written for it. Still, many conventional endocrinologists and physicians are generally opposed to prescription natural thyroid, in part, because of ignorance or biasness amongst doctors about natural thyroid replacements, but also because Synthroid drug representatives are quite lavish in proselytizing their product. If you’re taking Synthroid or its generic equivalent and you’re still symptomatic and want to try a natural thyroid drug, be persistent. Some doctors will prescribe it after their patients ask enough times. If your doctor will not budge, see another practitioner who is willing to accommodate you with at least a trial period.

Levothyroxine / Synthetic T4 – Levothyroxine, a synthetic T4 hormone replacement, has been on the market for more than 50 years as an alternative to the existing natural thyroid replacement. Levothyroxine – also known by its brand name Synthroid – is the most popular drug of choice prescribed by doctors for the treatment of hypothyroidism. In fact, it’s not only the top-selling thyroid replacement drug, it’s also one of the top-selling drugs prescribed in America period. My family doctor and my pharmacy both told me to ask specifically for the name brand of Synthroid, which costs about $10 more a month than generic versions Unithroid, Levoid and Levoxyl. According to them, the brand names do not work in the same way as Synthroid, although neither could fully articulate the differences. Author Mary Shomon also recommends not accepting generic versions of levothyroxine, and fortunately, does explain why. According to Shomon, each brand of levothyroxine contains different fillers and binders and some dissolve more quickly than others. Although all brand name levothyroxines are considered to be bio-equivalent, generic levothyroxine may have more ups and downs in potency from batch to batch. As well, some people are allergic to the fillers in one brand versus another, or have other allergic reactions after taking certain brands.

Liothyronine / Synthetic T3 and Liotrix, Synthetic T3/T4 – If the T4 to T3 conversion is working properly in the body, levothyroxine therapy will generally be effective. But if you take levothyroxine and still have persistent symptoms despite normal TSH levels, some doctors may prescribe additional T3. The only brand name drug of T3 is a synthetic version manufactured by King Pharmaceuticals called liothyronine or brand name Cytomel. No generic version is sold in the U.S. The synthetic T3/T4 combination drug Thyrolar (liotrix) is manufactured by Forest Labs. Again, there is no generic version of this drug available on the market. Most conventional doctors balk at prescribing either of these drugs. Osteopaths, naturopaths and holistic M.D.s are more apt to work with these treatments.

Alternative Medicine – Some people may choose to treat their hypothyroidism with alternative treatments like Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, herbalism, mind-body therapy, or naturopathy.

What if I don’t tolerate Thyroid Medication?

For people who don’t tolerate thyroid replacement medication well, Dr. Stephen Langer recommends working with a reputable compounding pharmacist to produce an aqueous (water-based) solution of thyroid medication. The dosage is then graduated until you reach the right quantity of thyroid using the aqueous solution. Many people can then eventually be transferred over to the tablets. If you’re taking a generic version of Synthroid, ask for a name brand, since each brand of levothyroxines contain different fillers and binders, which may cause an allergic reaction in some people.

General Thyroid Medication Tips

Take your medication every day. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible. If you’re close to your next scheduled dosage time, skip the missed dose and resume your regular dosing schedule.

Take your medication on an empty stomach. Different brands dissolve at different rates, but a good rule of thumb is to avoid eating for an hour afterward. Food can slow absorption of the drug and slow the process of the drug entering the stomach. Some drugs can also affect the absorption rates of levothyroxine. Do not take a multi-vitamin, supplement or other drugs at the same time you take your thyroid medication.

Be consistent. If you take your pill with food, always take it with food. If you’ve changed from taking it with food to taking it without food or if you take it with food and change to a high-fiber diet, have another TSH test done about 6 – 8 weeks later to ensure you’re receiving the proper amount of hormone.

Be aware. Taking some tricyclic antidepressants (Elavil, Norpamin and Tofranil) with your thyroid hormone can actually accelerate the effects of the antidepressant, while combining thyroid hormone replacement with Zoloft or Prozac may decrease the effectiveness of the thyroid hormone. There are other drugs that interact with thyroid hormone or affect thyroid function, so be sure your doctor know what drugs you are taking and the dosages of those drugs. Women who go on the pill or take estrogen hormone drugs may need additional thyroid replacement hormone. Various forms of the pill or estrogen hormones increase a particular protein that binds thyroid hormone to it, rendering the thyroid hormone partially inactive.

