Is it Possible to Stop Taking Thyroid Medication for Good?

Can you Stop Taking Thyroid Medication Once You Start?

Thyroid medication (Synthroid) is one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States. 

But do all of those people who take Synthroid (or any other type of thyroid medication) have to do it forever?

Not necessarily, and that's something I want to explore in this article. 

Article highlights:

  • People start taking thyroid medication because of blood tests, but these blood tests are not 100% accurate. 
  • Some people who start taking thyroid medication may be able to eventually wean themselves off. 
  • Doctors aren't likely to make this suggestion, though, unless you bring it up. 
  • Some individuals may require thyroid medication for the rest of their lives (but not everyone). 
  • If you decide to try and get off thyroid medication you must do it slowly and controlled.

More...

Why People Start Taking Thyroid Medication

This topic should really be "why doctors prescribe thyroid medication", but the point still remains the same. 

The only real reason to start taking thyroid medication is that your body isn't able to produce enough thyroid medication on its own. 

If this happens, then you will be at a deficit which must be replaced and supplemented with some amount of oral thyroid medication. 

This isn't necessarily a problem, but the problem does start to arise when we talk about how doctors determine if your thyroid is functioning well or not. 

The main way that doctors do this is through a test called the TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone. 

If the TSH is high then you are considered to be hypothyroid and your doctor may start you on thyroid medication. 

If the TSH is normal, then you are considered to be 'euthyroid' and you don't need thyroid medication. 

So, where's the problem?

The problem is that the TSH is a pituitary marker and not necessarily an accurate measurement of thyroid status in your body

There are times where it is considered normal for your TSH to be high or outside of the normal reference range (1). 

In addition, the TSH test only gives you information about what is happening RIGHT NOW. 

It doesn't give you any information about your future thyroid function (2). 

Most of the time it is an accurate measure of thyroid function, but there are times when individuals are placed on thyroid medication inappropriately (3) or times when they may only need thyroid medication short-term. 

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Can you Stop Taking it?

Knowing this information, why isn't it common to hear stories about people getting off of their medication?

The reason has to do with how thyroid medication impacts your brain and your thyroid gland. 

As you take thyroid medication it causes a change in your pituitary and hypothalamus which alters how much thyroid hormone your body can produce naturally. 

This makes it difficult (almost impossible) to see how much thyroid your body could produce on its own if you weren't taking thyroid medication. 

In addition, most doctors are conditioned to believe that once you start taking thyroid medication that you will simply be on it for life. 

This means that stopping thyroid medication in certain patients isn't even on their radar. 

So if you fall into one of the categories that I've listed below, it's not likely that your doctor may start a conversation about reducing or eliminating your dose. 

This leaves it up to you to start that conversion! But only if it's appropriate. 

3 Groups of Thyroid Patients

There are roughly 3 major groups of people to consider before you stop taking your thyroid medication. 

Where you fit into these 3 groups will determine how likely you are to be able to stop. 

Let's dive into these 3 groups so you can help determine where YOU fit in. 

#1. Those who Need Thyroid Medication

It's worth talking about these people first because if you fall into this group then you don't really have an option. 

The truth is that some people will be REQUIRED to take thyroid medication for the rest of their lives (4). 

Not every single person will fit into this category, but it is certainly true that many of you probably do. 

Why is thyroid medication sometimes required?

Because your body REQUIRES thyroid hormone to survive. 

In fact, zero thyroid hormone in your body is not compatible with life and it ultimately leads to coma and death (5). 

People who must take thyroid medication for life include the following:

  • Those who don't have a thyroid (either because it's been removed or because they were born without it)
  • Those who have had their thyroid 100% destroyed with radioactive iodine ablation therapy (sometimes RAI does not destroy the entire thyroid gland so you may not have to take it in all cases)
  • Those people who have end-stage Hashimoto's thyroiditis which has resulted in complete thyroid atrophy (ultimately, untreated Hashimoto's will end up here over the course of decades)
  • Those who don't have a pituitary either because it's been destroyed or damaged from trauma (these people can't produce TSH)

If you fit into any of these categories then it is very unlikely that you will not be able to wean yourself off of your thyroid medication. 

But not everyone is in a position where they HAVE to take it, there are still some groups of people who can potentially either get off of their medication or reduce their dose. 

#2. Those who were Placed on Thyroid Medication Inappropriately

Believe it or not, there are some people who have been placed on thyroid medication incorrectly. 

Most people like to think that they have the best doctor around, but trust me when I say that not everyone can have the best doctor!

Doctors tend to make mistakes from time to time, and it's certainly possible that you were incorrectly placed on your thyroid medication at some point in your life. 

I've personally seen a great many patients who were placed on thyroid medication 20-30 years ago for one reason or another and they have just stayed on their medication since that time. 

And each subsequent doctor that they go to looks at their medication and just assumes that they need to be on it. 

There is some percentage of thyroid patients who take thyroid medication who fit into this category. 

But how does this happen? 

There are several known conditions which can cause a temporary increase in the TSH such that it may mimic the lab results seen in hypothyroidism. 

But just because you have a high TSH on a one-time test doesn't guarantee that you have hypothyroidism. 

There is also the possibility that the test that you used was inaccurate as well. 

It's estimated that up to 5% of all lab tests are not accurate which leaves a fairly high degree of error and difficulty with interpretation (6). 

If you were someone who was placed on thyroid medication because you had one isolated high TSH at some point in your life and you weren't experiencing any of the symptoms of hypothyroidism then you may have been subjected to one of these issues. 

If so, there is a decent chance that you probably don't need to be on thyroid medication long-term. 

People who fit into this category also find that they felt no difference on or off of their thyroid medication. 

