Expect the Unexpected with Hashimoto's

Did you know that more than 27 million Americans have a thyroid condition and about half of those people don't even know it?

It's National Thyroid Awareness month. I've been sharing facts and information with my friends and family via Facebook. I am amazed at how many personal messages I receive from women, all of who are struggling with what they feel are thyroid problems. A few of my friends have shared their personal experiences with me and those stories make me want to help people even more. If my efforts can lead even one woman to answers, then battling this disease is worth it.

Now, for an update; I finally completed about 90% of my candida supplements. And the verdict? It's not good news.  However, I have not retested my candida levels, so I can't truthfully say that it's bad news either. I understand that candida overgrowth is quite common in Hashimoto's likely due to poor digestive health, which is another commonality with the disease. So, while I can't detest the treatment, I don't have any clinical evidence or test results to share with anyone either. In the end, I can't report that I saw any effects from the candida supplements. My bloating decided to creep its dreary head again and my gallbladder has seemingly returned to its abnormal ways. I'd say that the Armour worked decently for about a month, but it also never addressed my fatigue. Even when I felt half-way decent, I still had the lagging fatigue and typical hypo symptoms.

Dr. Maxwell switched me from the Armour to Nature-Throid mainly because my hypo symptoms returned. Keep in mind that one should not compare their reactions to Armour with mine. There are several desiccated thyroid replacements (AKA natural thyroid) that are on the market today. Although they are all similar in that they contain a T4/T3 ratio, the fillers vary among brands, therefore it's not uncommon for patients to change brands. It can come down to personal preference too. I know several patients, all of who have the best 'luck' with Armour. With that in mind, my personal experiences with Armour was not what I had hoped, which was partially due to the massive hair loss that I incurred even after being on it for two months. The medicine also made me have spells of unusual fatigue where I would randomly fall asleep. Of course I suffer from extreme fatigue with this disease already, but it's not the kind that prompts me to fall asleep while sitting upright in a chair. It's the type of fatigue that someone likely obtains when they're suffering from the flu, or when they are malnourished. Armour's formula contains cellulose and some people report that it causes poor absorption of the hormone. After Armour reformulated the drug to contain cellulose, many long-term Armour supporters reported the return of hypo symptoms. Some patients chew up the pills, which basically unbinds the cellulose enough to change the way the digestive system absorbs it. Chewing the pills didn't work for me and they were quite chalky, thus often got stuck in my teeth. Since switching to Nature-Throid, my hair loss has decreased and I haven't had any sudden desires to fall asleep. However, let me strongly point out that I have yet to reap major benefits from taking thyroid replacement. In fact, I have recently had some unusually tougher days.

One major expectation that I held on to until recently was that my antibodies would decrease because I cut out gluten, a major thyroid aggressor, and have been taking thyroid replacement for months. I was wrong about that one. I just had my Anti-TPO level checked and it was out of the lab's range. They increased to >1300. As soon as I learned of the increase, I couldn't help but blame it on the reason for me not feeling much better, if at all. I quickly tweeted to thyroid expert and advocate, Mary Shomon, and she replied wondering if I have a pork allergy because, "Some practitioners also have concerns that some Hashi's patients may have autoimmune response to antigens in NDT (meaning Natural Dessicated Thyroid)." Of course, I haven't had any allergy testing completed yet due to the cost of such tests, but I highly recommend it because it is not uncommon for patients with Hashimoto's to have food allergies. In fact, some experts believe that food allergies can onset the disease. She did go on to explain that the antigen theory is somewhat controversial.

The good news in my lab results is that I don't appear to be having a converting issue. Converting of T4 occurs in the liver, and it's conversion process to T3 (immediately available 'energy' for the cells) can be challenging in some patient's body's. Both my T3 and T4 are in a functional range, and they were previously not in functional ranges, so that's a positive result.  My TSH was 0.04, which is obviously hyper. Ironically, I don't typically have hyper symptoms, unless I go out in public, where my adrenal glands start performing better and my legs tend to shake, and I get symptoms of anxiety.  I can understand better now how panic and anxiety 'disorders' can actually be the thyroid gland's own work. I've tried explaining this to my cousin because she suffers from anxiety and is currently taking a medication to alleviate her symptoms.  Hyper-thyroid is not always Grave's disease. Hashi's is all about causing periods of hyper and hypo-thyroid.