To soy or not to soy? There is debate about the consumption of soy products by people with hypothyroidism. My doctor said that consuming soy products is okay, as along as they are eaten at least four hours after taking my thyroid hormone. Others say soy consumption should be even more limited or avoided altogether. The soy controversy stems from the fact that soy is a rich source of isoflavones. Isoflavones belong to the flavonoid chemical family, which are considered to be endocrine disrupters and antithyroid agents. More research on soy consumption with hypothyroidism is still needed. Vegetarians like me, who rely on soy-based products for protein, will find it difficult to reduce soy consumption. Luckily, Quorn products are not only high in protein, they’re also soy-free (and delicious!).

Diet, Supplements & Vitamins

There is no natural or over-the-counter herb or plant that acts like thyroid hormone and can be taken in lieu of thyroid hormone (Armour is the only natural thyroid hormone replacement drug). There are, however, some alternative approaches that may help your thyroid function better.

Reevaluate your diet – Some doctors recommend a diet that includes whole cooked grains, fresh vegetables and fruit, legumes, nuts and seeds, and fish (if not vegetarian). Consumption of refined sugars and flours, alcohol and coffee should be limited. Excessive alcohol and coffee consumption can lead to impaired liver function, and the liver is the primary organ that converts T4 to T3.

Vitamins, minerals and herbs you may want to consider include:

Multivitamin
Vitamin C
Vitamin E

Vitamin A – A deficiency in vitamin A may limit the body’s ability to produce thyroid hormone.

Vitamin B2 – A shortage of this vitamin can depress endocrine function, especially the thyroid and adrenals.

Vitamin B3 – Helps keep cells working by aiding in respiration and delivery of energy to cells.

Vitamin B6 – Helps convert iodine to thyroid hormone.

Vitamin B12 – People with hypothyroidism may be less able to absorb sufficient vitamin B12.

Vitamin D – Necessary for the pituitary gland to produce thyroid hormone, and may play a role in T3 binding to its receptor and in T4 to T3 conversion.

Selenium – Most important mineral for thyroid function. Selenium activates an enzyme that is responsible for controlling thyroid function by thee conversion of T4 to T3. A selenium deficiency alone is thought to be a trigger of autoimmune thyroid disease in some people. Experts recommend 200mcg of selenium a day. Overdose of selenium can be harmful; intake is recommended to no more than 200 – 400 mcg a day.

Zinc – Needed by the thyroid for both hormone production and T4 to T3 conversion. Also necessary for proper hypothalamic functioning, which is related to the functioning of the thyroid. Zinc should always be balanced out with a small amount of copper.

Iron – Additional iron may be needed by some people with hypothyroidism. If you do take iron, allow at least four hours between taking it and your thyroid hormone.

Magnesium – An essential mineral that is often deficient in thyroid patients. It helps to maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady and bones strong, and is involved in energy metabolism.

There are also a number of herbal remedies recommended for thyroid treatment. You should select consult an herbalist to determine herbal treatments right for you.

Obviously you should consult your doctor before taking any kind of drug, supplement or vitamin. The above information is informational only and should not be construed as medical advice. Tomorrow’s series will address how to better manage both the depression and weight gain that are characteristic of hypothyroidism.

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There are currently 39 responses to “Hypothyroidism – Medication & Treatments”

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  1. 1 On September 5th, 2008, lilacsigil said:

    This is an excellent post – and it’s hard work to keep pushing those doctors when you feel like crap already! I was being greatly underdosed for my weight, and my T3/T4 levels were in the normal range for an 80-year-old, not a 30-year-old, but the doctor read this as “normal”, because her chart said so. My dose was tripled and I have stayed at that level, and my TSH has gone down to as close to zero as can be measured, as it should in a post-cancer patient.

    One thing to add to the supplements post: any of the minerals (calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc) should be taken at least two hours away from your thyroid medication, otherwise the mineral will absorb your medication, not your body!

    Additionally, starting on thyroid hormones can change your minerals requirements. Every time I upped my dose of thyroxin (Australia’s T4) I had painful muscle cramps and developed restless leg syndrome. The doctors had no idea why this happened, but supplementation with 600mg of calcium daily plus magnesium every time I have a flare-up has helped keep these symptoms under control. I also take zinc.

    I’m a bit concerned about your anti-generic stance, which doesn’t seem quite right to me. You are quite correct to say that different brands have different fillers and the bio-availability may differ from person to person. However, if manufacturing standards in the US are similar to those in Australia and the UK (I believe they are), the preparation does *not* differ from batch to batch of the same brand. As long as you stick to one brand, and aren’t allergic to the fillers in that brand, the bio-availability will not vary from batch to batch. It does not have to be the name brand that you use.

