Many people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions work with an endocrinologist. And it’s not uncommon for me to consult with someone who is intimidated by their endocrinologist. In other words, they are afraid to say what’s on their mind and don’t want to upset their doctor. This is especially true with those people who have Graves’ Disease, although I also see it at times with some people who have hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. You’ll probably be disappointed to learn that I’m not really going to teach you how to hypnotize your endocrinologist (although that would be cool), but I am going to give you a few tips that hopefully will help you feel more at ease when speaking with your doctor.
Most of what I discuss below is common sense, but the reason why I put this blog post together is because every week there are at least one or two patients who tell me they are intimated by speaking with their endocrinologist. They are concerned because most endocrinologists aren’t open to a natural treatment approach, and so their doctor doesn’t want to hear anything about how diet and lifestyle can improve one’s health. Don’t get me wrong, as every now and then I’ll work with a patient who has an open-minded endocrinologist, but this definitely isn’t the norm. With that being said, let’s discuss some of the reasons why you shouldn’t be intimidated by your endocrinologist, or any other medical doctor for that matter.
1. Remember that your endocrinologist is a person just like you. Even though some doctors have a superiority complex, I’m pretty sure they are made of flesh and blood just like you. When you think about it, it’s silly to be afraid of your endocrinologist, or any other doctor. Although I realize it might not be easy to find another endocrinologist to work with, there is no good reason to put up with an endocrinologist who isn’t willing to listen to you, and who just wants to tell you what to do without having you question them.
2. Keep in mind that we all have our biases. Although I’m not opposed to conventional treatment methods, there is no question that I’m biased towards taking a natural treatment approach. And the reason for this is not only due to my personal experience with natural treatment methods, but my training in chiropractic school as well. It definitely didn’t have anything to do with how I was raised by my parents, as I wasn’t brought up with a natural mindset, and if in the past I chose to go to medical school instead of chiropractic school I can almost guarantee that I wouldn’t be writing this post, as I probably would be prescribing drugs or getting ready for a surgical procedure.
And it’s a similar situation with most endocrinologists, as they have gone through years of training to help people through conventional treatment methods. While it would be great if there were more open-minded endocrinologists, and perhaps there will be in the future with the help of organizations such as the Institute for Functional Medicine, unfortunately most medical doctors have a closed mind and don’t want to hear about natural treatment methods. Sure, there are a few exceptions, but it’s still rare to find an endocrinologist who has any type of experience or interest in taking a natural treatment approach for thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions.
3. You are in charge of your own health. The reason why you probably work with any healthcare professional is to seek their advice and receive recommendations. However, this doesn’t mean that you are required to follow their recommendations. So for example, if someone with hypothyroidism needs to take thyroid hormone medication and prefers to take Armour or Nature-Throid, there is a good chance the endocrinologist they are working with will refuse to write a prescription for this. If this is the case with you then of course you can choose to take synthetic thyroid hormone medication, or you can call around and try to find a different doctor who is willing to prescribe natural thyroid hormone medication. Similarly, if someone with Graves’ Disease sees an endocrinologist for an initial consultation, and if the endocrinologist gives radioactive iodine treatment as the only option, then this person can choose to receive the treatment, but of course they also have the option of seeking a second opinion. It’s the same concept when someone consults with me, as I will give them my recommendations, and then it’s up to the person to decide whether or not they want to follow my advice.
4. Do some research before you choose your doctor. In most cases, before someone schedules a consultation with a natural healthcare professional they will do some research on the Internet to learn more about the doctor. I know this is frequently the case with my patients, and I require people to first attend a free webinar so they can get a better idea of my approach, and make it easier for them to decide if they would like to work with me. But this usually isn’t the case when someone schedules an appointment to see an endocrinologist. Many people will choose an endocrinologist based on 1) whether they are a provider on their health insurance plan, and/or 2) the location of the practice.
While it’s fairly easy to learn about my approach by visiting my website and/or attending one of my webinars, I realize that this isn’t always the case with other doctors. For example, if an endocrinologist is part of a group practice then they might only have a single page on the website dedicated to them, and it might not tell you much about the doctor. If you have specific questions feel free to email the practice, or better yet, call the office and see what you can find out. And if you can’t find the answers you’re looking for then try to contact a few other offices.
5. Be careful about how you approach your endocrinologist. Although it’s true that you are in charge of your health, and while you want to be able to have a two-way conversation with your endocrinologist and not just listen to his or her recommendations, you do want to be a little cautious when trying to communicate with your doctor. For example, if you are also working with a natural healthcare professional, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to tell the endocrinologist “Hey doc, I’m also working with a natural doctor and he recommends for me to do some blood and saliva tests, and so I’m hoping you will be able to order these. Oh yeah, he also says that diet is a big factor with these conditions. Plus, any drugs you prescribe need to be gluten and dairy free.” Okay, perhaps you wouldn’t word it exactly like this, but my point is that most endocrinologists want to be the authority figure, and most don’t want to take orders from a natural healthcare professional.
Does this mean you shouldn’t tell them that you are working with a natural healthcare professional, assuming this is the case? Is it wise not to say anything else about taking a natural treatment approach? Before you tell your endocrinologist you are taking a natural treatment approach, I would simply ask him or her the following question: “What are your feelings about taking a natural treatment approach for my condition?” Or you can ask “”What are your thoughts about me working with a natural healthcare professional to help improve my health while I work with you simultaneously?” By doing this you aren’t openly admitting that you are currently following a natural treatment approach, but the question should elicit a response from the endocrinologist. If the endocrinologist gives a negative response then it might be best not to further talk about natural treatment methods, unless if you’re looking for a good argument. On the other hand, if the endocrinologist seems to be open to natural treatment methods, or even if they aren’t open but they don’t have a negative reaction, then you might want to tell the endocrinologist that you are thinking about taking a natural treatment approach, and you can also ask if he or she would be willing to work with you while you do this.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to tell the endocrinologist that you are considering working with another healthcare professional to try to address the cause of your condition. After all, most of them don’t think that there is an underlying cause for thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions. As a result, it might be best to tell them that you are working with a natural healthcare professional who is trying to improve your overall health by offering nutritional support and lifestyle advice, and not tell them that you are specifically looking to restore your health naturally.
While every now and then I’ll work with a patient who is seeing an open-minded endocrinologist, most endocrinologists are opposed to natural treatment methods. In some cases they will refuse to work with you if you tell them you’re taking a natural treatment approach, and usually the best case scenario is that they won’t be thrilled about what you’re doing, but they will be still willing to write an order for labs and prescribe medication. I do see this changing in the future, as more and more medical doctors are being exposed to functional medicine. But unfortunately it still is challenging to find an endocrinologist who is open minded.
In summary, many people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions are easily intimidated by their endocrinologist. And the reason for this is because most endocrinologists are close-minded when it comes to natural treatment methods. Just remember that your endocrinologist is a human being just like you, and also remember that you are the one who hires your endocrinologist, as it’s not the other way around. You are in charge of your own health, and while I realize it isn’t always easy to find another endocrinologist to work with, this doesn’t mean that any doctor has the right to talk down to you and insist that you need to follow their recommendations, even if you are uncomfortable with them.
Of course it is ultimately your decision how you want to approach your endocrinologist, and if you have something you want to add to this, or if you just want to share the experience you had with your endocrinologist please feel free to post a comment below.