Everyone who comes in to us seeking hypothyroidism treatment is also suffering from other health issues as the result of the thyroid problems.
But hypothyroidism natural treatment is entirely possible.
Here are some tips from a couple of the naturopathic doctors in our Toronto clinic who have worked with a lot of thyroid problems.
They’ll share how to get tested properly, make changes to your diet and a few other tips to reverse your hypothyroidism…
Dr. Kate Whimster, Naturopathic Doctor – Toronto, ON
- Proper testing. Most people are tested for TSH, which is Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. What they don’t often do is test T3 and T4, which are your thyroid hormones, and they don’t always test antibodies. A good place to start is just to figure out do you have Hashimoto’s or not. Then the cause is totally different.
- Hypothyroidism triggers. Genetic stuff is one thing. Past infections, which is really interesting, can be a trigger. Leaky gut can be a trigger. Female hormone imbalance I find sometimes, like after pregnancy or if someone has a long history of period problems, that kind of thing, sometimes underlies it. Sometimes, history of allergy or other immune system stuff can underlie it. And adrenal function, that’s the other one. Lots of stress, or stress over a long period of time, or exhaustion or other illness.
- Avoiding gluten and caffeine. For some people going gluten-free makes a huge difference in their thyroid function and brings down the antibodies. It stops the destruction of the thyroid gland, and then their symptoms improve and their medication works better. Coffee and caffeine can also affect how well thyroid hormones work. I’ve had a patient where we went gluten-free, caffeine-free as part of our treatment and that had a lot of effect for her.
- Stress management. Changing the stress response or working on adrenal support, more sleep, stress reduction, balancing go-go-go with more calm or more downtime. That can reduce thyroid antibodies.
- Drainage. I do a lot of what’s called drainage, to change the immune system and stop the autoimmune attack, and if you can do that, then often someone can feel better, it’ll just take time to see it reflected in the labs.
- Success story. Naturopathic methods can bring relief within a few months. Dr. Whimster treated a woman who wondered why her thyroid medication was continuously going up. Dr. Whimster determined that the woman had Hashimoto’s thyroid antibodies and so advised her on what would be a healthy diet for her, including going gluten free, caffeine free and taking supplements. She also did drainage and detoxification for her. The woman was able to decrease her thyroid medication and even get pregnant, which she hadn’t been able to do.
- Beyond pharmaceuticals. We try paying more attention to your vitamin B levels, we start paying attention to see if there are any food sensitivities that are causing your immune system to attack itself. Stress is also a big part of any sort of auto-immune condition protocol
- Supplements and diet. There are supplements that we can give you to allow for the thyroid medication to work better, or changes in the diet for example. We have seen that in cases of hypothyroidism that might be coming from an immune problem, cutting gluten from the diet could be beneficial.
Hypothyroidism Treatment Video Transcriptions
Dr. Kate Whimster
Phil: Do you have a typical approach to helping people through this, or does it depend on…?
Kate: I would say a typical approach in terms of looking at the case, yes. How you treat depends on the person.
Phil: Are there commonalities that you would suggest, just people who are there right now and they know they have it, and they just want to say, “What can I start doing right now?”
Kate: One thing they can do is just get tested properly and a little bit more thoroughly. That’s another big question that I get asked a lot, which is all about testing. Most people are tested for TSH, which is Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, and that’s a very, that’s a test that’s done all the time, screening test. In hypothyroid, that would be elevated, which means the thyroid gland is working harder than it needs to, it’s not really responding as easily as it should. Often someone’s doctor will put them on Synthroid, “Oh, your TSH is high, put you on Synthroid.” What they don’t do is necessarily go on and test T3 and T4 which are your thyroid hormones and are those levels normal, and they don’t always test antibodies. A good place to start is just to figure out do you have Hashimoto’s, like autoimmune hypothyroid, or not. Then the cause is totally different.
Phil: Really, it’s not something to fix on your own, it make sense to really figure out what’s going on.
Kate: Yeah, there’s some things you can do on your own. Like I said, 90 percent of hypothyroid is Hashimoto’s, and so for most people they’re going to have positive thyroid antibodies. The Synthroid, the medication, does not change that. What you can do in your own life, like one big thing is gluten sensitivity, is often associated with thyroid antibodies. For some people going gluten-free makes a huge difference in their thyroid function and brings down the antibodies. It stops the destruction of the thyroid gland, and then their symptoms improve and their medication works better. Coffee and caffeine can also affect how well thyroid hormones work. I’ve had a patient where we went gluten-free, caffeine-free as part of our treatment and that had a lot of effect for her. I see that sometimes with people if they’re drinking a lot of coffee, or something like that. Stress is another one. High stress, you can get thyroid antibodies. Changing the stress response or working on adrenal support, more sleep, stress reduction, sort of balancing go-go-go with more calm or more downtime. That can reduce thyroid antibodies. A few things like that can make a big difference for some people and sometimes you don’t need to do very much beyond that.
