Thyroidectomy Supplements: Support Your Thyroid When you Don't Have One

Thyroidectomy Supplements: Support Your Thyroid When you Don’t Have One

Do Supplements Help if you Don't Have a Thyroid? 

If I had a nickel for every time someone without a thyroid asked me if they should use thyroid supplements... I would have a lot of nickels (I mean a lot!). 

Because this topic seems to be so confusing (and believe me, I understand why) I am going to elaborate exactly WHY patients without a thyroid or those who are post thyroidectomy can and SHOULD use thyroid support supplements. 

So, if you don't have a thyroid let me be the first to tell you:

You definitely can benefit from using thyroid supplements even if you don't have a thyroid!

Again, I totally understand why this is a confusing topic. 

How can a thyroid support supplement help if your thyroid has been removed?

How is it possible to support something that doesn't exist?

The problem isn't that these aren't logical questions, they are, but they are the wrong questions to ask. 

Instead, you should be asking how can I support thyroid FUNCTION. 

You see, thyroid FUNCTION is significantly different than supporting your own thyroid GLAND. 

Once your gland has been removed you don't need to support it. 

BUT, thyroid FUNCTION (which means how well thyroid hormone works in your body) STILL remains important whether you have a thyroid or not. 

Why?

Because no one can live without thyroid hormone in their body. 

No one. 

This is why every single patient who has had their own thyroid removed must be placed on thyroid medication! 

And while we aren't concerned about your own thyroid gland once it has been removed, we do care a lot about how well your thyroid medication is working in your body. 

And this is where some supplements shine. 

Download my Free Resources:

Foods to Avoid if you have Thyroid Problems: 

I've found that these 10 foods cause the most problems for thyroid patients. Learn which foods you should absolutely be avoiding if you have thyroid disease of any type. 

How to Calculate "Optimal" Free T4, Free T3, & Reverse T3 Ratio: 

Calculating these ratios is important because it can help you determine if your efforts are on the right track and whether or not your medications are working. 

Download more free resources on this page

Thyroid Hormone Production Support vs Thyroid Function Support

You should understand that there is a difference between supporting your thyroid and supporting thyroid function. 

Most thyroid support supplements focus on helping your thyroid gland PRODUCE more thyroid hormone. 

They do this by including ingredients which you can consider the building blocks of thyroid hormone. 

Things like tyrosine and iodine fall into this category. 

Your thyroid gland does need these ingredients to produce thyroid hormone which is why they are included in thyroid support supplements. 

But if you don't have a thyroid then these specific ingredients are meaningless to you!

Your thyroid gland is no longer in your body which means it can no longer produce thyroid hormone. 

And you are getting all of your thyroid hormone directly from medication which does not require these ingredients. 

So remember this distinction...

You don't need thyroid support supplements which help produce thyroid hormone. 

Instead, you need thyroid support supplements which help support thyroid conversion and help your medication do its job. 

And this is exactly what we are going to be talking about. 

Supplements that Thyroidectomy Patients Can Take

The supplements listed below are specifically designed to help those WITHOUT a thyroid. 

They work by bypassing the thyroid hormone production pathways and instead focus on the pathways and systems that people WITHOUT a thyroid need. 

#1. Thyroid Conversion Support. 

One of the main areas of supplementation that you should focus on is that of thyroid conversion. 

And this is a topic that most thyroid patients, including those who don't have a thyroid, are not even aware of. 

Thyroid conversion refers to the process in which T4 in your body (the inactive thyroid hormone) is converted to the active thyroid hormone T3. 

This process is occurring all the time in healthy individuals who have a thyroid. 

Your body gets T3 both directly from the thyroid gland and from thyroid conversion in peripheral tissues. 

But once you lose your thyroid, you are no longer able to directly produce T3 which seriously limits how much T3 is typically found in your body. 

natural thyroid supplements version 2

And, to make matters worse, most thyroid medications that patients without a thyroid take contain only T4 thyroid hormone.

Medications like levothyroxine and Synthroid fit into this category which are the medications that most thyroidectomy patients take. 

This means that you are no longer getting T3 directly from your thyroid gland (because it's been removed) and you aren't getting it from your thyroid medication

We also know, from recent medical research, that most people on T4 only medications do not convert enough of their thyroid medication into the active T3 thyroid hormone. 

This is both a big problem and a big opportunity. 

A big problem in the sense that people without a thyroid suffer from low T3 and persistent thyroid symptoms but a huge opportunity because it's possible to target this conversion process and SUPPORT it with the right supplements!

