What Your MD Isn’t Telling You About Your Thyroid Medication

2019-04-24T19:43:33+00:00August 8th, 2018|Articles, Dr. Patrick Flynn, Laboratory Diagnostics|33 Comments

Read Time: 8 minutes

Levothyroxine (Synthroid) is the second most prescribed drug in the United States and if you’re taking it there is a good chance that you shouldn’t be. In my practice, I frequently see patients who are taking thyroid medication who come in and still feel crappy. Their thyroid levels are fine, so they don’t think it has anything to do with their thyroid or medication. My first question to them is, “did they test your adrenals before putting you on thyroid medication?”

Guess what the answer is? The answer is always, “no.” Why is that important? In the drug inserts for these medications and on their website literature it says, “This drug should not be taken by those with insufficient adrenals.”

So, should you be taking the drug if your adrenals haven’t been tested? No! How are you going to know if you have insufficient adrenals if they aren’t tested? You won’t. If you have insufficient adrenals you should not be taking this drug. Is that my opinion? No, it’s on their label!

The thing about insufficient adrenals is you can’t correct it properly. If it’s not properly tested, you will never get long term adrenal function. It will keep coming back and, if you are familiar with the Swiss Watch Principle you understand that it’s going to impact other parts of your body’s function because all the body systems are connected.

What is adrenal insufficiency? It’s a pretty broad definition.

  • Under function
  • Feedback loop isn’t working
  • Overworked
  • Too much stress
  • Excessive cortisol
  • Too much DHEA

Like I said, that’s a pretty broad definition and let’s be real- there are a lot of people this could apply to. If people with insufficient adrenals should not be taking this medication, why aren’t they testing adrenals before prescribing. That’s a good question!

It could be because they don’t know or because they don’t know of another option to help you. One of the problems with this is the adrenals and the thyroid work together. It’s that Swiss Watch Principle again. If one goes up the other must go down.

If you actually have low adrenals the thyroid will try to compensate and go up. So, if your adrenals are low and you take a medication to make them go up you suppress your adrenals even more. So, the thyroid medication can actually further exacerbate adrenal insufficiency. It can push you into adrenal disease!

This can induce side effects like heart attacks. How can a thyroid medication have a heart attack as a side effect? The medication can induce adrenal problems and that can greatly affect the aortic function. All of our body systems are connected!

You have to be very careful. I have seen thousands of patients whose thyroid medication was inducing a major part of their health problems but their TSH levels were normal, so they never connect it to their medication. They say, “my thyroid is great.” They don’t link it to the other problems they are having. Let me say this again for those in the back…before you take a thyroid medication, you need to get tested properly.

Signs of Adrenal InsufficiencyThyroid medication 2

  • Pupil dilation
  • Allergies and breathing complaints
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Depression
  • Dry skin
  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Loss of muscle tone
  • Blood pressure problems
  • Low sex drive
  • Poor circulation
  • Weight gain

Those symptoms for adrenal insufficiency are the same symptoms for the thyroid problem. So, you could go into the doctor with those symptoms and if they don’t test you they could just put you on one of the most prescribed medications in the U.S. They might just assume you have a thyroid problem when you have an adrenal problem.

So, what do you do if you have these symptoms? What would I do for myself and my family?

Get tested

Getting tested properly will tell you what is going on. Your doctor can’t make an assessment for a functioning body if the testing is incomplete. You won’t know what your body needs to function normally and without medication.

Start shutting down at 9 pm.

Your circadian rhythm impacts your adrenals. I hear from ladies all the time, “Doc, I’m a night person” If you’re a night person you’re going to be very sick. Because you’re running on adrenaline and eventually you’re going to puke out. You need to get rest at night. Try going to bed earlier compared to later. Even if you get the same number of hours sleep you will feel more rested if you go to bed earlier! The number of hours you get before midnight can dramatically change your health. Also, make sure to sleep in a dark room and start turning lights/ electronics off before bedtime to get good sleep.

