Regular or Standard Doctors Don't Treat Hashimoto's Correctly
If you have Hashimoto's then you probably don't me to tell you how frustrating it can be to try and feel better.
But allow me to give you some good news:
Feeling like your old self is definitely possible even if you have a rip-roaring case of Hashimoto's.
The key is to find the right doctor.
A doctor who can guide you through the ups and downs of Hashimoto's.
A doctor who understands that Hashimoto's is more than just a thyroid disease.
A doctor who has treated plenty of patients with Hashimoto's in the past and knows that each person is different and unique.
A doctor that provides you with personalized treatment advice, who listens to you, and who offers up solutions aside from just thyroid medication.
Sounds pretty good, right?
The key to feeling good if you have Hashimoto's is to find someone who represents the traits listed above.
The bad news is that you are VERY unlikely to find these traits in your standard doctors.
Yes, I'm talking about endocrinologists and family practice doctors or PCP's.
In fact, these types of doctors are often the worst type of doctor to use if you have Hashimoto's for one simple reason:
They ALL treat you in the exact same way.
I can sum up their treatment method in a few sentences...
But there's so much more to managing Hashimoto's than just the TSH and using thyroid medication.
What triggered your Hashimoto's in the beginning (also referred to as the root cause)? How does this trigger interact with your existing medical conditions and genetics? What types of nutrient deficiencies may be playing a role in your immune function? What types of foods may be triggering or exacerbating inflammation in your gut? How are your antibody levels changing over time?
These are the types of questions that you WANT your doctor to be asking and evaluating every time you see them and you just aren't likely to get them from the "standard" approach.
Does it seem like finding a doctor who will evaluate you in such a way is impossible?
It doesn't have to be and you don't have to settle.
Today you are going to learn:
- Why the conventional approach to Hashimoto's fails thyroid patients
- How to find a doctor who will treat Hashimoto's the OPTIMAL way
- The top 3 medical specialties that you want your doctor trained in
- When it's appropriate to use a naturopath or a chiropractor
- And much more...
Let's jump in...
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Problems With The Conventional Approach to Hashimoto's
If you are newly diagnosed with Hashimoto's then this information may be a big pill to swallow.
How can doctors which are specifically trained to treat hormone imbalances NOT be the best doctors to manage Hashimoto's?
I've heard this question more than once.
And the answer is actually pretty straightforward.
Traditional doctors (including Endocrinologists and Family Practice Doctors) mess up in the following ways:
- They don't treat it correctly - Hashimoto's is both a thyroid condition and an immune condition.
- They don't look for the underlying cause - Something triggered your Hashimoto's and you may be able to fix this issue.
- They only focus on the thyroid component - All cases of Hashimoto's will lead to low thyroid but it's possible to slow down or prevent this from happening.
- They completely avoid or miss the autoimmune/immune component - Treating the autoimmune component is important for putting Hashimoto's into remission.
- They only use one thyroid medication - There are MANY more medications aside from levothyroxine/Synthroid.
- They fail to diagnose Hashimoto's early enough - Most doctors don't even diagnose Hashimoto's until you've had it for YEARS.
- They don't treat you until the disease is very advanced - "Treatment" consists of putting you on levothyroxine and calling it a day. By the time you need thyroid medication, you have already missed out on the best time to treat and reverse your condition.
These problems lead many thyroid patients with Hashimoto's to feel terrible for years and years.
So what can they do?
There are many things that you can do by yourself to improve your condition but, by far, the best option is to seek out someone who can help GUIDE you through it.
Easier said than done, I know, but the following information should make the process MUCH easier.
Doctors that Are Most Likely To Treat Hashimoto's Correctly
This is not an all-encompassing list but it should give you plenty of ideas and options to help you get your Hashimoto's under control...
MDs (Medical Doctors) and DOs (Doctor of Osteopathic medicine) represent the two types of medical doctors found in the United States.
These are doctors with unrestricted licenses to practice medicine and have the ability to prescribe medications and perform surgery where they are licensed.
MDs and DOs are usually your best bet because they are required to go through medical school, residency, and often post-graduate/fellowship training in various fields.
Unfortunately, much of the standard training that these doctors go through leads them to all treat Hashimoto's the same way.
But there are still many doctors who sway from the standard run of the mill treatment paradigm that thyroid patients get sucked into.
