The First Step? Find the Right Type of Doctor
If you have any thyroid condition then you know just how frustrating it can be trying to get your doctor to see eye to eye with you.
While doctors have undergone training to help people with various types of problems, it isn’t always the case that whatever doctor you are seeing is the best option for you.
And, as a thyroid patient, you may not be aware that there are MANY options available to you.
You don’t have to stick with your primary care doctor or your endocrinologist, especially if they don’t seem to be helping you.
There are doctors that specialize in other areas of medicine that are often better at treating hormone imbalances such as thyroid problems.
So if your doctor really isn’t willing to work with you or isn’t interested in hearing about your problems, you do NOT need to settle.
But before you run out and swap doctors, let’s talk a look at the various options available.
In this article you will learn:
- How conventional doctors differ from integrative doctors
- How various types of doctors can help treat and manage thyroid problems
- Why some doctors are better at managing thyroid problems compared to others
- When you should look outside of the traditional insurance based model
- How naturopaths, chiropractors, and health coaches can help you feel better
- And much more
Let’s jump in…
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Traditional and Conventional Doctors That You Can See
By traditional doctors, I am really referring to the standard type of doctor that most of you are familiar with.
These are doctors that are conventionally trained and consist of both MDs and DOs (1).
These doctors have gone to medical school and completed residency and are usually board certified in a specific area of practice.
They have gone through at least 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, and anywhere from 3-4 years of residency after medical school.
Unfortunately, being board certified and having completed residency does not guarantee that they are the “best”, though.
The good part about standardized medicine is that you can expect a certain degree of competence among all types of physicians.
The bad part about standardized medicine is that this competence is pretty much the same regardless of what type of doctor you see.
These types of doctors rarely think “outside” of the box and stick to the rigid guidelines provided by boards and governing medical bodies.
Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you are someone that fits the stock standard mold of thyroid management.
But what if you are someone who doesn’t respond to conventional medications like levothyroxine or Synthroid?
What if you are someone who has abnormal reactions to medications or presents with abnormal symptoms?
What if you are someone who prefers to take a more natural approach to manage your thyroid?
If so, then these are typically not the best doctors for you.
They all typically tend to treat the same way and this treatment includes evaluation with the TSH and the use of stock standard thyroid medication like levothyroxine.
Having said that, they aren’t all, and some may work well for you.
In addition, it may be required to see these types of doctors depending on the type of thyroid disease that you have.
With that in mind, let’s dive a bit deeper into each of these types of doctors:
Family Practice Doctors or Primary Care Physicians
The first on the list are family practice doctors.
This is the doctor you go to when you are sick, when you need to manage medications, when you need a yearly check up, and so on.
They don’t receive any specialized training in managing thyroid conditions but they are often not afraid to manage low to moderately complex thyroid conditions and patients.
One downside to seeing a primary care physician is that their ability and familiarity with thyroid management can vary from doctor to doctor.
Some family practice doctors may be perfectly comfortable managing Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hypothyroidism whereas others may want to hand you off to an endocrinologist.
For the most part, most primary care providers are not interested in managing thyroid patients, but there are some who take a special interest in it.
These doctors usually have advanced training in hormone management, the use of diet in managing disease, the use of supplements, and additional thyroid lab tests.
Whenever possible, seek out this type of primary care provider!
You can differentiate between a standard primary care physician and one who is more holistic in their approach just based on what type of treatments they recommend and use.
If your doctor insists upon only using levothyroxine and testing your TSH, then they are conventionally minded.
If your doctor is open to ordering more than just the TSH and to using additional thyroid medications such as T3 medications and NDT, then they are more holistic in their approach.
It should come as no surprise that thyroid patients who take a more holistic approach to manage their thyroid often have much better results compared to those that don’t!
After all, it makes perfect sense.
Who wouldn’t want personalized recommendations on diet, exercise routines, supplements, thyroid medication management, and more?
These types of doctors are few and far between and usually in high demand (for good reason).
Endocrinologists are considered the “specialists” when it comes to thyroid management.
These doctors go to residency to specifically learn about hormones and hormone management!
At first glance, you are probably already giddy with excitement because it sounds like they are the PERFECT doctor to treat and manage thyroid patients.
And while it may sound like that, it’s nowhere near as good as it sounds.
There is no disputing the fact that endocrinologists have more knowledge and experience than primary care physicians when it comes to thyroid management.
But this experience doesn’t necessarily equate to better outcomes among thyroid patients.
