Hypothyroidism is the result of not making enough thyroid hormone. The average age of diagnosis for this condition is 60, and its prevalence increases with advancing age. However, it is increasingly more common for women at midlife.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the area of your neck just below the Adam’s apple. It’s part of the endocrine system, and it secretes the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which regulate the body’s metabolic rate.
An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Statistics show that one in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder in her lifetime. And, women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
Thyroid function is very complex and exerts a profound effect on the function of nearly every organ in the body. Therefore, smooth functioning of the overall body chemistry depends on the health of your thyroid gland.
14 Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
While many women with hypothyroidism are completely asymptomatic, others may have a wide variety of symptoms, including mood and sleep disturbances, depression and irritability, low energy level, and even mental confusion.
Here are 14 more symptoms of clinical and subclinical hypothyroidism:
- Weight gain
- Intolerance to cold or heat
- Hair loss or dry hair
- Decreased heart rate
- Problems with attention and concentration
- Shortness of breath
- Heavy menstrual periods, especially early in the disorder
- Scanty or absent menstrual flow, especially later in the disorder
- Tingling in the fingers
- Muscle cramps
- Impaired hearing
- Dry skin and puffiness in the face, hands, and feet
To make matters more complicated, many symptoms of hypothyroidism are the same as those commonly associated with the hormonal fluctuations of perimenopause. Therefore, it is entirely possible to have many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism yet have completely normal thyroid function.
How to Tell If You Have Hypothyroidism
If you have a family history of hypothyroidism, have any of the symptoms of hypothyroidism described above, have bulges or a protrusion in your neck below your Adam’s apple when you swallow, or suspect you have hypothyroidism, see a physician who understands thyroid problems.
If your doctor recommends testing you for hypothyroidism, be sure to ask for a full panel of tests, including free T4, free T3, T3 uptake, and T4 uptake. Many doctors still test TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone). However, more recently experts are realizing that TSH is an inaccurate marker of the body’s overall thyroid status.
Here are the conventional lab values for thyroid hormone markers you may be tested for:
- TSH: “Normal” range 0.3-1.5 mU/L
- TSH: High–Normal 3.0–5.0 mU/L (Many doctors still think of this high-normal range as healthy. But, if you don’t feel well, then it’s too high for you.)
- TSH: Borderline Increased 5 – 10 mU/L (I believe that borderline is anything over 1.5 mU/L.)
- TSH: High >10 mU/L
- TSH following Thyroid-Releasing Hormone (TRH) stimulation: 9 – 30 mU/L
- Triiodothyronine (T3): 80 – 180 ng/dL
- Free T3: 230 – 619 pg/dL
- Thyroxine (T4): 4 – 12 mg/dL
- Free Thyroxine (Free T4): 0.7 – 1.9 ng/dL
- Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (anti-TPO): < 2 IU/mL
Remember, these levels are the standards used by conventional doctors, but many experts now realize that the numbers don’t always paint a clear picture. Most cases of hypothyroidism at midlife are subclinical. In other words, although you may have symptoms, thyroid function tests are often in the normal range.
4 Causes of Hypothyroidism at Midlife
There are a number of theories as to why hypothyroidism is becoming more prevalent at midlife. Most medical practitioners believe the following to be common causes of hypothyroidism at midlife:
- Estrogen dominance. The late clinician John R Lee, M.D., believed estrogen dominance to be behind many cases of midlife hypothyroidism. According to Dr. Lee, when estrogen is not properly counterbalanced with progesterone, it can block the action of thyroid hormone, so your thyroid may produce enough hormone, but it is rendered ineffective and the symptoms of hypothyroidism appear. In this case, laboratory tests may show normal thyroid hormone levels because the thyroid gland itself is not malfunctioning.
This problem is compounded if you take supplemental estrogen, which then leads to an even greater imbalance. And taking supplemental thyroid hormone will fail to correct the underlying problem. In order for this complex, entangled state of affairs to be resolved, you may need to take progesterone and thyroid hormone. I recommend taking natural progesterone instead of synthetic progestins, which can make hypothyroidism symptoms worse. Be sure to repeat your thyroid function tests within a month or two of starting natural progesterone. Also note that when you take natural progesterone, you can often cut your estrogen dose in half and get the same benefits.
- Medications. Prescription drugs may also cause symptoms of hypothyroidism. For example, if you take steroids, barbiturates, cholesterol-lowering drugs, antiepileptic drugs, or beta blockers, you may experience the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
- Autoimmune disease. Autoimmune hypothyroidism is when your body makes antibodies against thyroid tissue. If you have antithyroid antibodies, your thyroid function will likely decrease gradually. As your body makes antibodies against your thyroid, your pituitary gland compensates by producing more TSH, which tells your thyroid to pump out more hormone. In the early stages of this process, T4 and T3 levels are normal, but TSH is elevated. If the illness progresses, thyroid hormone levels fall and TSH rises dramatically. Symptoms become more severe, then progress from subclinical to clinical hypothyroidism.
However, Medical Medium Anthony William, who receives messages from Spirit, says that autoimmune thyroid problems are due to a pathogen and that the body creates antibodies to attack the invader, not your thyroid. He stresses that our bodies never “attack” themselves, a notion that I find very reassuring. You can learn more by reading his book, Thyroid Healing: The Truth behind Hashimoto’s, Graves’, Insomnia, Hypothyroidism, Thyroid Nodules & Epstein-Barr.
- Iodine deficiency. Hypothyroidism has also been linked to iodine deficiency. Iodine is needed for the production of thyroid hormone. Too little iodine can result in goiter, or enlargement of the thyroid gland. While iodine deficiency is considered rare in developed countries, I have found it to be common in women, especially if you eat a vegetarian or vegan diet or limit your salt intake. So, if you have symptoms of hypothyroidism, but your labs are normal, you may want to supplement with iodine and/or a high-quality seaweed. The Health Medium Ray Veilleux, who is based in Maine, generally recommends 2-7 drops of 2% Lugol’s solution daily. Lugol’s solution is made up of molecular iodine and potassium iodide. You can easily order it online. And this intervention alone can make a huge difference.