  2. 2 On September 5th, 2008, libbyloo said:

    Also… avoid a calcium supplement within at least 2 hours of taking your thyroid meds. Calcium will seriously affect their absorption.

    (Hypothyroid, taking Armour and Cytomel)

  3. 3 On September 5th, 2008, Amethystrose said:

    I am thoroughly convinced that I am hypothyroid, I have all the symptoms. I have been tested twice for it and all the results have come back “normal”. I have been to 2 doctors and they both said there is nothing wrong with me. Their only advice is to “eat less and exercise more.” I don’t have the option of picking and choosing a doctor because I am on medicaid. The only thing I can think to do is go to a naturopath, but I can’t afford one right now. I am at my wits end right now.

  4. 4 On September 5th, 2008, Keechypeachy said:

    I’ve so been there. The endo I went to was so horrid to me, I left his office and nearly gave up and went home to suffer in silence. Luckily my hubbie believed in me enough to do some research and get me back on the road to feeling better. Not there yet, but I do feel better.

    A couple of things I have learned that I didn’t see mentioned above:

    Be careful of gluten if you are hypo/Hashi’s. A lot of people feel that gluten lifts their Hashi’s antibody levels, and that they do better on a gluten free diet. It might be worth a try just to see.

    Taking B12 by mouth may not be enough, whatever your test levels show. I now self-inject B12 (weekly at the moment) and it is the next piece in the puzzle for me.

    Most of us with long term Hypo end up with adrenal fatigue or exhaustion. It can stop you converting your thyroid meds properly, and if you switch to natural thyroid, or even add in T3, it can cause you to go very haywire. That happened to me! You can google for treatment for this, but it is worth taking B5 and perhaps switching to a very good seasalt, just to help support your adrenals.

    Thanks for this series, it’s been great, and hopefully will give more people the knowledge they need to keep asking for help. I got so sick I could hardly put one foot in front of the other, but now I can see flashes of my old self coming to the fore. It can be a long road, but is well worth it.

    F-word, keep searching for a doc who will listen. It doesn’t have to be an endo. I have a GP now who is great and will let me try anything. She knows I have done more reading on the topic than she has!

  5. 5 On September 5th, 2008, lilacsigil said:

    Amethystrose – have they given you the actual numbers? “Normal” is a huge range, and at least one of my doctors read my results as in the normal range. They were normal for an 80-year-old, but her chart didn’t give ages, just a very big normal range. “Eat less and exercise more” is what I was told for 18 months and I had a malignant thyroid tumour, so keep at them.

    Keep a health diary so you can track symptoms – it’s harder for a doctor to dismiss written evidence than your spoken words. Go to http://fathealth.org to get more tips on dealing with doctors, and links to lists of doctors, though this may not help you in your current situation.

  6. 6 On September 5th, 2008, Bean said:

    One reason that some doctors are reluctant to prescribe natural thyroid (e.g. Armour) is that it is a much less stable compound. While levothyroxin can be safely assumed effective for up to a year after its fill date, natural thyroids can lose effectiveness as quickly as three months after *manufacture*. As someone who has been on both levothyroxin and Armour, and is also a pharmacy school grad, I feel safe saying that for some people there are definite disadvantages to the natural thyroid replacement. Particularly for patients who live in less environmentally controlled homes (experiencing a 30 degree temperature difference across a single month), the natural thyroid may stop working for them a couple of weeks after the scrip is filled. So, I don’t think it’s just an issue of doctors being unfairly prejudiced against the med. If you have a patient who has to use a three month scrip fill service (some insurance requires it), then natural thyroid is a terrible option.

    Also, the issue with generics isn’t that they’re bad prima faci. It’s bad to switch between them. So, if a person starts out on the generic and is adjusted to the generic, it will work just as well as the name brand. (It’s worth noting that this means that people often have to stick to the same pharmacy. The local grocery carries a different generic than, say, WalMart, which makes its own.) For some people, the generic even works better than the name brand. It’s all a matter of individual metabolism. There’s no reason to be skeptical of the generic if you are just starting out on treatment, or if your treatment is failing.

    Just for reference, I started out on Armour and eventually switched to a generic levothyroxin because Armour wasn’t working out well for me. It’s likely that even with all of my pharmaceutical background, I was still allowing the meds to experience too much heat variation and they were destabilizing on me. The levothyroxin has worked beautifully for me for the last four years. (And has the benefit of not smelling like rotting meat as the Armour did. Pew!)