I was also gravely disappointed in my vitamin D and magnesium levels. My vitamin D was low again, despite taking 5000 mg. of VD3. Vitamin D is a nutrient that is commonly low in most Americans.  Actually, people may be surprised to learn that the vitamin is actually a steroid hormone. Modern diets are already lacking VD, and doctors report seeing severe deficiencies even in people, who live in primarily sunny climates. According to expert doctors, it is crucial for Hashimoto's patients to keep their level in a functional range (not what your doctor's generic ranges are) of 55-80 (my doctor's lab's range was 30-80). I also take 250 mg. of magnesium daily and my level was quite low. One somewhat surprising contribution to low VD levels is gut inflammation. Bingo. I have my own set of digestive problems, so I am confident that is part of my absorption dilemma. I also have had a suspicion that much of my fatigue is due to poor absorption of nutrients because of my digestive troubles, and seeing the new results only confirmed it. Still, there are other theories that genetics play a role in vitamin D deficiencies. So, in light of the new lab results, I have decided to order an emulsified vitamin D supplement. I'm going to take the emulsified version for a few months before retesting my level again.

Here's a great article by Mary Shomon about the importance of vitamin D for thyroid patients: Why is Vitamin D So Important to Thyroid Patients?

I'm glad that I decided to test my magnesium level because I had not tested it before and I have had several symptoms and clues that it has been lower than desired. I don't know how common it is for magnesium levels to be low in Hashi's patients either. I do know that magnesium deficiencies can be the cause of muscle spasms and many neurological symptoms. Multiple Sclerosis is also linked to low magnesium levels. I've had MS-type symptoms for years now, therefore I just got a brain MRI scan completed, and am awaiting the results of it. I truly believe that it will come back normal, but it's an ugly disease that we must rule out.

Finally, the older I get, the more of a planner I become. The topic of planning and an illness don't exactly compliment each other.  After I finally figured out what I thought was the very condition plaguing me, I thought that all I had to do was find an appropriate doctor, obtain natural thyroid replacement, and then my body would return back to normal. I was so confident that my health would return back to normal quickly, that I started filling my calendar with 'things to-do.' Unfortunately, Hashimoto's doesn't typically disappear, nor is there a magic pill that will revert my health. I have started to research how the immune system itself plays a role in the disease. I have learned that Hashimoto's is more about immune system dysfunction than it is about the thyroid.  I'm going to continue researching how the immune system can be reversed. Since Hashimoto's is an autoimmune disease, I have a hunch that my own immune system is currently at war with my body. I hope to learn some valuable information on the topic to share with readers soon. :)

"Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."  ~World Health Organization, 1948

One of Our Christmas Photos-2012


  1. LOVE the last paragraph of this - couldn't have said it any better if I channeled it directly to your typing fingers.....

  2. Hey there,

    I too suffer from Hashimoto's-- I am 26 and found out about 2 years ago that I had it. It has been a roller coaster. I saw pictures of your tummy from a post a few months ago and that's exactly how I am too... I have always had a flat stomach, but in the last few years, the bloating has gotten so bad that I can't say that anymore :(

    I wanted to tell you about something that I'm trying to get my disease under control. I know that a lot of symptoms are triggered by food and food intolerances, so I decided to attempt to heal my gut by following the GAPS Diet, which is a healing protocol. I've been blogging about my experience so far (just started on 1/2/13), and you're welcome to check it out: tiffmariejones.wordpress.com. I have some resources on there for sites to read.

    Anywho, I am going to a new endo tomorrow to get on thyroid replacement. I haven't needed it until recently when the symptoms have become too much. I can definitely say that the GAPS diet has very much helped level out my moods. At the end of December, I was at a point where I was ready to cry or lash out anyone at any given moment, which is just SO not like me. I was anxious and frustrated all the time, for no reason. Since going on gaps, my moods have seriously stabilized and feel an overall calm. All I need to figure out now is how to get rid of this darn bloating!

    Oh and one other thing that I've discovered-- I have low stomach acid. This is common for people like us. One thing that has really helped is taking Betaine HCl pills. It's no miracle, but it has definitely helped a lot. You have to take them with each meal and you will need to figure out how much you need. But you might want to get tested by your doc for low stomach acid as it can also be a huge cause of bloating.

    Anywho, I hope this helps. Us Hashi chicas gotta stick together! Hang in there and remember that changes take lots of time and patience.


