Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Treating Thyroid Deficiency

Monday, 08 Nov 2010 09:11 AM

Question: Is there a natural way to control thyroid deficiency? The thyroid pill gave me heart palpitations.

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

Iodine supplementation is a natural thyroid treatment for those who are iodine-deficient and do not consume or absorb sufficient iodine from their diet.

Other thyroid treatments available without prescription are not recommended. They are often a combination of gland tissue that may contain an undetermined amount of thyroid and often contain other hormones that can really mess up the regulation of your body’s hormones. I do not recommend you self-treat your thyroid.

Iodine is necessary for our thyroid glands to work properly. Iodine deficiency is fairly uncommon now that salt is iodized. It often results in an enlarged thyroid gland or “goiter.” Although iodine deficiency is now quite uncommon in the United States, it is still extraordinarily common in Third World Africa.

The "natural" thyroid hormone supplements you see sometimes advertised are actually thyroid gland extracts procured from live animals (usually pigs) that have a blended approximate dosing that is not nearly as precise as the dosing used for the synthetic thyroid preparations now preferred by most endocrinology specialists.

Not so long ago, thyroid extracts were all we had available, but precise thyroid replacement is possible now with standardized and precise dosing available only with synthetic thyroid replacements.

There are no natural thyroid hormone supplements legally available in the United States without prescription, mainly because the dosing of thyroid has such a small margin for error. Side effects from excessive dosing commonly include palpitations, fatigue, other cardiac problems, and premature osteoporosis. I have to wonder what thyroid pill you took and what its dosage was.

Sometimes, as our thyroid declines in function, replacement is best done gradually with slowly increasing doses until targeted normal thyroid levels are achieved. Replacement of hormone deficiency too rapidly in hypothyroid patients may cause side effects (some severe) that are preventable by graduated dosing.

So, perhaps the dose you were using was not necessarily the wrong dose, but simply started in haste. See your doctor for a review and more cautious treatment protocol, or ask for an endocrinology (thyroid specialist) consultation.

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