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Once On Thyroid Hormone, Always On Thyroid Hormone?

For people with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, the most common treatment method is synthetic thyroid hormone.  Some medical doctors will recommend natural thyroid hormone, but either way, this is usually a “permanent” recommendation.  In other words, people with hypothyroid conditions will be told to take synthetic or natural thyroid hormone daily for the rest of their life.  In fact, one of the more common sayings for these people is “Once on thyroid hormone, always on thyroid hormone”.

Without question, there are some people who do need to be on thyroid hormone for the rest of their life.  For example, someone who has received a complete thyroidectomy will need to take synthetic or natural thyroid hormone daily.  Many people who receive a partial thyroidectomy or radioactive iodine treatment will need to be on thyroid hormone on a permanent basis, although this isn’t always the case.  And even some people who haven’t had surgery performed or received RAI will need to take thyroid hormone for the rest of their life.

However, many people who develop hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis don’t need to take thyroid hormone forever.  One of the stories I don’t believe I have shared on this website (until now) is that many years ago, my mother was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, and she was told to take synthetic thyroid hormone on a permanent basis.  Of course if this were to happen today I would have tried convincing her to find the underlying cause of the condition, yada yada yada.  But this happened when I was a child, and so I didn’t know what thyroid hormone was, let alone anything about natural treatment solutions for the condition.

In any case, my mother began taking the thyroid hormone, but eventually felt she didn’t need to take it, and so she abruptly stopped.  I don’t recommend for people with hypothyroidism to take this approach, as many people would experience severe symptoms if they were to just stop taking their medication.  As for my mother, once she stopped taking thyroid hormone she never had to take it again, as she felt fine, her thyroid labs normalized and they remained normal (I honestly have no idea if they tested her for thyroid antibodies, and she doesn’t recall this either since it was so long ago).

One thing I probably should point out is that my mother didn’t have a natural mindset.  She smoked a couple of packs of cigarettes throughout my childhood, brought plenty of junk food into the house (brownies, cupcakes, soda, punch, etc.), and we would frequently eat at places like Burger King and White Castle.

I realize this is only one example of someone who was diagnosed with hypothyroidism who was able to stop taking thyroid hormone.  And once again, I would not recommend for anyone who is currently taking thyroid hormone to abruptly stop taking their medication.  The main point I’m trying to make is that most medical doctors have a “forever” mindset when it comes to hypothyroidism and thyroid hormone.  Since they don’t look into the underlying cause of the disorder, and don’t believe it is possible to restore the function of the thyroid gland, the only thing they know how to do is to continuously manage the symptoms.

What they don’t understand is that people don’t simply develop hypothyroidism out of the blue.  There is a reason why this happens, and many times the cause can be corrected, which in turn will restore the function of the thyroid gland back to normal.  But how about if someone has Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?  Well, just remember that synthetic or thyroid hormone doesn’t do anything for the immune system component.  So when someone is diagnosed with an autoimmune hypothyroid condition, it drives me crazy when they are simply told to take thyroid hormone for the rest of their life, without addressing other compromised areas of the body.   If you address all of these other areas and the person still needs to take thyroid hormone, then that’s fine.  At least an attempt was made to restore their thyroid health back to normal, and by correcting these other problems (immune system, weak adrenals, mineral deficiencies, hormone imbalances, etc.), you can’t help but to improve the person’s overall health.

In summary, some people with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis do need to take thyroid hormone for the rest of their life, and there admittedly are people who follow a natural treatment protocol who still need to take thyroid hormone continuously.   On the other hand, many people with these conditions can restore their thyroid health back to normal, and to assume that anyone who is taking thyroid hormone will need to continue taking thyroid hormone on a permanent basis is just plain wrong in many cases.