Thyroid Update: Cleared For Takeoff

heygirlthyroid

I know everyone isn’t interested in my hormone experiments, so if you’re less than enthralled by tales of T3 and TSH, skip this one. For my #FUThyroid friends, welcome!

To get up to speed, you might want to read these posts:
My status in April, 2012, a.k.a., the one where I decide to see Dr. Sebring
My update from July, 2012, a.k.a., the one where I get a little better but have more work to do
Wilson’s Syndrome Protocol, August, 2012, a.k.a., the one where I get really kooky

Need more context? You can read all of my previous posts about my thyroid adventures here.)

Before I get into my details, I think it’s worth repeating that all of this is about my situation. I’m glad to share my experiences with you, but we’re all different, especially regarding hormones and how our bodies behave. Remember: you are a special, special snowflake. If you think you’re experiencing something similar to me, or you’re curious about what you read here, please consult an expert. The only things on which I’m an expert are myself and how to pet Smudge’s belly without waking her up. (But I’m glad to answer questions in comments or via email, so hit me up.)

The Situation

When I saw Dr. Sebring in April 2012 to talk about my recent weight gain and flagging energy, he tested my DHEA and Reverse T3, thinking that I was low on testosterone (which is affected by DHEA) and that my Reverse T3 was too high. He was right! The numbers were not good. One might even say they were (very) bad. He started me on a bunch of supplements, encouraged me to continue with my strength training and paleo diet, and said to come back in three months. Then we re-tested the DHEA, Reverse T3, and testosterone — then we decided I should try the Wilson’s Syndrome Protocol and switch my thyroid meds from Synthroid to Armour Thyroid. If any of this doesn’t make sense to you, you need to read the posts at the links above.

So… after diligently completing the Wilson’s Syndrome Protocol in August/September 2012, I started taking Armour Thyroid instead of Synthroid. Meanwhile, I continued with all of my supplementation, plus Whole30-style eating 90% of the time (with a strict Whole30 plus autoimmune protocol for a month, a.k.a., Hell), plus dedication to heavy lifting, meditation, kundalini yoga, and plenty of sleep (minimum 8 hours per night, usually 8 1/2 to 9).

Where has that gotten me? I’m cleared for takeoff!

I’ve been feeling pretty damn good, and at my recent check-in with Dr. Sebring, my feelings were confirmed by lab numbers. My TSH, T3, Reverse T3, testosterone, and cortisol all look good… and not “regular doctor who just follows the rule books from the pharmaceutical companies” good. No, my numbers look good to Dr. Sebring. So good, he gave me the greenlight to add some high-intensity workouts back into my routine. I’m not broken any more! I need to be smart about it, but I can get back to superhero training — as long as I continue with restful sleep, meditation, supplements, and clean eating (because while my systems have healed, there’s still that one, pesky fact: I don’t have a thyroid).

The details below explain where my blood work is right now, in case you’re interested in the science-y stuff. Please keep in mind that my descriptions below are boiled down to the basics for easy explanation. Later this week, I’ll share the squishier side of the experience: what I’m doing with my mind and my body to chase after my superhero goals now that I have an almost clean slate to start again.

DHEA

What’s DHEA?
A quick reminder of what I know about DHEA, thanks to the Google oracle: Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone controlled by the adrenal gland. Hormones like estrogen, testosterone, and our old friend cortisol depend on our bodies’ production of DHEA. Low DHEA means low production of these hormones, which can lead to all kinds of lame sh*t like lack of energy, low libido, and fat gain. DHEA supplementation can help with adrenal function and is used to treat lupus, HIV, obesity, depression, menopause, and osteoporosis.

My DHEA
When we tested DHEA in April 2012, my level was so low, it barely registered on my blood test. The expected range for DHEA is 27-206 UG/DL, and mine came in at a whoppingly unimpressive <30.

The next time we measured it, my DHEA was at 137, so we increased my dose to try to move that number a little bit more, but I misunderstood and doubled my dose. Oops! My DHEA was too high in March 2013 (359 mcg/dL), so I’ve backed off my dose to a more reasonable level. Dr. Sebring didn’t seem too concerned, so this goes in the “win” column.

TSH

What’s TSH?
TSH is Thyroid Stimulating Hormone and is secreted by the pituitary gland. It’s a messenger that tells your thyroid to produce thyroid hormones. In  healthy people, its message is based on whether blood levels have too little (or too much) thyroid hormone to meet the demands of the body. Many doctors use TSH as a way to gauge how well the thyroid system is working. Experienced thyroid patients know that this is just one variable that needs to be measured. It’s informative, but not the be all and end all.

My TSH
A “regular” doctor will tell you the acceptable range for TSH is 0.4 to 4.5 — but my endocrinologist wants me around 0.5 to 1.5.

In April 2012, my TSH was 1.3. That’s pretty good on paper, but it’s important to note that I wasn’t feeling great or looking great — and that’s why TSH has to be analyzed in the context of T3, T4, and Reverse T3.

In March 2013, my TSH is 0.71. I like it!

Free T3

What’s Free T3?
T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone. TSH tells your body to release T4 and then your body transforms T4 (which is inactive) into T3 (which is active) and Reverse T3; there’s more detail about Reverse T3 below.

My Free T3
The expected range for Free T3 is 2.3 to 4.2. In April 2012, my Free T3 was 2.1, which is (wah wah) “Out of Range.”

In March 2013, my Free T3 is 3.5. F*ck yeah, middle range!

Reverse T3

What’s Reverse T3?
In a nutshell, Reverse T3 is a by-product that is made when T4 is converted into T3. When things are working properly about 40% of T4 becomes T3, and the rest is chucked out as RT3. But… when emotional, physical, and biological stress enter the picture, those percentages can be disrupted and T3 — the active form of thyroid hormone we need — goes down. For more on this, read my previous, lengthier description.