Get an inversion table

When you put your heart and head below your adrenals it’s going to let your adrenals rest. Where are your adrenals? Right above your kidneys. That’s why if your adrenals are stressed you can have lower back pain. An inversion table is something you can find really cheap on craigslist or find another way to get heart and head below adrenals. Try yoga or even putting a board under the mattress at the bottom of your bed.

Reduce EMF exposure

We are surrounded by radiation from electromagnetic fields all the time. Our modern-day world has boosted that exposure with electronics including microwaves, WiFi, computers, and that phone in your pocket. Reduce your exposure by turning off the appliances and devices when you aren’t using them. Reduce the harm of exposure by regularly grounding. Get those feet on the ground and feel the grass between your toes.

Want to learn more about grounding? Check out this quick tip:

Ashwagandha is a Helpful Adaptogen

I don’t like recommending herbs without testing but there is always someone who just wants to take something. There is one I feel comfortable recommending in this case. Ashwagandha is by far the best adaptogen that will help your adrenals adapt. Unlike medications, or some herbs, they will help your body adapt to what it needs not push it in a particular way.

Learn Stress Management

Stress is one of the easiest ways to make yourself sick and it will drain your adrenals. It is very important to find ways to manage your stress. Set strong boundaries and make priorities to ease some of that strain. Find time to build yourself and to relax.

CBD Oil

CBD oil can support your adrenals in a few different ways helping with stress, sleep, and immune system. It can help you manage stress, which we already talked about being a common way to make yourself sick. CBD oil can help you get the sleep you need for your body to repair itself. Take a little before bedtime if you have been waking up still feeling exhausted. The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD oil will support your immune system to help you heal. CBD oil is great in so many ways. Look for a high-quality, full-spectrum oil like the one we make.

Get Educated on Your Thyroid Medication

Levothyroxine (Synthroid) is one of the most prescribed medications. Is it causing you or someone you know harm? Why am I worried about this? As a chiropractor it is my job to remove stresses from the body. The goal is to get your body to homeostasis, or balance, so you don’t need medication. As a practitioner, I want to be sure people are not getting hurt from their medications. If you have insufficient adrenals, or if you have not been tested, you should not be on this drug that can harm your body. Now you know.

Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn

Learn more in Dr. Patrick Flynn’s Quick Tip with Dr. Shannyn Pearce

33 Comments

  1. Renee October 22, 2018 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    Let me start by saying, my thyroid numbers have never been crazy, just slightly higher than what was deemed “normal”. Went to a holistic doctor for better health, didn’t have the energy level I used to have, felt fatigue and depressed. I was put on armour for about a year with very little results. Went to an Internist next and was put on Synthroid, which made me tired and didn’t help with symptoms but I was told to ride it out, that I would eventually start feeling better. After about a year of that and no progress, I went to a doctor who supposedly specialized in hormone therapy. He put me on 5 Cytomel and upped my dose of sythroid to 75 and added Zoloft for depression (which I believe has gotten progressively worse while taking Sythoid). At first, I felt better with the addition of Cytomel but after about 18 months, I started feeling immense anger, extreme agitation and major mood swings shortly after ingesting the Cytomel. At this point I had stopped going to this specialist because he wasn’t listening to me when I said none of this has been working over the past 4 years, can we stop these medications. I haven’t taken Cytomel in over a year. I continue to take 25 mcg of Synthroid because everything on the internet says you can die if you stop taking it. However, as my symptoms of fatigue, body aches, hair loss, weight gain and depression get worse, I highly question this drug. 3 weeks ago I started taking it every other day. The days I don’t take it, I feel GREAT! Can I stop taking this drug once and for all and not worry that I might die from a thyroid storm? Is there an alternative?

