It’s not easy dealing with a thyroid or autoimmune thyroid condition, which is why it’s a good idea to work with one or more healthcare practitioners. Most people with these conditions will at the very least see a medical doctor, but if you’re looking to optimize your health then you also might want to consider working with someone who has an open mind. Of course you also want to consult with someone who has a good amount of experience dealing with your specific condition.
So let’s go ahead and take a look at some of the different healthcare professionals you might choose to work with:
Primary care physician. Many people will initially get diagnosed with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism by their primary care doctor. In the case of hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s thyroiditis they might prescribe thyroid hormone replacement, although in some cases they will refer out to an endocrinologist. In the case of hyperthyroidism the primary care physician will almost always refer the person out to an endocrinologist, although they might write a prescription for antithyroid medication or a beta blocker to manage the symptoms in the meantime. This is what happened to me when I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in 2008, as I saw a primary care doctor, was given a prescription for a beta blocker, and was referred to an endocrinologist.
Endocrinologist. Many people with hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism will be referred to an endocrinologist. As mentioned above, this is especially true with most people who have hyperthyroidism, but many with hypothyroidism will also be referred to an endocrinologist. Frequently it’s an endocrinologist who will diagnose someone with hypothyroidism as having Hashimoto’s, and will diagnose someone with hyperthyroidism with Graves’ disease, toxic multinodular goiter, etc.
For those with hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s, the person will probably be given a prescription for Levothyroxine. In the case of those with hyperthyroidism, the three common options are 1) antithyroid medication, 2) radioactive iodine, and thyroid surgery. Although it’s a shame that endocrinologists don’t do anything to address the cause of the problem, this of course comes down to their training in medical school. For those with Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s (or the antibodies for both), keep in mind that endocrinologists aren’t immune system specialists, which is yet another reason why they treat the thyroid gland, while doing absolutely nothing to improve the health of the person’s immune system.
Sometimes I’ll get asked how someone can find an endocrinologist who has an open mind towards natural treatment methods. The truth is that while over the years I’ve had a few patients who had an open-minded endocrinologist, most of these specialists don’t want anything to do with natural treatments. If anyone reading this has worked with an endocrinologist who is open to a natural approach I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.
Functional medicine practitioner. If you are serious about getting to the underlying cause of the problem then I would strongly suggest working one-on-one with some type of natural healthcare practitioner/functional medicine doctor. Obviously I’m a tad biased because I fit into this category, but it is very difficult to restore your health on your own. Don’t get me wrong, as it’s not easy to restore one’s health even when working with an expert, but it is far less challenging when you have the proper guidance and accountability. I realize that not everyone can afford working with someone, and ideally you want to work with a practitioner who has experience with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions.
Finding someone who has experiencing working with hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s shouldn’t be too difficult, as there are many natural healthcare practitioners who have a lot of experience with these patients. It’s a different story with hyperthyroidism, which explains why approximately 80% of my practice consists of people with hyperthyroidism/Graves’ disease. Even though I have written a book on Hashimoto’s, I’m perceived as being more of a “hyperthyroid specialist” since I personally dealt with Graves’ disease and restored my health. Plus I also have written a book on hyperthyroidism, not to mention many articles on the topic, and recently I’ve even conducted a couple of hyperthyroid-related challenges!
So how do you find a functional medicine practitioner who has experience dealing with your specific condition? Well, a lot of people find me through the search engines (i.e. Google, Bing) when conducting a search for certain keywords related to “natural hyperthyroid treatments”. You can also visit the website for the Institute for Functional Medicine and conduct a search. There are a lot of practitioners on the site who work with Hashimoto’s patients, although it might be more difficult finding someone who works with a lot of hyperthyroid patients. In fact, I find that even some endocrinologists don’t have much experience with hyperthyroidism, and one reason is because it’s not as common as hypothyroidism.
Nutritionist /Nutritional health coach. A few years ago I hired my first nutritional health coach (she actually was already working with me and I sent her to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition), and then in early 2020 I hired another nutritional health coach. Prior to that I was the sole person talking with patients about diet and nutrition, and I felt comfortable since I received a masters in nutrition degree, along with a few nutrition certifications. And so you certainly can work with a single practitioner who does it all, as my patients received great results when I took this approach.
That being said, I think patients appreciate having a dedicated person they can speak with who focuses on diet and nutrition. And quite frankly, both of my nutritional health coaches do a better job than me when it comes to giving recipes, food substitutions, etc. In fact, for some people it might be best to start consulting with a nutritionist or a nutritional health coach. While diet alone might not be enough to restore your health, you won’t receive optimal results if you eat an inflammatory diet consisting of refined foods and sugars, fast, food, etc. And it really is a good idea to cut out common allergens such as gluten and dairy. I won’t get into detail about this here, as I’ve discussed diet in other posts, as well as in my books.
Acupuncturist. I’ve had some patients see an acupuncturist while under my care, and while I can’t say that doing this is absolutely necessary, there are benefits of seeing an experienced acupuncturist. I actually discussed this in a past blog post “Can Acupuncture Benefit People With Thyroid Conditions?”. And so if you’re considering seeing an acupuncturist you might want to read this.
Other healthcare practitioners. In addition to the ones listed above, there are other healthcare practitioners to consider working with. Many wouldn’t think of a biological dentist when it comes to thyroid healing, but problems with oral health can sometimes play a role in thyroid health. One blog post I wrote that you might want to check out that relates to this topic is entitled “Are Silver Fillings Harmful To Thyroid Health?“.
Although I’m a licensed doctor of chiropractic, I can’t say that everyone with a thyroid/autoimmune thyroid condition needs to see a chiropractor in order to restore their health. But if you want to read more about this then check out my blog post entitled “Chiropractic and Thyroid Health“.
I understand that while many people will see a primary care doctor and/or endocrinologist to diagnose and manage their condition, many won’t see a natural-oriented healthcare practitioner because they simply can’t afford it. If this describes you I would check out a blog post I wrote entitled “Following A Natural Treatment Protocol On A Budget“.
Who Is Part of YOUR Thyroid Healing Team?
I’d love to hear what type of healthcare practitioners you’re working with! Perhaps you’re working with multiple practitioners. You might even be working with a different healthcare practitioner that I didn’t list above, and if this is the case I definitely want to hear from you!