Phil: You just have to do the right thing for you.
Kate: Other food sensitivities other than gluten sensitivity can have an impact on antibodies. The next most common would be dairy, or other food sensitivities, like eggs.
Phil: If people were to come in to see you as a naturopathic doctor, you’d probably do some sort of blood work?
Kate: What I would do is requisition whatever blood work they’ve already had done and take a look at that. If we don’t have all the information that we need, either I will run more blood work or we can send them back to their medical doctor and try to get that done. If they do it through their medical doctor they’re covered by OHIP for that blood work, or endocrinologist or whatever, but through me they pay out of pocket. Either way, it’s really important to figure out if they have antibodies or not. The thyroid. That’s where I would start.
Phil: Then would allergy, do you do allergy testing?
Kate: Yes, we could do food sensitivity testing. Right off the bat, if someone has Hashimoto’s, I almost always recommend to go 100 percent gluten-free anyway. For so many people it makes such a difference that… Food sensitivity testing can be expensive, and sometimes just that one thing, you can do that, and you don’t need to do other testing, because it makes a huge difference. To be thorough, it would be great to do food sensitivity testing and be more precise per person, what’s having an impact.
Phil: Other than that, so they would end up coming to see you ideally a couple of times, a few times over the course of a couple of months or a few months?
Phil: Then they could expect to, I guess it depends on the person, but expect to see results. Depends?
Kate: To see antibodies change may take months. You also want to look at their symptoms, so it depends what they’re presenting with, being fatigue, weight gain, being the biggest ones. That can change really quickly if their thyroid antibodies come down, and you can do that other ways other than diet. You can do nutritional supplementation, certain things will bring antibodies down. I do a lot of what’s called drainage, to sort of change the immune system and stop the autoimmune attack, and if you can do that, then often someone can feel better, it’ll just take time to see it reflected in the labs. Then you want to test antibodies three months later, six months later and see, is the number still high. Even if it comes down a little bit, you still want to get it as low as possible.
Phil: It does sound though like taking a more of a holistic approach throughout a whole bunch of possible routes that could be really effective.
Kate: Yeah, definitely. That’s usually, the biggest thing I’m doing for patients when they come in for hypothyroid is trying to determine, first is it autoimmune or not? Assuming it’s autoimmune because that’s most people, what is the underlying cause of that? There a bunch of different triggers. Genetic stuff is one thing, past infections, which is really interesting, can be a trigger. Leaky gut can be a trigger. Female hormone imbalance I find sometimes, like after pregnancy or if someone has a long history of period problems, that kind of thing, sometimes underlies it, and sometimes, history of allergy or other immune system stuff can underlie it, and adrenal function, that’s the other one. Lots of stress, or stress over a long period of time, or exhaustion or other illness. You try to look at, what are the factors in this person and those are the things you treat. If you treat the right things, you can get really good results.
Phil: That’s good.
Phil: I think we’re good on that.
Phil: I want to do a quick check and make sure it’s working.
Kate: I have one more thing if you want to talk about it with hypothyroid. I have one case, that I sort of mentioned, but it’s probably a good… I don’t know if it’s typical but it’s a good example of a clean case. A patient came in. She had been on thyroid medication since her twenties, so probably about ten years. Her medication dose was always going up, going up, going up slowly. That was one concern. She was like, “I don’t understand, what’s going on here, because I feel fine, but my medication dose keeps going up.” Second thing was that she had one child at, I think, twenty-five years old or something. She had had one child and then couldn’t get pregnant again. She had done fertility treatments, which had been unsuccessful, and she didn’t really want to go that route. She had done acupuncture, herbs for fertility, that had been unsuccessful thus far. She had no physical symptoms, felt fine, looked fine, no weight issues, nothing. Just those two things. What we did with her was she had never been tested for thyroid antibodies. Turns out she had Hashimoto’s thyroid antibodies, which is why the medication was always gradually going up, because her thyroid gland was being damaged over time. We found that out. We did gluten-free, caffeine-free, we did some supplementation to support her thyroid and reduce thyroid antibodies. Because she had no symptoms, her only thing was the period and her periods were regular and everything but they were not optimal. She wasn’t optimally fertile. The other thing we did, we did some supplementation for fertility, and all I did was drainage, which is like, detoxification, thyroid support, female hormone support, and so within a few months her thyroid dose stabilized and then went down one step, so she went back a little bit on her dosage because the thyroid antibodies came down and she got pregnant and then she has baby. That was a really good example of just identifying the right problem and treating it appropriately.
Kate: It was really easy to solve everything.
Phil: Yeah, and it seems like it had been missed for many years.
Kate: It’s just because there’s no conventional medical treatment for antibodies. They’re just like take the Synthroid that’s it.