  3. Thanks, Tiffany! I am not familiar with the GAPS diet, so I will check it out. I also take BetaineHCI and have done an at-home test using ACV to check for low stomach acid, but it appears to be normal. My bloating is bad right now. I have a pot belly. I'm fairly certain it's due to my sluggish gallbladder. I think it's compromising the digestive process. I also take Ox Bile and digestive enzymes, but they aren't helping w/ the bloating. I've been trying to follow the Paleo diet, and the bloating came back full force. My immune system is also attacking my thyroid medicine, so we are trying to get it under control. I'm going to have some more tests ran soon, so I hope to follow up w/ good news. I will be reading your blog too. Thanks for sharing your story w/ me! Take care! :)

  4. Immune system can attacks replacement hormone too from Meds!? Holy cow! No weird kinda armour pun intended. Oh wait, that's pig..anyway, could you explain..thanx, Theresa

  5. I have uncontrolled Hashi's and my doctor has never told me anything about my disease she just blames me for my bad levels and when I ask to see an endo she just says you know you have Hashimoto's right this seems wrong to me but how would I know?

  6. Hi,
    I just found this post. I was Diagnosed with Hypo-thyroid back in July 2012 and 1 month later Hashimoto's. I am turning 49 in 1 week.
    I have suffered from low energy, Fatigue and unexplained weight gain for almost 10 years.
    I'm a personal trainer and have extensive experience in holistic practices. Starting on Medicine that I have to take for the rest of my life was a very saddening thought.
    I quickly did a lot of research about the disease and have found a supplement regime that works for me and is back up by research.
    My Anti-Bodies were only 113, but my ultimate goal was to lower or prevent them from getting higher.
    The supplement Selenium minimum of 200mg per day has shown to decrease Anti-bodies after 7-9 months of consistent intake. 3oomg of Selenium has shown to be even more effective.
    The other significant issue is calming or keeping inflammation at bay.
    I have found that a minimum of 6,000 of Fish Oil is very helpful.
    Another wonderful supplement for inflammation, joint pain and digestion - stomach issues, New Chapter's Zyflamend Whole Body.
    My acupuncturist has me on a digestive enzyme for breaking down proteins , Standard Process Zypan and a muti- vitamin also Standard Process Catalyn.
    A very important supplement for healing the lining of the intestines and cellular recovery is Glutamine...lot's of research on this one.
    Don't be afraid of the amount...you need to take a Minimum of 5,000mg per day.
    Probotics are very important a very strong version is Saccharomyces Boulardii + MOS, as well as, Renew Life's ParaZYME.
    I re act negatively to Iodine, especially table salt..I am gluten free and taking a gluten free, dye free Thyroid Medicine called Tirosint.
    I have found that Taking fiber supplements at anytime even 4 hours after or 4 hours before taking my medicine interfere's with it's absorption...as does Taking Calcium supplements. So, I don't take those any-longer.
    I feel Fantastic, losing weight ,Training 5 days a week for over an hour each day.
    I go back to the Endo in November to check blood work...it will be interesting to see what my numbers are...more importantly my anti-bodies.
    Thanks for Sharing your Story,
    Raina Kranz
    Conscious Fitness of Hollywood Florida

  7. HI Everyone,

    I just wanted to mention that my GI doctor has found a connection between bacterial overgrowth in the gut and Thyroid Antibodies. There is a high probability that it is connected because whenever he fixes the bacterial overgrowth in the gut it comes down. He always retests and finds that is the cast. You all sound like you are actually experiencing symptoms of bacterial overgrowth which is actually what causes IBS. I linked a book below which talks about it. It was actually my GI doctor that discovered that I had Hashimoto's Disease because he is quite thorough with his testing. I also have bacterial overgrowth in the gut which causes many of the symptoms you folks are talking about. I hope this helps. http://www.amazon.com/New-IBS-Solution-Mark-Pimentel/dp/0977435601

  8. Get on 200 mg of Selenium ASAP it will help decrease your antibodies!!!

  9. I use a full liquid diet (juicing & protein smoothies) for boosting my absorption - It makes a HUGE difference in the digestion thing. Like mentioned by another reader, I also find it necessary to take HCl with Pepsin along with digestive enzymes especially when eating ANY animal flesh.

    I have yet to find a MD that will support me on a natural thyroid replacement. I am still looking and still hopeful.

