Can you stop taking thyroid medication once you start? The answer is maybe



hey guys it's dr. child's here today we're gonna talk about what we're gonna answer a question and that is can you stop taking thyroid medication once you start and this is obviously an important topic for people taking thyroid medication because the general rule is once you start taking it the doctors will want you to be on it essentially forever and so that there's a lot of patients who may not have to have to do that and so I want to talk about some of the patients that may be able to get off of it soon or people that may need it only temporarily so Before we jump in we'll give you an overview of what we're gonna be talking about with some bullet points so first of all people start taking thyroid medication because of blood tests but these blood tests are not 100% accurate we'll talk about that in a minute some people who start taking thyroid medication may be able to eventually wean themselves off not everybody but some unfortunately doctors aren't likely to make this suggestion though unless you bring it up so this is why this is important to you some individuals may require thyroid medication for the rest of their lives that's not everybody and if you decide to try and get off your thyroid medication you must do it slowly and controlled and I would add in there that you should be doing it with the help of your doctor as well so we'll talk about that at the very end so first of all just a little brief introduction so why people start taking thyroid medication this is important because it helps you kind of understand how to get off of it so essentially the only reason to give someone thyroid medication is if their thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone on its own so in that way what your doctor is trying to do is let's say that you know a normal person produces 100% of thyroid hormone let's say if you're a little bit damaged you're only producing 70% so the idea is to use that thyroid medication to supplement the difference between 70 and 100 which in this case would be 30 so this is just a hypothetical example now the prop the question really becomes if you only are able to produce 70 percent of whatever is normal is there ever going to be a time in your life when you'll be able to get back up to 100% because if that's the case then you won't have to take tyroid hormone ever again right because if you're fixed whatever problem was causing that reduction to begin with then you won't need there will be no need for you to supplement with extra thyroid hormone so this is sort of the logic that you need to understand now the problem is the way doctors determine if you need thyroid medication has to do with blood tests predominantly the TSH test but that's not necessarily an accurate measurement of thyroid status so you can read some of the studies that I've linked here if you'd like to but just you know for in a general sense just understand that it's not the best way to actually test for your thyroid furthermore there are plenty of times when that TSH can be higher outside of the normal range but still be a normal variant of your body or whatever's happening inside your body so just because it's abnormal once or twice doesn't it is not a guaranteed indication that you have to be on thyroid medication another thing is that your thyroid lab tests only tell you what's happening with your thyroid right here and right now you know when you test it so whenever you get your blood test that's what it's telling you is happening your thyroid right now the reason that's important is because you have no idea what's gonna happen in three months six months one year or five years ten years right but if you start on medication now it affects your blood test for as long as you're on the medication so you need to be thinking right here right now but also in the future so can you stop taking it the answer briefly is maybe we're going to talk about the three groups of thyroid patients who that exists I'm just you know in in general in a general broad sense and where you fit into the these three groups because if you're in the group for instance that can't get our thyroid medication well then you have your answer but there are some other groups two and three where you might be able to get off or at least reduce your dose of thyroid medication so let's talk about these three groups number one would be those thyroid patients who just have to be on thyroid medication for the rest of their lives there are some of you who are gonna fit this category and the unfortunate truth is many of you in this position don't even know you're in this position and I don't blame you for that I think it's just a failure of the medical system but let's talk about that because I've had plenty of people who say I want to get off my medicine and they they don't have a thyroid anymore because it's been removed well if you're fit into that category there's no way you can ever get off your medication you have to have thyroid hormone to survive otherwise you go into a mix demon coma or death and so you if you're in that position you just have to take it no matter what it doesn't matter it's too late so we'll talk about those people that have to have it if you fit any of these categories so number one we talked about just briefly those who don't have a thyroid now that could be because it's been because you've had a thyroidectomy or because you were simply born without it but if you do not have a thyroid if it's been 100% completely removed you have to take thyroid medication for the rest of your life and no matter what there's no way that there's no information that we have currently which allows us to regenerate your thyroid gland that technology just doesn't exist right now maybe in the future but we don't have it right now this doesn't apply though if you've only have had half of your thyroid removed or a portion which isn't 100% so there's a small percentage of people who if they get a part of their thyroid removed the other part of the thyroid gland can kind of over produce thyroid hormone and they don't necessarily need to have it a 100% but it thought but if your whole gland has been removed then you will need it that's group number one group number two those who have had their thyroid 100% destroyed with radioactive iodine ablation therapy so this is commonly used for Graves disease and sometimes for thyroid cancer and so on but if you've had this procedure and the emphasis is on 100% because a lot of times doctors will try to kill your thyroid 100% but they only end up killing 50% or 40% or 70% some number right so if it's 100% though you will