Treatment Options for Hypothyroidism
There are a number of thyroid replacement medications you can take that may help you feel better and have more energy. My colleague Kelly Brogan, MD, a holistic psychiatrist and functional medicine doctor, recommends Thyroid Natural Glandular by Allergy Research Group, which is available online without a prescription. She reports that in her practice, as long as women are following a healthy diet, this supplement is enough to balance the thyroid. There is also ArmourTM Thyroid. It is made from dried (desiccated) pork thyroid glands and contains the correct ratio of T3 to T4, the two hormones that you’re trying to replace. It is prepared according to United States Pharmacopeia (USP) standards, which ensures the potency and consistency of the product. You need a prescription for this.
Remember, as with any medication, there is no one-size-fits-all, and many people do better on the standard synthetic T4 replacement alone or with a little synthetic T3 added in. Synthroid (thyroxine) is the most commonly prescribed thyroid replacement hormone. It is T4 only. If you’re on Synthroid and don’t feel up to par, ask your doctor to add some T3.
Healthcare practitioners often disagree about whether to treat subclinical hypothyroidism. If you have a high–normal TSH of 3.0 or 4.0 and feel symptomatic, then I suggest you seek treatment with a trial combination of T4 and T3. Make sure you are on the lowest dose possible for your situation and follow a sound program for maintaining bone health. And, be aware that medication may not alleviate symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, and inattentiveness. In fact, it may result in side effects, including palpitations and irritability.
According to Medical Medium Anthony William, thyroid medications do not heal the thyroid and can actually be hard on the liver and adrenal glands, which causes weight gain for some people. Anthony recommends weaning off thyroid medications slowly, and with your doctor’s support, while making healthy diet and lifestyle changes.
The Relationship Between Hypothyroidism and Depression
It is not uncommon for women with hypothyroidism to suffer from depression. One explanation is that T3, the most biologically active form of thyroid hormone, is a bona fide neurotransmitter that regulates the action of serotonin, norepinephrine, and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is important for quelling anxiety.
T3 is found in large quantities in the limbic system of the brain, the area that is important for emotions such as joy, panic, anger, and fear. If you don’t have enough T3, or if its action is blocked, an entire cascade of neurotransmitter abnormalities may ensue and can lead to mood and energy changes, including depression.
Hypothyroidism and depression are related on another level as well. The main building block for the neurotransmitter serotonin and for thyroid hormone (both T3 and T4) is the amino acid tyrosine, the same amino acid needed for the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which stabilizes mood and anxiety. This means it is quite possible that low thyroid function can deplete your body of serotonin and other mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters.
It also means that chronic depression and sadness may deplete your body of tyrosine stores and T3. In other words, depression itself can result in hypothyroidism. If you are taking supplemental thyroid hormone, and it works to alleviate your hypothyroidism but you still feel depressed, this often means that hypothyroidism is the symptom resulting from depression.
It is hard to say which comes first—the depression or the low thyroid. I suspect they occur simultaneously. While one does not cause the other, per se, it appears that similar emotional or behavioral patterns—such as learned helplessness or not believing you can have your say—may predispose you to both low thyroid and depression. And often depression and hypothyroidism need to be treated at the same time in order for thyroid function and mood to return to normal.
But it can be a vicious cycle. Psychiatrists say that over time people who are treated for depression or anxiety with medications can eventually develop thyroid problems. I suspect this is because antidepressants deplete neurotransmitter levels. Check out Dr. Kelly Brogan’s book, A Mind of Your Own, for a complete program that addresses this issue.
Speak Up: Mind-Body Support for Thyroid Health
Scientists are beginning to realize that thyroid disease is really a mind-body disease—its symptoms occur simultaneously in the mind in the form of depression and lack of concentration, as well as in the body. And, it’s no coincidence that so many more women than men have thyroid problems.
Thyroid disease is related to expressing your feelings, something that for thousands of years until relatively recently, society has deterred women from doing. So, in the name of preserving harmony, or because these women learned to live as relatively helpless members of their families or social groups, they stifled their self-expression.
Therefore, for many women, thyroid dysfunction develops because of an energy blockage in the throat region—the result of a lifetime of “swallowing” the words one is aching to say. Or, if they did have their say, they may have discovered that it didn’t make any difference because their closest relationships saw them as insignificant.
In order to have your say—and maintain your thyroid energy—you must take a fearless inventory of every relationship in which you feel you don’t have a say. Ask yourself why you don’t. Are you a silent partner in a relationship? Does your partner make all the major decisions? Is it worth it? Did your mother have her say? In what ways are you like her?
Depending on your answers, I would urge you to skillfully and empathetically begin to say what is on your mind regarding the decisions that affect your life. Make sure that when you say what’s on your mind, you do so at the right time and remain detached from the effects. In other words, try not to force your will on others. For example, it’s okay to tell your best friend that you are worried about the character of her new boyfriend, but be aware that she may not necessarily be ready to hear your remarks.
As you begin to have your say, which becomes increasingly common during midlife and perimenopause, don’t expect everyone to be happy about your newfound voice. If you used to be silent and submissive, some individuals may not be thrilled about sharing the decision-making in your relationship. Be patient. All the natural energy that surrounds this rite of passage favors it.
I’d like information on large nodules 5cm and indeterminate findings. Is surgery the only answer? Thank you , so scared
Thank you for explaining the relationship between Hashimoto’s and depression, individuals are not aware of such facts.
There are a number of treatments for hypothyroidism, usually involving medication. Some people also use alternative medicines to help them manage their disease.
Common Traditional Medication for Hypothyroidism Treatment
Treatment for hypothyroidism generally involves taking the oral medicine levothyroxine, sold under the brand names Levothroid, Synthroid, and others.