    Good Luck!

  7. 7 On September 5th, 2008, Amethystrose said:

    lilacsigal- I don’t know the numbers, but I called the office and asked for a copy of the test sent to me. This is the second time I was tested in the past 6 months. The first time it was done, there was one number (I forgot which one) that was .5 below the normal range, but my other PCP said it was such a small deviance that it didn’t matter. I don’t think I ever had the antibody test. I will ask my doctor to order it, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

  8. 8 On September 6th, 2008, KMTBerry said:

    I can’t thank you enough for this article. I think it has changed my life!

  9. 9 On September 7th, 2008, miquiecrew said:

    this is very interesting and thank you for posting this series. i am diagnosed with Hypothyroidism and learning some of this info is very interesting. thank you.

  10. 10 On September 8th, 2008, Katrina said:

    Um, not to rush you but I’m very much looking forward to the next installment mentioned here(on depression and weight gain). There’s such a need to know about how to actually live with hypothyroidism. And how to deal with people telling you that if you just tried harder than you could lose weight and feel better…

  11. 11 On September 9th, 2008, Hypothyroidism - Managing depression and weight » The-F-Word.org said:

    [...] optimal treatment for your thyroid before accepting a depression diagnosis. As covered in the installment on medication and treatment, you may need a dosage change, a change in brand, or the addition of T3 [...]

  12. 12 On September 9th, 2008, Rachel said:

    I didn’t have the time or the energy to finish it over the weekend as planned, Katrina. It’s up now, though.

  13. 13 On September 10th, 2008, Rachel said:

    Oh, and an update to my own treatment saga. After another exchange between me and the nurse, the nurse suggested it would be better for the doctor to call me. She called this morning and I explained my concerns to her about Synthroid-only treatment. To my surprise, she said “Okay, so let’s add T3. Where would you like me to call in the prescription?” And that was that. So, I start a reduced dosage of Synthroid and Cytomel tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted on how it works for me.

  14. 14 On September 10th, 2008, Hypothyroidism update » The-F-Word.org said:

    [...] treatment for persistent symptoms of hypothyroidism — you can read about it in the third installment in the series on hypothyroidism. I’m currently on Synthroid, a T4 hormone replacement and the [...]

  15. 15 On September 14th, 2008, Annie said:

    I am on thyroxine but I still have major symptoms; always cold, dry skin and weight gain. My doctor refuses to look at changing my treatment (I am in the UK). I am having so much trouble with my weight that I have now developed an eating disorder. When I talked about it being hard to eat with my doctor, her answer was “Chill”. What can I do? I am scared to eat anything because I don’t want to gain weight and if I do have to eat, I purge.

    I am desperate. Please can someone help me.

  16. 16 On September 15th, 2008, lilacsigil said:

    Annie – you may not be getting enough thyroxine (this was the case with me) but it really sounds like you need to change doctors. Is the doctor taking blood tests? Has she given you actual numbers on the test rather than just saying “normal”? Can you see another GP, even a different one in that practice? “Chill” is a rude and dismissive answer, and totally unprofessional.

    Additionally, there can be other conditions that lead to the same symptoms, or prevent your body absorbing the thyroxine, so if your doctor is not testing for those, you are not getting medical care. Make a *written* list of your concerns, have your records sent to another GP (maybe someone in your area can recommend one?) and take your list to that doctor. They might be able to refer you to an endocrinologist, or they might be able to treat you themself. If that doctor is no better, try again. It has taken me a while to find doctors, but it really can happen. Finding someone who listens and gives appropriate care is your right.

  17. 17 On September 15th, 2008, Rachel said:

    Annie – I encourage you to see another doctor, one who will take your concerns and your health seriously. And I also encourage you to seek out a therapist to help with the eating disorder. Desperation can be a very demoralizing feeling, but please remember that you do have other, healthier options you can make here.

  18. 18 On October 2nd, 2008, mimi said:

    My Dr. just informed me that i have hypothyroidism and prescribed Synthroid. I never have taken any medicine except vitamins and not comfortable taking the medicine. I’m contemplating whether i should take the synthetic medicine or look for natural remedies? Any advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!! Thanks!

  19. 19 On October 2nd, 2008, lilacsigil said:

    Most people try the synthetic first – for a majority of people, it’s effective and safe. And there’s no shame in taking medication when your body isn’t working correctly – rather, it’s a wonderful benefit of living in modern times!