My Reverse T3
When looking at RT3, the raw number is informative, but even more telling is the ratio of free T3 to RT3. As explained above, when the proportions of those two hormones get out of whack, mayhem ensues. Generally speaking, when comparing free T3 to RT3, a healthy ratio is 10. (Here’s a calculator to determine Reverse T3 to T3 ratio.)

In April 2012, my RT3 was 523. The “expected range” is 90-350, so I was way off that chart. Additionally, my ratio was lousy. When I plugged in my numbers, I got a 4.

When we tested my RT3 a few months later, I was still, as the lab report so drily puts it, “Out of Range.” Again, the Reference Range is 90-350 pg/mL, and my measurement was 410. Not quite as bad as last time, but still too high. My new ratio was 5, which is still sucky.

In March 2013, my RT3 was 250, with a ratio of… 14. WOOT!

Supplementation

I’m continuing with my supplementation for now, although Dr. Sebring said that we’ll look at everything again in 6 months to see if I’ve lost weight and if I can back off some of the supplementation. I’m sharing this list for informational purposes; please talk to someone who knows what they’re doing before you start dosing yourself. This is serious stuff.
– Adreset
– Corti-B Plex
– DHEA
– Fish oil (formulation made especially for Dr. Sebring)
Pharmax PLC High Potency Powder
– Cortisol (prescription)
– Melatonin (time-released)
– I’m also still taking Vitamin D, Natural Calm

Synthroid vs. Armour Thyroid

I think for most physicians and endocrinologists, Synthroid (Levothyroxine) is the go-to to treat thyroid issues. For some people, it works great. For some people it works great for a while, then stops working. For some people, it doesn’t work at all.

There’s a raging debate online and in health care circles about Synthroid vs. Armour Thyroid that rivals the Kirk vs. Picard wars. I’d like to stay out of it (although I’m proud to say I’m firmly on Team Picard). So here’s what I have to say about Armour Thyroid and Synthroid:

I started on Synthroid, and it worked OK for a year or so. Then I started feeling crappy. Then I learned I had adrenal fatigue and I gained weight and I felt droopy and I looked bloated and things were really blechy. Then I did the Wilson’s Syndrome Protocol, and I switched to Armour Thyroid, and I feel better. I feel Good. (Capital G is intentional.) I have friends with thyroid challenges who take Armour and feel awesome. I have friends with thyroid challenges who take Synthroid and feel awesome.

What does this mean for you?

If you’re on Synthroid, and you feel good… AWESOME!

If you’re on Synthroid, and you don’t feel good (and it’s been more than 6 months or so)… maybe talk to your doc about trying Armour.

And absolutely, if you’re on thyroid medication — and it’s been more than 6 months or so — and you don’t feel good yet, keep plugging away at it. Request the “kooky” blood tests like Reverse T3 and Free T3, in addition to TSH. Try the paleo diet with autoimmune protocol to see if it’s a food sensitivity getting in the way of your meds. Meditate to see if you can help your body help you.

Don’t settle for feeling crappy, and remember that it’s your right — and responsibility — to work with your doctor to get the answers you need. Make yourself your doc’s partner (Hell, think of it as partner-in-crime if that makes it seem more fun… that always works for me), and keep investigating and experimenting until you find your equilibrium.

thyroid

So that’s my story for now. I’ll update you in a few days with my workout plan, eating plan, meditation plan… dang it! Let’s just call it the Life Plan… for reaching my superhero goals. Feel free to hit me with questions in comments or email. I might not be able to help, but I’m glad to listen. We’re all in this together.

Helpful Resources

Books
The Thyroid Diet Revolution

This is the most helpful book I’ve read on the subject of thyroid challenges. I did a complete review of it here. If you read only one book on the subject, this is the one I recommend.

Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests Are Normal?
This is another helpful book, especially if you feel like hypothyroidism has made you a crazy person. This book includes lots of anecdotes that made me feel less alone in my thyroid weirdness.

Websites
Stop The Thyroid Madness
The tone of the site is a bit strident for my taste, but there’s no denying it’s loaded with helpful information. Warning: It might make you feel stabby, but it really is an excellent resource for understanding all the variables that can affect thyroid function — just try to weed out the histrionics as you read.
About.com: Thyroid & Thyroid-info.com
These pages are maintained by Mary Shomon, the author of The Thyroid Diet Revolution.

 

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Comments

  • jenn a says:

    not sure how to feel about this post :/

    while i’m beyond happy for your success. whaaaaaaa i soooo don’t wanna do the autoimmune protocol.

    gah. another nail.

    it seems to work for so so many.

    • Mel says:

      Here’s the thing about me and the AIP: I did it, but I didn’t feel any difference. I don’t have an underlying autoimmune issue, and, apparently, I don’t have food sensitivities, either. For a while, I thought I might have an egg problem, but now that I’m taking probiotics, that seems to have gone away.

      If you have an autoimmune issue, try it for a month. If you don’t have a super compelling reason to do it, why make yourself miserable. Do a strict Whole30 instead and see how you feel.

    • Heather says:

      Glad you made the switch and feel better!

      I switched from Synthroid to Naturethroid (which is the same as Armour Thyroid) and felt 10 times better. I definitely need both the T3 and T4 in my medication.

      • Mel says:

        I was taking Synthroid plus T3, but even that didn’t work as well as Armour. It’s been 7 months since I started Armour — I hope I continue to feel this good!

  • Hey Mel,

    That is Fantastic news! So very happy for you.

    …Tim

    • Mel says:

      Thanks! I’m excited and intimidated to kind of have a fresh start. But it feels good to know if I’m tired now, it’s appropriate, rather than things not working right. Whew!