Most of these types of doctors, the ones that you want to see, undergo additional training AFTER residency to better understand thyroid function and Hashimoto's.
Look for doctors (MDs and DOs) that specialize or focus in the following areas:
- Functional Medicine (1) - Doctors that specialize in functional medicine
- Integrative Medicine (2) - Integrative medicine tends to
- Anti-Aging Medicine (3) - Doctors who specialize in anti-aging medicine
Functional Medicine, Integrative Medicine, and Anti-Aging medicine are areas of expertise that doctors can get additional training in (and sometimes certifications) which shows that they are interested in these fields.
This training often includes information NOT taught in medical school regarding hormone management, the use of off-label prescription medications, and information regarding how to use supplements.
You don't HAVE to see a doctor trained in these areas (I've barely received any formal training in these areas) but it's useful to know if a doctor has trained in these areas because they are much more likely to use non-standard treatments.
These types of doctors are more likely to treat Hashimoto's naturally, to use thyroid medications aside from levothyroxine and Synthroid, to understand the role of diet in managing autoimmune disease, and much more.
Seeing a doctor with this type of training does NOT guarantee that they will be proficient in treating Hashimoto's, however!
So make sure that you do your homework before you go and see them.
Look for doctors that have websites, blog posts, videos, or articles, so you can get a feel for what type of conditions they "specialize" in.
You will find that most doctors gravitate towards conditions that they have an interest in.
Areas might include bioidentical hormone management, weight loss, thyroid management, testosterone replacement therapy, anti-aging, and so on.
In my opinion, look for MDs and DOs FIRST before moving onto other options.
#2. Naturopaths (NMD)
If you don't find any luck with MDs or DOs near you then you can also look for a Naturopath.
One downside to using a Naturopath is that they are not licensed to prescribe medication (4) in every state.
Last I looked, they were only allowed to prescribe some medications in around 16 states (5).
This is obviously a problem for thyroid patients because if you are in a state where a Naturopath can't prescribe medication then you may be out of luck.
It doesn't mean a Naturopath can't help you, but it means that you will still rely upon your current MD or DO to prescribe your thyroid medication.
And since many thyroid patients don't do well on levothyroxine or Synthroid, this may result in issues.
Another thing worth pointing out is that not all Naturopaths take an alternative approach to healthcare.
There are some Naturopaths that practice just like standard primary care providers in terms of throwing medications at every symptom or problem that you present with.
This type of approach may result in symptom management but it never gets to the root cause of your condition.
#3. Chiropractor (DC)
Some thyroid patients also find success with Chiropractors.
Unfortunately, Chiropractors cannot prescribe medications in any state, so they take the role of more of a health coach in terms of their recommendations for diet, supplements, and lifestyle changes.
I can speak from experience in saying that some Chiropractors are very knowledgeable and have the capacity and ability to help many thyroid patients.
On the flip side, there are also many other Chiropractors who are better at marketing than they are at practicing medicine.
Many thyroid patients have come to me telling me that they've spent thousands of dollars with some Chiropractors with very little to show for it.
For this reason, and because they can't prescribe thyroid medication, it's usually best to look for MDs, DO's, and Naturopaths before looking into local Chiropractors.
#4. Endocrinologist and/or PCP (Primary Care Physician)
Lastly, if all else fails, you still may find some luck in working with your current family practice doctor or endocrinologist.
While 98% of PCPs and Endocrinologists will NOT be willing to change up how they practice, you may find that some are willing to try different medications and different therapies.
If you can get your doctor to work with you then this is always a great option because your doctor has the capacity to prescribe any thyroid medication on the market.
You may also be able to convince them to try additional off-label thyroid medications such as LDN (low dose naltrexone) for Hashimoto's.
Because pretty much everyone has a doctor that they are already working with, I've created a free resource designed to help you talk with your doctor to get them to try these therapies.
This free resource can be found here and contains a list of medical studies that show that the therapies I mention on my blog are effective and safe.
Be aware, though, that even with this information your doctor may still not be willing to work with you!
For whatever reason, perhaps due to pride, doctors don't like it when you seek information elsewhere on the internet.
Having said that, some are still willing to listen and may be willing to work with you so make sure you at least give this option a try!
It won't take much effort because the chances are high that you are already seeing an endo or family doctor to get your thyroid medication prescription right now.