#3. Those who only need Thyroid Medication Temporarily

Lastly, there are a group of patients who need thyroid medication but only temporary. 

Several conditions, including thyroiditis, some cases of Hashimoto's, hypothyroidism from obesity, hypothyroidism from iodine deficiency and other nutrient deficiencies, and so on, may be reversible causes of hypothyroidism. 

Take for instance Hashimoto's thyroiditis:

It is true that people with this condition may go on to develop fully fledged hypothyroidism, but a small percentage of patients with this disease experience spontaneous and complete remission (7) (even without therapies!). 

So, it may be that you were placed on thyroid medication because it was necessary at some point, but it doesn't mean that you have to stay on it indefinitely. 

Other conditions which may require the temporary use of thyroid medication include:

These are just a few of the causes of temporary hypothyroidism and there are probably many others. 

If you aren't sure why you were placed on thyroid medication in the first place then you should go to your doctor and try to figure out when and why you were. 

From there you can determine if your issues are potentially reversible or require the use of thyroid medication long-term. 

natural thyroid supplements version 2

Even if you don't find yourself in a position where you can get off of your thyroid medication completely, you might find that you can reduce your dose somewhat. 

Take for instance the case of obesity:

I've seen many patients who require much less thyroid hormone once they start losing weight. 

And if you are able to lose 25-50 pounds on your own then there is a very high chance that whatever thyroid medication you required at your heavier weight will not be required in the future. 

They key here, however, is to address the potential cause of your thyroid issues. 

What to do if you Want to Try and Stop Taking your Medication

First things first, you don't want to do this on your own!

Believe it or not, it can actually be dangerous to stop taking your thyroid medication abruptly and I've written about why this is the case in previous articles. 

I've been accused of being a shill for pharmaceutical companies for this recommendation but I still stand by it. 

The truth is that it can be dangerous for some individuals to suddenly stop taking their thyroid medication, especially if they just don't understand why they were started on it to begin with. 

I've seen some people who don't have a thyroid (because it was removed) who want to stop taking their medication. 

This simply cannot happen. 

Because thyroid hormone is required to sustain life, you MUST take thyroid medication if you don't have a thyroid. 

And the fact that some people don't understand this is a failure of the medical system. 

But, what if you are among those people who can potentially stop taking their medication? What do you do?

The best thing you can do is go to seek help from your current physician and ask if they are willing to help you get off of your medication. 

Make sure that they know that you are aware of the risks (read about them here) and that you understand you may need to be placed back on it. 

If they are on board with the idea then you can proceed in a very slow and cautious manner. 

You should then attempt to slowly decrease your thyroid dose by 25mcg every week (if you are using Synthroid or levothyroxine) until you are completely off of your medication. 

From there you will need to give your body at least 2 months to adjust to life without thyroid medication because it will take at least that long for your HPT (hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (9)) system to 'reset'. 

By slowly reducing your dose, you are allowing your thyroid to slowly start to kick in naturally which allows it to start to produce more thyroid hormone on its own. 

If your thyroid is capable of producing thyroid hormone then you will probably notice a temporary worsening of your symptoms which should resolve over the next 2-3 months. 

If you don't ever start to feel better and your thyroid labs start to get worse, then you may be someone who needs to be on thyroid medication long-term. 

What to Expect if you Stop Taking Your Medication

What should you expect if you stop taking your thyroid medication?

The first thing you should realize is that you are most likely going to feel worse for a short period of time even if your body doesn't need thyroid medication. 

The reason for this is simple:

Once you start taking thyroid medication (of any dose) it causes a negative feedback loop in your brain which REDUCES the amount of thyroid hormone that your thyroid gland produces naturally. 

This is a natural and healthy mechanism which is put in place by your body to prevent too much thyroid hormone from being produced. 

But the problem is your body doesn't necessarily know the difference between thyroid medication that you take by mouth or thyroid hormone that your thyroid gland produces naturally. 

So once it sees any thyroid hormone it alters the signals that it sends to your thyroid gland by lowering the TSH

The more thyroid medication you take by mouth the lower your TSH will get. 

So, as you stop taking your thyroid medication, it's only natural that this TSH will start to increase. 

But you have to be aware of one major important point. 

Once your TSH has been artificially lowered with thyroid medications, it takes time for your brain and pituitary system to get back to full strength. 

In fact, it can take several weeks to months for it to get back to the normal state you were in prior to taking thyroid medication. 

Because of this, there will be a short period of time where your body isn't producing enough thyroid hormone on its own (because it can't) and where you are not taking enough thyroid medication by mouth to supplement this difference. 

During this transition period, it's normal, therefore, for you to feel bad! Because you don't have sufficient thyroid hormone in your body. 

This by itself isn't a reason to think that you HAVE to be on thyroid medication, however. 

But, if your body doesn't get back to normal and if you aren't feeling well after 2-3 months, then you may be someone who has permanent thyroid damage and will be required to take thyroid medication indefinitely. 

Conclusion

Is it possible to stop taking your thyroid medication? The answer is yes, but it's not true for every single thyroid patient. 

Is it possible that you may require long-term thyroid medication treatment? The answer is also yes, but it depends on why you started taking thyroid medication, to begin with. 

Before you decide to try and wean yourself off of your thyroid medication make sure that you find a physician who is willing to work with you. 

Also, make sure that you know exactly why you were taking your medication in the first place!

It's certainly possible (and I've seen it many times) that patients were placed on thyroid medication decades ago for whatever reason and now they may not need to continue it. 

Just be aware, though, that getting off of your medication is a process which may require several months to do it safely. 

Now I want to hear from you:

Have you been able to stop taking your thyroid medication?