“Studies after studies show levothyroxine is the best treatment of choice,” Endo explains. She notes that some people are allergic to the generic form of levothyroxine, mostly due to the color dye. In that case, you can use either the levothyroxine 50 microgram (mcg) pills (these don’t have dye in them) or the brand Tirosint, although this is more expensive.
Ditching under the eyes, lost eyelashes,change in shape of eyes and cheeks, midfacial drift, hair fall and on and off whitening of hair. I was exposed to radiation from another person’s treatment, and adhesive was in some face cream that took a long time to remove. I probably dried myself out trying to get rid of the adhesive.
If you have hypothyroidism, your doctor will prescribe a synthetic (man-made) thyroid hormone T4. You take this pill every day. Certain other medications can interfere with how your body absorbs synthetic thyroid hormone. Make sure you doctor knows about all the medicines, herbs, and supplements you take, including over-the-counter products. You will need regular blood tests to check your thyroid hormone levels. Your doctor may need to adjust your medication dose from time to time.
i became very hypo after estrogen pellet insertion during menopause. How high does the data suggest for progesterone to counteract this? any other way of counteracting? thanks’
A quick scan of this site finds no consideration of deficient peripheral conversion. Adequate peripheral conversion is the unstated requirement of the hypothyroidism paradigm. Since peripheral conversion changes the pro-hormone T4 into the active hormone T3, deficient peripheral conversion leaves the patient with the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Since the paradigm does not recognize this deficiency, the symptoms become chronic from the lack of medical attention.
The most popular treatment is radioactive iodine. This therapy often results in hypothyroidism, requiring the use of levothyroxine (synthetic replacement hormone) in order to restore normality.
Thyroid diseases are life-long conditions. With careful management, people with thyroid disease can live healthy, normal lives.
I am always buying medicated products from mygenericpharmacy and amazon and i most relying on them.
“The main building block for the neurotransmitter serotonin and for thyroid hormone (both T3 and T4) is the amino acid tryptophan, the same amino acid needed for the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which stabilizes mood and anxiety.”
I believe that should be tyrosine is the amino acid needed for thyroid hormone and dopamine.
The dosage should be re-evaluated and possibly adjusted monthly until the proper level is established. The dose should then be re-evaluated at least annually. If you are on this medication, make sure your physician knows it so he/she can check the levels at least yearly.
Nowadays there aretoo many online stores but all are not reliable, they are selling cheap meds only but result is not concern for them, i am only visiting reputed online store like mygenericpharmacy.
I am on 115mcg natural thyroid daily. I asked my dr about taking iodine and he said not to because it might cause my thyroid to ‘burn out’
I was on 140mcg for over six years and after I started taking a thyroid support capsule with the equivalent of one drop of Lugols in it without admitting to him that I had, he reduced my dosage to 115.
If I increase the Lugols to two drops, will it damage the thyroid. I am only working on blood test results to monitor it. Not diagnosed with hashimotos. Just low thyroid, probably from long term low dose cortisone for asthma control.
This is Jean again. I forgot to mention one huge thing I read in Anthony William’s book ‘Thyroid Healing’. He says that nothing has changed in the field of Thyroid medicine in over 100 years!!!! Most people do not feel completely better from any thyroid medication because that is not the true problem. It is the Epstein-Barr virus. If you have ever mono…..that is state 2 of the Epstein-Barr virus. Also, my thyroid levels were normal even though I was highly symptomatic of having a thyroid problem. It was really the Epstein-Barr virus.
I just purchased Anthony Williams book, always looking for answers to my symptoms. Going to read his book & give it a try, Thanks for sharing..Sandy
Hello Dr. Northrup, Last year I had many symptoms of my thyroid being off…really dry hair & skin, shortness of breath, high anxiety when I normally have no issues with anxiety, among a few others. At about that time my natural practitioner tested me for the Epstein-Barr virus & told me I had it. I thought that if you had something like that you would be down in bed which I wasn’t. So I didn’t do anything about the virus (at first). I read on your site to read Anthony Williams book ‘Thyroid Healing’. One of the first things I read in the book was 95% of all people that have symptoms of their thyroid being off actually have the Epstein-Barr virus! This virus lives in the throat where the thyroid gland is. Anthony William tells how to heal the virus which in turn will heal the thyroid. You have to detox your body out of mercury & heavy metals. My natural practitioner told me the very same thing! I asked my practitioner if he read Anthony’s book and he said no. In about a month of detoxing I no longer had the symptoms of my thyroid being off. And within 4 months the virus was gone! I did continue however to stick with the detox until my practitioners tests showed there was no mercury or heavy metals in my body. I am now on a maintenance plan to keep these toxins at bay. Thank you for spreading the word about Anthony’s books! His Thyroid Healing book truly is one of the best books I have ever read on health & he lists many good foods that will detox the toxins out. I love you….thank you for helping thousands of people with their health!
What did you do to detox heavy metals?
I have just finished reading the Wheat Belly books by Dr. William Davis. EVERYONE should read these, life and health changing ! Very many health problems are attributed to eating grains, among them, thyroid . He advises taking iodine in the form of kelp liquid or tablets.
Hello. I am wondering if it is dangerous to stop taking thyroid pills to see if the body self regulates. The individual in question only need 3 mg, and I have been asking myself if the blood tests at this point read the pills as regular to the body, therefore the readings will always be that you are balanced with meds. I’m not sure that I am explaining my question properly, but I’d like to try and discontinue the meds to see what happens, but I don’t want anything fatal to happen. Thanks.
Standard treatment for hypothyroidism involves daily use of the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine (Levo-T, Synthroid, others). This oral medication restores adequate hormone levels, reversing the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism. You’ll likely start to feel better soon after you start treatment.