Endocrinologists, like many primary care physicians, tend to focus only on the TSH as a way to measure thyroid problems and levothyroxine as a tool to treat thyroid conditions.
This myopic approach to thyroid management leads many thyroid patients to suffer from symptoms such as weight gain, depression, and fatigue.
Furthermore, their additional years of training tend to make them more set in their ways and less likely to hear patients who are feeling poorly.
Has this happened to you? If so, let me know in the comments below!
I’ve heard countless stories of thyroid patients who get fired by their endocrinologist because they asked for additional thyroid lab tests or because they wanted to try a different thyroid medication.
All of those additional years of training are wasted if they are unwilling to actually listen and try new treatments.
Not all endocrinologists are this way, though.
Some endocrinologists recognize the plight of thyroid patients and are open to using additional thyroid medications such as liothyronine and Cytomel.
These endocrinologists recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all to thyroid management and that certain thyroid patients will need different treatments from others.
As a percentage, endos who think this way are a minority.
If your endocrinologist is unwilling to work with you or even listen to your symptoms then you may have better luck with a more holistic type of doctor or with your primary care physician.
It may sound like I am being overly critical of endocrinologists based on what you are reading here.
I’ve even had people/patients/doctors get upset at me for taking the approach that I do.
So let me be clear:
Endocrinologists DO have a place in managing certain conditions, especially those conditions which are potentially life threatening.
Where they fail, I believe, is in managing thyroid patients who do not fit the standard treatment mold.
If you are someone who will do well on just levothyroxine then an endocrinologist is perfect for you.
But that’s not most people and that’s probably not you if you are reading this.
With that in mind, let’s give credit where credit is due…
Sometimes endocrinologists are needed, especially if you have any of the following conditions:
- Thyroid storm
- Complications from Graves’ disease such as Graves’ eye disease
- Thyroid cancer
- Large goiters or thyroid nodules
- Follow up and monitoring of thyroid nodules
- Head and neck cancers requiring radiation
- Genetic thyroid abnormalities
- Thyroid medication management in cases where you can’t find another doctor to prescribe what you need
It’s great to use an endocrinologist for any of the above reasons but remember that the recommendations you receive from your endo will be limited to only medications and/or surgical operations.
You can use an endocrinologist to get your thyroid medication but it would also be wise to use something like a health coach or naturopath for additional lifestyle recommendations but we will go into more detail on that below.
Believe it or not, surgeons actually play a role in thyroid disease and thyroid management.
This role is typically isolated to surgical operations including thyroid removal and biopsies but it sometimes extends to thyroid medication management as well.
You generally do not want to see a surgeon for your thyroid unless you need it to be surgically removed due to thyroid cancer, hyperthyroidism, or excessively large thyroid nodules.
There are some surgeons who manage thyroid patients with thyroid medication, especially in smaller towns/cities.
Oncologists are doctors that specialize in the treatment and management of various types of cancers.
Usually, thyroid patients don’t have to spend much time with oncologists because thyroid cancer is usually “cured” with complete thyroid removal and RAI.
Ob/gyn physicians can actually be great doctors to help manage your thyroid!
Because thyroid problems can lead to issues such as infertility and menstrual irregularities, these doctors are sometimes the first to diagnose thyroid conditions.
In addition, many of these doctors understand that it’s very difficult to get pregnant if the thyroid isn’t optimized!
Because of this, they understand and appreciate the role that T3 thyroid medications play in helping patients get pregnant and feel better.
You may have better luck seeing an ob/gyn compared to an endocrinologist for this reason!
Not all ob/gyns are interested in treating thyroid patients, though.
Their specialty is in obstetrics and gynecology and not necessarily thyroid management.
So your mileage may vary here.
Alternative and Holistic Doctors (My Preference)
This is where things get interesting:
Now we are going to discuss a different set of doctors that are considered alternative, integrative, or holistic.
These are doctors (usually) that take a much more holistic approach to medicine and thyroid management.
They have gone through 4 years of medical school and 3-4 years of residency like other physicians but these doctors have gone through additional training afterward.
This training can vary in length but is usually at least an additional 2 years on top of their residency program.
They still understand the importance of thyroid hormones, medications, and physiology but they combine this information with holistic treatments such as dietary changes, exercise, stress reduction, the use of supplements, the importance of sleep, and so on.
I’m biased because this is how I used to practice so take that with a grain of salt.
But intuitively, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that these types of doctors provide much better care than the standard doctors.