Do you know why you were taking it in the first place?

What thyroid condition do you have that necessitates medication?

If you've stopped your medication and you feel poorly, please also share your story below!

References (Click to Expand)

stop taking thyroid medication
Dr. Westin Childs

Dr. Westin Childs is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. He provides well-researched actionable information about hormone-related disorders and formulates supplements to treat these disorders. He is trained in Internal Medicine, Functional Medicine, and Integrative Medicine. His focus is on managing thyroid disorders, weight loss resistance, and other sex hormone imbalances. You can read more about his own personal journey here.

63 thoughts on “Can you Stop Taking Thyroid Medication Once You Start?”

  1. I have been using medical thyroxin for about 20 years. I wanted to start on natural thyroxin from bovine, and started on that. It did not go so well. So I went to an endocrinologist who checked my thyroid and took a lot of blood tests. I thought I had Hashimoto, but the tests showed no antibodies and my thyroid was normal. He said I could stop using medication and that the body will produce thyroxine itself. After two week without medicine my t3 and t4 was below reference border and the tsh was a little higher, but still inside the reference. But I feel bad. My bowel is not working so well, I feel it’s hard to breathe and I am anxious. How low will my metabolism go before the thyroid starts to work? Then I read your article and figured it is more wise to decrease the medicine slowly. I now went back on 2/3 dose and will go on lowering it. And take blood tests every second week. Is this a good plan?

    Reply
    • Hi May-Lisbeth,

      It’s a reasonable plan but testing your labs every 2 weeks is not really helpful. I would re-read the last 2 sections of this article for more information on how to proceed with titrating down your dose.

      Reply
  2. September 2018 dr. Told me I have severe Hashimoto. That’s when I start taking meds.
    Do you think I can stop taking them?

    My dr. Believes that thyroid med should be taken for the rest of your life, but I don’t want to be taking meds the rest of my life!

    Reply
  3. I was first told I had Hashimoto 10 yrs. ago. I took Armour Thyroid for several years. I started to see a new doctor and she kept me on the Armour until my blood work showed it wasn’t working and put me on Levoth. I didn’t do well on it and went back on Armour but now that I’m on Medicare they wouldn’t pay for the Armour. So I had to go back on Levothyroxine but ended up in the ER with a rapid heart rate and high blood pressure and dizziness. Last year a dear friend of mine died suddenly and it hit me so hard, I couldn’t stop crying. That night I took a Homeopathic remedy for grief and the next morning I was feeling great and couldn’t cry if I wanted to. It also seemed to heal my Thyroid. I had heart palpitations and my doctor said to stop taking my meds. So now a year later I know I need something. I see my Cardiologist next week about the palpations I’m having off an on. I’m praying I don’t need to be on Thyroid meds again.

    Reply
    • Hi Diane,

      Heart palpitations can be caused by both too much thyroid hormone and by not enough and in some cases, it’s difficult to determine which is which. It may take some trial and error to figure it out, but it’s either because you need to be on meds or because your dose was too high.

      Reply
  4. How does one determine if they would be considered as having severe Hashimoto’s? I have Hashi’s and TPO antibodies. I have been on 50mcg of Synthroid for over 7 years and it has helped me feel better and less tired and anxious. My ultrasounds do show damage to my thyroid (shrunken and holey like swiss cheese). I think I had undiagnosed Hashi’s for years and also low and then high iodine intakes – double whammy!

    I tried going off meds (wrong – too fast) and got progressively more and more tired and felt physically and mentally worse but I wonder how one could tell if they are ‘past the point’ of ever getting off thyroid meds by the ultrasound results alone (or is there any other indicator that you would say..don’t even bother trying to go off meds other than the route you mentioned in the article)?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Jaz,

      By the time you have visible changes to your thyroid via ultrasound that is usually an indication that there is some element of permanent damage which means you will probably require medication from that point forward. You may be able to salvage some thyroid function, but I suspect that some amount of medication will be necessary to function optimally. It’s far better to try and treat the issue when your thyroid is enlarged, inflamed but still functioning as opposed to atrophied.

      Reply
  5. I started taking Levothyroxine in 1991 due to symptoms of hypothyroidism. I was under extreme stress at the time and smoked. I was 40 years old.

    I was tested by an endocrinologist. Lab tests revealed I had Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I was told I needed to take thyroid medication for the rest of my life.

    My mother was started on thyroid medication at 17 years old and other women in my family also have autoimmune conditions, including Hashimoto’s.

    I started taking HRT in 1996 at age 45 due to severe pre-menopausal symptoms. Horrible hot flashes and insomnia.
    In 1998-1999, still taking Levothyroxine along with HRT, all my original symptoms of hypothroidism returned. My TSH level was at the very high end of the normal range. I was told by the endocrinologist that no medication increase was warranted. This continued for several more years of me feeling horrible.

    In 2002 I found a doctor who prescribed Armour thyroid since I read it might work better for me. It sure did. With a couple weeks I was feeling much better. I also quit smoking in 2001.

    Around 2003-2004 I switched to a different type of HRT. I now realize this was a big mistake. Hormone pellets were inserted into by buttock every few months.

    Gradually I required higher doses of Armour. I started at 120 mg and topped out at 180 mg. I recently learned taking HRT blocks the thyroid receptors so more thyroid medication is needed. I finally stopped taking HRT in 2012 and my Armour dose was gradually lowered back to 120 mg according to my lab results.

    In July 2014 I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. My oncologist told me it was probably due to my long term use of HRT and the weight gain that started after stopping HRT. Even though I was stage 1 the cancer was a very aggressive form. Estrogen driven and HER+.