This provides a way for you to basically make your thyroid medication even more effective by helping it convert to the active thyroid hormone. 

Which supplements help do this? There are several so I've included my most favorite below:

All of these ingredients can help either directly (in the case of Zinc, selenium, and guggul) or indirectly (in the case of fish oil and ashwagandha) help improve T4 to T3 conversion. 

Does this mean you need to use all of these products? Not necessarily, but as a patient without a thyroid it would be in your best interest to use several of them. 

I've included my favorite ingredients in this formula which are specifically designed to support T4 to T3 conversion and can be used by those without a thyroid. 

Whether you choose to use one of my products isn't really important. Just make sure that you are doing SOMETHING to support this conversion process!

#2. Gut Health Support. 

The next set of supplements you should focus on if you don't have a thyroid are those which help support your gut. 

The 'gut' is a general term used to describe pretty much all of the important functions found in your stomach, small intestines, and large intestines. 

And while these organs/tissues are important for general health they are ESPECIALLY important for thyroid patients, especially those WITHOUT a thyroid!

For starters, your gut is the place of roughly 20% of T4 to T3 conversion for the entire body (1). 

This means that about 20% of the T3 found in your body comes from conversion in the gut. 

And if you have any sort of gut problems that percentage starts to drop dramatically. 

And that's not all. 

Your gut is also the place of thyroid medication absorption. 

And if you don't have a thyroid there is a 100% chance that you are taking thyroid medication. 

And if that thyroid medication is not being absorbed completely due to things like gut inflammation or damage to the intestinal lining (2), you will simply not feel better. 

So improving your gut can help improve thyroid function both directly (with thyroid conversion) and indirectly (by helping improve thyroid medication absorption). 

Regardless, it's something that you should absolutely think about if you don't have a thyroid. 

But how do you improve this general idea of 'gut' health?

There are actually many therapies but some of my favorites include: 

  • Probiotics - Probiotics help normalize the concentration of gut bacteria in your GI tract. 
  • Prebiotics - Prebiotics help beneficial bacteria GROW and proliferate. 
  • Fermented foods - Fermented foods, such as kefir, can act like natural sources of probiotics and prebiotics. 
  • L-glutamine - L-glutamine helps repair damage done to the intestinal lining and is great for healing gut damage. 
  • Berberine - Berberine is one of my favorites as it is both a weight loss supplement and it also acts as a natural anti-bacterial agent for unhealthy microbes in the gut. 

You can use any or all of these supplements to help improve thyroid function. 

#3. Thyroid Receptor Sensitivity support. 

Another area you can focus on is what is known as thyroid receptor sensitivity. 

Just getting thyroid hormone into your body (absorbed through the intestinal tract) and then converted is not enough to ensure that this thyroid hormone will work. 

Even after both of these steps, you MUST make sure that your cells are sensitive to the thyroid hormone which is available in your body. 

And this applies to people WITH a thyroid and WITHOUT a thyroid gland (so the population of those who are post thyroidectomy). 

Whether your thyroid gland produces your own thyroid hormone or whether you are taking your thyroid hormone by mouth through medications like levothyroxine or Synthroid, that thyroid hormone MUST target and activate certain cells. 

And it's actually not uncommon that this is halted due to problems with cellular resistance. 

And thyroid resistance is not much different from other hormone resistance syndromes such as insulin resistance or leptin resistance

In both of the hormone resistance syndromes listed above, the hormones are present in the body but they are not able to do their job due to cellular resistance. 

So the question is, how can you improve thyroid hormone cellular sensitivity?

And the answer is through a couple of very specific supplements and ingredients:

We know that a deficiency in either of these hormones INCREASES thyroid hormone resistance. 

Which means that using these supplements, in the case of deficiency, can improve that sensitivity. 

Taking these supplements can, therefore, help the thyroid hormone floating around in your system do its job. 

Which is exactly what you want. 

#4. General Hormone and Nutrient Support. 

Let's not forget that just because you don't have a thyroid doesn't mean that you don't have OTHER nutrient deficiencies!

Thyroid patients, in general, are incredibly susceptible to developing certain nutrient deficiencies. 

And these susceptibilities stem from not having enough thyroid function in your body. 

So any susceptibility that a hypothyroid patient has is one that you will have if you don't have a thyroid. 

Why?

Because you are functionally considered to be hypothyroid once your thyroid is removed. 

This means that you can and should look at OTHER nutrient deficiencies which are peripherally related to both your thyroid and other hormone balance. 

Deficiencies in this category include important nutrients such as Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin B12, and Iron

These are ALL nutrients which can become depleted due to LOW thyroid function.