On the average, they tend to spend MORE time with patients and provide additional lifestyle recommendations compared to conventional doctors.
While there are many pros to seeing this type of doctor there are also some cons and I will make mention of those when appropriate.
Doctors That Specialize in Integrative and Functional Medicine
Integrative medicine (2) and Functional Medicine (3) are areas of medicine that can be learned AFTER residency.
This is important because it means that any doctor who specializes in this area already has knowledge of how the conventional medical system works.
They know the ins and outs of conventional medicine, how thyroid patients are managed, and so on.
This gives these doctors unique insight because the opposite is not true for the standard endocrinologist or family practice doctor.
I’m able to discuss how regular doctors treat thyroid patients so well because that’s exactly how I was trained.
But an endocrinologist has no idea how to use thyroid supplements, how diet impacts thyroid function, why fasting can help thyroid patients lose weight, and so on.
Naturally, this provides you with comprehensive thyroid care.
Doctors with training in integrative and functional medicine can take over care of your thyroid and provide a prescription for your thyroid medication (if necessary) in addition to recommendations in other areas of your lifestyle and life.
Whenever possible, I highly recommend looking for a physician with this type of training.
Below I’ve included some resources to help you do just that.
Doctors that Specialize in Anti-Aging Medicine & Hormone Balance
Doctors that specialize in anti-aging medicine (4) and hormone balance can also be a great option for thyroid patients.
These doctors undergo additional training after residency just like those who specialize in integrative and functional medicine.
Doctors in this category still have their conventional medical training but are still able to provide lifestyle treatment recommendations.
These doctors are also typically not afraid to use medications off-label, to prescribe other bio-identical hormones, and to use newer therapies and treatments.
Depending on where you live, Naturopaths can also be a great option for managing your thyroid!
Naturopaths can prescribe thyroid medication in many states which makes them an ideal treatment partner for thyroid patients.
Naturopaths are doctors of naturopathic medicine and have undergone 4 years of medical school at a naturopathic medical school.
Some naturopaths also undergo additional training after naturopathic medical school similar to that of a residency by MDs and DOs.
Naturopaths have a natural inclination towards holistic therapies and they can receive training in conventional medical practices as well.
Some patients prefer to see Naturopaths over conventional doctors and even consider them their primary care physicians where they get care ranging from pap smears to blood pressure medication and everything in between.
How a Naturopath can help you largely depends on whether or not they are licensed to prescribe medications.
If you are in a state which allows them to prescribe thyroid medication then they could be used in place of your primary care provider or even endocrinologist.
If you are not, then they can still take on a role in helping to improve thyroid function through dietary changes, supplements, herbs, lifestyle changes, and so on.
I’m a big fan of Naturopaths and highly recommend them if you can find one locally, even better if you live in a state where they are able to prescribe medications.
Most people think of Chiropractors as doctors that specialize in the neck and back.
And while this is true, there are many chiropractors who do just that, there are many who focus and specialize in different areas of medicine.
Some chiropractors devote their entire practice to treating just one single condition whether that is hormone imbalances, neurological issues, PTSD, or whatever.
These chiropractors can become very skilled at helping people with certain conditions.
In addition, chiropractors do have additional knowledge of the physical body and how the physical body can impact disease states.
Chiropractors are considered doctors of chiropractic medicine and they go to chiropractic medical school for 4 years.
Unfortunately, they do not have the ability to prescribe medications at this time so they will not be able to prescribe thyroid medication if you need it.
They can still, however, provide lifestyle recommendations and can provide treatment recommendations that complement medications you may be taking from an endo or primary care physician.
Lastly, you also have the option to use a health coach.
I used to work hand in hand with a health coach who was invaluable to helping my patients feel better.
This health coach would help put into practice the treatments and therapies that I would recommend.
She would help patients find barriers to implementing my dietary recommendations and help bust through those barriers so that our patients could feel better.
It’s actually quite easy for me to make all sorts of lifestyle recommendations to thyroid patients.
The type of diet you should be eating, what supplements you should take, how many hours you should sleep, how frequently you should meditate, and so on.
The hard part is the actual implementation of these recommendations and that’s where health coaches step it.
They can help you figure out if you are self sabotaging, how to implement specific strategies with tips and tricks, and much more.
This is the best way, in my opinion, to use a health coach. In concert with a knowledgeable physician who specializes in thyroid management.
If that isn’t an option then you can see your primary care physician or endocrinologist and then see a health coach on the side.
Insurance vs Cash Pay
You should be aware that many of the “best” doctors typically do not accept insurance for their services.
