Thyroid Health

geri + hirsch // thyroid health
Last year I went through a rough patch of exhaustion. I felt completely flat, void of my personality and so soooo tired. I had to force myself out of bed in the morning and struggled all day long.

Initially I thought it was temporary. I was under more stress than usual (it began after my husband’s heart attack) but week after week it wasn’t getting better, and I couldn’t take it any longer. I scheduled an appointment with my doctor to run a full blood panel because I wanted all the information we could get. Low and behold, they found something.

My thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) was WAY off and I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s, a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid gland. Hashimoto’s causes an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) which simply put means my body wasn’t producing enough thyroid hormone. Hardly any at all. And guess what the doctors attribute it to? The severe stress I endured during the heart attack.

I immediately began researching the disease with the hopes of figuring out how I could motivate my gland to start doing its job on its own. In the meantime, I began taking synthetic thyroid in the form of a common little pill called Synthroid. I take it right after I open my eyes in the morning because they say it’s best to take on an empty stomach. In addition to that, I met with a nutritionist and a holistic doctor to learn how to better my lifestyle in effort to help my thyroid. Here are the changes I’ve made:Started taking:

Selenium (in the form of 2 Brazil nuts a day)
Selenium helps remove thyroid-harming substances and supports normal thyroid structure.

A daily probiotic (like cocobiotic)
20% of thyroid function depends on a sufficient supply of healthy gut bacteria; a probiotic helps with that. I take this on an empty stomach in the morning to get the most benefits.

Vitamin D (I like this dropper)
Vitamin D is a critical regulator of your immune system and research has already established that Vitamin D deficiency is highly associated with other autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s.

Upped my:
Iodine
The enzymes in iodine are essential for the activation of thyroid hormones. I get it in the form of seaweed, seafood, eggs, asparagus, lima beans, mushrooms, spinach, sesame seeds, summer squash, Swiss chard, and/or garlic.

Protein
Protein transports thyroid hormone to all your tissues and eating more of it can help normalize thyroid function.

Workouts
Exercise is a natural and extremely effective way to combat stress and can help stimulate the secretion of thyroid hormones.

Lowered/avoid:
Gluten
The molecular composition of thyroid tissue is almost identical to that of gluten. So for those with Hashimoto’s, it’s a case of mistaken identity. Eating gluten can increase the autoimmune attack on your thyroid.

Raw cruciferous veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale and cabbage
They contain natural chemicals called goitrogens (goiter producers) that can interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis.

Soy
Also a goitrogen (see above).

Toxins like BPA, fluoride, and pesticides
These can have a detrimental effect on the thyroidum thyroid.

Radiation
If I’m getting an x-ray I ask for a radiation collar and when on a plane, protect my neck. Apparently radiation can weaken the gland.

Stress
Stress is actually a hormone response that may negatively impact thyroid function so I upped my meditating, downtime, etc. Major key!

I was diagnosed ten months ago and have since gotten my thyroid to a healthy place but it’s something I’m constantly working on. I have blood tests every month and while I take synthorid, I continue searching for natural remedies. If any of you have thyroid issues I would love to hear about how you treat your condition. Please share in the comments? And if anyone has tried thyroid neck yoga, please spill!

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17 comments

  1. When I was first diagnosed with hypothyroidism (about 15 years ago), I was on Synthroid. Even though my levels were normal I still never stoped feeling tired and so my Dr. gave me an additional T3 supplement (cytomel). Years later I still was feeling off and I switched to Armour (the natural thyroid hormone pill). It made a huge difference! If Synthroid works, by all means keep taking it! But, if you still suffer from exhaustion, etc. just letting you know that I’ve had great experiences with it (some Drs don’t like to prescribe it because they say it’s worse for bone density, but I take a calcium supp every day and my bone density is fine). Also a note about gluten: it’s actually wheat that’s the problem (gluten is just one of the proteins), so make sure your food is wheat as well as GF 🙂 And yoga helps a lot!