  20. 20 On December 10th, 2008, Nikki said:

    I absolutely love the articles. They have been such a source of support. I have run into the same problem with my PCP. I started seeing an Endo who prescribed synthroid, my biggest issue has been with hair loss. I don’t know if anyone els has experienced this. Prior to treatment my hair was dry, now it combs out from the root in clumps. I have an appointment tomorrow to address this issue as I have already seen two dermatologists. Has anyone had this problem with their hypothyroidism or treatment thereof

  21. 21 On December 12th, 2008, Shirley Lawson said:

    I have been treated for hypothyroidism for many years with synthroid 0.2 mg. This past year the doctor has gradually decreased medication til this past week she prescribed 0.1 mg stating that LATS were present in my blood that causes the thyroid to produce high amounts of hormones. When I said I didn’t understand how they kept decreasing medication (and I keep gaining excessive weight), she said it was just the opposite of what you would think – less is more?? I don’t understand.

  22. 22 On December 26th, 2008, Ellen said:

    Shirley Lawson; I wish I could help you. It has been several days and I see no reply to you situation here.

    I have recently started out with .25mcg Levotyroxine. I have taken this for 3 months
    and have seen no improvement.

    I plan to get another blood test – hopefully
    I will get a stronger dose. If not – I too will be searching for another Dr.

    Most of the members of my family on my mothers side have the same slow thyroid. My two children ages 45 and 47 are on a higher dosage than I.

    I think this is because I have always been very deligent about eating healthly and exercising even when I did not feel like it.. My childhood training made me persevere..

    Good luck with you situation.

  23. 23 On December 28th, 2008, Erica said:

    Reply to Nikki:

    Yes, I’ve had a problem with hair loss. However, mine doesn’t seem to be as extreme as yours; I just lose a lot more hair than I used to before I had any thyroid problems. Even now that my thyroid is well in the normal range, I still lose quite a bit of hair. Did your Endo change your dosage after you saw him/her?

  24. 24 On December 30th, 2008, sunshine said:

    I agree with Mimi about not wanting to take drugs. I also have only taken vitamins and disagree with what these billion dollar profit pharmasutical companies are doing to the “chemical believers.” Our bodies are intelligently designed functioning “machines” “works of art” (whichever fits you best)and most if not all functions are controlled by interaction with our brain/mind…anyway whether you believe that or not – if you were NOT born with a T3, T4 TSH excess or deficiency – that problem was somehow created in your body NOT by using Rx drugs, therefore the answer is not drugs it’s figuring out HOW or WHAT created that “all of a sudden.”

    To me it makes most sence that drugs are NOT the answer then. My theory is whatever caused my hypothyroidism to get created it can get UNcreated just the same.

    Herez my story: When I was 25 years old I was diagnosed with High Blood pressure all the docs were surprised since I was so young – they tried several different types of drugs over time (and many of the drugs adv on TV have side effects that are FAR WORSE Than the original illness – some of the side effects are coma and DEATH! good grief they are litterally KILLING us just to make $$!) After trying all these med’s to no avail I found the book You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. I changed the way I think about myself and my body, packed up all my belongings and moved to Florida by myself (yes at age 25) I have been here ever since and now have no high blood pressure and still am on no drugs of any kind (Rx or otherwise). Last year I was diagnosed with hypothroidism – I was in an unhappy relationship, down about my work, got really lazy and fat and stopped working out – started trying diets, and diet pills, drinks etc still unhappy and of course the diagnosis made me worse. I re-read my book started doing some theraputic things for myself (yes I tried the synthroid for a month or so until the side effects nearly killed me) After extensive research and again a life change re things that were TOUGH for me to face personally and professionally – I am happy to say my thyroid is BACK TO NORMAL. I again UNcreated something in my body I had created in the first place. There is research that has proven mind/body wellness is connected. TRUE my way is not for everyone and will not work if you don’t believe that it will, but for those who dont’ believe in rx drugs or polluting your body with chemicals there are other options, there are holistic doctors – not as easy to find but out there if you take the time to look, as well as holistic therapists.

