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Hypothyroid Treatment Options: Pros & Cons

Updated on August 4, 2011

For most people who are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, there is essentially one hypothyroid treatment option that is recommended by most endocrinologists and other types of medical doctors: synthetic thyroid hormone. Synthetic thyroid hormone can do a great job of managing a person's symptoms, although this isn't always the case. However, there are a couple of other hypothyroid treatment options to choose from that you should be aware of. What I plan on doing here is to first discuss some of the pros and cons of using synthetic thyroid hormone, and then discuss the other two treatment options you have.

Hypothyroid Treatment Option #1: Synthetic Thyroid Hormone

Pros: The benefits of using a synthetic thyroid hormone, such as Synthroid, is that in many cases it can do a good job of managing one's symptoms. Many people with hypothyroidism have been taking synthetic thyroid hormone for many years, with little or no side effects.

Cons: Although many people have their symptoms controlled well through synthetic thyroid hormone, some people still experience moderate to severe symptoms. Sometimes adjusting the dosage can help with this, or giving T3 in addition to T4. But even with such changes, there are people who just don't do well when taking synthetic thyroid hormone. In addition to this, synthetic thyroid hormone doesn't do anything for the actual cause of the problem. So even in situations where synthetic thyroid hormone does a good job of managing the symptoms, it doesn't address the underlying problem, which in many cases can be cured.

Hypothyroid Treatment Option #2: Natural Thyroid Hormone

Pros: Some people who don't do well when taking synthetic thyroid hormone do much better when taking a natural form of thyroid hormone, such as Armour or Westhroid. So if you currently are taking synthetic thyroid hormone and still are experiencing symptoms, you might respond better while taking a natural form of thyroid hormone.

Cons: Just as is the case with synthetic thyroid hormone, natural thyroid hormone also doesn't do anything for the actual cause of the disorder. So this is just another method of symptom management, and in most cases will need to be taken for the rest of the person's life.

Hypothyroid Treatment Option #3: Natural Treatment Methods

Pros: Natural hypothyroid treatment methods do more than just provide lifetime symptom management. The ultimate goal is to cure the underlying cause of the thyroid condition whenever this is possible, and therefore to restore the health of the person, so they don't have to take synthetic or natural thyroid hormone daily for the rest of their life. Natural hypothyroid treatment methods are extremely safe under the supervision of a competent natural endocrine doctor, and can be highly effective when the person follows the recommendations of such a doctor.

Cons: Not everyone is an ideal candidate for natural hypothyroid treatment methods. For example, if you have hypothyroidism due to a complete thyroidectomy, then you will need to take thyroid hormone for the rest of your life. However, this doesn't mean that such a person can't benefit at all from following a natural hypothyroid treatment protocol, as many times they will still receive some great benefits which will help to optimize their overall health. And for those people who have received a partial thyroidectomy or received radioactive iodine therapy, natural hypothyroid treatments still might be able to restore their health, depending on how much damage has been done to the thyroid gland.

Which Hypothyroid Treatment Option Should You Choose?

As for which hypothyroid treatment method is the best option for you, this obviously is only a decision you can make on your own. Being a holistic doctor, I'm obviously biased and would recommend that most people with hypothyroidism at least give natural treatment methods a try. Even though some people can't be helped naturally, many people can have their health restored back to normal by following a natural hypothyroid treatment protocol. After all, it makes sense to at least try to restore your health back to normal, and if for any reason this fails you can then of course continue taking synthetic or thyroid hormone.

But if natural hypothyroid treatment methods are so effective, then why do most endocrinologists and other types of medical doctors recommend thyroid hormone to all of their patients with hypothyroidism? Well, it comes down to their training, as they are trained to use medication to manage symptoms, and sometimes use other invasive procedures such as surgery. Most medical doctors simply aren't trained to look for the cause of the problem in cases of hypothyroidism. And I don't see this changing anytime soon. Fortunately, some medical doctors do have an open mind and recommend holistic treatment methods to their patients. However, you do need to be careful, as some alternative doctors will simply recommend natural thyroid hormone instead of synthetic thyroid hormone, which once again will only serve to manage the symptoms.

What's Wrong With Lifetime Symptom Management?

The problem with lifetime symptom management is that if the underlying cause of the condition isn't addressed, then this very well might lead to other conditions in the future. For example, someone with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis has a compromised immune system. These people are also typically given thyroid hormone to take daily, but in most cases, nothing is done to address the immune system component. This is one of the reasons why people who have this disorder are likely to develop other autoimmune conditions in the future. Similarly, many people with primary hypothyroidism have weak adrenal glands, which also can lead to numerous problems if unaddressed.

It might be tempting to try self-treating your condition by eating well and taking nutritional supplements and/or herbs. While eating well and taking quality nutritional supplements are important factors, doing this alone is not enough to restore someone's health back to normal. There are other factors involved, which is why it's a good idea to speak with an expert.

In summary, although taking synthetic thyroid hormone remains the most common hypothyroid treatment, there are a couple of other options for you to consider. The question you need to ask yourself is whether you are interested in lifetime symptom management, or would prefer to get to the underlying cause of your condition, assuming this is possible. If you're satisfied with taking medication to manage your symptoms, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with this approach. On the other hand, if you want to try to find out the actual cause of your condition in order to attempt to cure it, then you might want to consider following a natural hypothyroid treatment protocol.

For more information on how to treat hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis through natural treatment methods, please visit my facebook fan page, Natural Solutions for Graves Disease and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis at www.facebook.com/NaturalThyroidTreatment

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    • StandingJaguar profile image

      Amy 

      5 years ago from Colorado

      Hello DrEricO23, if someone is interested in pursuing Natural Treatment options for their (suspected) hypothyroidism, how can they find a doctor who is willing/trained in offering this? What words or training should we look for? Holistic? Naturopath? DOM? I haven't bothered to see a doctor yet because I don't want to waste my time with the "standard" care: Synthroid.

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