require you you will need to be on thyroid medication for the rest of your life because even though the gland is inside your body technically it's non-functional it's completely atrophied it doesn't work so that's group number two group number three would be those people who have end-stage Hashimoto's thyroiditis which has resulted in complete thyroid atrophy okay so this is what happens to patients and a lot of patients believe it or not fit into this category whether they realize it or not because remember Hashimoto's is an autoimmune disease and it results in the destruction of your clan so if you had this inflammation and this autoimmune disease in your body for ten years twenty years thirty years you know something like that there's a very good chance that even though your thyroid gland is technically inside of your body still it's atrophied it's shrunk and it's completely damaged from that trauma so if that's the case it's probably not going to be working anymore and again you'll have to be on thyroid medication for the rest of your life but that's only people who are in the end-stage now we're going to talk about number two number three but you can imagine if you're in early stage well you've got a pretty good chance and then of course those who don't have a pituitary gland because it's been destroyed or damaged or they've had tumor or same thing with hypothalamic damage so anything in the which interferes with your hypothalamus or pituitary and will impact your ability to your thyroid gone to work so technically even though the gland is capable of producing thyroid hormone in these people if there's no signal coming from the brain telling it to produce there's not much you can do so you'll have to be on it but that one's pretty that one's pretty rare these top three are quite common and the unfortunate truth is for these the rest of this information just isn't going to apply to you because you have to be on medication okay so number two we're gonna be talking about those who were placed on thyroid medication inappropriately and believe it or not there is a huge number of people that fit into this category I was reading a study the other day that said something like they were looking in a nursing home I believe and they said that they were able to successfully wean off about half of the people that were on thyroid medication later in their life without any consequences so that means that that half those those people that were in this study and the studies linked in in this this article if you want to go to it but it means about half those people probably didn't need to be on it forever maybe they might have been put on it inappropriately or they were put on it temporarily and just kept on it forever and I've seen many patients in my in my treating who have been on thyroid medication for twenty thirty years and they don't even remember or know why they started it to begin with but what happens is once you start taking it doctors are just condition to continue prescribing it so you kind of have to figure out kind of go back in and figure out why did you start it to begin with but there are some people who get placed on it inappropriately because of the blood test that I was talking about before so I've had a number of people who I know personally who were placed on it like I said because let's say they have one high TSH oh let's say that you go to the doctor you get a random test done and your TSH comes back 15 you're not symptomatic you're feeling completely fine but your TSH is 15 so your doctor immediately thinks you're hypothyroid starts you on medicine and then if they're not careful you might just stay on that medicine indefinitely because you if you don't know any better you'll just be like okay well my doctor knows best so I just need to take it but if you're not having symptoms and your TSH is abnormal just one time don't start the medication for you know in the in this scenario the reason for that is about you know anywhere from up to five percent or so it could be even more of all lab tests at any given time are inaccurate and so that means about that's about a 1 in 20 chance that any lab test that you're ordering is inaccurate and if you order 20 labs that come up you know which is routine test that means there's a the chance that a high chance that one of those is abnormal or one of those is not accurate so even if it's an abnormal result it may not be an accurate abnormal result so keep that in mind there are a number of you who have been started inappropriately and you know if you kind of fit into this category because you were placed on thyroid medication long time ago probably you probably at that time did not have any symptoms and you probably after starting the medicine didn't notice any difference so that that's sort of the scenario that I see quite a bit then we have the third group of people are those who need thyroid medication but only temporarily now the problem with these people is that they think they do need it they have a need for it because like I said their thyroid can't produce enough but the problem is once they get placed on it they're just continued on it indefinitely even though after some period of time which could be you know months or years even even though their thyroid could be working on its own they are just continued on the thyroid medication indefinitely so people who fit into this category include a lot of people that I mentioned before who have early to mid stage Hashimoto's thyroiditis so remember just because you have it doesn't mean that it's going to ultimately destroy your thyroid gland completely it could be reversed especially if you are diligent and use some of the therapies that I've talked about on my blog before there's a guarantee that you'll be able to heal yourself but it does there's a much higher chance that you'll be able to at least reduce the dose that you're taking if not get off of it completely the next one would be hypothyroidism caused from dieting or obesity so if you're somebody who just was unlucky and let's say I'll give you an example of something that I've seen quite a bit so we have somebody who does the HCG diet or it could be any day it could even be the ketogenic diet just any sort of diet and they lose a bunch of weight they feel kind of you know rundown or sluggish so they go to their doctor the doctor tests their labs and what do they see they see that their thyroid is not functioning very well well we know well hopefully you know that certain diets do cause damage to the thyroid gland but that damage is only temporary they're temporary but if you were just unlucky and you went to your doctor and you test it in it