This can be a frustrating thing to hear for many patients but that is the reality of the situation right now.
The reason is simple:
Insurance usually compensates doctors based on complexity and time. In order to get the most out of that time, doctors need to see a huge number of patients every single day.
To meet the demands of staff and salary this usually means no more than 5-10 minutes per patient per day.
It’s just simply not possible to have a meaningful conversation about eating habits, exercise routines, how someone is feeling, and diving deep into a complex medical history in that timeframe.
But you certainly can look at the TSH and adjust thyroid medication as necessary in 5-10 minutes.
So guess what happens?
Doctors lean towards the quick visit with minor adjustments to thyroid medication and neglect the other more important areas mentioned above.
Doctors that break free of the insurance reimbursement model can spend much more time with thyroid patients.
When I was practicing, my initial visit was 60 minutes and every follow up visit was 30 minutes. I also ensured that I didn’t overload my total patient list so that I could spend enough time with each of my patients.
And this isn’t uncommon! Other practitioners spend up to 90 minutes or more on initial visits so they can really understand their patients.
This method provides much better results compared to the standard model but it comes at a price.
Most practitioners who practice this way do not accept insurance which means you may need to pay out of pocket.
Fees for doctors can range anywhere from $150 to $300 an hour or more, depending on the skills and notoriety of the doctor.
Is it possible to find a great doctor and have insurance cover it?
Yes, it definitely is still possible. It’s much more difficult but still possible.
So if the prices I’ve listed above cause sticker shock then you will need to spend some time searching for the conventionally trained doctors that take insurance first.
Tips To Help you Find a Knowledgeable Doctor
Now that you have an idea of what type of doctors are available and how they all differ in their approach, let’s talk about some specific actions you can take to FIND the right doctor for you.
Here are some tips you can utilize:
- Call a local compounding pharmacy and see if you can get a list of names of doctors that have prescribed sustained release T3 or compounded T4 and T3 thyroid medications in the past – If a doctor is willing to prescribe these medications then there is a good chance that they will take a unique approach to manage your thyroid problem. It also implies that they have more knowledge than standard doctors because they are using a compounding pharmacy which conventional doctors typically don’t use or are even aware of.
- Call the office of the doctor BEFORE you schedule an appointment to get some information about how that doctor treats thyroid patients – Ask questions like is this doctor open to ordering additional lab tests, is this doctor open to using additional thyroid medications beyond levothyroxine or Synthroid, and whether or not this doctor is open to using supplements to help treat thyroid problems.
- Check the ratings of the doctor to see what kind of experience other patients have had – Don’t live and die by these ratings, though, as many times the ratings are manipulated or adjusted by the companies which control them. Many places push down negative reviews and push up positive reviews if a fee is paid. Having said that, you can still get an overall feel for the doctor you are interested in seeing.
- Use free doctor directories from holistic training centers – There are additional programs and training courses that help educate doctors on how to use holistic therapies such as bioidentical hormones, supplements, diet, etc. Some of the most notable include the Institute for Functional Medicine and the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine.
- Ask for referrals in thyroid support facebook groups – I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a huge fan of facebook groups because they can be a large source of misinformation but in this area, they can excel. If you are a part of any facebook thyroid support groups then drop a question in that group to see if anyone has recommendations for a local doctor. You may not find the perfect fit but you might get something better than what you currently have!
- Contact advanced laboratory testing centers and ask for a list of doctors that use these tests in your state – There are many laboratories that provide specialized tests for certain hormones. One such company is Precision Analytical Inc. This particular lab testing company provides a DUTCH test that can be used to assess cortisol as well as other sex hormones. You can contact these companies and ask if they know any local doctors who use their tests. If they do, the chances are high that they have more advanced knowledge of hormone management. Precision Analytical actually has a search function which you can use. This is just one example, though, as there are many other lab testing companies that you can contact.
- Look for doctors that write blog posts, host podcasts, or create youtube videos – Before you see a doctor make sure you check their website to see if they have any additional information or content that you can look at. If they have this type of information you can really get a feel for how they might practice before you spend time, energy, and money with them. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work, though, because doctors who are more well known are usually not accepting new patients. But if you can find someone early and before they become well known then you are in luck!
