10 ways you can live a better life as a Thyroid Patient

STTM 10 things(This post originally appeared in 2012, but has been updated for July 2015 with more information! It’s just a poignant today as it was then. Enjoy!)

In a post I did May 21st, 2012, I showed you two examples of very poignant emails I get weekly. And the second one revealed how hard it can be when you not only have very little money, plus an uninformed doctor who ends up keeping you sick. 

Yesterday, I received another email from a thyroid patient which simply blew me away, directed to the gal above. But it turns out her words are very appropriate for all of us. Read it carefully and enjoy.

Dear friend,

I am also hypothyroid. I am on Armour Thyroid, but if I couldn’t get it, I would still take the following supplements to try and give my thyroid gland the support and boost that it needs in order to make its own hormones. Please consider starting on one or more of these and see how you feel. I’m listing the most important ones first.

1. Sunlight! We all need sunlight every day. Our bodies make vitamin D3 in the skin following exposure to sunlight. People who are overweight are usually low in vitamin D3. D3 helps the thyroid. D3 from sunlight is the best kind; D3 supplements are not as good. Don’t believe the medical profession when they try to scare you off from getting sunlight, and don’t use harmful chemical sunscreens; just cover up with longer clothing after you have had your desired sun exposure. Vitamin D3 actually has a protective effect against most cancers. Best of all, it’s free.

2. Iodine – it is part of the raw material for thyroid hormone. Buy a cheap bottle of simple iodine tincture and paint a drop on your skin each day with a cotton-tipped swab. It helps in so many ways. Not only does iodine supply the thyroid gland with raw material for hormone, but it is the body’s own natural antibiotic. The neutrophils (specialized white blood cells) each contain a speck of iodine to help fight off microbes. And the eyes and ears work better if iodine is sufficient in the body. The ciliary body of the eye has a rich concentration of iodine. And the little cochlea of the inner ear contains fluids – perilymph and endolymph – which contain iodine as well.

3. Selenium – a co-nutrient with iodine. Iodine should always be taken with selenium. I get my selenium in the form of pumpkin seeds, 2 tablespoons each day.

4. Magnesium – I make my own magnesium oil and apply it to my skin daily. Janie will tell you how wonderful magnesium oil is – it helps to burn calories by supplying the “flame” for metabolism. And it’s very anti-inflammatory, with no side effects. My recipe is as follows: Stir a cup of magnesium chloride flakes and a cup of pure water together in a bowl for 5 minutes until dissolved, then pour into a clean plastic spray bottle (like what you might use for ironing). The Zechstein Sea magnesium chloride flakes are the purest; they are from a mine underneath the Netherlands, an ancient sea of 250 million years ago. A 1-kilo bag of Zechstein magnesium chloride flakes should last you more than a year. (From Janie: you can also use a good quality magnesium supplement, which I switched to sometime after 2012!)

5. Green leafy vegetables, a dietary source of magnesium – these are helpful in so many ways and are great either raw or cooked. If you cook them, top them with a little salt, a squeeze of lemon juice and a splash of olive oil.

6. Vitamin C – helps the liver to convert T4 to the active T3 hormone. I always have more energy when I remember to take 500 mg of vitamin C twice daily.

7. Coconut oil – really! It supports the thyroid and helps with weight loss. Try to get raw or unprocessed coconut oil, but in a pinch any coconut oil is helpful. Take 1-3 tablespoons per day. Stir it into yogurt and chill it if you don’t like to swallow oil.

8. Avoid refined carbohydrates like the plague, please! They are not food at all. It is impossible to lose weight if one is eating refined cereal, bread, pasta, pizza and sweets. These trigger the body to produce more insulin; the insulin then triggers the cells to store the calories as fat. This is from the book by Gary Taubes, Good Calories, Bad Calories.

9. Avoid using harmful chemicals to clean your house; use vinegar and baking soda for most cleaning jobs. Bleach, ammonia and other chemicals are extremely harmful to your thyroid gland; chlorine displaces iodine in the body.

10. Simplify your personal care supplies to further reduce your toxic exposures (this saves money too). Throw away the fluoridated toothplaste, and brush with baking soda. Hydrogen peroxide 3% makes a good dental rinse. Baking soda dusted under the arms is an excellent and nontoxic deodorant. If your skin is sensitive, mix equal amounts of baking soda and cornstarch and use that as deodorant. Use a soap with a very simple formula and no chemicals. Try to find a shampoo without SLS or parabens (carcinogens). To save even more money, stop using shampoo and wash your hair with a baking soda solution and rinse with a mild vinegar solution. Many people say their hair is lovely with this treatment; google “no poo” to learn more. If you have dry skin, massage in a drop of coconut oil. Don’t use commercial creams or lotions; don’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat.

I wish you all possible success with your health. Even if you haven’t much money, there are things you can do to feel better. Please let Janie know how you are doing in a few months’ time, so she can let us know! Your sisters and brothers in the STTM community will welcome your news.

All the best, and don’t lose hope. Better days are ahead. Lots of hugs,

Yvonne in Cyprus

Yvonne is an 57-year-old American whose background is in medical transcription, writing and editing. She is constantly reading in the medical journals and websites, looking for natural and inexpensive ways to improve health. She and her husband eat a Mediterranean diet (organic when possible) with good fats from olive and coconut oils, nuts and cheeses. She thinks every family should have some type of garden, even if it’s just a few herbs in a flowerpot.