showed that you had you know thyroid issues he might put you on thyroid medication thinking that you had hypothyroidism before you died it but the interesting thing is that a lot of the thyroid shoes that come from dieting tend to resolve themselves over time now yes it can take six months in one year or two year or three years but they still are getting better on their own but if you started like I said if you're just unlucky and you went in there you started that medicine you're gonna be kept on it indefinitely most likely that's another big category I would say that's probably the most common of these of these of these categories that we're gonna be talking about our people and groups another one would be hypothyroidism from some causes of inflammation especially thyroiditis so Hashimoto's just one type of thyroiditis but there's plenty others these are I this is a big topic in of its own so if you feel like you have this and I would encourage you to read more over here there are some people that have postpartum thyroiditis as well who require thyroid medication but not temporary for instance only 20% of people with postpartum thyroiditis will go on to develop permanent hypothyroidism but that's not everybody so that's you know an 80% chance that even if you need it temporarily you won't have to use it long term and then of course hypothyroidism from nutrient deficiencies such as iodine deficiency that's a reversible cause of hypothyroidism and then hypothyroidism caused by extremes extreme but usually temporary stress so same sort of concept here right it's some sort of stimulus that impacts the thyroid but it's something that can be resolved on its own so if you have any of these sort of categories then there's a chance that you may be able to at least reduce your dose in the future but the question is how do you do that so I'm going to talk talk about that a little bit right now so the best thing that you can do in the first place that you should start is with your doctor you need to be doing this with somebody who can help you and the reason is is fairly simple one let me just explain the physiology of what happens and then it'll become clear why you need a doctor so once you start taking thyroid medication your body that medication sends signals to your brain that suppresses its own ability to produce the thyroid gland so your so as you take more thyroid medication your body becomes dependent upon that source of medication because it's the it's not atrophied but it's unable your thyroid is unable to produce its own thyroid hormone so it's the same kind of thing that happens with testosterone right so everyone's worried that one you take testosterone that you're you know in a man anyway your testicles won't be able to produce it anymore so the same thing happens with your thyroid it also happens with cortisol and it also happens with estrogen and progesterone if you take birth control pills or whatever this just this is just a normal physical logic thing that occurs if you're taking hormone by mouth or if you're taking it and your body's not producing it naturally so what happens is as you reduce your dose you have to give your body time to get back to being used to producing its own thyroid hormone and that takes a while okay so it's not unusual that even though you may not need thyroid medication you're going to feel temporarily worse as you reduce yourself off of your medicine and as your body kicks in and is able to produce its own thyroid hormone and that can take a good two to three months so it's important for you to understand this because if you if you do this you might think to yourself as you get off of your thyroid medication and you start feeling worse you think wow okay I guess I do need thyroid medication but that's not necessarily true for the reasons I just said give your body a little bit of time to allow itself to produce more thyroid hormone on its own and this is why you need to do it with your doctor so you can determine whether you're able to produce it or you're not because there's no guarantee that you can but if you feel like you reach the categories or you're you fall into the categories that I've talked about before then you might be able to do it and the best way to do that is by taking whatever dose you're on so let's just use a hypothetical dose of 100 micrograms per day of level thyroxine so if you're taking that what you would want to do is you want to reduce your dose by about 25 micrograms sometimes even less but let's just say 25 as an average and you want to do that every 1 to 2 weeks and just reduce your dose from 20 foot from 100 to 75 and then after a couple weeks down to 50 then after a couple weeks down to 225 and so on and that allows your body to produce whatever it can naturally as you reduce and wean yourself off of the existing dose because what's gonna happen is if you just eliminate your dose completely if you go from 100 to zero your body is gonna it's gonna freak out because it can't produce with what its own quite yet and it's gonna take you a couple months to kick in and then you've just lost the only source that you of thyroid hormone for your body so just understand this this dynamic so that you know what to expect if you decide to try and wean yourself off and like I said as you do this your expectations I'd recommend if you plan on doing this read this article because I have a lot of information here it'll go into more detail this is more just a you know an overview of what what to expect but you might you might you might feel temporarily hypothyroid as you do this and that doesn't mean that you have to be on your medicine but just it's a product of the physiologic changes that I mentioned before so the bottom line is some people will who are who are listening to this some people will be able to reduce their medication or completely get off of it but there's no way for me to you know tell you right now based off of you know your short brief history whether or not what group you fall into and whether or not that's possible for you I would encourage you to read through this article though check the references which are down here because there probably are some of you that will be able to get off this if I had to guess percentages I would say maybe somewhere between five and fifteen percent maybe up to twenty max kind of depends on who's listening now of people that might be able to reduce or will get off their medicine but hopefully this was helpful if you guys have any questions at all leave them in the comments below and I'll try to help guide you a little bit but yeah that's pretty much it and otherwise I'll see you guys in the next one