- Look for doctors that specialize in anti-aging medicine, bio-identical hormone therapy, integrative medicine, functional medicine, or personalized medicine – These specialties are not residencies but they require additional education after residency for certification. If a doctor has spent additional money and time learning in these areas then you can bet that they are more knowledgeable than your standard doctor. This training isn’t required, though, so you may find that some doctors have taken only a few courses here and there. I was never formally certified in Functional Medicine, for instance, so I wouldn’t show up on their directories but I did practice in keeping with their philosophies. You may be able to find others who fit into the same boat!
- Get referrals from local health coaches or chiropractors – Lastly, if you are already being treated by a holistic practitioner such as a chiropractor or a health coach then you can use them as a resource. These practitioners see a lot of patients and often have a wider network that they can tap into to give you an idea of what their other clients are doing! The only downside here is that you probably need to have a relationship with them first in order to get that type of information.
When to Seek out a Second Opinion
What if you are already working with a doctor and you aren’t sure what to do next?
I realize that it’s not always as easy as just finding a new doctor.
Looking for a new doctor takes a lot of work, it often requires extra time and energy, and may be quite expensive.
Because this task can be daunting, many thyroid patients are reluctant to do it!
I totally understand that perspective but let me ask you a few questions.
These questions should help you decide if your current doctor is worth sticking with or if it’s time to try someone else:
Has your current doctor helped you to feel better in any way?
Does your current doctor actually listen to you?
Does your current doctor take your symptoms seriously?
Does your doctor dismiss your symptoms or suggest that they are in your head or due to depression or due to aging?
Does your current doctor look at more than just your lab tests?
Does your current doctor support you in seeking out additional information on the internet or from other sources?
Does your current doctor support you if you want to take a natural approach to manage your thyroid?
Does your current doctor support the use of thyroid support supplements?
Does your doctor actually know and remember who you are? Are you more than just a chart or a number on a computer screen?
Is your doctor willing to look at new research and change their beliefs based on evidence?
Does your doctor tell you when they don’t know the answer to something or does he/she always seem to have an absolute answer to every question?
Would you be happy feeling how you feel now for the rest of your life knowing that you may be able to feel better if you used a different doctor?
Before you do anything, take some time to reflect on these questions.
What I want you to know is that it is possible for thyroid patients to feel better, to have normal energy levels, to lose weight, and to feel like they did before their thyroid diagnosis.
Wrapping it Up
There are many different specialists available to you as a thyroid patient and it is a good idea to at least be familiar with all of them!
You will find that each type of doctor or practitioner is slightly different in their approach to thyroid management and this variety in treatment management is often ideal for thyroid patients.
Because you might be someone who can potentially reverse your thyroid condition with the right changes to your diet or if you use the right supplements.
In this case, a naturopath or health coach may be ideal for you.
On the other hand, you might be someone with a severe case of Hashimoto’s that requires higher than normal doses of thyroid medication.
In this case, an endocrinologist might be the best option for you.
And lastly, maybe you are someone who has a complicated medical history with multiple chronic medical conditions who wants to get as close to 100% as possible.
In this case, you would probably benefit from a team of practitioners including a functional medicine doctor, health coach, and a chiropractor.
You can see how each thyroid patient is unique and the approach that that person needs will be different from the next.
As a thyroid patient, don’t be afraid to “shop” around for a doctor that works FOR you and not against you.
You are the one who has to live your life. If you are living your life with fatigue, weight gain, and other thyroid symptoms because your doctor refuses to work with you, you are the one who is suffering.
Now I want to hear from you:
Have you tried working with other doctors beyond your primary care or endocrinologist?
Is your doctor actually willing to work with you?
Have you had success in using naturopaths or chiropractors?
Have you used a health coach in concert with your current physician?
Leave your questions or comments below!
34 thoughts on “How to Find a Doctor to Treat Your Thyroid (Which is Best?)”
Dr. Childs-I know that you aren’t taking any patients but I really really need some help! I have Hashimotos and was on Tyrosint. My dr gave me 5 mg of Cytomel daily and I pushed it to 10 mg because I thought I was fine. Now I’ve been in a flare up for 1 month! I hate this I have shaky hands inward tremors and a lot more symptoms nausea vomiting a little. I don’t know who or where to turn to. I have an endocrinologist but haven’t been too happy with her for several reasons. The nurse told me my t3 and t4 were low back in February but I haven’t gotten a blood test recently
I feel your frustration! I would start with the tips in this blog post to help you find someone who can actually help you. There really isn’t a replacement for a knowledgeable doctor.
Hi Dr. Childs,
I am a 36yr old female South African expat living in Vietnam currently teaching English at Kindergarten.