    I was in treatment for a year. Surgery (lumpectomy), chemo, radiation, and targeted therapy with Herceptin. I could not tolerate the aromatase inhibitors they wanted me to take for ten years after treatment. I tried taking three different medications over an 8-9 month period. I had the most horrible side effects, dementia and extreme joint pain! I had trouble moving around. When I stopped taking the medication the side effects gradually went away.

    Since the fall of 2015 I have been healing from the breast cancer treatments. I started by cleaning up my diet, taking supplements, and making better lifestyle choices.

    I recently asked for comphrensive thyroid panel testing. I no longer have Hashimoto’s. Now almost five years later I feel pretty good. I would love to get off thyroid medication. My current dose is down to 75mg of Armour.

    I was told many times it was not possible to stop taking medication since my thyroid gland was shriveled up and gone. No imaging test was ever done to verify it though so I do not know how they say this is true?

    About 6 months ago I started taking Metformin for pre-diabetes. So far it has not lowered my HA1c. The doctor keeps increasing the dose. I am now 68 years old so it has been 28 years since my original diagnosis of Hashimoto’s.

    This has been a very long story I know but I would love to hear your comments Dr. Child’s!

    Reply
    • Hi Joyce,

      It would be a good idea to check the status of your thyroid gland with a thyroid ultrasound. Thyroid imaging with ultrasound will give you some information but it’s not 100% accurate in testing for thyroid function (obviously), so you will probably need further tests beyond that.

      Reply
  6. Where would you consider someone who has half of a thyroid? I had half removed 4 years ago due to a long standing undx intrathyroidal parathyroid adenoma of 15+ years. I had a rough couple of years post op rebalancing both my thyroid and minerals (low calcium, magnesium and vit D). I was never out of range in anything though my calcium, PTH and FT4 were bottom of range. Supplements (calcium, d, k2, mag, zinc, b vitamins, etc) and thyroid medicine went a long way. I have a good endo who also practices functional medicine. I take a combo of levo and NDT to support pregnancies and nursing over the last few years. But I have always been suspicious that with the proper nutritional balancing the other half of my thyroid could be up to the task and maybe one day go off all meds. I’m hoping to start exploring that once I’m past the childbirth and nursing stage of life.

    Reply
    • Hi Erin,

      It’s possible for some people with a half a thyroid to never use thyroid medication as thyroid tissue has been shown to hypertrophy and take over for some non-functioning gland. It’s not always true, however, and some people without a thyroid certainly benefit from the use of added medication.

      Reply
  7. Hi there,
    Can I try to lower my thyroid med even if I have thyroid nodules? or can I get rid of the med if I have nodules? Does that mean my thyroid got damaged and can’t be fixed anymore?

    Dr doesn’t help in here they say just keep taking this for a long time.

    Thanks for this article.

    Sue

    Reply
    • Hi Sue,

      Typically, thyroid nodules do not have any impact on your thyroid gland function so it would probably depend on how many nodules you have, how big they are, and if they are functioning vs non-functioning.

      Reply
  8. Hi Dr. Childs,

    I asked my doctor if I could try going of Armour, and she said, “Sure, go ahead!” I weaned off per your recommendations above. I have been off all thyroid for about three weeks and have been feeling pretty good. Last week, my doctor tested my TSH (I tried to get her to run a full panel, but she said no). It went from .01 in March to 58.88. She said I would need to get back on medication immediately. I would love to hear your opinion. Thanks,
    Kala.

    Reply
  9. I have a goiter found in high school and back then my doctor told me to eat iodized salt.. but a year later my goiter enlarge and I went to Endocrinologist and she put me on Synthroid and I have been taking it for 38 years… I was over 100MCG and now I take 75MCG just from take Whole-Food Multivitamin plus (Dr. Mercola). Dr. do my lab test and told me I will be on Synthroid for the rest of my life without any other test! Help.

    Reply
    • Hi Jeanne,

      This article discusses the potential categories that patients fall into and how these categories impact their ability to get off of thyroid medication. You will need to determine where you fit in and then you can determine if you are able to stop thyroid medication. If you are able to treat your goiter and to reduce the size of your thyroid gland then you might be able to wean off of your medication.

      Reply
      • Hello Dr. Childs,

        About March 2015, I went to see my OBGYN for a yearly well woman’s exam. We started talking about my energy level. At the time, I was switching between day and night shift so I said I was pretty tired most of the time. She checked my TSH and T4. My T4 was within normal limits, but my TSH was elevated at 5.3. Being tired was the only “symptom” I had. She referred me to an endocrinologist. She ran a TSH and T4 again. T4 was normal but TSH was about 5.5. She told me I needed to be put on Synthroid. She started me off with 50 mcg. Two weeks later is when my nightmare started. I started to loose hair, having constipation, feeling more tired then before, acne, weakness. I went back to her after a month bc she wanted to check my labs again. I told her all the symptoms I was having. She said “it will get better once your TSH is back to normal.” I believed her but something in me kept telling me something was wrong. I went to her for a year. My synthroid dose went up to 100 mcg and my TSH was 1.2, but I was still having symptoms. I decided to leave and see a naturopathic doctor. His NP ended up seeing me. I told them the whole story. They decided to change me to a combined T3/T4 medication. I still continued to have constipation, acne, my hair was thinner even after all my thyroid labs were normal (TSH , free T3, free T4, TPO TBG). I got pregnant in 2017, and my symptoms went again. But now 2 years after having my baby, I’m starting to have the symptoms again. I have already had to increase my dose twice. I recently got my labs checked and results are pending. What really has me sad is that I have noticed a lot of hair thinking. I end up growing baby hair, but even that falls out. My hair is just not the same as before I started taking thyroid medication. My hair thickness and texture has changed tremendously! I am wanting to be weaned off and hopefully get back to how I was. Do you think I can be weaned off based on my story? What should I do?