For two years I’d been trying to tell doctors I must have a hypoactive thyroid. I’d tested slightly hypo, but had historically been slightly hyperactive. Big swing for MY body. I also am borderline lupus which I’d successfully managed for decades. The problem started when I was prescribed low estrogen birth control as a perimenopause. I felt like I was being poisoned and it definitely triggered my ANA numbers. After being forced by my primary physician to see a lupus specialist who would not address the estrogen (that’s the GYNs job) nor the thyroid (that’s the GPs job), I went back to GYN and asked to go off birth control and to GP and asked to go on low dose levothyroxine. O. M. G. what a difference. I feel like I’m alive again! I only wish I didn’t have to suffer the last two years. For those of you struggling … you know your body. Do your research and fight for your wellness.
I was first interested by how you say thyroid disease is a “mind-body disease” – since I notice the impact our minds have on our health in possibly all areas. I liked to hear my hypothyroidism might be caused by my thoughts. However, I have had it since I was a little girl – passed down from my mom and grandma. I’ve been on synthroid most of my life and have always felt fine. I think I’m more happy, energetic, and comfortable-in-my-own-skin than the average person. The synthetic meds must be working perfectly?
I can’t help but wonder – would anything even change if I stopped taking synthroid? (sometimes I forget to take it for periods of time and nothing happens) Or maybe I should switch to the natural alternative from pigs? I don’t love that I take something synthetic every day. Or maybe I stop the meds and address hypothyroidism through healthy mindset and other healthy ways of living? Or maybe I shouldn’t try to fix what isn’t broken…
Thanks for the article!
Hello Dr. Notrhup, thanks for the information on hypothyroidism, but I needed information on hyperthyroidism. This article on spoke of hypo and not hyper. If possible, please explain about Hyperthyroidism and the female Progesterone/Estrogen affects with hyperthyroidism. Thanks, Jenette
See your doctor if you’re feeling tired for no reason or have any of the other signs or symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as dry skin, a pale, puffy face, constipation or a hoarse voice.
You’ll also need to see your doctor for periodic testing of your thyroid function if you’ve had previous thyroid surgery; treatment with radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications; or radiation therapy to your head, neck or upper chest. However, it may take years or even decades before any of these therapies or procedures result in hypothyroidism.
If you have high blood cholesterol, talk to your doctor about whether hypothyroidism may be a cause. And if you’re receiving hormone therapy for hypothyroidism, schedule follow-up visits as often as your doctor recommends. Initially, it’s important to make sure you’re receiving the correct dose of medicine. And over time, the dose you need may change.
Always use doctor prescribed meds if buying online stores like mygenericpharmacy or any other stores.
Treatment for hypothyroidism involves replacing the hormone that your own thyroid can no longer make. Your doctor will most likely prescribe levothyroxine , a thyroid hormone medicine that is the same as T4, one of the hormones the thyroid normally makes. Levothyroxine is safe for your baby and especially important until your baby can make his or her own thyroid hormone.
Hyperthyroidism due to Graves’ disease is caused by antibodies attacking the thyroid and turning it on (see Graves’ disease brochure). Antithyroid medication, radioactive iodine, and surgery are all effective treatments and can restore thyroid function to normal. Radioactive iodine and surgery also can “cure” the hyperthyroidism by removing the thyroid. However, the thyroid stimulating antibodies often are unaffected by these treatments, so the underlying cause of Graves’ disease persists. Occasionally, the thyroid stimulating antibodies do go away in patients treated with antithyroid drugs, resulting in remission of the Graves’ disease and allowing for discontinuation of the medications. However, the thyroid stimulating antibodies may return causing the Graves disease to relapse.
Thanks For this Great blog.
Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs when your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones.
There are many glands in the body, but the thyroid gland is the small, butterfly-shaped organ at the base of your neck that makes hormones that regulate your metabolism — which affects how the body uses energy — and other processes. While your body goes through hormonal changes every day (hello, mood swings!), big dips — like those that occur during hypothyroidism — can signal danger, as a lack of thyroid hormone production causes the body’s functions to slow down.
Your immune system is designed to protect your body’s cells against invading bacteria and viruses. When unknown bacteria or viruses enter your body, your immune system responds by sending out fighter cells to destroy the foreign cells.
Sometimes, your body confuses normal, healthy cells for invading cells. This is called an autoimmune response. If the autoimmune response isn’t regulated or treated, your immune system can attack healthy tissues. This can cause serious medical issues, including conditions like hypothyroidism.
This is also a fact of “Hypothyroidism”
I am 62 years old and I have been taking estrogen/testosterone injections for the past 6 months. I also take Progesterone pills (100mg) to balance. I also have hypothyroidism and take Armour Thyroid 60 mg.
My problem is that I have developed this unnatural, abnormal protrusion of my stomach right below my belly button. I swim 35 laps a day and eat very healthy, so it is not a question of fat and my doctor can feel muscle under the protrusion. It will not go away no matter how much I exercise. Something else is causing it and my doctor cannot figure it out. Since you are an expert in this field, do you have any ideas of what I should look in to? thank you very much.
So if a woman is taking Norethindrone 0.35 mg how greatly will that affect the results of a TSH test ?
I had both thyroid glands remover no cancer and I sometimes use the estrace patch 0,025 when I get the hot flashes really bad, my doctor put me on 100 msg of synthoid then drop it to 50 msg blood level was at 18 low so she put me up to 75mcg but that dose gives me chest pains. I had MY TSH blood level done today and it has dropped to 17. Any suggestions would help. Does estrace and synthroid work against each other?
Thank you for the detailed information in this article. I had been taking synthroid years ago and switched to a supplement for thyroid health containing the following: Iodine (from Proprietary Seaweed Blend), L-Tyrosine, Ashwagandha root extract + (Withania somnifera), Proprietary Seaweed Blend, Kelp fronds + (Laminaria digitata), Brown Seaweed fronds, Proprietary Extract Blend, Coleus forskohlii + (Coleus forskohlii), Schisandra berry + (Schisandra chinensis), with good thyroid test results. I took it rather erratically during the last 12 months – more off than on and my latest results were high tsh (6.2) and optimal t3, t4, free t3 and free t4. I’m back on it faithfully everyday. Is there anything else I should be doing, say, dietwise?