  • jenn a says:

    yea – i’m pretty jacked. hypo w/celiac (thank you depo shot in college) on a LOT of armour and hippy supplements. Its like my soul knows its the right step but finding the time…while being a mama, starting a business, reading, laying on the sofa, cooking, cooking and uhh cooking. 😛

    • Mel says:

      Here’s my advice: If you decide to do the AIP, keep it really simple. Meat, veg, healthy fat, garlic, ginger, and herbs like parsley and basil. It was way too hard to think about adapting favorite recipes — way easier to just eat basic, simple, delicious ingredients and think of it as a healing time.

    • hwalkerf says:

      Jenn, how the depo shot is related? I’m on it – and have been for years – so just curious. Thanks!

  • Emily says:

    I am so happy for you!

    And on another note, I love the way you write, and you help me so much, and now I wish you’d write a post someday on how to meditate. Have you already? I am sooo Type A and WANT to meditate (even my Type A mother told me to start because it would be good for me…) but 30 seconds into it, I start thinking about all the things I need to do during the day and what I should be doing instead of meditating and how that person behind me really shouldn’t have been in the 10-items-only line…

    How do you keep your focus, oh fellow hormonally challenged one?

  • Lee Anne P says:

    I wish I could find a doctor that would take my similar symptoms seriously. Congratulations on the progress!

    • Mel says:

      I’m really sorry that your doc isn’t supportive. Keep looking if you can — and if you can’t switch doctors, take printouts of articles and books with you to your appointments. It’s your right to request blood work, so you can insist. It will feel weird at first, but after, you’ll feel like a rock star.

      • Lee Anne P says:

        I’m trying to get referrals from friends – most doctors here won’t take new patients cold, and the ones that do are usually the pill-pushers. Despite all the evidence brought from my previous doctor, my new doctor flat out said I didn’t have a thyroid issue – but still offered me a synthroid prescription without doing even a basic assessment. Ah well. I keep looking and hoping.

  • Donna B says:

    I had a partial thryroidectomy 3 years ago. My endocrinologist found that was “borderline normal” and I started a low dosage of synthroid-a few weeks later my normally thick hair became very oily and then started falling out…also my scalp burned. I stopped the meds but it seemed that the damage was done and my hair has noticably thinned…have you had that experience…I am off all meds now as i’d rahter not go through that experience and the remaining thyroid seems to be working ok

  • YAY! I’m so happy to hear you’re feeling better. And that everything seems to be on the right path. I was getting a little worried there back when you did the super strict Whole30 and didn’t get the results you wanted.

    Every doctor I’ve ever been to since I was a kid has always suggested I have a thyroid problem. And every single one tests me and it’s always normal. Go figure. I started taking some herbal supplements (Gaia Adrenal Health) anyway that were supposed to help with thyroid issues but wasn’t sure if that was the way to go…got a little mood swingy. Granted it could have been anything, but I decided to stop taking them anyway.

    Going to check out your book suggestions. Might help answer a few questions 🙂

  • Melissa Love says:

    Yay for awesome news! Back to super hero training for sure 🙂

  • Excellent! My old dose of Synthroid wasn’t doing its thing anymore…my conversion wasn’t good like it used to be. So my doc upped the dose and we’re testing again in 5 weeks. She’s also testing the Reverse T3 and for Hashi’s antibodies. She said if my conversion’s still not good that we’ll try Armour next. And I’m back on adrenal supplements. At least I’ve gotten a bit warmer since upping the dose-I was starting to really freeze all the time. Anyway, thanks for the update! I’m so excited for you.

  • melissa says:

    that is GREAT news! Gosh, if your Dr wasn’t so far from me, I may have to switch over (heck I may still look into it!)

    I am still working on mine and i’ve made little to no progress 🙁

  • Jared says:

    Im in a similar situation, I found out I had hypothyroidism type 2 or sub clinical hypothyroidism about a year ago. I found out I also have some other problems that I need to work on as well, such as methylation issues which are very complex. Luckily I am on some protocols to deal with the mutations, and should be feeling a lot better within a few months. I really liked the book “hypothyroidism type 2” by Mark Starr, and think it helped me out some as well.

  • Danrex says:

    I have/had Thallassemia, which is a genetic blood disorder that mean’t my haemoglobin can’t hold on to iron very well. Since childhood my iron count was always anaemic and no iron pills would change it because it wasn’t about quantity of iron. But when I went paleo I got my blood tests done and my iron was through the roof!!! Blood tests are fun.

  • Danielle B. says:

    Thyroid problems are a pain in the a**! You don’t realize how important that little gland is until it starts acting up. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer 2 years ago…I was only 25!! I ended up having a thyroidectomy and now I’m on levothyroxine. I really didn’t realize how my thyroid impacted EVERYTHING…synthetic hormones just aren’t the same :/. Oh well. Eating Paleo, even though I’ve only been doing it about 2 months, has truly helped, especially in the energy department. Good luck with all your thyroid (*cough cough stupid gland*) problems!

  • Rachel says:

    So excited for your good news and great results! I made the Synthroid to Armour switch 5 days ago and can already feel a difference – your story gives me hope that I’ll feel “normal” again soon!

  • Maryanne says:

    Thanks for the update! I was just diagnosed hypo last week after 8 months of feeling like absolute shite.

    Starting Armour in next week. My Dr. wanted me to do some supplements for 2 weeks before starting the Armour.

    I was super duper low on ferratin which seems strange to me since I’ve been following a paleo diet w/ plenty of leafy greens, and a variety of meats. (although I still can’t stomach liver…..)
    Did you have iron issues?

    Also super low in Vitamin D. Now that spring has (kind of ) sprung I plan on getting as much sunshine as possible.

    Thanks for sharing your experience and for all of you wonderful recipes that have made feeding my family Paleo so much easier and more pleasant for them!

    Well Fed is my #1 go to cookbook although I wish I had purchased a hard copy, not kindle…..I may have to just get on amazon and buy one.