  2. I did not know about your husband either. Having just come off of 18mos of cancer surgery/chemo with mine, I am so glad you paid attention to your own body. I would have written it off as stress from taking care of your spouse. Take care. We have enjoyed your blog for a long time too!-Laurel Bledsoe

  3. hi!
    i’ve been taking synthroid since i was 14 years old, when my thyroid was removed. long story short, i felt a bump, we did lots of tests and biopsies to ultimately decide that it was best to get a growing tumor out asap! lymph nodes on both sides as well. i’m at the point where i can sense my dosage deficiency or overload without needing a bloodtest (despite having to do one to appease my dr.) i’ve noticed that it really depends on the lifestyle. for a few years i was working in dtla walking around the fashion district all day buying, my body was aching for a higher dose because i was so active at all times. once i switched jobs, i could feel immediately insomnia hairloss, skin dryness, etc… from needing to switch to a lower dose. it’s always trial and error and isn’t a perfect science. something else that i’ve noticed that is a huge boost is b12, yerba mate is a lifesaver! i agree that yoga helps. whenever i’m feeling weak or flat as you mention, i go and space out in a Y7 or set+flow class. nothing makes me feel better than flowing to hip hop

  4. I was diagnosed 3 years ago and I am on Thyrex (Levothyrexine)but I had intense joint pain and brain fog and overall exhaustion almost daily and gained weight. I cut gluten and dairy and soy since it’s also bad for Inflammation in your body which is the biggest problem with autoimmune disease! People who suffer from thyroid issues often also have a leaky gut which Needs to be taken care of. So I just went Whole30 and I feel a thousand times better. There’s even a way to get rid of all meds and have Hashimoto’s in remission, which is my goal.

  5. I just went in for thyroid testing. My mother had thyroid problems and had to have hers removed a few years ago. I’m curious how going on Synthroid effected your weight if at all?

  6. thanks for sharing! my hypothyroidism started 4 years ago and it took me 2 long years to get to the dosis that worked for me (112mg) but then I started having panic attacks and I was diagnosed with GAD. my thyroid went out of control AGAIN. I gained back all the weight I started to loose (weight that I gained because of my hypothyroidism) and more. I felt frustrated and try different things (because no one EVER told me that stress affects ur thyroid) even the “natural” thyroid pills (ps they dont work, or at least didn’t worked for me). because of my GAD not only my thyroid was out of control and it trigger my GAD but I now have Der Quervain Syndrome and IBS.

    Now after four years fighting to get my thyroid in control, I can say Im getting better, now my dosis is 125 mg and I have to take Anxiety pills to help my thyroid and my IBS. Probiotics and vitamin D have done WONDERS for me and also waiting 4 hours after taking my syntroid to take any other medication or vitamins (my doctor told me that if u take syntroid with any other medicine ur body will not receive the complete dosis).

    1. I agree. She has suffered for many years. She also has a new book “First we Make the Beast Beatiful” which is a great read about her journey.

  7. Welcome to the Hashimoto’s club! My story is so similar so I feel for you. Glad you’ve been able to take the steps to get it under control. I’ve heard stories of people having trouble getting correctly diagnosed for years so I’m glad they were able to detect yours and help you get on the path to healing sooner rather than later. I was diagnosed a few years ago but only discovered (on my own, not through doctor recommendations :() that my diet was greatly affecting my health as well. I’ve been on AIP (Autoimmune Paleo) diet for a little over a year and it has changed my life. I have so much energy and the brain fog is gone. I don’t know how I was managing before! The resources are so much better now than in the past few years even. I took Synthroid at first too but switched over to Tirosint and felt even better. It’s supposedly hypoallergenic (good for the lactose intolerants like me!). I’d recommend taking a look into/asking your doctor about.

    My biggest resource has been http://autoimmunewellness.com/. It’s a great community and there are a lot of recipes to check out. Also Izabella Wentz’s thyroid books.

  8. Hi! I too have hypothyroidism! I am still figuring out a routine with vitamins & medication! My Dr says I should take vitamins 4 hours after taking my synthroid for proper absorption. How do you space out your vitamin intake/probiotic?

    I’m always curious how other people change their daily habits for this!

  9. There are actually more natural thyroid meds. I was on synthroid for years and eventually it messes with all your hormones as it only addresses the T4 (think about it like always putting gas in your car, but never changing the oil). I’ve got a great integrative doc in Brentwood I can suggest. I’ve been with her just shy of a year now and I’m a completely different person.

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