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Don’t Stop Taking Your Thyroid Medication

Even though I frequently talk about how people with thyroid conditions shouldn’t self-treat their condition, I still occasionally receive some emails and comments from people who don’t take my advice.  For example, if you visit my facebook page that focuses on Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (You can sign up by Clicking Here) and scroll down, you’ll see a comment from someone who stopped taking their thyroid hormone and began eating well, then started experiencing severe symptoms, and so she decided to take thyroid hormone again.
 
First of all, let me make it clear that I would never advise someone to stop taking their thyroid medication.  Even though I think that everyone should give natural thyroid treatment methods a try, those that choose to do this need to do this wisely.  And while I talk about how thyroid medication does nothing more than manage the symptoms, this doesn’t mean I’m suggesting that people should abruptly stop taking their medication and begin eating well, take nutritional supplements, etc.

Every now and then in an article or blog post I write, I give my personal story about when I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease how I refrained from taking anti-thyroid drugs.  However, even though I chose not to take any prescription drugs, it’s a completely different story for people who are already taking thyroid medication, as it’s unwise to abruptly stop taking your meds on your own.  I don’t know how many times I’ve mentioned that just eating well and taking nutritional supplements alone won’t restore someone’s health back to normal. 

What To Do If You Want To Stop Taking Your Thyroid Medication

So what should you do if I’ve inspired you to give natural thyroid treatment methods a try, and if you want to discontinue taking your thyroid medication?  Ideally you should run this by your endocrinologist or general medical practitioner, although I realize that most medical doctors won’t be supportive of you taking this approach.  If I was already taking synthetic or natural thyroid hormone for hypothyroidism, or anti-thyroid drugs for a hyperthyroid condition, what I would probably do is begin the natural thyroid treatment protocol, and then slowly wean off the medication.

Once again, this isn’t a suggestion as to what you should do, as from a legal standpoint I can’t inform anyone reading this to either abruptly stop taking their thyroid medication, or to wean off of their meds slowly.  So this is a decision that you will need to make on your own, assuming your medical doctor isn’t supportive of your decision, which most likely will be the case. 

What’s So Bad About Self-Treating A Thyroid Condition?

Some people don’t think it’s too big of a deal to self-treat their thyroid disorder, which is why they decide to take this approach.  And to be completely honest, the odds of something really bad happening if you were to attempt to self-treat your condition is extremely slim.  This is especially true with a hypothyroid condition, as usually when someone stops taking their thyroid medication in an attempt to self-treat their condition they will begin to experience mild symptoms that will eventually become more severe, and then when they realize the treatments aren’t working, they simply will begin taking the medication again.  Of course this doesn’t mean there aren’t any risks, which is why it’s a good idea to seek the advice of a competent natural endocrine doctor rather than self-treat your condition.

For someone who has hyperthyroidism, these people definitely need to be more careful about abruptly stopping their anti-thyroid drugs and/or beta blockers, as this condition is typically more high-risk than hypothyroidism.  I know this might sound hypocritical from someone who decided not to take prescription drugs for an autoimmune hyperthyroid condition, and without question I was aware that there was some risks when I made this choice. 

Although I did have a high pulse rate and palpitations, I personally didn’t feel as if they were too extreme to deal with for a short period of time while beginning a natural treatment protocol.  But that still doesn’t mean I wasn’t taking a risk, although I also wasn’t just randomly taking supplements herbs, etc.  And once again, if I was in someone elses’ shoes and already taking anti-thyroid drugs I probably would have approached this differently.

In summary, play it safe and don’t self-treat your thyroid condition, regardless of whether you have hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, or an autoimmune thyroid disorder.  While chances are you wouldn’t experience any serious side effects, there is always a chance you will, and you never know how your body will react.  And you definitely shouldn’t just stop taking your thyroid medication on your own and begin eating well and/or take nutritional supplements, as I can almost guarantee you that this won’t bring you optimal results, and can potentially do you harm.


 

17 Comments

  1. Mary Giraud says:

    I had half of my thyroid removed, still don’t know really why…they said it was a nogel or something like that, this was over 8 years ago, I have been on thyroid meds of some kind ever sense …I feel worse now than ever, I went from 115 lbs size 3 to 165 lbs to size 12/14….I hate my body & life and the way I feel, I go to the doctors every 3 months, I changed doctors a few times as well, I dont really get and answer except my meds are either too high or too low, I am always getting them changed. I been on all kinds of diets, they say my cholesterol is now too high, damm if I do and damm if I dont…so I want to stop taking them for a bit to see how I feel, my question is will I die if I stop?? I was thinking of going to a pill every other day for a month, then every 3 days, for the next month and so on until I am off of them….my doctors just say “its not a good idea” but with no reason why, Thanks…Mary

    • Dr. Eric says:

      Hi Mary,

      I personally can’t advise anyone to stop taking their thyroid medication. That is a decision only you can ultimately make on your own. However, I will say that if you’re not going to do anything to get to the underlying cause of the condition, then it’s probably not a good idea to stop taking it.
      I would recommend that you speak with a holistic doctor who focuses on endocrine disorders, as even with half of your thyroid gland removed there still is a good chance you can benefit from natural thyroid treatment methods.

      Dr. Eric

  2. Jill says:

    So I have already stopped taking my thyroid medicine. Its been a few weeks and I feel ok. In some areas, like my brain fog is better, i have had some aniexty and feel like my hormones may be iff a little but after 12 yrs of several different medications, complaining about the meds am fed up, and have also lost 5 lbs
    What do u suggest as supplements, am eating good and have tried talking with my doctor who just wants to give me more medicines:)

    • Dr. Eric says:

      Hi Jill,

      As for what supplements to take, it really depends on the person. Assuming your condition is autoimmune (since 90% of hypothyroid conditions fall into this category), the goal should be to address the autoimmune component. You can take some general supplements to help with the inflammation, such as fish oils, a good form of GLA (i.e. borage oil, black currant seed oil, etc.), turmeric, resveratrol, etc. But the goal is to find out what is the cause of the condition, and then take specific supplements and/or herbs to address the cause.

  3. jan says:

    Hi. I been on levothyroxine for 2 years and feel like crap ever since. I was a carefree person. Now I get panic attacks, suffer from anxiety and daily light headedness. Saw 5 diff docs. All whom say just keep taking your pill you will be fine. I am at the point where I’m frustrated and tired. I researched online about various topics on hashis which I have and it’s too much info. Getting tired of feeling like crap daily and want to quit these pills that make me feel useless.

    • Dr. Eric says:

      Hi Jan,

      I know you said you have seen 5 different doctors, but were any of them natural healthcare professionals (i.e. naturopath, chiropractor, holistic medical doctor)? While most natural healthcare professionals aren’t going to tell you to stop taking the medication, they should at least try to determine the underlying cause of your condition. But as you know, most medical doctors won’t do anything to detect or correct the cause.

  4. Kelly says:

    Help! I’ve been on thyroid medication for 4 months. I just switched I Tirosint 2 weeks ago and I am having Teri le breakouts and cyst like bumps all over my forehead and sides of my face. I’m really fed up having tried 2 different types of medication now. Why would it be so bad for me to stop the medication and see if my skin clears up. I don’t care I I feel bad I just want my skin to get back to normal. Help!!

    • Dr. Eric says:

      Hi Kelly,

      Did you bring this up to the doctor who prescribed the Tirosint? I would let him or her know about these symptoms, as he or she might switch you to a different brand of thyroid hormone, which you might not react to. Another possibility is to try switching to natural thyroid hormone.

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