    One thing about hypothroidism – when your body is not creating/converting enough T3/T4 or your thyroid is not receiving signals from your pituitary…. that is an “under function” that somehow started and you need to figure out diet wise, mental wise, whatever how to undo what was done. Sadly once you introduce a foreign chemical you FOREVER alter your body’s natural production (albeit low) you chemically STOP it forever and can never go off the chemical without adverse effects – you basically chemically kill your bodys (low) production of T4 and will instantly gain tons of weight if you ever go off. After a period of chemically damaging your pituitary with Synthroid it will never function correctly again -which is EXACTLY what the pharmasutical companies want. I will finish with this note to Mimi – there is a more “natural” chemical treatment (oxymoron i know) that’s called Armour – I don’t know much about it, also Sea Kelp pills are said to work wonders but again I made emotional/mental changes and mine is back to what the medical “professionals” call “normal” according to their stastics that they had gathered on other peoples (not mine) ideal body functions (according to their charts and graphs). If my way is not for you and you still don’t want Rx chemicals for life I suggest looking online for a holistic doc in your area. Thanks!

  25. 25 On January 12th, 2009, Vicky said:

    I am glad that I found your website. I am a 40 year old that was diagnosed last year with hypothyroidism. I have been taking 100mcg of Synthroid since June 07 and have yet to see any improvements. My initial level was 22 and the following ones have been anywhere from 3.5-1.5 but that is only TSH as they do not check anything else. I have had a trememdous weight gain since April 08 of 30lbs. I am still very depressed, losing hair, dry skin, mood swings, horrible periods, but the family doc says that everything is ok. I have taken it into my own hands and scheduled appt with an endocrinologist whom I hope will listen to me and make some changes. I dont know about the rest of you but I can gain 2-5lbs over night. I feel like I am losing my mind……

  26. 26 On January 12th, 2009, lilacsigil said:

    @Vicky – you’re doing the right thing getting a second opinion. Family doctors tend to throw synthroid at the problem and assume that’s all you need, but that’s rarely the case. Talk to the endocrinologist about underlying causes of your hypothyroid. Recording your weight, periods and moods can help too – it’s evidence to show the doctor of change over time, and it also helps you personally realise that these are real physical symptoms and not you losing your mind!

    You don’t say what your weight is, but 100mcg is a standard starting dose, and many doctors don’t realise that synthroid dosage (oroxine here in Australia) is reliant on your body weight, among other factors. If you weigh more than 50kg (110 pounds) you are almost certainly being under-dosed. Your endocrinologist should give you an appropriate dose (obviously, there may be other factors in your case affecting this!)

  27. 27 On January 12th, 2009, Vicky said:

    Thanks lilacsigil! I am at my all time high of 185lbs. I didnt realize that the dosage was impart based on the patient’s weight. I have not lost weight at all since I have been on the meds except for a short few months when I was sick and going through a separation. However, what I did lose came back fast within a month. I agree with your opinion that Family docs throw synthroid at the problem and they assume that you are treated if your TSH level falls within what they see as the normal range. I have tried to explain to her that I am still having same symptoms and that I continue to gain weight but she says the same thing over and over, push away from the table. I try to watch what I eat and typically dont eat alot. Last week I started literally counting all calories, the day that I only consumed 1000 calories – I gained 2 lbs the next day. It is so discouraging because I feel bad and feel even worse when I see myself in the mirror. I know I need to exercise but my energy level is so low that I have a hard time getting out of the bed most days. The doctor says that is probably depression and I agree but depression is also a symptom.

    I have been on so many antidepressants through the years with nothing that has helped except for Wellbutrin and I took it for 8 years. She recently switched me to a new medicine but I can not seem to tell that there is much of a difference. Let me ask you, have you ever heard of Lupron? I was on Lupron in the early 90′s for endometriosis for about a year. The side effects were horrid. I went into an early menopause at 26 yrs old. I have wondered if this medication could have been a contributor to the hypothyroidism, but then again it is probably hereditary because my mother suffers from the same disease and ongoing symptoms

    I am so sick and tired of being sick and tired. I am hoping and praying for a physician who can treat me effectively and give me some ray of hope and relief from these symptoms.

    Thanks again for your post and support!

  28. 28 On January 13th, 2009, lilacsigil said:

    Your doctor is only measuring your TSH levels? Those are important, but they need to be looking at your T3 and T4 levels with the symptoms you’re having. Then again, when I was 24 I had T3 and T4 levels that were normal for an 80-year-old and because that fell in the normal range on the doctor’s chart, she said that was normal! My gynaecologist is very interested in the connections between the thyroid and other hormones (I have PCOS) and says that she sees a lot of women with corrected thyroid issues who still have major menstrual issues – and post-menopausal women are at higher risk of thyroid issues in the first place.

    There really are good doctors out there, and I wish you the best of luck finding one who will treat you properly.

