5 Ways to Reduce Thyroid Medication
It started with a shock diagnosis
I was laying back on the clinic table with the cold feel of the ultrasound gel and wand hovering up and down my neck while the technician looked for any signs of atherosclerosis along my carotid artery.
He casually asked me “Do you have a thyroid problem?”
Here we go I thought…..
“Yes, why? Is it inflamed?” I knew I hadn’t exactly been on the straight and narrow lately.
“Oh no” said matter of fact Mr Technician. “It’s barely there”
With a million questions running through my head, like "How did I manage to lower my medication then?" and "How is it I have improved my symptoms dramatically?" and "How did I manage to lose weight?" I slowly got up from the table so that my husband could have his scan done. I realised that this was certainly not the take away I was expecting from this health check.
Thyroid Medication can make our Thyroid Lazy
When our thyroid doesn’t have to do its job it gets lazy. Kind of like how we now use remote controls for the TV and we are so used to them that if they play up or the batteries die and we have to actually get up and do it manually it seems like such a HUGE effort!
It's the same for our thyroid. Why bother making hormone when it is already being supplied? Cool right?
And yes, I hear you yelling at me “But I have to take it!!!”
Yep, that's true, however, it is important to still do everything in our power to reduce that medication which in turn "encourages" our thyroid to work a little harder and not shrivel up and dissapear.
My Medication Story
For the first 15 years of my thyroid journey I was on a whopping 250 mcg of Thyroxine daily. No matter how many tests I had, that was where my Doctor said I needed to be. So that was where I stayed.
I read about fluoride and its effect on the thyroid and how it blocks iodine from the thyroid and also calcifies the pineal gland. I was fascinated.
And since it was an easy thing to test, I went out that very day and purchased some non-fluoride toothpaste. Six weeks later for the first time since being diagnosed, my medication needed reducing. And so a journey of possibilities began.
I now sit at between 75 and 100 mcg daily. And yes it has taken me years, but hey, I was going to get to this age anyway so I may as well be reducing the medication as I go along right?
Ways to reduce our Medication
1. Take medication on an empty stomach.
For many years I took my medication last thing at night before I went to bed. It was really the only time I remembered to take it. As many times as I tried to take it in the morning I would forget, so would always go back to nights.
Finally, when I got serious, and understood that taking the medication in the morning was so that we could absorb ALL of it and not have it blocked by food or other supplements I gave it another go.
I now take it the minute I fall out of bed and go to the bathroom. It is just a habit. By the time I have a shower and do my morning rituals it is around an hour or two before I am putting anything else in my mouth so the medication can be absorbed in full.
Ways to remember this might include:
Set an alarm
Keep tablets with water beside our bed and take it the minute we wake up
Put tablets in a weekly tablet holder so that you can see that you have had them that morning
2. Drink more water
We all know this as a species, but for thyroid people, our thyroid medication actually REQUIRES water to get to where it needs to be. Simple as that. Studies have linked dehydration with a decrease in thyroid hormone transport proteins. So there is not much point in taking any medication if it can't get to where it needs to be right?
Kind of changes the way we “need” water right? Minimum of 12 glasses a day for us and we must make sure we are not drinking fluoridated and chlorinated tap water, because that is just not going to help us at all. Check that your filter removes these chemicals. I use a distiller, so I know it is all removed, plus I love the clean taste of it.
If you are not a fan of drinking water (most aren't) then google "flavoured water" and check out all of the amazingly beautiful ingredients we can add to our water to give it a little flavour, boost the nutrient levels and make it more enjoyable to drink.
Some Flavoured Water Ideas Include:
Orange and Cucumber
Lemon and ginger
Watermelon and basil
Mint and Lemon
3. Take a probiotic
Next to liver health, gut health is our thyroid’s next saviour. It converts 20% of our thyroid hormone into useable form. Studies have also linked gut health to weight loss, our immune system, digestion, hormone regulation, detoxification ability, and nutrient absorption.