    Continued health to you!

  • Lydia says:

    Hurray for getting cleared for takeoff! I’m so happy for you!

  • Lynn says:

    Congrats on your good news! Thanks for writing about this. I’m just starting dig into it and find some answers for myself.

  • NJ Paleo says:

    That’s great that you’re doing better! It must have been tremendously frustrating to go through all that! I come from a family with thyroid issues (fortunately I haven’t had thyroid problems) so a lot of these terms are familiar to me. It’s great that you’ll be able to do some HIIT workouts again!

  • Dulcimina says:

    I have Grave’s Disease, had radioactive iodine treatments many years ago and have been on Armour for the past 10 yrs. What should I be doing/eating differently if I do not have a thyroid?
    On your Fat Burning Man interview, I was overjoyed to hear you say something to the effect that if you don’t have a thyroid, then it’s OK to eat goitrogenic foods. But thepaleomom’s autoimmune protocol page says that you must avoid goitrogenic foods if you have Grave’s Disease. In the recent episode #77 of the Balanced Bites podcast, Diane talked about protecting the thyroid in answer to a question about paleo recommendations for someone without a thyroid. She then added at the end of her answer, that since the questioner did not have a thyroid, by “protecting the thyroid”, she meant protecting thyroid function.

    Should I be concerned about my intake of iodine or selenium, or goitrogens if I’m taking in T3 in a pill rather than making it?

    Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      I’m not an expert, so I can only share my personal experience. I eat veggies with goitrogens fairly frequently. I usually cook them, which helps remove the majority of the goitrogens. Other than that, I can’t tell you definitively… you kind of have to experiment on yourself and see how you feel.

      Chris Kresser did a podcast in which he said cooking really helps a lot, so I followed his advice. In the book The Thyroid Diet Revolution, the author Mary Shomon says that people without thyroids don’t need to worry about goitrogens.

      • Dulcimina says:

        Thank you so much. Chalk me up as someone who is enthralled by T3/TSH.

        “Don’t settle for feeling crappy” – I love it!

  • Tom R. says:

    Big smile here. Looking forward to reading about the takeoff.

  • Amy Drorbaugh says:

    I’m so glad you are feeling better. I’ve been on thyroid supplements for 3 years (Synthroid) and never really felt better and 3 months ago my ND switched me to Naturethroid (http://www.nature-throid.com/) and now I feel awesome!

  • lisa says:

    Melissa, Please do a post about your training through all this! I am still having thyroid tested (initial TSH, free T3 and free T4 were all in range – going back for RT3 and antibodies this week).

    My doc said I had adrenal fatigue, it was pretty bad, with days that it was difficult to get out of bed. My sex hormones were nothing. Like depressing low. Per doctors orders, I stopped working out, started getting lots more sleep, reduced coffee to a cup a day, and reduced general stress. Also eating 3 meals a day with a couple snacks – no more IF.

    I am starting to feel better (like WAY better) even though all the bloat is not gone yet, and I am really itching to get back to the gym. It’s been about a month and a half – I am scared to undo any progress, but really want to lift – I hate just walking!!

    I used to go so hard and heavy everyday for over an hour a day – not sure where to start 🙁

    • Mel says:

      For details on what I did DURING my healing process, this post might be helpful: http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com/2011/11/11/a-healing-experiment/

      Basically, for the last 18 months or so, I focused on yoga (kundalini, mostly, nothing too physically challenging), heavy lifting, and walking. The advice I got was to “think activity, not exercise”, so no high-intensity training. In the last 6 months or so, I added a very easy 5k training program and used my heart rate monitor to make sure my heart rate stayed in the “aerobic” zone instead of going anaerobic. The whole idea is to avoid stressing the body too much, while still getting some movement. I also cut back to exercising (activity-ing?) every other day and took plenty of rest if I was tired. It was a drag, but it worked. I would caution you to add intensity slowly and really pay attention to how you feel. From what I understand, adrenal fatigue can take from 8-24 months to heal, depending on how severe it is.

      • lisa says:

        Thank you so much for the reply! I didn’t get the notification and had to remember to come back here to check for it, so sorry for the delay. I will check out your post. Thanks a lot for the tips. I plan on asking my doc too when he calls me with the results of the last tests.

  • LisaK says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey. I am on a very similar path though way behind you. I *finally* found a “Paleo MD” who I am hopeful will run the right tests and look at more than my TSH only! I am so happy for you!

  • Mel says:

    Thank you, everyone, for celebrating my good news with me. I have to admit, I’ve been a little moody and weepy the last few days. I’m a bit overwhelmed by the good news, which seems dumb when I type the words, but I’ve been working on unraveling this problem for so long — and now I have another long road ahead to figure out how to get my body back where I want it without breaking it again.

    Anyway. I am very grateful to be feeling good and have the numbers to back it up… at the same time, I’m a little scared I’ll mess up again… and I’m impatient to see positive results of eating clean and training hard.

    Thanks for hanging in with me!

  • hwalkerf says:

    This is all GREAT news!!! Once again, thank you for so openly sharing.

  • Tom says:

    I know this post is a few days old, but it took a new importance after researching a bit about some meds my one year old daughter is on. Apparently, she has hypothyroidism, so she is riding the Synthroid train.

    After spending the last day or so worrying about what her life would be like, I remembered you talking about your thyroid issues. We eat a paleo diet about 85 percent of the time, and I’m trying to up that (but she’s just now really getting a handle on table food). As she grows up, she’ll grow up on a paleo diet, which may help.

    It’s just good to know that she can still be fit and active even if the thyroid condition continues. She’s my hope for becoming the next Ronda Rousey after all 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your journey with the world. If nothing else, it helps put worrying dads at ease!