        Reply
        • Hi Flor,

          It’s possible, yes, but not guaranteed. The only way to know for sure is to try. This, of course, assumes that you are also doing everything within your power to optimizing your health such as eating an healthy diet, exercising, being at a normal weight, etc.

          Reply
  10. Diagnosed hypo post partum 27 yrs ago. Was also on severely restricted no sodium diet for Inner ear disorder. After reading this information I’m wondering if I would be a good candidate for stopping my NDT. It could have been lack of iodine and post partum levels that caused my thyroid levels to be high. Currently my frees are not optimum and my tsh runs very low but myvRT3 is 15. I’ve never taken more than 1 and 1/4 grain. Perhaps medication wasn’t right for me to begin with?

    Reply
  11. I went to the doctor for low vitamin d because it was an issue I have had for three years. doctors tested the thyroid and it was fine. The new doctor, I moved, tested the thyroid because I complained of being tired all the time, which is normal for low vitamin d. My thyroid was slightly elevated and the doctor put me on the levothyroxine. I was not happy. Months later and I feel worse. My hands are always cold and I gain weight so easily along with thinning hair, I am tired all the time. My thyroid test came back good and is now 1.14. I swear this pill is my issue and want to stop it immediately but I know that is unsafe so I will try this and get tested in 3 months to see what the test says. I am pretty sure I will be fine.

    I know that those are symptoms of the medication not working but how does one go from no symptoms to many when taking a pill that is supposed to help. We will see.

    Reply
  12. I was diagnosed with large b-cell lymphoma in Sept 2019. Before chemo could start my body crashed. I went to ER and put straight into ICU with Sodium at 104. Took a week to get back within normal range and chemo was started the next day. During that period they also put me on levothyroxin. I thought it was related to the chemo. Recently found out it was not, they put me on because they decided I was also low thyroid based on blood work done for my other conditions. Prior to start of this I had zero symptoms of low thyroid and considered myself very healthy and active (63 yrs, 5’7″, was 126 lbs), didn’t have a doctor, did not take any medications – prescription or OTC (63 yrs, 5’7″, was 126 lbs), eat healthy home-cooked meals, feeling great. Told oncologist nurse today I want to get off and she said I could just stop taking it (50 mcg/day). I wondered about that advice and found this article (among others that said Do NOT do that). I think I fall into one of your exception groups – What do you think? Can I cut the pills in half to get 25 mcg? I think I will take the 50 mcg tonight and talk to the doctor again tomorrow! (In hospital now getting 24hr chemo for 5 days).

    Reply
  13. I’m currently titrating off my thyroid medication because I’ve consistently tested negative for antibodies and my doctor thinks that my elevated TSH (3.75) might have been transient. Since I’m pulling myself out of a suppressed TSH situation, I notice that my thyroid is throbbing a lot, almost like it is “waking up.” Is that normal? Otherwise I feel okay.

    Reply
  14. About five years ago I saw a functional MD who tested my thyroid levels and claimed I had low T3, even though it was in the reference range, on the lower end. I don’t have Hashimoto’s and I don’t think there has ever been anything wrong with my thyroid gland itself. I think I have had some HPA axis dysregulation and I have other digestive/autoimmune issues. I recently went on a strict diet for autoimmune disorders and after a couple of months I started feeling very hot all the time, hungry, anxious, with heart palpitations. At my age (54) women tend to dismiss everything as being related to menopause, but finally I realized that my thyroid medication was too high. I started tapering off it and feel better. Everyone screams about working with doctors and getting labs, but I think the lab tests are misleading and inaccurate. I go more by how I feel. I feel better at a lower dose. I think whatever was causing the poor T4 to T3 conversion has been corrected by an anti-inflammatory diet. Maybe at some point I will be off the meds entirely. People should realize that problems with thyroid hormones are not always related to the function of the thyroid gland itself.

    Reply
    • Hi Gigi,

      I’m glad you understand some of these nuances and I think you are correct on several points. Lab tests are highly inaccurate and often misleading and there are many patients who suffer from thyroid-esque symptoms which are secondary and not primary. This isn’t true for everyone, but it is for many people!

      Reply
  15. Hi Dr.Child,
    Can I replace my levothyroxine to a thyroid supplements if my TSH lab tests shows improvements? Or, when do you think I can stop my med and just continue taking my supplements instead?

    Reply
  16. I had what I believe to be postpartum hypothyroidism ( it happened post breastfeeding) , but have now been on .025 of levothyroxine for 6.5 years, because no one told me to stop. Currently all I experience is side effects of the levothyroxine and not hypothyroid at all. I think its time, but am not getting support from my doctor – he is just convinced once you start you never stop. Sigh. How do you wean off of such a small dose – cut in half then quarters? I am looking for specifics if possible.

    Reply
    • I would love to know what you did …. I’m on lev as well and after two yrs am having extreme issues… I want off.

      Reply
  17. Hello Dr Childs
    So happy to have found this site. I have been on Levothyroxine for many years due to hypothyroid. I was currently taking 50 mcg. Last year I started having what felt like an increase in my female hormones, breast tenderness, inflamed pelvic ovary area and hives on my body. I also had experienced some dizziness. I have had all necessary tests, ultrasounds and a full CT scan of pelvic and abdomen all is well, except free-fluid in cul-de-sac in pelvic area. (Probably from constant inflammation) As soon as I try to start taking the 50mcg symptoms return. Can this medication cause these symptoms? I have lowered to 25mcg and not experiencing so much of this but still not comfortable, trying to come off completely, any suggestions? I do not take any other medication other than krill supplement for my joints. Thank you any advise would be very helpful.

