Hypothyroidism is one of the leading health issues in developing countries such as India. But what is hypothyroidism? Hypothyroidism is a condition where your body cannot produce adequate thyroid hormone essential for the proper functioning of the body.
A recent study conducted by Jeevam Health states that 70% of the patients have symptoms even after taking hypothyroidism medications. Are you one of those hypothyroidism patients who have persistent symptoms even after taking medicines for months? If you are one, you must have heard that you should take your medications throughout your lifetime. However, it is not valid.
No matter how easy it seems, hypothyroidism is much more than the secretion of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). Hypothyroidism can occur due to several factors, Hashimoto's thyroiditis being one. Hashimoto's disease is a condition where your immune system attacks the thyroid glands. So, you must understand hypothyroidism, it’s diagnosis, and side effects to make wise decisions and cure the disease.
Let's dig in to see the causes of persistent symptoms and how a functional approach can bridge the gap in curing hypothyroidism.
Can hypothyroidism be cured permanently with medication?
But here is the question- can you cure hypothyroidism permanently? Well, I would say, you can reverse hypothyroidism by eliminating the cause that triggers your thyroid glands to secrete lesser hormones.
"Almost everyone with hypothyroidism will wonder at some point in time whether or not their condition is curable. What do I mean by curable? I mean that you can treat the condition to the point that it completely disappears and you are back to normal. Can this happen? The short answer is maybe. The long answer is probably not, but it depends on what causes it." says Doctor Westin Childs."
But usually, you are handed a prescription for Thyronorm, Eltroxin, Thyrox, etc., which are synthetic forms of levothyroxine (T4)- the inactive form of thyroid hormone. But why do people demonstrate symptoms even after taking the medications?
Let's delve right into hypothyroidism medication and the conventional approach to figure out why medication does not work correctly. The conventional medicines of the thyroid are T4 supplementation; however, in most cases, the conversion of T4 to T3 is inadequate. The symptoms of hypothyroidism persist, but at the same time, it normalizes the TSH levels.
The conversion from T4 to T3 occurs in the liver, gut, etc. However, if your root cause is an autoimmune disorder such as celiac disease or Hashimoto thyroiditis, the treatment should reduce the antibodies to prevent further damage to our body. But the current medication only supplements T4 hormones which in no way reduces the antibodies- which means your immune system is continuously attacking the thyroid gland.
Side effects of hypothyroidism medications
Usually, doctors prescribe synthetic thyroid hormones to support the thyroid gland. Medicines such as Levothyroxine (Levoxyl) and Synthroid prescribed for hypothyroidism treatment can cause other health diseases if taken unnecessarily. Endocrinologist Dr. Jeffrey Garber, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, says that "Greater patient and physician attention to thyroid status may be prompting more testing and leading to more diagnoses." The statement implies that conventional medicine does not eliminate the root cause and is based on a "one size fits all" approach. However, there are several side effects of the hypothyroidism medications such as-
- Severe headache,
- Fever and hot flashes
- Excessive sweating,
- pounding heartbeats or fluttering
- Changes in the menstrual cycle
- appetite or weight changes
What could be a better alternative to avoid such adverse side effects and treat hypothyroidism accordingly? I would say- Functional medicine. Let's dig into the functional approach and how it deals with hypothyroidism by eliminating the root cause of the disease.
A functional approach to hypothyroidism
Wonder what a functional approach means? Here is a thing- if your immune system is causing hypothyroidism, regulating your immune system and preventing further attacks is the prime focus of functional medicine. Likewise, if your hypothyroidism is caused by selenium deficiency, restoring the same levels is the only logical approach. Hypothyroidism medication without assessing the root cause is akin to repairing a car without knowing where the faulty part is.
You need to understand that hormones alone are not responsible for hypothyroidism: there is a lot more in the picture. Said that patients still demonstrate symptoms even after being under medication for months.
So how exactly is the medication decided? And what comes under the hypothyroidism treatment plan? The first step is to do a detailed study about the person's history, including understanding the disease's problems, period, and severity.
Once done, a functional medicine expert will ask you to do some tests to define the root cause of your condition.
Wait, don't roll your eyes yet! Laboratory tests help the doctor to understand your condition better. It is for your good. Finding the root cause includes panels that make it easier for a thyroid specialist to delve into your problem and understand the root cause.
The test plan is as follows-
- Complete blood count (CBC) with ESR
- Cardiometabolic (Fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c, Fasting Insulin, Lipid Profile, and Homocysteine
- Nutrition Profile: Vitamin D, Iron panel with ferritin, Vitamin B12, Magnesium
- Inflammation markers
- Liver Function Test
- Thyroid Function
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
- Total T3 and Total T4
- Free T3 and T4
- Anti TPO antibodies and antithyroglobulin antibodies
These will help your thyroid doctor to demonstrate the root cause and treat it accordingly. Once done, your doctor will prepare a personalized hypothyroidism treatment plan that aims to eradicate the root cause of the problem. You can be prescribed doses ranging from 25mg to 150mg depending upon the severity of the disease. Your doctor will finalize the quantity; however, doses above 100 mg can cause several dysfunctions and health issues- one major drawback of conventional medicine. Besides, at Jeevam health, it was seen that for many patients where conversion of T4 to T3 was not happening, supplementation of active hormones(T3) was given. Here, at Jeevam Health, doctors might take a route to combine T4 medicine with T3 in the prescription in such cases.
However, medications alone cannot help you cure hypothyroidism permanently. The treatment should be a 360-degree approach that circumcises all aspects such as nutrition, lifestyle, and exercise. Focusing on a personalized hypothyroidism diet plan and an elimination diet can help you improve the quality of your life and promote better thyroid health.
Wonder what an elimination diet includes? An elimination diet includes removing food from your plate that might trigger your immune system. It's a no-fuss diet plan curated after assessing your calorie requirement and the nutrients your body needs. When paired with proper supplementation (if you have a deficiency), lifestyle changes can help you treat your thyroid disease.
Still not clear on what medication is prescribed and how is it prescribed? Let me brief it in a few sentences that are easy to understand. In short, a detailed study followed by a test panel helps your thyroid doctor to figure out the root cause and make a personalized hypothyroidism treatment plan. Suffice to say, functional medicine is a tailor-made approach that aims to eliminate the symptom by treating it rather than using a one-way process.
So, what happens when you skip medication? It is best advised that you must complete the medication plan for better results. Wonder when to take hypothyroidism medicine? It would be best if you take your medicines on an empty stomach as certain foods can block the absorption of thyroid medication. If you skip a medicine, don't take an overdose as it can be lethal for you. It would be better if you take the next dose on time, but taking an overdose is not recommended.
The Final word
"At Jeevam health, eliminating the root cause is our prime approach," says Dr. Anish Musa, a functional medicine expert. Jeevam Health strives to help hypothyroidism patients with a holistic approach that every part of our body is an interrelated web. Focusing on one aspect cannot treat disease. Suffice to say, a personalized hypothyroidism diet plan followed by supplementation and lifestyle changes is the only rational way to treat hypothyroidism. So, can hypothyroidism be reversed? I would say, Yes. Including the factors mentioned above can surely help you in treating hypothyroidism.
Want to cure hypothyroidism and live a healthy life? Reach out to us.