    • Mel says:

      I’m really glad to know this is helpful to you! And your daughter is fortunate that you’re starting her on a paleo lifestyle NOW. That is SO great. Eating clean will definitely help, and as she grows up, the right kind of physical activity will be beneficial, too. I know plenty of women with thyroid issues that are super active and fit. Your wee one should be fine, especially with a dad like you 🙂

      • Tom says:

        Now, if I can get you to tell my wife that four or five times a day 🙂

        Seriously though, it’s just great that I can relay your experiences to the rest of the family. Then, at least we know what we’re in for.

        I’ll probably start sharing some of what she deals with on my blog…when we get to that point anyways 🙂

  • Sara says:

    So glad to hear this! It’s amazing that you’re willing to present your challenges this openly to everyone out there, and I appreciate the opportunity to learn (more like re-learn) the old “Never Give Up” rule–we need role-models like you for our girls (and boys, too, I suppose)! Thanks for showing us that hard work (and giving things an honest try) pays off!

    • Mel says:

      Thank you for the sweet words! I think it’s mostly that I’m stubborn 🙂 … and curious.

      Trying to remain curious has helped with feeling frustrated. My husband Dave helps me remember to stay present and try not to get caught up in “how I used to be” and that helps me look at my situation with wonder… most of the time 🙂

  • Sara says:

    Armour has been a game changer for me as well. I started using it when my gym started strength camp which was heavy lifting with very few speedy Metcon’s. I attribute that and the drug change to much of my success. My lifts literally hadn’t improved for close to 6 months, they each went up by 20 pounds or more with the medication and strength based programming. I highly recommend Armour to anyone with a thyroid problem, even if they think they feel alright on synthroid. Alright is not optimal and Armour has given me my life back. I feel like a completely different person with this new drug and it’s nice to see someone else had similar struggles to me! I love the thyroid posts and I’m glad to hear you’re doing so well, thanks for sharing!

    • Mel says:

      I agree: all right is NOT an option.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts — and great to know that Armour has helped you, too!

  • Jessica (@jess429) says:

    Hey Mel,

    Do you find a specific time helps when taking your supplements? I know for my thyroid meds, taking them at night works best (the whole absorption thing or whatever). I’m starting DHEA and adrenal supps myself and am wondering if I shouldn’t also take them at night as well.

    Jess

    • Mel says:

      Dr. Sebring told me to take my supplements with food at breakfast and lunch, so that’s what I do… and you definitely don’t want to take vitamin D at night. That should be taken in the morning.

      • Jessica (@jess429) says:

        Awesome thanks. Yeah, I take my calcium and Vitamin D twice a day at breakfast and lunch right now. I had my thyroid removed back in January and this sure has been a learning process! 🙂

  • Maryanne says:

    I too was on Synthroid for many years and experienced your same symptoms. My doctor switched me to Armour Thyroid and I immediately started to feel so much better until the company stopped making it. For about a year I was back on a thyroid synthetic hormone and could definitely notice the difference. My doctor said that even though there is no scientific medical proof that natural hormone replacement is better than synthetic medications, many of his patients feel better on Armour. Thanks for sharing your story. It is reassuring to read about someone who has also walked in my shoes.

  • Apelila says:

    So glad you are having some success Mel.
    I have Hashi’s and am on dessicated thyroid. Paleo since 08/12, I go back and forth with AI protocol because I don’t feel that it makes much difference.
    I did a saliva test and my adrenals are “unstable” but not flat. All the docs I’ve seen want me to take supplements for the HPA axis instead of cortisol. Can you share why you went with cortisol and what affect it is having on you?
    Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      I wish I had a better answer than this: I just did what Dr. Sebring suggested I do. And it worked. Sorry I can’t be more helpful!

  • Tanya says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I am glad you are feeling better – especially because we need more of your yummy recipes! At the end of a strict Whole30, my TSH was at 2.5. I credit the Whole30 for keeping me alive and upright. My endocrinologist upped my Levoxyl to 137mcg, and now it is being recalled! No more Levoxyl until mid 2014. 🙁

    I am switching to Synthroid but have a horrid pork allergy so Armour is completely out. I will continue the Whole-forever and see how it turns out. I also started acupuncture.

    • Mel says:

      Glad your diet is helping you endure the thyroid ups and downs… it’s no fun. Good luck with the Synthroid! Dr. Sebring encouraged me to think about acupuncture, too… if you try it, come back and tell us about it!

  • Tanya says:

    Well so far, the acupuncture helps with the symptoms. I went in feeling sluggish and down and immediately felt better. In fact, if I am getting depressed and don’t have a reason (big sign of thyroid issues for me) acupuncture is the only thing that will quickly pick me up. It also has helped with stomach issues. I highly recommend community acupuncture, as it is a sliding scale ($15-$35) and the acupuncturists have a ton of experiences as they work on a high volume of patients.

    We are planning a trip to Austin in May, so I found this site so I can get my fix! http://austincommunityacupuncture.org/

    Good luck to you, and I am anxiously awaiting Well Fed II. Off to my weekly cook-up…

  • Casey says:

    I really love your blog! After losing massive amounts of hair I finally broke down and went to the dr. 3 weeks ago I found out I have an underactive thyroid, I found your website and has been really uplifting!

    • Mel says:

      Glad you found me! And I’m sorry to hear about your diagnosis. Thyroid woes are no fun at all. Best wishes to you! Keep us posted on how you’re doing!

  • Kay says:

    Hope you are continuing to progress Mel.
    Would you share how much cortisol you are taking and does your doc use blood or saliva to test?

    • Mel says:

      I actually working with a new doctor now, and all of my supplement/prescription plan is under review. My progress sorta stalled out, and I haven’t been feeling that great… so more investigation is in order.

      As for cortisol, my understanding is that the most reliable and informative way to test is the saliva test.