I have had a huge list of symptoms I have been experiencing for the past 4 or 5 months but alerted me when I had fever for over a week. I am just “not myself, something is wrong!” I have basically forced my Doctors to do tests they never offered or suggested and my thyroid ultrasound came back positive for multiple nodules on both sides as well as cysts and inflamed lymph nodes. I did an FNA biopsy and they said the results are benign. I have not been treated for any of my symptoms and I am feeling so debilitated and frustrated and not feeling any better than before, in fact, its getting worse. I have constant pain in my neck, headaches that do not subside no matter what I take and am extremely fatigued 24/7 along with hairloss and various other symptoms. Due to my lab tests being “normal” the Doctors keep turning me away and literally laughing at me. I cannot swallow and have explained that I am getting heart palpitations, severe anxiety attacks, body pains, headaches and extreme weight and muscle loss and no energy, brain fog, ADD the list goes on. In pictures/video clips, you can clearly see a lump in my throat area more on the right side where my 2 biggest nodules are located. I am at witts end because my body is telling me my thyroid is responsible. My Doctors have literally just fobbed off everything I have said and sent me to see a psychologist today who spent an hour with me listening to what I have told every other doctor and I walked out paying so much money again for no treatment or help or outcome.. so Im back to square one again. I cannot be on a watch and wait with my TIRADS 4 condition for another 6 months when my symptoms are affecting my everyday work and social life. Please can you advise as what I should do? I came across your posts online and knew immediately that this is the kind of Doctor I would do anything to see because you see each person as an individual and not just a number and everything I have digested from your posts makes total sense and I can relate so definitively! Thank you for all that you do to help so many people that Im sure have been in the same positions as me.
Unfortunately, I am not seeing patients at this time but you can use this resource to help you find someone! I’m not sure what’s available in Vietnam but there are probably doctors that you can visit virtually that can help.
Please do not text me , I prefer you Email so I can print & read when I have more time. You have my Email info- firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you
No problem 🙂 You can control whether you receive texts or not by replying STOP the to text message. That will remove you from the list and from there you should only receive text messages. The messages you get via email will be different from those that you receive via text, just an FYI.
Hi Dr. Westin,
I am 4 1/2 years post total thyroidectomy due to thyroid cancer.
I’ve been on Levothyroxine 125
Daily and Finally convinced my doctor to let me try Cytomel five once a day as well. Honestly I still feel no better and have gained 70 pounds since my thyroidectomy. Is there something else you recommend for people who have had their thyroid completely removed?
Your dose of Cytomel is incredibly small so you haven’t really given it a shot to know if it’s working or not. Many people need a dose that is anywhere from 5 to 10x what you are currently taking.
Yes armour thyroid! Because I have been absent a thyroid for 35 years! Took me 15 to find armour! Don’t fight with the idiots! go find an ob gyn! Ask your pharmacist what doctors he’s filling armour with, pharmacists will tell you!
That’s how I found dr Armas Brandon florida
Anywhere near Michigan! Dr mark Werner
Any ? 4073108786
How do I find a dr like you near me? My endo is not the worst but it’s a vicious cycle because as long as my numbers are she’s ok, but the rest of my issues never get addressed. I have taken T3T4 for years and I am on T pellet therapy 8 months. I’ve gained almost ten lbs and she believes it is the Tpellet and doesn’t want me to have them. I walk/sprint 5 miles daily for a year and haven’t lost one pound. I am diligent about foods. The same 25 lbs just here to stay and won’t leave. Beyond frustrated and discouraged.
This article contains a bunch of helpful tips to help you find a local doctor 🙂
I took me and my son to see an endocrinologist and like you said in the article he was set in his old ways. He wasn’t interested in my thyroid healing book I brought full of questions for a different approach to treating my issues. It was such a waste of time. We live in a rural community and drove 3 hours round trip for him to basically do exactly what my pcp did (TSH and levo) and laugh at my book. We never went back. He is the one who checked me for hashimotos which is what I have.
That story is all too common, unfortunately. It’s usually a waste of time to try and use conventional doctors which is why I created this resource: https://www.restartmed.com/how-to-find-a-doctor-to-treat-your-thyroid/
I’ve seen a naturopath for years but sadly, he relocated and is no longer availalbe for in-person visits. I started to see an endocrinologist and really liked her. However, my TSH has gone out of whack these last few months – ranging from .062 in May to 45.3 in June (only 6 weeks later)! I called her because I was very concerned as to what is causing this sudden jump when nothing has changed on my end (i.e. the time I take my synthroid, other medications/supplements, foods, etc.) I was so disappointed when she decided to do a wait and see approach and will run labs again in September. She has no interest in running additional tests or scans – so I am left wondering what could be wrong with me. It’s extremely frustrating – my experience is that endocrinologists are only concerned with our test results – and not how we actually feel. I’m hoping to reconnect with my naturopath via telehealth visits or locate an integrative medicine specialist to get to the bottom of this.