I am currently searching for a natural/organic supplement. Do you mind sharing the one you’ve been using. Thank you!
I believe it is Gaia thyroid support! Checked the ingredients and it’s a match!
I am so glad a friend told me about you and your work on Women and Thyroid. My question for you is this: if a doctor changes your thyroid medication and over a month’s time you notice a variety of strange unpleasant symptoms, but did not realize it was the thyroid medication change, how long would you think it would take to “turn the ship around” or “adjust the alternator belt” so to speak? My big aha moment happened at 5 AM last Saturday after I woke up soaking wet in sweat, me and my mattress were drenched. It has now been 5 full days, today is the beginning of day 6, since having returned to my previous dose. I am beginning to feel a change for the better: night sweats and day-time sweating diminishing; severe anxiety attacks not happening anymore; overall elevated anxiety/hand and body tremors subsiding, forgetfulness and disassociation improving, stress in stomach and eating normally still an issue as is insomnia and just feeling like me again. I hope that by Monday I can return to work again. This horrid experience has made me understand, as you say, the powerful and profound role thyroid plays in our body and organ function! Wow!
Thank you Dr Northrup. I am right now so sick from thyroid problems. I am coming up on needle biopsies for many nodules for which my dr is concerned. I just want to be well. Usually I do this through natural ways. Ordered Dr Arem’s book. Hope I get some answers.
This is a deeply interesting article, full of information.
I would like Doctor Northup to address best medication for someone who has had thyroid gland removed. This was NOT a cancer situation. It was rather the”new way of dealing with Australians with goitre… A sad departmental decision that has adversely impacted on so many.
Yes same here. Had an emergency thyroidectomy due to over active thyroid. I’m stable and in good Health now but want to stop medications but can’t because I don’t have a thyroid.
Thyroid Gold… from New Zealand… alternative to Armour. Loving it! Also loving how much better my health gets every time I say what I really think! Thorough article Dr. Chris. Thanks for writing it.
While the information is informative for hypothyroid, little is written about the biochem and treatment mechanisms for hyperthyroidism and autoimmune Graves Disease. Focus is on the majority, and best of luck to the outliers!
It feels as if my doctor, who is a woman too, doesn’t factor in the changes that happen to a woman’s body during perimenopause. She said I have subclinical thyroid issue, TSH <0.01 but T3 and T4 are normal. Seems to me this is due to peripenopause and hormone imbalances and not an actual thyroid disorder. The "symptoms" my doctor is suggesting I should have based on my labs are the exact opposite of what I am observing, i.e. haven't lost weight but rather am having a difficult time losing weight. Dr. Northrop, I wish I could find a doctor like you in my local area! Please help point me in right direction with what to do about my thyroid! Thanks –
I agree not enough written about Hyperthoidism all the Drs. Do is give you the meds or tell you it has to be removed and you won’t feel better. It’s so frustrating to have this goiter and not know how it really formed and I don’t feel better on the meds. The PVCs are a big concern for my heart and I have not found any good explanation for what the Methimazole really does.
I have been losing my hair over the last 8 months and have now lost around 40% of it. My TSH is 3.55 and here in the UK is completely normal. Is this true? I am 55 years old.
I was told today my thyroid is at a 2.9 and my doctor feels that is a good place to be – I still feel bloated, tired, loosing hair, I forget easy and can not loose weight. I am only 42 and synthroid never helped so I have been trying all natural products which have honestly seemed to help and brought it down to that 2.9 instead of the 6 it had been at for 3 years. My periods have also stopped being over a week long and only clots one day instead of the entire time. What else can I take to help – she does not want me on meds anymore since I have been able to get it down with the over the counter organic supplements.
I am a 64 year old with Hashimotos and have been treated very well the last 5 years by a progressive nurse practitioner who works with a compounding pharmacy for my T3/T4 prescription. After loosing my job last year I am pleased to have temporary coverage by the Oregon Health Plan, loosing that practitioner. While the new one is willing to ‘keep’ me on compound, she isn’t allowed to take complete tests – only TS, Free T4and Free T3. My TSH is 2.77, Free T4 1.08 and Free T3 is 2.9. Because everything looks good enough to her, she hasn’t altered my prescription for a year. Without the complete tests and my extensive practitioner to evaluate them fully, I am not sure if I am remaining on track or not. Any suggestions for learning to read these better myself (I realize I cannot prescribe but I could feel more comforted and perhaps persuade ?) in order to have a meaningful conversation with my primary care doctor who is not naturapathic or an endocrinologist? Thank you very much!!!
I would like to express my gratitude for what you do for woman. I admire you so much! I still remember the first time I saw you on the Idaho Public Television. I couldn’t wait to get off from work and watch all of your live shows. You are a wise, beautiful, and talented woman with a great sense of humor. I couldn’t stop telling my coworkers here in Boise, Idaho about you. I also watch you daughter Kate on youtube about financial advice. She is smart and gorgeous like her mother.
You advise about changing the relationship to time and rebalancing the body is incredible. Don’t we all need it! I was reading some of the blogs and came across the link that you posted to one of your readers who said that she is feeling more empowered and encouraged to bring change into her life by identifying what are the causes and strengths in her. I feel the same way.
I read “The Mysteries of the Thyroid” by Anthony William and it has shed the light on the EB Viral concept. I found the answers to so many of my questions. The power I lost when I thought my body was letting me down is now back into my hands. I found out about my Hashimoto’s thyroiditis a year ago, when I turned 50. I have chose a natural approach of treating myself without hormones by concentrating on healing foods, supplements and exercise (yoga, walking), by rebalancing the Body, Mind, and Spirit.