      • Kay says:

        I’m sorry to hear that. I hope you are in an upswing again soon. I have Hashimotos and for 3 years now my treatment stalls more than moves. 🙂
        I’m going to try adrenal cortex instead of the cortisol I think. I have found that the low carb Paleo is too low for me, very hard on the adrenals, so I’m eating small amounts of sweet potato regularly now. Still no exercise though.
        Keep us posted on how you’re doing.

  • nora says:

    i have been dealing with weight gain, hairloss.muscle aches brain fog. chronic fatigue etc have been tested by endo for thyroid but all my test are normal he still put me on a low dose of synthroid but i read it should not be taken if normal thyroid. any comments or suggestions appreciated.

  • Kay says:

    Nora,
    My experience has been that most endos don’t read the thyroid labs correctly. Your symptons certainly indicate hypo.
    Get a second opinion from a D.O. or a Functional Medicine doc…and/or visit the STTM website and learn to read your own labs. Synthyroid is NOT the best choice for hormone replacement so you likely need a new doc anyway.

  • Nora says:

    Thanks. @ synthroid yesterday was my firs dose I felt pretty good during the day but as the day progressed I felt tire but alert at night I was tired but couldn’t sleep felt my head burning and tightness in my chest no shortness of breath just felt heavy when breathing have only slept 1.5 hours my body is tired but not super tired I could go about my day I am totally alert not one bit sleepy. Kinda scary though.

  • Sirena says:

    Hi Mel-

    I’m twenty years old and I’ve had hypothyroidism since I was eleven. I’ve been a competitive dancer since I was 8 and have been incredibly active all my life, yet have struggled with classic hypo problems (stomach squishiness, mood swings [read: weird flat depressive states], hair loss, lack of energy, etc). I’ve tried several times to talk with my doctor about switching meds, insisting that Synthroid isn’t doing the trick and I usually just get brushed off because I’m bad at regurgitating intelligent medical terminology/I’m young and they think I’m dumb. I’m on day 14 of my first Whole30 and my mom suggested checking out your site, and I’m so glad I did. Your diligence in figuring your body out is inspiring and I’m so glad you’ve blogged your experience, there’s so much wonderful and encouraging information here. Just wanted to give a quick thanks for putting this all out here. I agree with you, the “Stop the Thyroid Madness” movement is helpful, but a little to radical/angry for me to feel sane and comfortable utilizing their resources/ideas.

    • Mel says:

      Congratulations on taking on the Whole30! It should really help with your hypothyroid symptoms. Sorry to hear your doc won’t listen to you — my endo was bad at listening, too, so I found a different doctor. It’s SO annoying 🙂

      Keep me posted on how you’re doing — and let me know if I can be of help.

  • Sue says:

    Thank you Mel, I thought I was going crazy because I was following the whole 30 and I hit a wall of tiredness and I stopped losing weight. I thought it was me but I had a feeling it was my thyroid and more. Is there any foods that you totally avoid now? either being nightshade or cruciferous vegetables?

    • Mel says:

      I eliminated nightshades then reintroduced them, and I have no problem with them, so they’re still on my plyate. But I don’t have an autoimmune condition, I had my thyroid removed due to a nodule.

      I eat cruciferous veg a lot — because I have no thyroid, I don’t have to worry about goitrogens. But I usually cook my cruciferous veg because they digest better for me that way.

      The biggest change I’ve made lately that’s helped me feel a lot better is eating more starchy carbs. I eat about 1/2 to 1 cup of starchy carbs every day, and I feel better and my thyroid numbers are better.

  • Chris says:

    Hey Mel.. I was watching a youtube video yesterday that included a link to your site. What quickly caught my attention was your visit with Dr. Sebring. Which probably means we live in the same neighborhood. How weird is that? This might be a lucky thing for me…I hope.

    I’ve been having health issues for almost two years. I’m seeing an Endocrinologist along with a ‘health advisor’ (Dr. Harper). I’m taking a ton of supplements with T3 & Synthroid and I’m not feeling better. My symptoms include cold hands and feet, stiff joints (neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists), FATIGUE, gut problems, & memory issues. To me, all of those symptoms all relate to hypothyroidism. Problem is…I’m being labeled as “depressed”. Fair enough. After two years of feeling like crap, who wouldn’t feel a little depressed. I’m LOOKING for answers, which causes me to jump from doctor to doctor (not too quickly).

    Based on your experience, I’m planning to visit with the dr today and will suggest Armour Thyroid. After a year+, why hasn’t the doctor suggested this kind of change?? I’ve not been able to really exercise for two years.

    Anyways, I’m glad I found your post. It gives me a little hope.

    Thanks,
    Chris

    • Mel says:

      Good luck with Dr. Sebring. I’m now seeing Dr. Amy Myers, and I’ve been really happy with her treatment, just in case you want another option. http://www.austinultrahealth.com

      • Chris says:

        I’m not planning to visit Dr. Sebring just yet. I took your experiences and went back to my doctor suggesting we change the prescription to Armour. She agreed. Only time will tell. 🙂

        I looked at Dr Myers website. Here is Dr. Harper’s website (she seems very similar in style) http://ruthieharper.com/

        Thanks again for your feedback and sharing your experiences.

        ~Chris

  • Jeff says:

    I spent the last 6 weeks dealing with a hot nodule that laid me up pretty badly…Fevers 104, lost 25 lbs in 6 weeks and tachycardia and so on…I took methimazole for 6 weeks, gained my weight back, and my thyroid went hypo and left me with a TSH of 103, exhausted every day and waiting 2 weeks for the methimazole to leave my system to see what TSH levels are after getting off the Methimazole…And even lost 4 pounds being hypo ???…so the frustration level are off the charts at this point…Anyone else dealt with a hot nodule that turned your system from hyper to hypo???