    Reply
  18. I went to a functional Med dr a couple years ago and found out I have celiacs in addition to Hashimoto (I was going bc I knew I had Hashimoto, not the celiac). I was not on any medication (my Hashi was caused initially by postpartum thyroiditis that never went away). At that point all of my thyroid labs were in range but not optimal. My thyroglobulin was a 8 and my TPA was around 80. I was having hair shed, joint pain, cold intolerance. I tried gluten free for 1 year, the joint pain went away but not the hair fall or cold intolerance. I started armour, .15 gr taken initially 1x then later 2x a day. The hair fall and cold intolerance eventually subsided but I started getting this lump feeling in my throat I had never ever experienced before. I’ve taken the medicine for a year and that feeling comes and goes. After taking my labs, my TPO initially shot up to almost 200, but my thyroglobulin has been steadily dropping. It is currently at 3, and my TPOs are at 160. I would like to decrease the amount to 1x a day, because I really dislike the throat feeling and feel it has to be somehow related but ever time I ask I’ve been told armour should not cause that effect. I’m wondering if I should have given going gluten free more time before stating medicine or have you ever heard of armour causing a goiter feeling?

    Reply
  19. Hi, I wish I found your blog two months ago, but at least I have it now. I switched to a gluten free, mostly dairy free ketogenic diet a little over 2 months ago. I also became fed up with my doctor when I realized she was only testing my TSH level. I was placed on Levothyroxine about 15 years ago after my second pregnancy and about 80 pounds of weight gained. Over the years my dose just continues to increase. But with my new diet I feel so different – I talked my doctor into doing more tests, but didn’t test for Hashimoto. My doctor was unwilling to decrease my dose so I stopped my medicine completely. I still feel great but my thyroid is definitely enlarged. Do you have articles about that??

    Reply
  20. I am on 75mcg and was put on this for a slightly high thyroid. I don’t like the symptoms so I’d like to try weaning off. I want to understand that I should take 50mcg for a week, then 25mcg for the next week and then nothing after those 2 weeks?

    Reply
  21. Good evening Dr. Childs my daughter is on a T4 and separate T3. She is still having acne and weight gain. She is just 20. She has only been on thyroid meds for 1year and 3 months and has not improved. Is there doctor in Tampa Florida or Orlando Florida that you can refer us to, to help her consider getting off her thyroid meds. We are
    Desperate

    Reply
  22. I had half of my thyroid removed 9 months ago for what ended up being an adenoma and not cancer. I had about 4 weeks of severe hormonal effects such as panic attacks, extreme sensitivity to heat, heart palpitations and insomnia post surgery. My bloodwork at the time was opposite of my symptoms and indicated hypothyroidism. I was prescribed synthroid but was told I didnt have to take it yet and could wait to see what happened post surgery. After 4 weeks my symptoms completed disappeared without medication. My TSH came down to a 4.4 from an 8.0 on its own and I felt great. Therefore I didn’t end up taking synthroid. I got pregnant 4 months ago and my TSH shot up to a 10 so I had to take 50 mcg of synthroid and the TSH has since been regulated to 2.5. I have been very tired all the time which very well could be pregnancy related but I want to be able to go off of synthroid or at least reduce the dosage following pregnancy, maybe to 25mcg if needed. Does it sound like a possible option for me? I am concerned the lethargy will stay and could be possibly related to the synthroid. I was not tired previously when my TSH was 4.4 prior to pregnancy. I am 36 years old, 100lbs. 5’1″.

    Reply
  23. Hi Dr. Childs,

    I had absolutely no symptoms, however, my family doctor ordered TSH test during a medical and the test came back with a reading of 37.

    He automatically put me on a prescription of Synthroid (50mg) and no further tests were performed. I asked to be referred to an endocrinologist. Upon meeting the specialist, he stated that the TSH test was all that was required and considering my high reading, that I have Hashimotos disease and will require Synthroid for life.

    I asked if there were additional tests that needed to be performed and he insisted that TSH was suffice for this diagnosis. He also upped my dosage from 50mg to 75mg. After increasing my dosage, I felt my heart racing and had difficulty breathing. I had to check into the ER. The specialist told me it was all in my head. Additionally, I have been tired all the time and have no desire to do anything. I was not like this before starting this medication. I took the 75mg dose for 2 months then performed another TSH test, which came back at 11.

    I went back again to see the doctor a few days ago following these results and asked once again if he had diagnosed me with Hashimotos and he said yes. I asked if there was a requirement to perform antithyroid antibody tests. This time he said, ‘we did those tests already didn’t we?’. I stated that we hadn’t (he looked through his files and went ‘oh’) and his suggestion was to increase my dosage to 100mg of synthroid, then perform TSH and antithyroid antibody tests in another 2 months time.

    I am very doubtful about this entire diagnosis, as only one test was performed initially. No further work ups were performed and as this medication dosage has increased, my symptoms are worsening (I had no symptoms before the medication).

    My question is what do I do? I feel a full blood workup and thyroid ultrasound should be required in this situation, however, I am in Canada and our health system is not private, so I can not order testing and am at the mercy of the physician who has been allocated to me. My current specialist does not listen to me and believes prescribing is the key.

    I appreciate any input.

    Thanks and regards,

    Jason

    Reply
  24. I started Levothyroxine 2 months ago with 100 mcg however due to side effects, reduced to 50 and then 25mcg. I had TSH 19 which in 3 weeks by 100mcg overtreated to below 0.1 and hence doctor reduced dose.

    I have hashimoto thyroids and they found anybodies during lab test. I have reduced 5kg since my medication. Do you think i should try stopping medication and see symptoms for few months ?