Having said that, it doesn't mean you need to run out and supplement with them right away (though that may not be a bad idea). 

But you should consider testing for those which are testable (Iron and Vitamin B12 are included here). 

Zinc and Selenium are a safe bet for supplementation because they help support T4 to T3 conversion and they can't really be tested for accurately. 

Final Thoughts

If you are someone who no longer has a thyroid then you should really consider supplementing in order to improve thyroid function. 

Not only can supplements help enhance thyroid function in your body they are also valuable at helping balance other hormone systems and improving your overall symptoms. 

Use this guide as a general place to start. 

If you are still confused after reading this I have put together what I think are the most critical and important supplements for people who don't have a thyroid which you can find here

These supplements help target all of the thyroid functions and other organ systems in this article so you don't have to look for individual supplements. 

If you don't want to use my recommendations, no problem, but just be sure to try something!

You'll be surprised at how helpful supplements can be. 

Now I want to hear from you:

Are you currently taking supplements to support thyroid function?

Have you tried a thyroid support supplement if you've had your thyroid removed?

Did you have any success with it? Why or why not?

Which supplements are you considering at this time?

Leave your questions or comments below! 

References (Click to Expand)

thyroidectomy supplements - which work and which to use
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.

26 thoughts on “Thyroidectomy Supplements: Support Your Thyroid When you Don’t Have One”

  1. Thanks for the info, Dr.Childs! I had radiation on my thyroid for Graves’ disease about 20 years ago. On .88 mcg of Synthroud which indicates some thyroid function. Still feel tired, brain foggy and starting to have gut issues. Should I follow recommendations as above as if I have no thyroid?

    Reply
  2. I am scheduled for thyroidectomy in a month, having spent the last three years dealing with Grave’s Disease and hating the effects of Methimazole. I just bought your “kit” for after you’ve had the thyroidectomy in hopes that I can regulate my hormones more quickly afterward. I just want to say THANK YOU. I have printed out all your paperwork and am probably going to really irritate my doctor now! It’s sad that they are not able to keep up on the latest studies. You are doing such an amazing service for all of us out here dealing with this. All of this free information in one place. I am so incredibly grateful. I cannot express that enough!
    A couple things. I read Dirty Genes and figured out I have DAO (among others), so I don’t do well with aged and fermented things. In fact, his pills, Histamine Blockers, have enabled me to sleep soundly for the first time in 10 years without Lunesta. But so many places recommend fermented products for Probiotics. I just think it’s important to know that everyone’s body is different so it’s really key to know if you have any SNPs (and I think most people with auto-immune have more than one!).
    Most of all, a HUGE THANK YOU! Grateful beyond words!

    Reply
    • I am doing a lot better post-surgery. Muscle strength has come back, my heart is mostly beating like it did pre-Graves disease. My Endo just lowered my Synthroid (as my T4 came back high) to .75 and we added Cytomel at 5 mcg per day. At those medicine levels, I feel pretty good, but gained 5 pounds very fast, within 3 weeks. Now am on a 1300 calorie strict diet (with no allergens) to see if I still gain weight then I need to do something different med – wise. I already have been taking your Leptin Resistance pills.
      Is there any way to tell if you have the cellular resistance to T3?

      Reply
  3. Hi Dr, I had my thyroid removed in 2016 as I had two non cancerous tumors the size of grapefruits on each side! I take 0.05 MG synthroid and 20MCG T3 daily… my main issue is staying skinny as I work in the public eye…. will supplements honestly make me skinny like before … I’ve gained 7 lbs and it shows …. I workout, I try and eat healthy but my body is not as skinny as it was with a thyroid! What can I do ??

    Reply
    • Hi Orla,

      Once your thyroid has been removed it becomes VERY difficult to lose weight and it only gets even more difficult after menopause. It basically means you have to rely heavily on your thyroid medication and you will have to be very strict in your diet, supplements, exercise, stress reduction, etc. to maintain your weight. You will have to use everything at your disposal.

      Reply
  4. Hello Dr Child’s,
    I find your information really helpful, so thank you.
    I have had a total thyroidectomy which has been the best thing I ever did. My health has 85% returned to normal.
    I have a few deficiencies plus the hair loss, nails clubbing and dry skin are frustrating. I also have atrial fibrillation which has increased in frequency of late. I am taking a marine collagen powder but wondered what your thoughts are on Colostrum powder? Is it safe to take with thyroid medication? Is there any interaction that I may not be aware of? I also believe it’s good for heart health, inflammation, bone, muscles etc. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of information around in relation to colostrum and thyroid function and interaction with thyroid meds.Many thanks. Deb in Melbourne, Australia.