  • SOUHIR BOUSSELMI says:

    I present Souhir Bousselmi from Tunisia ;

    First, thank you so much for your cite (http://theclot
    hesmakethegirl.com/) i am very interested in your hormone experiments.
    I am suffering from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis since 2007. Indeed, following a depression in early 2007 I took the anti-depressant. After a few months I felt a lot of problems such as weight gain, FLUID RETENTION and constipation intense period of the cycle), fatigue and constipation.
    The psychiatrist says that is due to stress. I did a blood test, it proved that I had hashimoto diseases. I am treated with Levothyrox. my TSH was adjusted but I do always water rétention my weight increases dramatically I cannot lose my weight. I did a lot of diet and I have not managed to lose extra weight. My endocrinologist said that I have PMS
    I took a two-year treatment of progesterone and my problems do not go away.

    In January 2014 following an intoxication i made blood allergy test. It turned out that i am allergic to potatoes and apple.

    I did some research and it seems to me that I should take more T3.

    HAPPILY I FOUND your cited,

    cytomel allows it to lose weight?

  • Jennifer says:

    I am feeling very very down. I have lower than low DHEA but DHEA makes me shake even at the smaller dosages. Also my afternoon cortisol is low as well as all my sex hormones…I have gained thirty pounds evennnn on aip..I am naturally dairy grain sugar free etc. I exercise daily but feel flatlined….I am open to any other tips. My tsh is 2.1, free t3 is 3 and no thyroid antibodies that are high buty thyroglobulin is 141 when range is 20-40?? I am so uber sensitive to any supplements due to MTHFR… Sigh. I feel so lost….

  • Amy Chrischilles says:

    Hi, I am due to have thyroid surgery in two days. A nodule I’ve had followed for 4 years at Mayo has recently doubled and the FNA was non diagnostic. They will take half of my thyroid and maybe even all as I had nodules on the other side too. I have been trying to read about what to expect following thyroid surgery without much luck. Instead I see articles about how rough it is to monitor my levels following surgery. What advice would you have for me?
    Thanks,
    Amy

    • I have a lot of info to share, but the two biggest takeaways for me, post-surgery are these:

      1. Work with an endocrinologist or functional medicine doctor right away after the surgery. My GP and surgeon thought that the little bit of my thyroid left would keep working, so I was on no thyroid hormones for 18 months after my surgery. I believe that was a huge mistake because after about 4-6 months, I started to feel not very good — and by the time I finally was referred to an endocrinologist, I was in pretty bad shape.

      2. If you’re an exerciser, you may need to alter your workout program after the surgery until you get your thyroid levels stabilized. I went right back to high-intensity workouts 4-5 times per work after I recovered from the surgery. That was a terrible idea, given that my thryoid was struggling and I wasn’t taking thyroid hormones.

      Also worth noting: They’d warned me that my throat would be “sore” after the surgery. I imagined a scratchy sore throat, but it was different than that. The muscles in my neck were sore and it hurt to swallow in the muscles, not the inside of my throat. It wasn’t horrible or anything; just different than I expected.

      Another thing worth mentioning: At first, I didn’t gain weight or notice any other physical differences, but — I think because I was not taking thyroid hormones — after about 6 months, I started to slowly gain weight. I eventually put on 25 lbs, and I’m still struggling to get it off. To be clear: I don’t think that weight gain is a given when you have a thyroidectomy. I believe my weight gain was because I was not taking thyroid hormones. But your weight may fluctuate while you’re finding your correct thyroid dose.

      I don’t want to bum you out or make you nervous — just sharing what my expereince was like. Which brings me to the next really important point: One of the things that trickiest and most frustrating about thyroid stuff is that everyone’s reactions are so different. I have friends with partial thyroids who are thin, energetic, etc. with no issues at all — and I know people who are far worse off than I. Our bodies are crazy complicated, so think of what I’m sharing as stuff to explore — you really need a good endocrinologist or functional medicine doctor to help you come up with a good plan for thyroid medication and dose, potential supplements, stress management plan, etc.

      Here are some other tips that may be helpful, in no particular order:

      1. Definitely read The Thyroid Diet Revolution. It describes the differences between autoimmune thyroid stuff and the challenges of not having a thyroid. We no-thyroid people get left behind a lot in the information out there. You can also follow the author on Twitter and FB for new research, etc. http://www.thyroidcoaching.com/

      2. Chriss Kresser’s site is also a good source for thyroid info, although he leans toward autoimmune info. And, honestly, if I read him too much, I get all caught up in overanalyzing myself. But he’s smart and has some good advice. http://chriskresser.com/thyroid Ditto for Dr. Amy Myers (my functional medicine doctor): http://www.austinultrahealth.com

      3. General diet stuff: Paleo is absolutely the way to go because it reduces inflammation, and any inflammation will interfere with how well the thyroid hormones we take work for us. BUT it’s important that people like us, without a thyroid, don’t go too low carbohydrate. Without enough carbs, our bodies get stressed and that makes all kinds of things go wacky. The general guideline is minimum of 100g of carbs per day, and if you workout, you need more like 150-200g. For more on this, you both might want to read this post from Paleo for Women: http://www.paleoforwomen.com/carbohydrates-for-fertility-and-health/

      4. If you’re under life stress, it’s probably better to avoid very high intensity exercise until you sort out your thyroid function and heal from the surgery, mentally and physically. “Movement” and “activity” rather than “training” are a better idea while life is potentially stressful. Meditation and yoga are really important for healing from the inside out.

      5. Coffee. Definitely a big no. It’s a stimulant, which means “stress”… which means bad for people without a thyroid. It can be hard to wean off of it, so you might want to make a plan to slowly switch to decaf, then no caffeine (because even decaf still has some caffeine), but it’s a good idea to avoid caffeine in our situation.