    Reply
  25. Hi Dr. Childs,
    I have been on 75 mg of Synthroid for several years but don’t believe I should be. My doctor believes the only test that’s necessary is TSH. When I insisted on T3, T4 and Free T3, his comment was, “I don’t use those”. I have been told my entire life that I have low hemoglobin but no one has investigated it. I’ve done tons of research and feel that this could be my whole problem. My last test showed MCV=80.0 and MCH=26.3. I have some issues that no doctor is able to explain and I feel that anemia might be the cause. I have been suffering from a burning, swollen tongue for years, no matter what I do, I can’t lose weight, I have restless legs, heart palpitations and my hands get so cold (in my house)I have to wear mittens to work on my computer. My doctors don’t care about my symptoms, so I am left to my own research. Years ago I had a problem with the skin inside my mouth. It would slough off of the inside lower lip and up the insides of my cheeks. I could never get an explanation from the countless doctors so after lots of research I decided to take kelp. Within two weeks the issue was resolved, never to return. At that time I was not on thyroid medication. I would like to try kelp again but was told it can be dangerous when on thyroid medication. What are your thoughts and is there a safe dosage I could try?

    Reply
  26. Hi Dr. Childs,

    I’ve been on levothyroxine since I was 13 and I recently saw this article. I was put on the thyroid medication as a young teenager due to mood swings and one lab test that said my levels were low. I’ve always been a little overweight and I am constantly trying to maintain it.

    Right now I’m 19 and I’m working on trying to wean off my medicine and I wanted your advice on whether I should continue. I’ve been at 100mcg of thyroid medication and recently at my doctor’s I asked if I could start coming down so I was prescribed 75mcg. My levels have been extremely normal the last several years and i’ve been wanting to come off it for a while. It’s never impacted my physical function and my thyroid has never “died” as some doctors have told me.

    What are some side effects of lowering doses?

    Reply
  27. Hi Dr. Child’s,

    In 2008 I received radiation therapy for a tumor that sat below my thyroid gland. Due to location of the tumor my thyroid gland was exposed to that radiation. Went into remission months later and recovered great.

    Fast forward to 2014 I had my first child. Two years later I was having symptoms of foggy brain, mood swings, irregular periods, and a couple others. So my ob at the time did a blood test and can’t back with results showing I was slightly off the scale for TSH levels. She put me on synthroid which I reacted terribly to so she switched me to Armour 30. My symptoms soon left and for about another year and half nothing changed. Then I had my second child in 2017 and things went downhill and I can’t seem to get back to feeling well. My new doctor upped my dose to 45 but I feel the same. I have made many changes in my diet, improvements, in hopes that maybe I was just deficient in something. I do know that caffeine triggers me to feel worse, cut that out. Anyway wondering if I actually need to be on medication anymore or if I was improperly diagnosed. When I see a doctor and bring this up they focus on the fact that I had radiation and say that I will need the medication for life.

    Reply
  28. I was taking Desiccated (30 mg) thyroid for 4 months because my T3, T4 levels were low (normal TSH ~2). For the last month my T3 and T4 became high and abnormal high. My TSH = 0.01. I think I should get off the Desiccated thyroid now. Is it save?
    Or should I just decrease the doze?

    Reply
  29. Hello Dr. Childs,
    My mother, 85, has been on Thyroid meds for at least 40 (50?) years. Possibly after a hysterectomy. None of her Dr’s suggested taking her off or even asked why she was on it. I never allow her to have salt due to her high blood pressure. Could not enough salt affect the thyroid?

    Now she’s faced with adding another pill (blood thinner) because her pacer says she’s in AFib. I asked her doctor to take her off Thyroid-meds years ago. Since then I have learned that it can cause Afib. Is it possible to wean her off using your instructions to see if she can self-naturalize her thyroid then take another Afib test? I believe she was mis-diagnosed or possibly only needed the thyroid meds temporarily. What she needed 50 yrs ago may not be what she needed or needs now but of course the doctors never allowed her to go off of it. They only diagnosed from the lab reports. Should she have an Xray of her thyroid?

    Reply
  30. My background: I am a 52 y/o female, and three months ago I started a new job that, due to COVID19, I am rather stressed out about. I do not eat out, I do not east fast food, I have a very healthy diet, and cook solely with non-iodized kosher salt for the past 20 years. I am not on ANY medications.

    3 months ago I started feeling an odd pressure on the front of my neck when nothing was touching my skin, which was not painful, but very annoying. I went to my doctor who took a thyroid function cascade and free T4 test. my TSH came in at 4.18 uIU/mL, and FT4 came in at 0.62 ng/dL.

    Let me be clear: I have NO OTHER SYMPTOMS. No constipation, hair loss, dry skin, feeling cold, nada. Just some weird pressure on the front of my neck, and maybe some difficulty breathing, although I’m not sure this isn’t psychosomatic in nature.

    I am extremely concerned about starting to take (doc says a very low dose of) Levothyroxine/Synthoid due to the long-term changes it creates in the pituitary.

    Since what I’m reading here is that it can be difficult to STOP the medication… I’m thinking I should start to increase my iodine intake and see what happens before jumping into the prescription solution.

    Does this sound like a reasonable action?

