What Does the Thyroid Do - Dr. Michael Ruscio, DC

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How Long Can You Go Without Thyroid Medication?

If you take a synthetic thyroid hormone like Synthroid and accidentally skip a dose, there’s little harm. But not taking your thyroid medication for longer periods of time can lead to bigger problems and long-term risks.

Certain foods, medications, and supplements can prevent you from absorbing thyroid medication well, effectively reducing your dose. Gut infections can have the same effect.

And while it’s important to get enough thyroid hormone from your medication, overdiagnosis and over treatment of hypothyroid is very common. Some patients may be able to reduce or discontinue their thyroid hormone replacement with the right health supports.

For more information, see: How Long Can You Go Without Thyroid Medication?

What’s My Ideal Thyroid Medication?

It’s very common for thyroid patients to continue to struggle with fatigue, brain fog, weight gain, and other symptoms of hypothyroidism, despite taking a synthetic thyroid hormone like Synthroid.

A lot of patients hope that a change in thyroid medication will resolve their symptoms. But tinkering with thyroid medications when you have active gut inflammation or a gut infection is not likely to help. It’s like adding gas to your car when the battery is dead.

Poor gut health may be the real reason you struggle with so-called hypothyroid symptoms. It’s important to address your gut health first before optimizing your thyroid medication. Once gut conditions are resolved, most patients do fine with a standard T4 medication like Synthroid. Alternative thyroid medications may be a better choice for certain patients.

I use a four-step process with thyroid patients to ensure that we fully address the root causes of symptoms and personalize thyroid medication requirements.

For more information, see: Find Your Ideal Thyroid Medication in 4 Simple Steps.

Optimizing Your Thyroid Health

Most traditional thyroid treatment involves using thyroid medication alone, but there is a lot more you can do to improve your thyroid function and even to improve your thyroid condition. Improving your gut health, select supplements, and a simple lifestyle detox can make a big difference.

The Gut-Thyroid Connection

Symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, depression, feeling cold, and anxiety aren’t unique to hypothyroidism.

A lot of so-called thyroid symptoms actually may come from an unhealthy gut.

But … once you have a thyroid diagnosis, many healthcare practitioners focus exclusively on thyroid treatments and never consider other options.

If you’re a thyroid patient, it’s important to know that:

  • GI treatments can improve thyroid health, sometimes dramatically. [5], [6], [7], [8], [9], [10], [11]
  • A simple protocol that combines thyroid and gut treatments is helpful for many patients with stubborn thyroid symptoms.

For more information, see: The Gut-Thyroid Connection.

Do You Need A Thyroid Detox?

Endocrine disrupting chemicals interfere with the way the body’s hormone system works and are sadly pervasive in the modern world. Your thyroid gland is certainly vulnerable to environmental pollutants and chemicals. [12]

Can you do a thyroid detox from chemicals to improve your thyroid issues? Research really doesn’t shed much light on this question. However, we can draw on what we do know for some sensible guidelines:

  • We’re all exposed to environmental pollutants.
  • The best approach to a thyroid detox is a simple diet and lifestyle clean up.

4 Simple Thyroid Detox Tips

  • Eat an organic, anti-inflammatory diet.
  • Stay well hydrated with clean, filtered water.
  • Sweat regularly with exercise or sauna.
  • Using chemical- and fragrance-free hygiene products, such as soaps, lotions, shampoos, and deodorants.

For more information, see Do You Need A Thyroid Detox?

What Are the Best Supplements for Thyroid Health?

Different thyroid supplements are recommended for different types of thyroid conditions. Be sure to work with your doctor, and only include supplements that are indicated for your particular situation.

Before you reach for supplements to support your thyroid health, keep the big picture in mind: a healthy thyroid begins with a healthy gut, so make sure to include thyroid support supplements only after you’ve addressed your gut health.

Here’s an overview of thyroid supplements that may be helpful:

Is a Low-Iodine Diet Good for Your Thyroid?

While some practitioners recommend iodine supplementation for thyroid patients, research suggests that reducing iodine intake with a low-iodine diet may help reduce or resolve hypothyroid conditions. [13], [14], [15] Research also shows that too much iodine can increase thyroid autoimmunity. [16], [17]

Historically, iodized salt was invented to prevent iodine deficiency and widespread incidence of goiter or swollen thyroid. Clearly the role of iodine in thyroid health is important, but too much or too little iodine can both cause problems.

Contrary to popular wisdom, science shows that a low-iodine diet can be beneficial for a significant number of hypothyroid patients.

For more information, see: A Low Iodine Diet May Improve Hypothyroidism

The Bottom Line

By focusing on diet and lifestyle basics, you can optimize your thyroid health, whether you have a thyroid condition or not. Improving your gut health is especially likely to be helpful. If you need help learning what to do, be sure to explore our other thyroid articles, or get connected with a knowledgeable health coach.

  1. Rizzo LF, Mana DL, Bruno OD. Tiroiditis no-autoinmunes [Non-autoimmune thyroiditis]. Medicina (B Aires)2014;74(6):481-492.
  2. Michas G, Alevetsovitis G, Andrikou I, Tsimiklis S, Vryonis E. De Quervain thyroiditis in the course of H1N1 influenza infection. Hippokratia2014;18(1):86-87.
  3. Mizokami T, Hamada K, Maruta T, Higashi K, Tajiri J. Painful Radiation Thyroiditis after 131I Therapy for Graves’ Hyperthyroidism: Clinical Features and Ultrasonographic Findings in Five Cases. Eur Thyroid J. 2016;5(3):201-206. doi:10.1159/000448398
  4. Mizokami T, Hamada K, Maruta T, Higashi K, Tajiri J. Painful Radiation Thyroiditis after 131I Therapy for Graves’ Hyperthyroidism: Clinical Features and Ultrasonographic Findings in Five Cases. Eur Thyroid J. 2016;5(3):201-206. doi:10.1159/000448398
  5. Jonas C, Bertrand C, Michel L, Donckier JE. Painful thyroid nodule, a misleading presentation of subacute thyroiditis. Acta Chir Belg. 2016;116(5):301-304. doi:10.1080/00015458.2016.1147262
  6. Bindra A, Braunstein GD. Thyroiditis. Am Fam Physician2006;73(10):1769-1776.
  7. Rotondi M, Capelli V, Locantore P, Pontecorvi A, Chiovato L. Painful Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: myth or reality?. J Endocrinol Invest. 2017;40(8):815-818. doi:10.1007/s40618-017-0655-5
  8. Talebi S, Karimifar M, Heidari Z, Mohammadi H, Askari G. The effects of synbiotic supplementation on thyroid function and inflammation in hypothyroid patients: A randomized, double‑blind, placebo‑controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2020;48:102234. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2019.102234
  9. Bertalot G, Montresor G, Tampieri M, et al. Decrease in thyroid autoantibodies after eradication of Helicobacter pylori infection. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2004;61(5):650-652. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2265.2004.02137.x

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