I was diagnosed with Graves Disease 18 yrs ago (I am now 65yo). I chose to use radioactive iodine to “kill off” my thyroid. Once hypothyroid, Synthroid was prescribed and my labs showed normal levels over the last 17.5 years. In the last 6 months TSH has climbed from 5.0ish to 6.0ish and today it is 9.4. T4 is within the normal range. What are possible causes for these changes? My endocrinologist is not sure.
Thank you for any insight.
I just got my TSH and I am 9.4 as well and I am in Canada and waiting about two weeks to go home to the US to my doctor and I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to wait till I get home because 9.4 seems dangerously high to me… And now I have this new symptom of total voice hoarseness and so I was curious if anybody really got back to you and answer your questions
One thing I’ve found is that the majority of Americans totally underestimate just how crucial sleep is to maintain basic bodily functions. Our bodies need a restful sleep cycle in order to grow muscle, rejuvenate our cells, and repair damaged tissue – along with countless other processes. Plus, any reader who has even once suffered through a night of restless sleep knows exactly how challenging it can be to wake up bright and early, begin your day, and have the ability to to concentrate on the daily tasks you have to focus on. While I was doing research for a recent article, I was kind of surprised to find out that the CDC has released data claiming that 33 of adults don’t sleep close to as well as they need to. It is completely unacceptable what we do to our bodies when we deprive ourselves of enough quality shut-eye.
Also I realize now my relationship to time is definitely out of balance as I’m always feeling like I don’t have enough time!!! I know the issues connected to thyroid could be communication, but I’m very outspoken so that didn’t make sense to me. I’m much clearer now on the energetic imbalance!
I’m so happy to have found this article! Out of all the articles and blogs out there about hypothyroidism, this one has made the most sense to me! Thanks very much Dr. Christine Northrup!!!
Hello Dr. Northrup,
I have been scouring the web and cannot seem to find an answer to this – I even tried to contact RLC Labs.
I have kept track of my blood tests results for a long time. I found that I felt best when my TSH was on the lower end of the spectrum i.e. .22. For the past 3 years it has been going up. I had been taking WP Thyroid 97.5 mg and requested my doctor to up my dosage to 113.75 mgs thinking it would lower my TSH. I just received my latest tests and my TSH is 4.98, Free T4 is .80 and T3 is 139. I have been experiencing shortness of breath and terrible sleeping. I am wondering if this could be due to the dosage. I have been trying to find out if a higher mgs of WP Thyroid relates to higher TSH levels. This is the opposite of what I was thinking. In asking my doctor, she emailed me back: “Your tsh is still in the normal range. In general, I’d recommend leaving things the same and checking again in a few months. If anything, your thyroid dose is just a tiny bit too low.”
Any input would be appreciated.
Does stopping estradiol affect the TSH level? My levothyroxine dose is the same as when I took estradiol. I weaned the estradiol very slowly over a year and stopped it two months ago, now having hot flashes and am past menopause age. Turning 61 this month.
Four common thyroid disorders include Hashimoto’s disease , Graves’ disease , goiter, and thyroid nodules.
Love this website.,
My T3 is slightly high. Tsh and T4 are normal. I am estrogen dominate at 152. I have read that estrogen dominance can cause high T3. Funny my doctor is still wondering why.
Dr Northrup, do you agree with estrogen causing my T3 to be elevated slightly?
Since I have a sister and mother with thyroid problems, guess that’s why she is doing further testing. After, reading Dr John Lee’s explanation and remedy of estrogen dominance, I asked her what she thought about natural progesterone cream, but she thought the progesterone pill would help me with sleep. No go. For some reason she is checking cortisol levels. Also,I have severe joint pain all over.
Thank you for a well-written and really fascinating article, it’s helped me understand thyroid disease. I should say the article is not aimed at me – I am male, and was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism slightly over a year ago. I have been on medication, and whilst it has helped, I am a long way away from being euthyroid.
But while the article is not aimed at me, I couldn’t help find a few things really interesting: That the disease could be a mind-body disease, and that it could be related to our relationship with time – That is fascinating, and strongly resonates with me.
But the most interesting bit is when you suggest hyperthyroidism could come about from having an overdeveloped will, or from the exertion of ones intellectual will without the acknowledgement of a higher will. Wow! That really is interesting! I was brought up in a religious environment, but stopped ‘believing’ myself many years ago. I never thought that turning my back on religion could potentially lead to a physical disease… I know that’s not what you’re saying absolutely, ‘higher will’ could just as easily be a belief in fate right? But it is fascinating non-the-less, and is something I shall contemplate. I just wondered if you could expand on the phrase ‘intellectual will’ – what do you mean by that, how does it manifest itself? Do you have anything further to add on this topic?
I had the same feeling reading this.
Maybe we, with hyperthyroid, should stop wanting to control everything with our intellect, and should start letting go and trust that the “higher will” takes care of us and all is for the best…
I would like to know if you think it is possible to need a lower dose of Levothyroxine when on HRT tablets as opposed to a higher dose which is usually recommended? I felt well when on 75mg Levothyroxine plus HRT but after a routine blood test, was told to increase thyroid medication to 100mg but have felt worse ever since – very low mood and tearful. I keep fit, eat a healthy diet and am usually a happy, easy going person. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you.
Hi Dr. Northrup,
I am a healthy, active 42-year-old woman with a family history of thyroid issues (grandmother had hyperthyroidism). Therefore, I’ve periodically had my TSH levels tested since I turned 30. They’ve always been between 1.7 and 2.3. My HMO has always assured me I’m “normal”.
The last time I had my levels tested was in 2012. In the four years since, I’ve gained 20 pounds, experienced fatigue, increased hair loss (and some straightening of my natural curl) and developed crippling depression that may be at least partly due to life circumstances (several deaths in the family, lots of family drama, and work stress). I have always had a slow pulse as well; my Apple Watch has reported mine to be in the 40s on a number of occasions.
I recently learned about natural progesterone. My monthly cycles have gotten almost unbearable in the last year. I decided to try a tiny amount of progesterone in the past month. I figured I could discontinue if nothing happened or I felt worse.