    Reply
  5. I had hypothyroidism diagnosed in 1986, when I was menopausal, though I believe I had Hashimoto’s for many years before that. For more than twenty years I used the usual treatments, mostly T4, but also combined T4/T3. It was all complicated by a thyroid nodule and its treatment. A more enlightened doctor prescribed natural desiccated thyroid, though perhaps not enough. NOTHING WORKED. Eventually a more enlightened doctor prescribed T3 only, and it worked — but only at a level that frightened doctors. because when I had blood tests, the T3 level was over the so-called normal range. And now in blood tests, I have no TSH, no T4 and T3 at the top of the range. I believe it is useless to do this kind of testing on a patient taking T3 only.
    HOWEVER, this is all background. I would like to know what supplements would be useful for patients like me, on T3 only, and at an advanced age (if that is relevant).

    Reply
  6. Hi my name is Tala and had total thyroidectomy one year ago and never felt good since then levels for last 6 months .06.07.08 currently on Levothyroxine 88 Monday thru Friday and Saturday and Sunday 100 t3 and t4 levels are always normal according To my Dr and they just don’t understand I don’t feel good plus wt gain which they just tell me to get use to it I try to stay active I am 65 ride my bike 16 miles a day and walk 3 miles any suggestions read collagen good to take as well what supplements do you recommend asked about taking HGH in supplements and told no Help please

    Reply
  7. Finally! This is what I have been waiting for! I had radiation for Graves 18 years ago. I have been on this horrible roller coaster ride of supplements ever since. I took everything from levothyroxine to desiccated. Currently, I take Nutri Meds, a desiccated bovine thyroid supplement from grass fed cows from New Zealand and it has been working wonderfully for me. But can you tell me more about adrenal health? Taking the right supplements is crucial. Thank you so much for this article.

    Reply
  8. Hi Dr Childs~
    In 2013 my left thyroid gland was removed due to a mass. Unfortunately we realized when the follow up labs were done that the right thyroid gland was only a remnant of a gland and not functioning. The first medicine I started was Synthroid (name brand) then after changing the dosage about five times I gave up on my endocrinologist and had my regular provider manage it and she added Cytomel to the Synthroid and after a couple more adjustments I feel great my hair and skin feel good and my TSH, T3&4free are finally where we want them. I do take supplements as well.

    Reply
  9. Hi Dr. Westin, Please share your favorite NDT with us. i’m looking into them and want to get on the right now or at least what you recommend. Thanks so much. Amy

    Reply
  10. My son had a partial thyroid removal followed by total removal few weeks later ( found seed size pearl of cancer) 2 years ago. Been a horrible time ever since. He and I both have mutated genes that make med metabolism very difficult .We build up in our systems . He has terrible reaction to all t 4 and t3 types so far. Ringing ears, blurred vision,light – ,headed,nausea , neck and knees pain and bleeding when bowel movement. Life is destroyed. Any suggestions. Will supplements help? Functional dr has found he has mold in system and he is now detoxing that too.

    Reply
    • Sorry, my email address was wrong in my first comment so posting correct email.

      If you haven’t tried Tirosint, you may want to. It contains no fillers so Less likely of a reaction. It has made a huge difference for me

      Reply
  11. Hi ! I take armor and levothyroxine. My t3 it t4 is always off. I can’t loose weight for nothing. They did radiation on me to shrink my thyroid. I am always so tired all the time. Can you please help me out. Thank you

    Reply
  12. I have been taking Thyroxine for well over 40 years.
    When I had my neck scanned recently, nothing to
    do with my thyroid, I was asked if my thyroid had been
    removed. Does this mean that over the years my thyroid
    has shrunk, and if so, is not operating ?
    Would supplements improve this situation ?

    Reply
    • Hi Pam,

      Yes, it’s probably atrophied due to damage. My guess would be Hashimoto’s as that is the most common cause of thyroid gland atrophy and it’s frequently missed by doctors. Once it’s atrophied it’s really too late to do anything to bring it back but you can still focus on supplementing for thyroid FUNCTION which is what this article talks about. All of the above information here would apply to you now.

      Reply
  13. Hi Dr. Childs,

    I had a total thyroidectomy 6 years ago for cancer. I have been steadily gaining weight ever since. I have been taking 0.137 mg of Synthroid daily and have just added cytomel 5 mg daily. I have just ordered Raw Thyroid Glandular today from you. Should I be adding more supplements or just see if this works for now with energy and weight loss? Thanks

    Reply

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