    Reply
  31. I have been on thyroid medication for about 12 years. It is continually being increased and I am now at 125 mcg. I have also been on HRT for about 20 years. In the last ten years I’ve developed a chronic case of kidney stones and have had three operations to remove them. The biggest stone was 18mm and only took about a year to grow to that. I have chronic pain in my left knee and have also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I can do a 2 hour walk before my feet swell up and are in pain, especially the heals.
    It’s been about a month since I stopped taking HRT and am suffering from terrible hot flashes.
    I wish to start the journey of stopping the syntroid – I realize there’s a possibility that I may have to go back on it . My endocrinologist & gp don’t wish to assist me do this in the safest way possible. I just want to start to feel better and strongly believe that all these toxins we put in our bodies contribute to our discomforts and illnesses. I wish to make every effort to heal through proper food and would love the support of my doctor.
    On my own, I suggested to reduce the dosages on a monthly basis – it should take about 6 months in total. I assume this way my body can better adapt but don’t really know.
    This morning I was lying in bed and could feel my heart beating like crazy. Turns out it was a 92 bpm and I was resting. Crazy!
    Please provide some guidance than I can relay to my doctor’s who are holding out on helping me. Again, I wish to be syntroid free for at least 6 months before going back on it – an that only if it is absolutely necessary.

    Reply
  32. Hi, I’m 33 with 3 kids I was diagnosed with hypo right after I had my last baby, 3 years ago. I was a few months post partum. My hair was falling out horribly and I was beyond exhausted. They checked my thyroid levels and they were 4.51 so they said yes your hypo gave me synthroid. When I first took the medicine I began to feel great my hair started coming back, I felt good. Fast forward about a year I started feeling horrible again but my numbers were good, they added cytomel. I started feeling a tad better I thought but nah not really so I go back and they just keep telling me take your meds there’s nothing else you can do. My numbers are good at 1.62 but I feel awful, tired exhausted, fatigue constantly, no energy, I use to could walk two-3 miles a day but now it feels like my joints are shot and my muscles won’t work very good. I’m thinking I was prematurely put on medicine and my numbers and symptoms were from having a baby a couple months prior to the test. I decided I’m going to try weaning off my medicine, I can’t live like this forever I feel like I have an e edgy level of an 80 year old and I just can’t do that anymore. I’m hoping the weaning won’t be to hard since I’ve only been on meds 3 years

    Reply
  33. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s four years ago. All of my labs were normal except my thyroglobulin was really high. I was tired of that time but I was also going through a lot of mental stress. I’ve been on medication since and I’m just tired of it. I have side effects with most of them even the tirosint. I really want to wean myself off with the doctor’s help but I’m so scared of feeling like total crap again.

    My question is.. anything that somebody can do during that time to help heal their bodies? I figured you need to start doing something else to help the thyroid while you’re weaning off medications.

    Reply
  34. Hello Doctor, I was diagnosed with an under active thyroid 35+ years ago due to fatigue. I was prescribed 75 mcg- of Levoxyl. I have a thyroid gland.
    I moved to Mexico 7 years ago and switched to Eutirox, the only thyroid med available here. Within months I began having rashes. I’ve been treated by dermatologists, immunologist and general practitioners, without resolution.
    These flare ups have continued, some quite serious with total body involvement. I’m very photosensitive.
    Two months ago I knew I was about to have another severe episode because it came on so quickly and was spreading rapidly.
    I did some research and came upon articles about drug induced cutaneous lupus. I’m certain this is the problem!
    I attempted to get help from several doctors. The response has been “you cannot stop taking this med. I won’t treat you or be responsible”. I had no alternative than to quit the med cold turkey which I did 45 days ago.
    Within 2 days the rash stabilized and was no longer itchy. Now it is nearly completely healed
    I can acquire lab tests independently, without a doctor’s order and plan on going to the lab tomorrow.
    Any advice or comments you can share will be very appreciated.
    Regards, Ingrid

    Reply
  35. At 22 I was diagnosed with depression I was put on antidepressants and became manic so my Dr. put me on a antidepressant for bipolar at the same time he tested my thyroid TSH T3 and T4 and an antibody test. I went for a follow up and was told I had Hashimotos and he took me off the antidepressants and prescribed me 50mcg of levothyroxine. I’m now 36 taking 88mcg of levothyroxine. I stopped taking it abruptly when I was 28 due to loss of health insurance. I did not feel worse but I have never felt good even on the medication. 2 years later I went to a fertility clinic and they tested my thyroid my tsh was 13 and the clinic was wondering how I wasn’t feeling worse. They put me back on it and I have been taking it since. I want to try to lose weight to see if I can reverse my hashimotos.

    Reply
  36. Hello again Doctor, just to update I received the lab results and everything is great! Had a complete thyroid screening including thyroid antibodies, no problem. I also checked immuglobin e and g. When I was at the height of a severe reaction the ig-e was 1495, now only a bit high at 201.2 (range should be under 100 UI/ml) thank you for all the info you’ve provided. It certainly helped me! Sincerely, Ingrid

    Reply
  37. I found this article via a search for “weaning off thyroid meds”. I accidentally reduced my dose about 6 weeks ago. I had a bottle of a lower dose sitting behind the bottle of my most recent dose. It was only 6 months old, so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the meds. I actually had an improvement in my symptoms after about 3 weeks (about the time I realized I’d been using the wrong bottle). My sleep got better, my periods got better, my mood was a little more steady, my heart stopped doing that weird pounding thing it had been doing. So I was thinking it was a happy accident, but this last few days I’ve been very tired. I also have a head cold, so I’m not sure that the tiredness isn’t just that.

    I was just wondering, since I’m on this lower dose for maybe 6 weeks now, if it might be a good time to get checked. What would my labs look like if I am a good candidate for weaning off further, or even leaving it at this lower dose. Should I still expect a higher tsh as my body adjusts? I think this post indicates that I should expect to feel kind of bad for several weeks?

    I’ll keep researching, just in case you don’t watch this post any more. Thanks in advance, if you have any suggestions for me!

    Reply

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