    • The Wellness Way October 24, 2018 at 9:55 am - Reply

      Hi Renee,

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience and it sounds like you have had quite the journey looking for health answers. We would love for you to talk with one of our docs further for your individual health needs. Check out our clinics page to see if there is a doc near you but don’t worry if there isn’t. All of our docs can do phone consultations. https://thewellnessway.com/clinics/

  2. Debi Lemieux October 4, 2018 at 9:18 am - Reply

    I have m.s. and probable hypothyroidism, my doc says no to meds ( even though my numbers go up and down) too soon, but ent says yes. I had a grapefruit size goiter removed 10 years ago.
    Could my m.s. and meds be affecting my thyroid or adrenals?

    • The Wellness Way October 5, 2018 at 3:09 pm - Reply

      Hi Debi! Thank you for your question. Yes, it is very possible they could be impacting your thyroid or adrenals. To really find the best ways to support your individual body, we encourage you to reach out to one of The Wellness Way Clinics. https://thewellnessway.com/clinics/ Is there one near you? If not, don’t worry. You can always talk to any of our doctors with a phone consultation.

  3. Renee biundo September 19, 2018 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    I take 150mg of Levothyroxine and have hasimoto . I had anti bodies and t3 and t4 tested . Tsh normal range . My endo said I am producing enough just not absorbing it so put me cytomal too now . I also have had a total hysterectomy . I took my self off premerin but now he wants to start me on patches ? I am not going to lie I am a little afraid to go off Levo because my original tsh was 96 six years ago when I was dx. It was horrible I thought I was going to die . But after watching this video I was wondering about the adrenal testing ? I don’t think I ever was . I also suffer from severe anxiety and ocd which I have had most my life . Md solution was venaflexine . Wondering now if that all could be my adrenal related. Could you email me the list of tests I should be doing in your thyroid panel and also what is included in your allergy testing

    • The Wellness Way September 20, 2018 at 9:49 am - Reply

      Thank you for reaching out, Renee! Wow — sounds like you’ve been through a lot! To answer your question, you can find our Thyroid Panel here, our Thyroid with Hormones panel here (the list of tests run in those panels can be seen under the Test Being Run tab), and our food allergy test can be found here. There is a sample food allergy test so you can see what allergies are tested for. We would love to help you gain some understanding to what you’re experiencing from The Wellness Way perspective — please reach out to a clinic near you so we can provide you personalized care! https://thewellnessway.com/clinics/

  4. Karin Nowak September 15, 2018 at 11:44 am - Reply

    Can I get the link to website that shows the tests you should have performed for thyroid?

  5. Chris McCoy August 31, 2018 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    I’ve been on levothyroxine for many years. Levels are good, but I don’t feel the best. How do I go about testing my adrenals?

  6. Joyce Wiegman August 24, 2018 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    I had thyroid cancer 20 years ago with thyroidectomy and have been taking Levothyroxine ever since. I’m curious if its necessary to take thyroid replacement.

    • The Wellness Way August 27, 2018 at 11:04 am - Reply

      Hi Joyce,
      Thank you for your question. There have been lots of questions but everyone is different. One of our doctors will be contacting you directly.

  7. Nicole August 20, 2018 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    What if you don’t have a thyroid and take Levothyroxine? Such as my situation. I had my thyroid removed a year and a half ago due to a cancer scare.

    • The Wellness Way August 21, 2018 at 3:47 pm - Reply

      Hi Nicole, Thank you for your question. One of our doctors will be contacting you by e-mail.

  8. Cynthia August 15, 2018 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    Hello,

    My PCP was managing my thyroid until my tests showed low TSH and low free T4 and he didn’t know what to do. He sent me to an endocrinologist who changed my medication. I was on Nature-Throid 130 mg; now taking Tirosint 175 mg. I’m due for blood work in a few weeks. My endo tested for adrenal insufficiency and performed cosyntropin test which she said came back as “normal.” Is the saliva cortisol test more reliable than the blood test?

    Thank you. I look forward to your response.

  9. Nik August 14, 2018 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer this past year. Had thyroid removed. I’m on Levothyroxine and would like to know what test to request for adrenal function.