The answer might be as simple as a spurious lab test from the use of something like biotin: https://www.restartmed.com/biotin-and-thyroid/
Hi, Dr Childs. I’m a registered nurse looking into functional medicine certification. Is there any that you recommend? So far I see there’s The School of Applied Functional Medicine and The Institute for Functional Medicine.
I only really know about the institute for functional medicine so I can’t speak much to the other one. I would say you probably can’t go wrong with either, though.
Hi Dr. Childs,I’m a 34 yo female. my pcp doctor started me on levothydorxine 50 mcg 1.5 yrs ago for subclinical hypothyroidism bc I was having hypothyroid symptoms (primarily debilitating fatigue, depression, but this was also around the time I lost a loved one). I have gained 20 lbs (10% of my weight!) since that time despite no changes in my diet or exercise, and it’s been really tough on me and my mental health, especially having been skinny my whole life. I can’t lose the weight despite dieting and exercise (which I never really did before). He and the endocrinologist advised me to stay on this dose recently after checking my tsh (no other labs were checked like rT3, etc). They noted that I will have to start it anyways at some point if wishing to conceive so should start now. I am being underdosed? Or is it possible the thyroid med is causing the weight gain (I have heard of this happening in some cases though mot sure of the mechanism through which it would…).
It’s hard to say without more information. You will need to get this complete set of labs to determine if your dose is correct or not: https://www.restartmed.com/normal-thyroid-levels/
Something that is missing here is ordering your own labs. I’m in a rural location, I have no ability to use tele health bcuz I have no cell service or reliable DSL, etc. I have an Endo that I’ve been with for 20+ years who is out of state and will speak to me by phone. I’m interested in her diagnostic thoughts and bcuz nobody should be listening to an allopathic MD at this point but learning to fix themselves, very difficult but necessary step in healing these days. I’m taking zero meds, learning to use food instead of supplements and slowly I’ve gotten better results. It’s still a personal struggle and it’s been difficult at best for the past year. Iodine, Boron, Dr Childs supplements and articles and reading everything about diet, adrenal function MMS, HOCL and relaxation have been a blessing for me. I’m convinced we are capable of healing ourselves.
Thanks for the suggestion. I will make a note to add more information about self-ordering labs. I try not to push that exercise too much because the interpretation of the labs is much more important than just ordering them and I’ve lost track of thyroid patients who have spent hundreds (sometimes more) ordering their own lab tests only to be left with a big bill and no one to help them interpret the results. But, as you mentioned, it can be helpful if you personally have an understanding of what certain lab results mean.
Hello Dr Childs,
Thank you for a very informative and helpful article. I am 62 and lab tests 3 years ago indicated high levels of TPO antibodies. Since then I’ve been self managing and taking supplements. Most recently your Thyroid Daily Essentials and Thyroid Adrenal Reset Complex. I’m mainly gluten and dairy free on a healthy diet and exercise regularly. I am not on any thyroid medications.
I’ve been monitoring my lab tests and TPO antibodies have been going down, first result in May 2019 was 521 most recent result in May 2022 was 354. Thyroglobulin Antibody is high in May 2019 result was 8, May 2022 was 23.
I have no weight issues, but have been experiencing hair loss and brain fog/short term memory loss. I just started seeing a nurse practitioner at an integrative clinic but not completely confident with her level of knowledge. My main question is after 3 years of self management should I be on hormone meds of some sort? Thanks for your feedback in advance.