So while it happens to look like it is just the latest dietary fad to drink bone broths, and supplement with collagen for gut health, for thyroid people we really do need a healthy microbiome (gut garden) to be able to deal with all of the symptoms we get with this disease along with helping our medication to do the best it can.
4. Change your toothpaste
This is such an easy swap out. We don’t even have to go to a health food shop, practitioner or shaman for this one. Right there, below your usual toothpaste on the supermarket shelf, will be a selection of herbal toothpastes. It may be a selection of 1 or 5, but there will be something I am sure. Take it home, throw out the old one, replace. You’re done.
Main stream toothpaste contains fluoride - supposedly for our oral health and to prevent cavities blah blah blah - but I have not used it in well over 10 years now and I have not added any cavities in that time, and my dentist on the last visit had to concede that my teeth and gums were really strong for someone of my age (talk about making me feel old at 47!!) This was despite the fact that not only have I not used fluoride toothpaste in all this time, but I also say NO to the fluoride treatment that is administered during a general clean.
What's so bad about fluoride?
Blocks iodine getting to the thyroid (Iodine is one of the 2 main ingredients of our thyroid hormone)
Fluoride improves aluminium absorption in the brain
Has been associated with limited joint mobility and ligament calcification
Can cause permanent tooth discolouration
Can contribute to behavioural issues
There is a reason that there is a POISON safety warning on the back of every tube of toothpaste.
5. Organic Body Products
Changing our body products for organic options is another easy change out, when finances permit.
60% of all topical products are in our blood stream in less than 30 seconds. That's so quick!! Keeping in mind we are usually in a hot shower when we pour shampoo and body wash all over ourselves, our pores are open and just waiting to absorb whatever we are using.
Our thyroid seems to be like a sponge when it comes to chemicals and toxins, so anything we ingest or put on ourselves topically will find its way to our thyroid. Many of the chemicals in our body products will directly interfere with our thyroids ability to absorb Iodine and make thyroid hormone.
Add to that, when our body doesn't recognise these chemicals, they are sent to the liver to be “sorted”. Our poor liver doesn’t know what to do with these foreign things and if it can’t process them it stores them, leading to a full liver that can’t convert our thyroid hormone into a usable form.
Yes I know organic body products are NOT cheap. But then how much are we spending on doctor visits, naturopaths, supplements, anti-depressants, therapy for our aches and pains and all of the other symptoms we have to address just to keep our lives moving along?
The more we change the little everyday things, the bigger the momentum of healing.
Less Medication = A Healthier Liver
There is a sad side effect to any medication - no matter how “medically required” it is. It clogs up our liver. A liver that is vital to convert thyroid hormone into a usable form. The less chemical medication we take means the easier our liver can function which means a healthier thyroid. A whopping 70% of our thyroid hormone is converted into its usable form in our liver, so if our liver is chock full of things it doesn't know what to do with then it has less energy available for converting our thyroid hormone and therefore helping us feel well.
This applies to all chemical medications. And no, I'm not suggesting we all go off medications - that is crazy - please don't be crazy. Please be a responsible grown up and talk to your health care professional.
BUT where we can, perhaps we can try swapping out some things and see if it works for us. For example instead of anti-inflammatory or pain medication try Turmeric (also called Curcumin). I have found this extremely beneficial both in my own case (dodgy knee) and for many clients and family members who take it regularly. And since Acetaminophen (the active ingredient in paracetamol) is a leading cause of liver cancer, any way we can reduce our over the counter pain medication is going to be helpful to our liver.
Test it for yourself
I think you will agree that these are five easy, doable actionable steps.
You could do one at a time for 6 weeks and track the results with a blood test or with Basal Temperature Testing at the end, or do all of them at once for 6 weeks because it really doesn’t matter which one works the best, because they will all work on helping your thyroid health and in turn require less medication.
Tell me which of these you already do and which ones you are going to be more vigilant about adding to your daily lives?