I hate to tell you this, but, by the time thyroid issues show up on blood tests, it may be too late to treat it only nutritionally or with lifestyle changes. You may be on a thyroid hormone prescription for the rest of your life.
That being said, I am a naturopathic physician and I like to treat the whole person. There are many varieties of thyroid hormone issues. According to the book by Datis Kharrazian, “Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms”, there are six types of hypothyroidism with only one needing just the prescription thyroid hormone.
It is usually a woman that enters my office with thyroid problems. If possible, besides testing TSH, Free T4, Free T3 and antibodies, I also test estradiol, progesterone, DHEA, testosterone and cortisol throughout the day. We usually have a talk about stress levels, and anti-inflammatory and hypo allergenic foods, which usually means gluten, dairy and citrus free diets. Depending on the results of testing, history taking and ability of patient to afford supplements, the patient and I come up with a treatment plan that is individually theirs.
I may prescribe bio-identical hormones, things that help increase or decrease cortisol, mid-day naps, funny movies, body work, liver detoxification and supplements.
Here’s where I give you the legal talk: Healing approaches mentioned in this blog are for educational purposes only. They should not be used as replacements for conventional medical treatment without guidance from a trained medical professional.
The supplement I recommend to most patients, besides a good multi vitamin/mineral, is fish oil. It is a great anti-inflammatory, is good for brain function and mental health, and is good for heart health.
The second most recommended supplement to patients that live in the Pacific Northwest is Vitamin D3. We don’t get enough of it, even in the summer. It helps with thyroid, depression, the immune system and myriad other conditions. It’s important to get a blood level check so that you don’t over do it.
Although Kharrazian doesn’t recommend it, I often will give iodine and tyrosine to my thyroid patients if an iodine patch is absorbed quickly (less than 12 hours) through the skin. Kharrazian believes that iodine can start auto-immune problems. I personally haven’t seen this in my patients, but I probably will tell my Hashimoto’s patients to not take these type of supplements. This would include kelp and other sea vegetables.
If you have elevated cortisol, I usually recommend deep breathing and phosphatidyl serine. If you have low cortisol I recommend Isocort, B vitamins, zinc and selenium.
If you have heart burn, abdominal bloating, or bowel issues, we will talk about your diet, try digestive enzymes, probiotics and sometimes liver support.
Datis Kharrazian’s book, “Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms”, has some new ideas for me. He tests for immunological markers such as interferon, interleukin, TNF and so on to determine if one part of your immune system is more active than the other and then supplementing to restore balance to the immune system based on the results. I will probably order some of these tests for patients that are not doing well on what we have been doing so far.
What I’m trying to get at is that there is no “ONE WAY” of treating thyroid issues. The treatment is wrapped up in what else is going on with the WHOLE person. Is the person stressed out, having digestive issues? That will be one treatment. Is the person diabetic or anemic? Those are other treatments. Is the person menopausal? A combination of everything above? The treatment plan will take into account what is going on with the individual.
Don’t be disappointed. In future posts I plan to talk about diabetes, digestive issues and more. You’ll get to hear about all sorts of supplements for specific issues along with lifestyle changes. Do you have anything specific you would like to hear about?