By: Dr. Alan Christianson
With over 200 million people affected, how can there be so much misinformation about thyroid disease? Whenever I talk to someone about this, I spend more time undoing myths than I do educating. I’d love to save you time and money by helping you bypass some of the biggest myths I keep hearing. Let’s dive in!
10. Myth: You can tell how well your thyroid is working by taking your temperature.
Kernel of Truth: Your thyroid is part of the systems that regulate your temperature.
Fact: Your basal body temperature is not a good indicator of your thyroid status. The reason that it doesn’t work as a test is because temperature fluctuations are normal and can be caused by many factors that have nothing to do with your thyroid.
9. Myth: You can’t have thyroid issues because you don’t have every thyroid symptom.
Kernel of Truth: Thyroid disease can cause many symptoms including weight gain, fatigue, hair loss, dry skin, depression, difficult menstrual cycles, irritable bowel symptoms, headaches, muscle pain, hoarseness, and anxiety.
Fact: Most people with thyroid disease have only 1-3 symptoms and each combination can be different. Some do not have weight issues, hair loss, or fatigue, others have all three. Few have all of the common symptoms, but this is possible.
8. Myth: You do not want to start thyroid treatment because you don’t want to be stuck on pills forever.
Kernel of Truth: Some people have had their thyroid slow down because they were put on high doses of synthetic thyroid medications unnecessarily.
Fact: When natural thyroid medications are used in gentle dosages, not only do they not make your thyroid quit working, they can help it work better.
7. Myth: People with thyroid disease can’t eat broccoli or other cruciferous vegetables.
Kernel of Truth: Cruciferous vegetables do contain goitrogens which can slow iodine absorption.
Fact: In the modern world, most thyroid disease is caused by autoimmune disease, not below iodine levels. Soy foods do have goitrogens which can make this work, but the goitrogens in vegetables like broccoli are actually good for it.
6. Myth: Natural thyroid medicine works better, but its potency is inconsistent from batch to batch.
Kernel of Truth: Prior to 1980, natural dessicated thyroid (NDT) was standardized only based on iodine content. This meant that the active hormones could fluctuate from batch to batch.
Fact: Since 1981, NDT is standardized to have consistent amounts of active ingredients just like synthetic thyroid is. All brands legally have to be under 20% variable. Brands like WP Thyroid, Westhroid, and Naturethroid are 2% or less variable.
5. Myth: Extra iodine can fix most thyroid problems.
Kernel of Truth: Iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism and goiter.
Fact: Extra iodine can slow the thyroid. Once iodine gets into your thyroid, your thyroid makes it into active hormones. When you get a big surge of iodine in your system, this blows a fuse that prevents you from making way too much thyroid hormone.
4. Myth: If you take extra thyroid medicine, you’ll lose weight.
Kernel of Truth: For many people, having too little thyroid hormone can lead to weight gain.
Fact: Extra thyroid hormone does not lead to weight loss. In some cases, it can even lead to weight gain because it can make your body thyroid hormone resistant. Megadoses of thyroid often cause your body to lose bone and muscle tissue – not the weight loss you want.
3. Myth: If you take natural thyroid or other thyroid medicine that has T3 in it, you must take it twice daily.
Kernel of Truth: Natural Dessicated Thyroid does have T3 and T3 absorption does peak 4-6 hours after taking a dose.
Fact: three T three metabolism is much faster than T3 absorption and takes one to three days. Hiring medicines must be taken away from food. This is hard to do twice-daily. The other consideration is that thyroid hormones are mostly made late at night or early in the morning. Taking them late morning, noon, mid afternoon, or early evening can throw off your body’s rhythms.
2. Myth: You should ignore blood tests and rely on symptoms to determine whether you need more or less thyroid medicine.
Kernel of Truth: There are many reasons that thyroid blood tests are not perfect and that normal ranges may not apply to all people equally.
Fact: Improving symptoms is one of the most important goals behind thyroid treatment. However, you can have the same symptoms if levels are too high or too low. Tests help us know which way to change if any. The other value in testing is that some thyroid levels unsafe regardless of symptoms and should be avoided.
1. Myth: My doctor says I don’t have Hashimoto’s because of my blood tests.
Kernel of Truth: Thyroid antibody tests are positive in many people who have Hashimoto’s.
Fact: Over 40% Hashimoto’s may never have positive antibody tests. Negative antibody tests do NOT rule out Hashimoto’s. In many cases it only shows up on the ultrasound.
Dr. Alan Christianson is an Arizona-based Naturopathic Physician who helps people overcome adrenal and thyroid disorders and achieve lasting fat loss. He authored the New York Times bestselling Adrenal Reset Diet and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thyroid Disease. Dr. Christianson is the founding physician behind Integrative Health. www.drchristianson.com
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