18 comments

  1. Hi Doctor, thank you very much for your valuable information. i am 51 year old lady, 2013 in my blood report found that i am having thyroid doctor told me to take medicine , but my friends told me not take medicine in the starting stage ,if you take medicine then lifelong you have to take, so control your thyroid with your food habits. i was not serious about my thyroid problem (my big mistake). November 2018 i started doing intermittent fasting, 2 months back i done just normal blood checkup , doctor told me you have thyroid and liver problem, doctor suggested to take medicine , but i didn't ( another mistake) . i was googled and find out that coffee is good for liver function , then i started to take 5 cups of filter coffee without sugar and milk. after 2 weeks from 145 pounds i became 130 pounds, i was so happy but every day i have throat pain, felt very unhealthy and i don't feel hungry etc.
    Then started to google it about thyroid , i found coffee is bad for thyroid !! i stop taking coffee and tea. Past 2 weeks over i am taking Levothyroxine Sodium 50 MCG tablet 8 in the morning . After taking the medicine i will eat my breakfast 12 pm sometimes 2 pm . is this good or bad for the health ? if it is bad then in intermittent fasting time when can i have my thyroid medicine ? Please advice me Doctor.
    Thanks

  2. I got off my t3 a month ago because I thought it wasnt working anymore, due to the dose I guess. I gained weight, started to feel tired, fatigue, and experiencing depression. Now I want to restart my t3 again. Do you think it’s gonna be ok and work well after I stopped for a month?? T3 saved my life but I dont know why it stopped working. I was taking 50mcg a day.

  3. Hi,,so I got off my thyroid med a while back and went straight to natural thyroid capsules from a health store for about a year now. Do you believe some of these are good And I'm supposing my thyroid is dependent on it? I was put on " 65 ".If blood test aren't so accurate then what would be the next way to test?I went to my general doctor he ran blood test and the numbers were at where he prescribed me at a 65 dose.Do I need a specialist instead to get a more accurate specific test?

  4. I was down to 50mcg of levothyroxin and 5mcg of Cytomel a day and my last blood results were almost "normal" in August. I weaned completely off over month before my 2019 physical and blood tests were scheduled. Within a week of being off the meds, my morning blood sugar spiked by 20 points (not diabetic, but I track everything) and I began to steadily put on two pounds a week with no changes in diet. Both my T3 and T4 had tanked below the bottom of the ranges in the blood tests. I continued for a couple more weeks hoping my body would catch up but the weight gain and feeling awful became too much. I went back on the meds and it was another two weeks before the weight gain finally stopped. Now that both drugs are regular in my system, the weight has been coming off and I'm almost down to where I started, again with no changes in diet. Lesson learned.