So far, I’ve had more energy, needed less coffee, have had less appetite, less hair loss, my curl pattern changed, and I’ve dropped a pound or two. Plus, the depression has lifted quite a bit.
I’ve asked my doctor when I can test my TSH again. I would love to know what else I should be doing to optimize my health… because I feel significantly different!
I am a Male with thyrotoxicosis.
I was put on Methimazole 30mg. one month ago, and yesterday I got my results back-
T3- (RANGE 80-200)- 305
T4 (RANGE 8.1-12.0)- 20.1
My doctor sent me an email saying he is perplexed and has no idea why my T3 and T4 levels have gotten worse in the previous month despite being on Methimazole, and doesn't know how to treat it. Meanwhile I have two jobs and am in the Thesis part of my Masters program and this is a living hell. Any suggestions for why my t3 and t4 are still so high? Does Methimazole not work in people? My ultrasound was "normal". Thanks
Thank you so much! for enlightening me, with this article I’m now feeling more empowered and encourage to bring changes into my life and try to identify what are the causes and strengthen myself.
Hi Silvana– thanks for this wonderful comment. May I also suggest that you read the thyroid section of Anthony William’s book The Medical Medium. Anthony makes the case that thyroid disease is related to the Epstein Barr virus. Here’s a really eye-opening article that addresses this. http://goop.com/the-mysteries-of-the-thyroid/
Help! I had thyroid cancer twenty years ago. I have had troubles this past year: weight gain of 40 lbs., depression issues, joint pain and general malaise. I am not sure that my endo is meeting my needs. Can you recommend a doc in the Monmouth County, NJ area?
Please read this article and see if it helps. I recommend that you begin taking a little bit of iodine in the form of kelp or a supplement. And please know that you may well have some functioning thyroid tissue left that is doing its job.
I’m wanting info about hyperthyroid . I have been on replacement pills for 40 years.
Now it’s hyper and going higher. I went down on dosage but it’s not helping. Can you help?
Can you recommend anyone in the Philadelphia area who specializes in treating young women with hypothyroid? I’m 25 and have been symptomatic for a few years – fatigued, cold, depressed, etc. I thought by doing personal work on myself, these symptoms would get better, and at times they certainly have, but they haven’t completely resolved and I think it’s time to seek medical help in addition to the spiritual and emotional avenues I am already persuing. I love your incorporation of both western and eastern philosophy, as I prescribe to both, being a nurse and a reiki practitioner. If you know of anyone in my area, I would greatly appreciate the recommendation!
Hello Dr. Northrup. I need some help. I am taking WP Thyroid. Here are my lab results:
On 97.5 mg. On 81.25 mg. Alternating 97.5 & 81.25
TSH: 0.08. TSH: 0.79. TSH: 1.81
FT4: 64. FT4: 0.54. FT4: 0.54
FT3: 3. FT3: 2.5. FT3: 2.7
RT3: 7.5. RT3: 9.0
I am wondering why my TSH and RT3 would increase. I can’t lose weight. My hair is falling out again. Any response would be greatful. Thank you.
Love this. I literally just held back tears as I read this because, well… just… WOW. This resonated with me. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism a little over a year ago and while I felt a little better once they started me on synthroid, I still wasn’t “right.” I’ve done a lot of reading and trying to learn about my thyroid over the past year and I want to ask the dr to add some T3 to the mix, as you said. But the bits about relationships, finding our voice, and stopping to regain control of the 24 hours I’m allotted every day – thank you. A million times over, thank you!!!!!
Thank you so much for this. And you are SO RIGHT!! A doctor friend of mine recently had his thyroid checked and it was low. He knew he needed to say something to a family member who couldn’t hear what he had to say. ( We all have those family members, don’t we). Anyway, he shared what he had to say simply on his own– getting it off his chest as it were. His thyroid functions returned to normal. So– there’s a lot to be said for speaking your truth. At least to yourself or one other person.
Was told 15 years ago I have Hashimotos have been up to 300 mcg Levthyroxine in July 2015 put on Levthyroxin 0.5 which is 8 months I have Moderate sleep Apnea,Excessive Daytime Sleepiness and Excessive Yawning. My test results are like a roller coaster up an down constantly have a high TSH yet normal T4&T3 or low T4&TSH. Numbing /Tingling hands feet. My grown children and Husband say I’m getting forgetful. I’m 56 years old was tested for Narcolepsy I don’t have. They don’t know what’s causing EDS or Yawning or EXHAUSTION ??? Told heart is healthy but have some stiffening. I get heart palpitations and fluttering course 24 hour monitor did not show nothing wish I had it that morning I had to get it because I had the fluttering racing an got dizzy. Have to see a neurologist this may. Family history Mother had MS took nitro for heart. Her mother died of Heart Aneurysm. I also get heavy leg like getting out of a pool feeling. Help need answeres.
You sound like me 15 years ago. I fixed all of these symptoms by eliminating gluten and dairy from my diet. Don’t delay this any longer. These foods are poison to bodies like ours. If you want to learn more about Hashimoto’s, thyroid issues and healing with food, I highly recommend that you read Anthony WIlliams’ book, “The Medical Medium.” He shares all of the reasons why this diet works so well at helping our bodies finally heal. Best of luck to you, Christina! <3
Nice comment Stephanie. I absolutely agree with you on this. And am so glad you recommend Anthony William’s book The Medical Medium. It’s just excellent. And he’s a wonderful person.
I have same condition and take a compounded sustained release T3. Am also taking bioidentical HRT. Some of your symptoms sound like you may be low in some B vitamins esp. Vit B1. Medicines even so-called natural ones can “mug” important nutrients from your system. B vitamins Vit C and Magnesium as well as others are lost the most. I would suggest you find the book “Drug Muggers” by Suzy Cohen. Its a must for everyone who takes any prescrip and OTC meds. You need B-Complex with additional B1. About 300 mg per day is my guess. Give it as much as 3-4 weeks and you should see your symptoms improve.
