As a physician specializing in homeopathic and functional medicine, I have treated thousands of women (and many men) for the past 25 years with thyroid disorders, especially hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). (I have treated many cases of hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid as well which I will talk about in a future article). It is my experience that almost any symptom can be a result of a sluggish thyroid however the most common complaints are fatigue, weight gain, constipation, hair loss, cold intolerance, dry skin, dry, brittle hair, memory problems, depression and infertility.
The most important thing I have discovered in my clinical experience is that every person is unique and may require a different type of thyroid hormone to feel better. For example, most women who come to see me have been taking Synthroid or Levothyroxine for years which is basically a synthetic form of thyroid hormone (thyroxine or T4) but many do not feel well on it. These women complain of brain fog, inability to lose weight, hair loss and other symptoms as noted above.
When I perform bloodwork on these women it is often the case that they either have a low free T3 (triiodothyronine, the more metabolically active and potent thyroid hormone that is produced from T4) or they are making antibodies against their thyroid. The latter case means they have Hashimoto’s disease which is an autoimmune disorder; essentially the body is attacking itself, in this case thyroid tissue. Besides getting women on the right thyroid hormone, we must resolve this autoimmune process for the person to feel better. Most endocrinologists do not pay attention to these thyroid antibodies (specifically anti-thyroglobulin and anti-thyroid peroxidase antibodies) because they believe there is nothing that can be done about it. But this is simply not true. I have successfully treated hundreds of women with Hashimoto’s disease by using homeopathy and functional medicine. In the majority of cases, the antibody levels steadily improve until they are undetectable. This can take anywhere from 3 months to a year depending on how high the levels are to begin with.
However, resolving the autoimmune process alone does not negate the need for thyroid hormone in most cases. Women will still need the right hormone combination to feel their best. Often women who come to me on Synthroid/Levothyroxine will feel much better when I switch them to a natural glandular thyroid such as Armour Thyroid or Naturethroid. Other women simply need to add some T3 or Cytomel to their Synthroid prescription. Still others need an even more individualized approach by using a T4/T3 hormone combination from a compounding pharmacy. Compounding formulations allow me to “tweak” the amounts of T4 and T3 until I find the perfect combination for a particular patient.
It is important that people with thyroid problems who are not feeling their best on the usual thyroid prescriptions (Synthroid) find an integrative physician who has experience using other forms of thyroid hormone. He or she can work with you to closely monitor your clinical symptoms and blood tests in an effort to find the right prescription that will help you to feel your best. You deserve optimal health. If there is one thing I have learned as a holistic practitioner after all these years is that every person is biochemically unique and one size does not fit all.
Susanne Saltzman, MD
Editor, American Journal of Homeopathic Medicine