Don't spend too much time with your doctor, though. If they don't seem like they are willing to budge on new therapies go back to option #1 and option #2.
I've seen many thyroid patients spend years patiently waiting on doctors only to end up frustrating and right back where they started.
It's your life and you are the one who has to deal with your symptoms every single day.
If you spend 1-2 years suffering on a daily basis those are years that you will NOT get back.
#5. Additional Options (Ob-gyns and Physiatrists)
Think of this as a bonus section.
If you aren't able to get your current doctor to work with you and you aren't able to find a DO or MD near you which focuses on alternative medicine then you may be able to look at these options.
Some other doctors, especially those who tend to treat hormone imbalances on a daily basis, can often be very knowledgeable in managing thyroid disease.
Two doctors that come to mind in this category include psychiatrists and ob-gyns, especially ob-gyns that focus on reproductive medicine.
Let me explain:
There is quite a bit of medical research that shows that thyroid medication can be incredibly effective at treating both depression and bipolar disorder.
These are two conditions that psychiatrists treat on a daily basis.
If you have either of them, it would be worth your while to show your doctor the research on how thyroid hormone can be almost curative in treating depression or bipolar disorder.
Psychiatrists are much more likely to prescribe T3 thyroid hormone (6) for these conditions compared to your regular family practice doctor or endocrinologist.
The same is true for some ob-gyns.
Ob-gyns, especially those that specialize in reproductive medicine (7), are often much more comfortable prescribing thyroid medications that contain T3.
They do this because they know that thyroid dysfunction is a leading cause of infertility.
And it's been shown that even small doses of NDT can be used to boost fertility in certain patients.
Most thyroid patients aren't aware of these doctors as potential options because they don't really focus on treating thyroid patients, but they can be considered in some cases.
A Word About Paying Out of Pocket and Using Insurance
While these types of doctors tend to be the best option for patients with Hashimoto's, they are not without some drawbacks.
One drawback may be the price.
If you are using my recommendations above then you will find that most of these doctors do NOT accept insurance which means you will need to pay out of pocket for their services.
Why insurance doesn't cover this type of medicine is an article for another day, but suffice it to say that insurance just doesn't like to cover alternative treatments like the ones that these doctors provide.
The cost of seeing your doctor will vary based on a number of factors but a single visit can vary anywhere between $150 and $600+ (depending on what type of doctor you are seeing).
The price of seeing your doctor typically does not include the additional money you will need to shell out for supplements, medications, hormones, food for your diet, and so on.
Getting your health back is certainly an investment but one that is worth making.
In some cases, you may be able to find a knowledgeable thyroid doctor that ALSO takes insurance.
This is not common but it does happen.
If the price is an issue for you then you may want to ask around if a doctor takes insurance before setting up your appointment.
Just realize, though, that the best doctors typically do not take insurance so you will be limiting your options.
Wrapping It Up
Finding the right doctor may just be one of the most important things you do for your autoimmune disease.
My recommendation is to stick to MDs and DOs which specialize in functional, integrative, or anti-aging medicine.
You will find the best success with these doctors because they are more likely to treat with T3 thyroid medications (Cytomel, liothyronine, and NDT) and they will take into account the root cause of your condition, recommend supplements, and understand the importance of lifestyle changes.
If these doctors are not available to you, don't worry!
You still have plenty of other options available.
When looking for a doctor try to find one who can prescribe thyroid medication.
Naturopaths and Chiropractors can't always prescribe these medications so they are typically not your best first option.
Now I want to hear from you:
Have you found a doctor who is willing to work with you?
Does your current doctor look at more than just your TSH? Do they take a holistic approach to your health?
Are you feeling better with the doctor you are seeing?
Or are you in the market for a new doctor?
Share your comments or experience below! Also, if you have a doctor that you love feel free to share their information below as well!
Resources To Help you Find a Doctor:
- Find a doctor that specializes in Functional medicine near you
- Find a doctor that specializes in Anti-aging medicine near you
- Find a doctor that specializes in Integrative medicine near you
- Find a naturopath near you
- Call a local compounding pharmacy and ask if they have a list of doctors that prescribe compounded T4 and T3 thyroid medications
- Look at databases off lab companies which provide advanced lab tests
References (Click to Expand)