  29. 29 On January 23rd, 2009, Jocelyn said:

    I am a 32 year old mom of a toddler. I have been hypo (at least badly enough to require treatment) since I made the mistake of taking lithium to help regulate my bipolar disorder. This drug has wreaked havoc on my thyroid and I simply CAN’T get my levels to balance out. After having my son I swung into hyperthyroidism and back again in hypo even worse than I was before. Now I am on 150 mcg of levo and I am having dizzy spells and feel like total crap. I am due for another blood test soon, but I am curious as to what other drugs I could try because I have never gotten full relief of symptoms and I believe I even had a low-grade version of this disease when I was a teen and young adult.

    I was always alright until that blasted lithium and now my body is just so exhausted that I need a pot of coffee just to get going.

    Imagine how hard it is to keep up with a young child while feeling like I’m going to keel over at times. I am beginning to question the effectiveness of levothyroxine because no matter the dose, I still feel crappy.

    Is it normal to feel dizzy at times or do you think this is a sign of a bigger problem?

  30. 30 On March 10th, 2009, Elle said:

    *Was diagnosed with hypothyroid fifteen years ago – took all the “right” meds – Synthroid (which I had a severe allergic reaction to – throat swollen,etc); Levothyroxine – no real affect, except I felt sometimes worse than I did before. I went to a ‘specialist” for natural horse thyroid medication especially made at a pharmacist; shots, creams, etc. After three years of this crap – I finally gave up. I pushed through the fatigue, tried to maintain my weight. Now, my symptoms are back worse than ever – this time I am so tired, I stay that way for most of the day and night – hair and face so try – face feels like sand paper. And weight? I normally weigh 145. Now I am at 168. My body hurts, my mind hurts; so I finally gave up again and went to my internist. At first he thought I might have Lupus – but all four of my T-Counts came back with a reading of 6.9 – high for Hypothyroid. I just turned 56 – I am not going to go through the same crap again as I did before. My new doctor seems to be very thorough, and we are going to discuss options for treatment again. I am so damn tired of going through this. But this time? I am going to work through this somehow – get the weight off (which I don’t help either) – going to Starbucks everyday, eating junk food on the run while working; ice cream as a “treat” at night while watching TV with my husband. Nonsense> Oh. I’m not saying I’m going to cut everything, but I am going to be extremely pro-active in the monitoring of meds; exercise; and food intake. I have tried “natural methods” also – and take it from me – you better watch out. I did more damage to my Hypothyroidism taking all this so-called natural stuff than finding other ways to treat it. So-called experts (and I’m not talking about doctor’s) who say they have gone through this, have their own website providing “free-advice” should really just keep it to themselves. One thing I have found out – one size does not fit all. I have to find MY OWN Way through this – don’t you? I’m not an individual who ‘follows the leader’ blindly anyway. Repeat: This is individualized and so I believe will my treatment be as well. And, at 56 – if this is all I have – thank goodness. I can work through this one somehow. The diagnosis could have been alot worse. I will find my own way through this – but it sure won’t be hanging on to every word of these so-called prophecy experts who have also been through it – telling everyone “Follow Me!” So Good Luck to me – and to you. The diagnosis could have been mighty worse.

  31. 31 On March 10th, 2009, moonstruck said:

    I found your site very informative. I was just diagnosed with Hypothyroidism, so I am looking for as much info as I can without going crazy with so many opinions.
    Thanks.

  32. 32 On April 17th, 2009, cheryl said:

    Hi, my story is a literal carbon copy of everyones here. My own search has made me aware of how connected each part of our endocrine system is. Chances are if your female and having thyroid issues you should also be spending an equal amount of time on your estrogen/progesterone levels. Our estrogen levels go up when we gain wieght because fat has estrogen receptors, and in our enviroment we are bombarded we xenoestrogens. Therefore we are likely needing progesterone which keeps our estrogen under control. How does this fit into thyroid issues? Estrogen is a T3 antagonist-it blocks the use of T3. I have been in absolute awe of the intricate way we are created because of this very difficult journey I am on. Hope this gets you researching for yourself as I did. Seek and you will find.

  33. 33 On April 17th, 2009, cheryl said:

    Forgot one thing, I’m on T4 and T3 -does anyone know how long it generally takes to start feeling better? I’ve been told something different by everyone. The walmart pharmacy said 24 hours, -then decided a week, and the compounding pharmacy said a month. Obviously I’m hoping for sooner rather than later.