There are no-one-size fits all recommendations but there are certainly arguments to make for early thyroid medication use in early-stage Hashimoto’s. As long as you are seeing a competent doctor, there’s very little harm in giving thyroid medication a trial to see if it helps. You can read more about why it’s helpful here: https://www.restartmed.com/stages-of-hashimotos/
My chiropractor is an overachiever. While running his practice full-time, he continued his education and now is also a nurse practitioner. He is my family’s PCP and does know each of us by name. Unfortunately, he does have a high patient volume and believes in treating thyroid by TSH levels. I am in Idaho and will attempt now to reach out to other doctors. In the past, I have limited myself to only endocrinologists, ENTs, and PCPs. My last ENT mismanaged my thyroid so badly that I am now 100 pounds heavier than I ever have been. I have averaged 140 pounds all my life and now am at 250. When I went for a physical with my PCP, my TSH was at 45 (not 4.5 but 45!!). He immediately changed my dosage but two years later, I haven’t lost a pound. I eat one meal a day, and supplement another meal by making all-natural yogurt fruit smoothies. For snacks, I keep nuts and fruit on hand. I do not feel hungry so this seems to be sufficient food. A meal to me is a meat and a vegetable. I am frustrated, and feel defeated. I have no thyroid due to thyroidectomy and RAI. I do not even recognize the person in the mirror because I am 48 and for over 40 years I was someone else. I wore size 5 jeans and s/m shirts. Today, I am in a size 20 jeans and 2x shirts. I am single but have no interest in meeting any men because I cannot even stand looking at me so why should they.
Sorry for going on and on. My main focus was that I have a pretty great PCP, Dr. Samuel Barker. Kudos to his overachieving!!!
It would be good if you go into more detail about the differences in training for Functional and Integratrative medical people. A person can become and practice as a Functional medicine practitioner with as little as a weekend or week long training. The Functional medicine practitioner does not have to be a doctor. I saw a nurse practitioner who was “functional”. She was not able to help me with my thyroid. The last time I saw her she said, “I am convinced all of your problems are in your gut….you need to take care of it…..see you in six months….” Needless to say, I never saw her again. Integrative medicine practitioners go through a two year training program. I currently see a former Family Practice doctor who was training in Integrative medicine. The care from her is just night and day compared to the Functional practitioner. Another Functional practitioner I saw was an ER doctor. He just couldn’t help, and actually gave me medication that caused my TSH to go to 25! Have to be careful.
Great point and it’s something I’ll make more clear in the future. Functional medicine is often used more as a marketing tactic nowadays as opposed to a way of treating and managing disease. I’ve explained this idea in more detail here: https://www.restartmed.com/downsides-to-functional-medicine/
I’m a big fan of integrative medicine but it tends to still lean pretty heavily on the conventional side which doesn’t always solve problems in the same way that the functional medicine approach does. Both have their pros and cons, unfortunately.
I recently quit taking BC pills after 30 years as my Gyn said I could experience heart issues as I am 69. I also have hypothyroidism. My primary care doctor is having trouble adjusting my meds. My TSH keeps changing. I am now experiencing hot flashes. How do I know if they are from stopping the birth control pills or my thyroid issues?
You will need to try to connect them temporally to whenever you made changes to your medication. If you can’t do that then you’ll need to change one medication at a night instead of both to figure out where they are coming from. Ultimately, it may actually be a combination of both.
Hi Dr. Child’s
It’s Ginny here. Iam on your thyroid boost package. But my question is. I have Epstein Barr Virus. 355 count. Iam sick. Got no answers at drs offices. I want to know your thoughts on maybe bringing count down as I have been told no cure for it. Do u think a anti-biotic would touch the virus it runs up my tingling legs and across colon which is tortedmmore crooked than most. And up into my mouth. I have read much on line about this virus. It’s very scarry thank you for your answer Ginny
Antibiotics won’t really help treat viral infections but you could consider an antiviral like valacyclovir which is sometimes effective. In addition, there are natural supplements and treatments which can also potentially help. They are sometimes worth exploring for thyroid patients who believe EBV may be contributing to their symptoms.
I have no thyroid !!! surgery from 30 years ago . Totally disseminate –4 hr surgery . I need a Dr that understands gut and heart connection . I am on compound meds which are charged all the time . I go to a practice that thinks outside the box but they don’t really see connection between gut health , heart health and no thyroid. any suggestions would be appreciated
I have been taking levothyroxin for years I was in hospital last October do to weak not able to drive not think right I stop levothyroxin felt same so take now get sick when eat it is hard sometimes
I love your content and know how much time you put into your website!
I also found that your license situation to be disgusting in the way you were treated ! 2 items here to consider moving to Maryland and the Baltimore Metro area. We need more DOs here and they are accepted ! Item 2 does your DO school provide a list of where their students are practicing by zip code. My doc retired and I WANT A DO for my primary care here!!! The DOs that are listed here are into sub-specialties! You come here and I can give you office space ! Best always, Rick Tomlinson
410-419-7422 text to start.
I appreciate the offer!