    For a time I got so sick of my symptoms telling me the exact opposite thing my labs were telling the doctors that I got off my synthyroid entirely (which I don't recommend). It got to the point where the ONLY days I felt decent were the days I forgot my meds. I did really good for several years. However, the hypo symptoms eventually crept in and since I am planning on getting pregnant it wasn't an option anymore.

    As soon as I started back on I immediately got constipated, dry skin, heavy periods, cold and began loosing hair by the handfuls. I still searching for a good Doctor - One that can explain why my symptoms are opposite what my labs show or willing to try a natural or even add T3. It is very frustrating.

  10. Hey

    I'm 31 and have had this disease for about 3 years. At least that is how long I have been diagnosed with it.

    Stumbled upon your blog and relate so much to what you are saying. When its acting up I get crushing fatigue that is exactly how you expressed it: like the fatigue you get when you are deathly ill from the flu. I was great all weekend and I woke this morning feeling TERRIBLE. I am still working to find my proper dose. I am doing tirosint and cytomel bc armour didnt work for me either! It was such a bummer bc armour is often touted as the holy grail of thyroid meds...I gave it a go for 2 years never feeling well but kept at it bc "everyone" said it was the best. Switching has been good in some ways - my body seems to "like" these meds...but we havent leveled out my dose yet. Having to wait so many weeks between adjustments all the while feeling terrible is the worst. I just did a parasite cleanse after my tests came back positive for parasites and that helped but I still have ways to go. I am gluten and mostly dairy free..kinda paleo if you will, and it has helped. I learned not to go too low carb as it makes me feel worse over time.

    Have you tried LDN? I first heard about it on Chris Kressors website and it actually brought my antibodies down from off the charts to the 300s and even 200s. I went off of it, and they crept up, so now I'm on it again. Worth considering!

  11. Hey there. I was diagnosed with hashimotos when I was about 12. Its been an epic journey and I am also dealing with what appears to be a life long candida issue. I was originally under the impression this was a side effect of Hashimotos and one I would have to just live with, recently I discovered there is a good chance that was the CAUSE of the disease. I've been treated for about 3 years for the systemic candida but all I have been able to accomplish was chasing it around my body. I woke up with a very awful bitter taste in my mouth the past week, Wednesday it was unbearable. I was starting myself on a candida cleans and felt that was part of it. I found myself in an urgent care center wanting a second opinion on the matter where the physician informed me it was medically impossible to have a candida infection unless I had AIDS and then asked if I wanted to be tested for AIDS. I was already having a bad day and my son had thrown a tantrum in their waiting room. I just looked at the doctor and was like listen, are you a doctor? Don't you read JAMA? Do you know anything about autoimmune disorder? Do you know anything about thyroid disease? Would you like to please call my normal doctor (who was out of area) and get the last 3 years of records faxed to you? Their response was that I was mentally ill. . . and then they called child protective services and alleged that I'd locked my son in their bathroom with the lights off for a while during his tantrum (which in total lasted less than 5 minutes and was revolving around my preventing him from jumping off their waiting room furniture during the 2 hour long wait). In short I have had a bad day. I literally had CPS called on me, not just because I had a tantrum but because I questioned the doctor's knowledge . . . he was very clearly aggravated and told me that it was medically impossible to even have a systemic candida infection. I know there are many articles out there linking these two. What are the best, in the complaint I file with the urgent care center medical board I hope to include copies of the best and most recent articles on this subject. So irritated right now.

  12. I've been diagnosed with Hashimoto's for 23 years now & I've learned a lot. After years of struggling I found an awesome doctor that put me on a T3/T4 compound that is time released. Before I was on armour and was suffering, I couldn't go thorugh a day without a nap. He explained that since the armour was a natural source of thyroid hormone and the thyroid hormone is what my body recognized as foreign, my body would increase its production of antibodies of the natural source of thyroid (that I thought was so good for me!). I hope that makes sense. You're right on on the vitamin D, most Hashimoto's patients are low in that as well as selenium. Also, a leaky gut seems to plague us, which is my next step of healing. Staying away from dairy, soy, sugar, & gluten seems to be the factors everyone agrees on. Some add nuts,seeds and peanuts to the list. A good source of candida help may be the brand Candex. It's pricy but my sister in law swears by it and has seen amazing results. Just a few suggestions that I hope helps you! God bless!