  5. I appreciate the information! I intend to request a taper schedule with my doctor but was curious….what are your thoughts on tapering slower and checking TSH levels incrementally with each dose reduction after 4-6 weeks as opposed to reducing every 2 weeks? Is there a benefit to going at your suggested pace or is there any concerns with going at a slower pace? Do you recommend supplements during the taper? Thanks!

  6. I was hyperthyroid and had operation at age 20 then turned normal. Then after having a child at 30 I became hypothyroid and has been in medication. First I was taking Synthroid and was changed to levothyroxine which then started to flutuates in mg for years. From 100 to 112 at the same time I developed diabetes at 45 years old. Got back to 100 until I felt fast palpitation years later I requested to have it lowered down and went down to 88 then 75. As I am also struggling with diabetes and I believe that it is more of my hormones causing the glucose high because I am in a very strict diet myself. I stopped Metformin and I changed thyroid meds to armour thyroid. Started with 60mg and down to 30 now will start to 15 mg this month. I watch this from my heart palpitation and if my hair are falling off. My sugar level has been more lower compared to when I was taking metformin and switching from levothyroxine to armour thyroid. One big reason that I stopped metformin was my creatinine was very high 2 years ago and instead I went thru juicing which brought it back to normal 4 months later. Many of my friends who had diabetes ended up in dialysis and sadly there are deaths almost once a month due to complications 🙁

  7. my bloodtest result was TSH 19.2,and my T3 was 0.05,so the doctor gave me a med which is carbimazol rught now im taking it for 4 months
    then after u took this med for a month my bloodtest changes again TSH is normal,and the T3 goes up suddenly wwhat should i do now doc?he said there nothing to worry about..

  8. After 35 years on Thyroxine, my thyroid is now shriveled so much it can’t be found on an ultrasound. So I very much doubt it will magically come back. If I had been given iodine and other supps way back in The beginning, I believe it could have started working again. But thanks to the medical profession, it’s stuffed, I’m fat, and I’ve had 35 years of being TIRED!

  9. Do you think its possible to slowly come off t3 with t4 then eventually drop the t4? Assuming the patient had good thyroid levels before treatment

  10. For those wondering, it is possible. I have been on 75 to 100 mcgs daily of Cytomel (T3) for twenty years! I got sick of the run around trying to get brand name…Express Scripts trying to change my doctor's prescription. I went rogue and weaned myself off altogether. I control the heart palps and anxiety with magnesium, which also helped with a strange throat pressure. For the fluid retention, I use taurine, potassium and whole food b vitamins. I use Nordics Natural cod liver oil for A,D3 and omega3. I use iodine in the form of Lugguls: 2 drops a day. I went Paleo-ish Auto-immune diet. I started using minerals from Dr. Dean called ReMyte, when I began Root Cause Protocol.

    Six months later, Im alive, so I'm assuming my thyroid system has come back online. My complaint is just weight gain of 20 pounds then I stayed level. Occasionally, I feel the throat sensation…with caffeine or stress. Then, I up magnesium& potassium. My pluses: Energy is no worse. I feel steady. Sleep is fine with melatonin. My hair, which was always fine and woefully thinning, is actually better than when I was on meds. I haven't been back to my doctor so he doesnt know. I intend to stay off prescription meds. (I'm female age 51.) Good luck to anyone who wants to try.

  11. I really appreciate this because I’ve been wanting to get off this drug for years. I think I was diagnosed hypothyroid during a period of extreme stress and possibly as a result of inflammation. I’m going to share this with my doctor!

  12. Do u 4C Hemp (1ce regulated) along with a combination of more natural verses synthetic elixirs, as a fix, "for some" with thyroid disease ???

    I currently started a powder, containing Hemp & natural supplements for RA, in the hope of getting away from my Hydroxychloroquine, to lesson my chance of permanent eye damage, especially since I already have Irisitis and wish that a one step formula will be in the works to replace my 💯 mg, due to "some" iodine treatment.

    Synthetic everything has always been a tricky venture for me.

  13. I have weaned myself off per my endocrinologist. It has been over a month and I feel really good. I do get a little tired, but otherwise feel fine. Hoping and praying my next blood tests in a few months are good. Thank you for this information. Oh by the way I am on the Keto diet, and have been on for 7 months now.

  14. Do you have a video or can you discuss how the thyroid is affected in men who have cancer? Specifically head and neck cancer.

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