Please help, my TSH is 8.71 (flagged high), my Free T4 1.42 (normal), my Total T3 84 (flagged as low). I got told I’m hypo but why do I keep losing weight unintentionally – I am already underweight with a BMI of 17.7?? I feel tired and exhausted and I’m very ashamed of now needing 12 hours of sleep. My skin and hair got very dry, all signs of hypo but the weight loss does not fit into it. Is it possible to be hypo but very skinny at the same time??
Sandra, I know this is a year later, but that’s looks like hashimotos disease. You should get both anti-thyroglobulin antibodies and anti-peroxise antibodies tested.
I love this article! It is the answer to my years of research! Thank you so much Dr. Northrup!!! Thank you for sharing priceless information and everything you do for women!!!
Hi Christiane, my daughter is 21 yrs old. She was diagnosed with hypothyroidism at age 17. Along with severe depression (which seems to not be getting better even though she’s on antidepressants). At the time her blood tests showed she has under active thyroid but a ct scan showed her thyroid is over active. Can you explain why? Thanks
What would treatment options be for someone over medicated with synthroid? The dry mucous membranes attributed to over medication can be as severe as under medication due to the dehydrating effect. I have been over medicated for several years by more than one endocrinologist. I know a dose increase is required to use estrogen as it is a dominant hormone and blocks thryoid receptors, but progesterone supports the thyroid. I have tried bio identical estrogen and progesterone but they both impacted my thyroid levels. During the process of finding the right dose of synthroid how can the dry exterior mucous membranes be treated?
2 years ago, I stopped taking synthroid because they wanted to do a RAID test. After being off of synthroid for 6+ weeks I felt tremendously better!! I had been on it for 8 years!! The RAID scan showed that I was actually hyperthyroid. I had been told for 8 years I had Hashimoto’s, after all my Thyroid AB test showed a 280. The doctor after the RAID scan told me I had both Graves and Hashimoto’s. Against all my doctors advice, I felt so good, I just couldn’t go back on it! My bood work went totally haywire! TSH 30+, FT4 dropped to .5, but I felt amazing!! The next year I had my blood work taken again and my TSH was at 17, and my FT had risen to .65 just below normal range, and my Thyroid AB test dropped to 122.. However, I still felt good, so against all my doctor’s advice, I just couldn’t take the synthroid. They never offered me any other option. I got blood work back today and my TSH is at 9.6, my FT4 is at .77 (normal range), and my T3 is also now in normal range, and my Thyroid AB results were 105. I haven’t really changed my diet any, I have used some essential oils, but I haven’t done anything consistent enough to really add up to these changes. Still, through all these tests and 2 years later, my doctors are finally recommending me to take Armour Thyroid…I am concerned with going on to Armour because it seems like my body has gone from extremely Clinical Hashimoto’s to subclinical hypothyroidism without any replacement. Now I am wondering if there is some other reason my thyroid has gone haywire that maybe isn’t quite as directly connected to Autoimmune as they seem to think. Any advice would be great…..Just hoping to get a smart opinion from outside my doctor’s office…
Read this article: http://goop.com/the-mysteries-of-the-thyroid/ I think it will have the answers you’re looking for!
Just wondering what you think as a sleep aid of Forskolin. I started taking it for a thyroid condition, and I Have noticed that it truly makes me tired. It might be because itis a metabolism booster as well, so maybe I’m just getting tired when I’m “coming down” from it. I don’t know. Interested what you believe. Thanks.
I am taking Synthroid and would like to try A-ma-ta to help with my menopausal symptoms. I would appreciate any information on the interaction of the two taken together.
Patricia, i have gone to Holtorf Medical Group in Torrance since 2010. My THS was always normal. I can highly recommend them. Dr. Wayne Wightman, and all the other doctors there specialize in thyroid and other immune issues. I hope this helps.
I think it is so important to look at all the options and express what you are feeling. I think that women hide what they are really feeling to a doctor. They can’t act on information that they don’t have. Doing research and communicating your thoughts are all important. Thanks for sharing.
What are your thoughts on the correlation between Hashimoto’s and gluten sensitivity?
I am curious if you received any responses or found out any new information to your gluten question? I’ve also heard that gluten free is better and the Hashis also causes fluctuating or high triglycerides.
Dear Dr Christiane
I have Hasimotos and wonder if it is okay for me to take kelp and
I am looking for a doctor that specializes in treatment for over active thyroid in Southern California, I live in Palm Springs California. Thank you for your assistance.
I have recently been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. I see load of information on the web about hypothyroidism, but very little about hyperthyroidism. I am interested in the causes for it, and all my doctor wants to do is medicate the symptoms. I’ve recently read about the possibility the an active mycoplasm infection being the cause of my body attacking my thyroid. I have tested positive for the bacterium, but am having trouble finding published protocols for treatment. I am wondering if anyone has any resources or experience with treating hyperthyroidism in this way. Thank you and be well.
Hi christine, I am suffering with high TSH level which is 98.96.. T3,T4 are normal. I am a female of 27 years old. just 2years back i got marrried, as now i m trying for pregnancy but it not succeeding. so we went to doctor as she made tests and said TSH is high. Please suggest me is it a very very serious condition. I want to know really i have a chance to get pregnancy my TSH level will come down or not.. Please please help me..
I am 51 year old and I am on menopause I did some blood work for thyroid blood test and the doctor just want to repeat it it not important he said but I am nervous can you explain this to me more .
Thank you Juanita mejia
I am in such a state of relief and realize now that there are lights in the world that shine when you need them most. A visit to my doctor rendered me more confused than relief when i finally found out what was happening to my body (low thyroid) with no acknowledgment of my premenipausal sypmtoms. I left without an explanation and no options other than supplements. At least now all the other symptoms that I have been experiencing is explainable and I am not losing my mind. I feel hopeful again, and found.