      6. Synthroid vs. Armour. Some people do great on Synthroid. Some people start great on it, then start to feel lousy. I take both Synthroid and Armour Thyroid: Synthroid+Armour in the morning and another dose of Armour in the afternoon. For those of us without a thyroid, Armour can work better because it’s both T4 and T3. Syntnrhoid is just T4, which needs to be converted to T3, and without a thyroid, we’re not very good at converting. If you can get past the ranting tone of the writing, there is some good info on Stop the Thyroid Madness: http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/

      7. Bloodwork. Most endocrinologists only measure TSH. I’ve found that to really know what’s going on in my body, I need to have Total T4, Total T3, TSH, and Reverse T3 tested. My functional medicine doc also regularly tests my DHEA and iron. Two other tests that might be helpful are Cortisol (saliva, not blood because the saliva is the only way to see the amount of cortisol (stress hormone) through the day,which is whats relevant to fatigue) and Vitamin D.

      8. The Whole30 and It Starts With Food are IMMENSELY helpful for managing both physical body and mental attitude. I’m 100% committed to this way of eating for overall health and well-being. I’m convinced that if I hadn’t been eating this way, I would have gained a ton more weigh than I did.

      9. Supplements. Having no thyroid can put stress on the adrenal system (and the adrenal system can muck up the thyroid, so your doc might want you to take some supplements to help support both systems. Definitely work with a doc to help you nail down which supplements are right for you. I take supps to support my adrenals, a probiotic, fish oil, DHEA, and B vitamins, but the doses have changed over the last year as my health has improved. It’s really important to base supplements/doses on blood work and a track record of how you’re feeling.

      Finally, more on my personal situation:

      I had adrenal stuff all wrapped up with thyroid challenges, so it’s all kind of mixed together. It’s really essential to find patience with the process and know that it does get better. Take your time. Be kind to yourself. You will figure it all out — and maybe you won’t have the cascading symptoms that I did. Everyone is different.

      The biggest thing that jumps out to me when I read the posts below is that there were so many times I thought, “YAY! I’m done! I’m healed” only to have another bump in the road. The thing I’ve learned is that I’m never “done” and that’s OK. I’m on a upward trend now and most days, I feel really good. That’s a huge improvement, and I think the more time that passes, the more my body heals and the more likely that the little bumps get smaller and shorter.

      These posts below start after the thyroid removal and before I had a good plan for self care worked out. If you want to read everything from the beginning, you can go here: http://meljoulwan.com/tag/frankenneck/page/4/ (If you page backward, you can read them in chronological order).

      These posts are in chronological order, from top to bottom, and outline my experience so far:
      http://meljoulwan.com/2012/04/12/dr-sebring-and-zombie-radio/
      http://meljoulwan.com/2012/07/29/thyroid-update/
      http://meljoulwan.com/2012/08/10/thyroid-update-wilsons-protocol/
      http://meljoulwan.com/2013/03/25/thyroid-update-cleared-takeoff/
      http://meljoulwan.com/2013/08/27/here-i-go-again/
      http://meljoulwan.com/2013/09/20/sorta-update-loving/
      http://meljoulwan.com/2013/11/19/report-midst/

      An update on where I am now: Feeling pretty darn good! My thyroid meds are worked out (for now), and I’m back to being able to workout the way I want to, as long as I eat enough, sleep 7-8 hours per night, meditate 2X per day, and really work to manage my stress. I’ve started packing on muscle again, which feels awesome, but the fat is slow to come off. I keep plugging away at it.

  • Nicole says:

    I went for a routine blood test because a month ago I passed out randomly. I received my results and my TSH is 8.370, when the rage listed is .45-4.5. Not only that but my cholesterol is high as well by 10 points of what they suggest. My family doctor went over none of this will me and I just found out by doing some research that these all are linked up with hypothyroidism. After looking online I began to realize some other symptoms I am experiencing are associated. Since I am in my early twenties I figured just normal college student stuff.

    After coming across your video, I was wondering and hoping you could give me your opinion on what you would do in this case? I know alot of other health conditions can come along with this.

    Also another question, if you TSH is high does that mean you have hypothyroidism or do the other test need to prove that as well.

    thank you so much sorry for the length!

  • Dave says:

    Thank you for sharing and the insight on this so-hard-to-nail condition. Most GP’s and even some specialists won’t touch it with a remote control! You know… Just treat the sympotms…
    I was, unfortunatelly, diagnosed at a late 35. My therapist said to me: “It’s only two flights of stairs and you need a couple of minutes to catch your breath before we can start. You’re overweight, your eyes bulge, you’ve lost most of your hair, you sweat even when at rest, and you have mood swings you can’t account for! Go get these tests…!
    I’m 45 now, and it’s been an uphill battle ever since. A recent ultrasound showed no anomalies, except for a slight shrinking of the thyroid gland… Whew…!
    I’ve been on levothyroxin for the last ten years. And still, I can’t say I’m doing any better… I didn’t know about the effectiveness of different brands and generical substitute hormones. This is very important and I will definetly look into it. Thank you for sharing into what seems to be, paradoxically, a very small community of a very common condition.

  • Kedra says:

    I have hypothyroidism and have been dealing with it since I was 35. I am now 47. My experiences have been a little different, because most people talk about being “bigger” and gaining weight with it, and I am actually not gaining any weight with it. I don’t have any of the weight problems at all. I do work out though 4 times a week, because I like to exercise. I also eat pretty clean. My doctor thinks this keeps my weight down. I do have really bad hair loss. I DO not have dry skin. I have headaches once a month that are really bad. I just wanted people to know that all of our symptoms can be So different I guess. I never thought I have a thyroid problem and neither did my doctor . I had bad heart palpitations, and that lead us to get blood test on thyroid. I am good now and keep my levels good. My TSH was a 16 at one time. (pretty high), but I think the exercise and clean eating was my savior. I have loved reading all the comments on here. It is a great site!
    Hope you all have a blessed day!