    • The Wellness Way August 15, 2018 at 9:23 am - Reply

      Hi Nik, Thank you for your question. One of our doctors will be contacting you by e-mail.

  10. John Chown August 14, 2018 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    I Have been taking Levo for man-years. I still have the symptoms that I had many years ago. Tell me what test I should have my Dr. order. Ian a 88 year old man in excellent condition.

    • The Wellness Way August 15, 2018 at 9:22 am - Reply

      Hi John, Thank you for your question. One of out doctors will be contacting you by e-mail.

  11. Melanie Cummings August 14, 2018 at 6:16 am - Reply

    Is Tirosint a good one to be on? I’ve been taking it for 8 weeks, I’m still tired and want to sleep. My TSH was 5. My t3 and t4 was normal.

    • dmiller August 14, 2018 at 8:59 am - Reply

      Hi Melanie, Thank you for your question. Tirosint is still a synthetic form just has less ingredients. One of our doctors is going to contact you personally by e-mail. The only way to know for sure what is best for your body is to test.

  12. Lindsey Holz August 13, 2018 at 12:56 am - Reply

    This info on adrenal glands is really making me think twice about the last 7 years i have been on Levo! I don’t even know what tests to get?

    • dmiller August 13, 2018 at 3:55 pm - Reply

      Hi Lindsey! It is tough when you don’t know where to start. One of our doctors is going to reach out to you to answer your question personally.

  13. Christine August 12, 2018 at 11:03 am - Reply

    I’m on nature throid 1 grad. Is this an okay medication? I was told it was natural.

    • The Wellness Way August 13, 2018 at 3:52 pm - Reply

      Hi Christine! Thank you for your question. That is a better medication than a synthroid if you have had your thyroid removed. The only way to know what is best for you is to be properly tested.

  14. Ccm August 12, 2018 at 10:48 am - Reply

    I know you can never recommend coming off of levo cold turkey, but I have recently started acupuncture and am on a gut cleaning regimen and stopped my levo because whenever I would forget to take it for a day or so I would sware that I felt better. Well, now it’s been 5 purposeful days off not taking it, and I’ve slept deeply (no insomnia) lifted depression and an overall more centered feeling. However, when I do research all the info says it’s severly dangerous to just stop. But I know I feel better without, the acupuncturist says it’s ok to stop. What would your opinion be?

    • The Wellness Way August 13, 2018 at 3:51 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your question! It sounds like you are taking steps for your health and it is working for you. The only definitive way to know is to be properly tested.

  15. Candy August 10, 2018 at 6:13 pm - Reply

    I have been on levothyroxine for 10 yrs! I don’t have a thyroid. I have anxiety, fibromyalgia, sleep apnea, no calcium glands either! Trying to get off meds and use nutrition but I can’t not take it! What is an alternative?

    • The Wellness Way August 13, 2018 at 3:57 pm - Reply

      Hi Candy! One of our doctors is going to reach out to you to answer your question personally.

  16. Laura August 10, 2018 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    I was just put on thyroid medication for hypothyroidism. Is hypothyroid a common response to adrenal insufficiency? We are currently trying for to conceive. I could be pregnant now. It’s too early to test. If I am pregnant should I wait to check my adrenals and stay on synthroid until I have the baby. The endocrinologist said I might miscarry if I was off of the medication and pregnant because I wouldn’t make the TSH necessary.

    Thank you

    • The Wellness Way August 13, 2018 at 4:01 pm - Reply

      Hi Laura, One of our doctors is going to reach out to you personally by e-mail.

  17. Ruth Rogge August 9, 2018 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    If I am on Thyroid meds will the adrenal test be accurate? I also have a small nodule on the left side of my thyroid. I

    • The Wellness Way August 10, 2018 at 8:46 am - Reply

      Yes, because the thyroid medication does not affect the adrenals. But the adrenal glands will affect the thyroid so your prescription dosage could be incorrect for your body. The only way to know for sure is to test so we can get body to homeostasis, or balance. If you have any other questions just let us know!

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