Body Heal Thyself

by Tom Swift

Did you know that you can get your daily dose of selenium in just two Brazil nuts?

You don’t get that kind of information in every blog.

Here’s the thing: I want to get off levothyroxine. Levothyroxine is a drug prescribed for persons with hypothyroidism. I have taken levothyroxine for fifteen years. Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Turns out, I almost certainly do not — did not — have hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is not an uncommon condition, and for those who do have it, it’s among the most benign one could have. You take a daily dose of a medication such as levothyroxine (brand name = Synthroid) — there are others — and usually not too much, and then get tested once a year to make sure your TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) levels remain in check. That is all.

As hypothyroidism includes many common symptoms — fatigue, constipation, weight gain, slowed heart rate, depression, dry skin, among them — the list is long — and because our bodies produce more or less TSH at different times, and given that the “normal” range of TSH is not universally agreed upon in the medical community, the condition is often misdiagnosed. I learned that a few months ago while listening to a doctor speak on the rampant levels of over-diagnosis. And I thought about it: I was diagnosed in 2004 in a hospital by an attending physician, not a specialist, and my levels have been checked by a GP every year since. I might, I thought, be missing something.

Turns out, I was missing something. I saw an endocrinologist last week. He reviewed my history, including the results of the initial test. While my TSH had been elevated, it was not alarmingly high. More in the common range of fluctuation. Given other health matters at the time, since resolved, I almost certainly did not have hypothyroidism.

In short, he thinks I am a good candidate to successfully move off levothyroxine. Given that my thyroid glad is, at least today, on the smaller side for a person my size, it is possible this attempt will be unsuccessful. That’s because fifteen years of levothyroxine may have conditioned my thyroid to stop producing sufficient levels of TSH. It would actually be a bit of an upset for this not to have occurred. A blood test 3-4 weeks after I stop taking the levothyroxine will begin to answer this question.

It is 5:59 a.m. My habit has been to take levothyroxine during the 4 o’clock hour, right after waking (it must be taken on a empty stomach). For the fifth day in a row I did not do that.

Instead, I will feed my thyroid the natural way, with kelp and iodine, with eggs and greens, with the hormone release that comes during exercise, and, yeah, pass the Brazil nuts.