  34. 34 On April 18th, 2009, Rachel said:

    @Cheryl: Most of my doctors have always said a month — same with antidepressants. However I noticed a difference in taking Cytomel (T3) after only two weeks or so. It’s probably different for everyone, depending on their symptoms and the dosage they’re taking.

  35. 35 On August 8th, 2009, jake hales said:

    Hi I have hashimotos thyroiditis and suffer with anxiety
    and exhaustion at times. I have been taking Armour for 2 years and can only get up to 1grain. Any higher and I have panic attacks. Even with 1grain I never feel free of this awful disease.
    Recently I started on Nature-throid and noticed quite a difference. I do feel calmer and less depressed. Again I cannot get any higher than 1grain. I start to get racing heart and feel exhausted. My body temperature has raised to 37.0 in the afternoon within 2weeks of starting Nature-T. I has now been a month on 1 grain and i have started all the hyper symptoms and my body temerature has risen to 37.4 is this a sign of too much thyroid or dodgy adrenals. Idid take a small dose of cortef to start with. Please help as the Drs in U>K are less than hopeless.

  36. 36 On January 16th, 2010, Verla said:

    It is interesting to see that I am not the only one with horrible symptoms. I was feeling horrible AND looking horrible with my face all puffy and eyes puffy and hurting. My muscles felt like I had a bad case of the flu 24 hours a day and I could hardly walk without waddling and gained weight. I finally was diognosed with hypothyroidism and was put on Levothyroxine 100mcg. I was over 100 THS level with over 2000 CPK level. In a month I was down to 52 THS and 350 CPK (should be under 150). She upped my dose to 150mcg. and I have been taking it for a month. I am to go back in 2 months to re-test. I still have days where I feel like crap. My hands feel swollen even though they don’t look to be. My eyes burn and muscles still ache. I would like to start excercise regiment, but I don’t think I could do much because of all of the aching. I am looking forward to my next test to see if anything is changing. I know 52 is still way to high and I am sure that is why I am still feeling this way.

  37. 37 On April 11th, 2010, Jean said:

    I just found out I have hypothyroidism. Naturally, I started to investigate it. After reading this article on your website, I went to investigate Bromine. This is very toxic to humans and even the government says it is obsorbed thru skin, by breathing it or drinking it. They consider it a poison and show immediate action that should be taken. But, it is in products we use: insecticides, medicines, water (cholrinated). So it was very surprising to see a company advertizing it to clean your spa instead of cholrine. The product is called Brillance. How can they sell this knowing that it is poison to our bodies in the results it causes and even the government takes measures to get rid of the effects of being exposed to it? Lately, in my area, according to my doctor, there have been many cases than normal of low thyroid. Wonder where the contaminate is lurking. Thank you for your article.

  38. 38 On June 20th, 2010, Sandy said:

    I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in 1985. I would say my metabolism has always been slow & struggled with my weight after puberty…YUK! My mother had a thyroidectomy in 1955, so heredity probably plays a part in this disease. As to hair loss, weak fingernails, dry skin and digestive issues I found barley grass (Nature’s Way in capsule form) and that really changed those symptoms within 2 months. I started taking 5 capsules per day for many years and continue to this day, but have reduced the dosage to 2 per day. It also helped my allergies!! My hair grew back and I now experience normal loss, etc. Once I found out about selenium, the hair & nails improved even more. I take the other supplements mentioned in the earlier posts and added potassium (1 capsule daily). When the muscle cramps become severe, taking the potassium almost immediate relieves the cramping. Maybe 3-4 years ago, I developed high cholesterol & a higher blood pressure, although I am careful about my diet. The thyroid medication usually brought those levels down, but now I am taking medication for cholesterol, as well. My body temperature was usually 97.6 and BP of 110/70 (approx) & I was cold all the time; the temp is now normal, but the BP is running around 124/72. I’ve read that car emissions when inhaled/absorbed, our bodies recognized it as estrogen. Could this be part of the problem causing defective body & organ function?

  39. 39 On September 1st, 2010, Trina said:

    I have had hypothyroidism for years and take Levothyroxine. A few years ago I started taking estrogen. I’ve been having horrible hypo systoms again – hair loss, very dry skin, moody, irritable and weight gain. I quit smoking two years ago and thought the weight gain was from that but now I’m sure alot of it has to do with my hypothroidism. I’ve read that estrogen can wipe out the thyroid meds. Has anyone else had this problem?? I would like to ask my doctor about adding a T3 or should he just up my medication?

    Thanks for your help

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