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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
I was prescribed synthyroid by my GP because my levels were borderline and I was experiencing depression and fatigue.
After a year those feelings are largely the same. So I went to another GP (the original now commands high prices the other is happy with Medicare) so I went to get a test and possibly experiment with going off. Their answer is that because the levels look normal there is no reason to support me going off.
I explained I wanted to try going off and what the dangers were. They said they don’t advise it but it was safe to try it and come back in a month for another blood test and review.
I dropped my initial 50mcg to halves for a month and now I’m off, waiting a month before going back. I can’t say I’m experiencing much in symptoms; I’m tired and was already tired. I feel a bit warmer than usual but it’s summer. So, while this isn’t advice for others, this is one situation that might occur if you have the conversation with your GP.
Frankly I’d have liked a bit more information. Reading online that it can cause coma and heart attacks to go off it directly contradicts what the GP told me.
Dr. Eric says
I agree that it would have been nice if they provided you with additional information. Thyroid hormone is of course very important, and while experiencing a heart attack or coma is rare, if someone has depressed levels then this can cause some serious health issues if person doesn’t take thyroid hormone medication for a prolonged period of time. From what you mentioned it doesn’t sound like your levels were too bad, although I’m not sure if they tested the thyroid antibodies, as if these are elevated then it can take time before significant damage to the thyroid gland occurs to significantly affect the thyroid hormone levels.
In 2003 my blood-work showed extremely high levels of triglycerides (1530) with normal levels of cholesterol. I was prescribed gemfibrizol and it brought my triglyceride level to around 900.
In 2005 my doctor requested my thyroid levels to be tested. My TSH levels were about 65. I started taking syntheroid (0.075 mCG)and gemfibrizol. My TSH dropped to 2.5 and my triglycerides were 2.49. I continued taking these medications for 2 years every day.
Then I stopped taking both without any change positive or negative. I would start it up again about 2 weeks before my annual blood test and stop taking them after my blood test. My levels showed about the same results every year with this approach. I would get the initial prescription every year and I would not get the refills, and I accumulated alot of unused pills.
Last summer 2014 I decided to take my medication on a regular basis, so I set an alarm on my smart phone to remind me. I took it every day for 7 months. I did notice that my body temperature was 1 degree higher than normal, and I would sweat a lot with the easiest tasks, like washing a window in a 72 degree house.
When I did my next blood work my TSH was around 2.6, triglycerides at 343. The doctor noticed I hadn’t refilled my prescription for years and asked me where I was getting my medication. I pulled the bottle out of my pocket and the expiration date was 3 years ago. He said levothyroxin looses its potency quickly after the expiration date.
I got a new prescription of fresh medicine. After 2 weeks on the new medications I repeated my blood work and my TSH level was at 3.0, triglycerides at 390. I told my mom about it and she told me she was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism and took the thyroid medication for about a year, then stopped. 5 years later her blood work showed normal levels of TSH. About 10 years later she was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. She refused to take the medication, the next year her thyroid was normal again.
I wanted to get blood tested when I am not taking thyroid medication to see if my thyroid is working without the medication. I have already stopped taking my medication for the last 2 months and will get my blood tested next week.
The question I have for you is have you ever heard of a patient that went from hypothyroid to normal to hyperthyroid and back to normal again?