Have any other recommendations for someone who is financially poor with thyroid disease (or not–this can apply to anyone), plus has a doctor who isn’t helping?  Let others know!

P.S. from Janie: I already do many of the above. Do you? I’m big into Vit. C, magnesium and selenium. I also use liquid Vitamin D. I use baking soda for deodorant and non-fluoride toothpaste. I only use organic lotions and soaps.  I outright use one tablespoon vinegar in my morning drink, as well as MCT oil (it’s what’s in coconut oil). Or I use lemon juice in most of my water daily! Great for alkalinizing the body. I don’t avoid refined carbs totally, but I do avoid them in many places. I love the sun. Plus exercise when I’m able. And lately, I’ve learned the hard how important it is to avoid chronic stress, or treat myself more gently when I have to go through it!

A 11th recommendation from Janie: 

I think it’s also important to add that in addition to all the wonderful ways you can live a healthier life as a thyroid patient, also consider adding T3 (Cytomel, cynomel, etc) to your T4 (aka Synthyroid, levothyroxine, eltroxin, etc), or look into natural desiccated thyroid with its five thyroid hormones, which is usually even cheaper. Updating your thyroid treatment is not based on opinion! It’s based on the experiences and wisdom of patients worldwide who found they got much better results! 🙂

Namaste Janie


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** Check out both STTM books here: www.laughinggrapepublishing.com

35 Responses to “10 ways you can live a better life as a Thyroid Patient”

  1. Lynn

    This is very interesting. I have Hashimoto’s and have tried taking Lugol’s Solution orally (both 2% and 5% from J. Crow’s) but now know I cannot take it at all that way. My throat feels swollen and irritated whenever I’ve tried it, so I always stop. Do you think putting a small drop on my skin each day (or every other day) would be okay for me and others with Hashis? I have both the 2% and the 5% so I can try either one. The part about it helping the ears is also very intriguing because I have non-stop ringing in my ears, which other Hashi people have told me they have as well. If it could help with my ringing that would be a bonus. Janie, thanks for the great updated blog post! You always teach me something new and I look forward to them whenever they arrive.

    • helen

      Hi Lynn, have you tried using iodine? If so has it helped your ear ringing? Thanks, Helen

  2. Mary

    Hi Janie! Thanks for the great info on your website. As a former hypothyroidism sufferer, I have been taking iodine long term and only recently began taking the herb aswwagandha (aka withania somnifera). Before taking ashwagandha iodine did dramatically improve my condition – completely curing me of FBD, fibromyalgia, insomnia etc etc but I definitely still felt hypothyroid and had difficulty keeping my weight down. I am delighted to say that this herb (probably along with my other supplements including iodine and co-supplements but especially iodine) has INCREASED my metabolic rate (formerly very low as measured by basal temp, pulse etc). Before I had any blood tests I experienced an increase in my pulse (formerly slow), improved sleep, and stopped putting on weight. I have cut back the dose from 3.75g which is quite high to 3g following bloods that suggested I was becoming hypERthyroid, even though I felt great. Can I suggest that you explore the use of ashwagandha for patients who can’t get access to bio-identical thyroid hormone? In my case it seems to have resolved my shortage of thyroid hormone (injunction with iodine and other supps.) I may still need to cut the ashwagandha back a bit more but am waiting to see how this cut effects my bloods. But it is most definitely a fantastic find as for me there is no need for prescription meds (which I can’t get in Australia). I have far more energy and feel great since starting on Ashwagandha (while continuing iodine etc).

  3. Roxann

    Do you or any of your readers have a Dr . recommendation in the Boise area?

  4. Kathi Brtatberg RN, M.S. CNP

    I also have Hashimoto’s for many years and have had problems with my ears being plugged, with occasional ringing and vertigo. I learned if your thyroid is swollen, it can push on the lymph glands that drain the ears. I started getting chiropractic adjustments, and lymph drainage massages, and am now gluten free and dairy free. I also take an Energique product called Lymphapar- a homeopathic that drains the head and neck lymph glands.

  5. Rebecca

    I had my thyroid removed 2 years ago due to how large it had grown and so many nodules and tests showed cancer in one nodule . so my question is does that make me hypo? and what recommendation can I follow to help with being tired, achy joints, many UTI’s eat 2 bites and sick to stomach , now have diabetes A1c is 6 . this all happened after removal of thyroid and i am on levothyroxine 125. I just dont know what to do to help my self feel better and want to get out and go like i use to I am only 59 years of age. this really sucks and now my oldest Daughter had to have hers removed shes 36 and she is having a bit worse of a time than I. any suggestions?

  6. Bashawn M. Relf

    I’ve read STTM about 10 times so far. I learn something new every time and am grateful for the knowledge. I still find it hard to work with doctors who really want me to cooperate in my own health and let me suggest what I want to do. They often become furious that I want to take desiccated thyroid. Thank goodness over the years I’ve become allergic to Synthroid and Levoxyl (pharmacist says it’s the coloring or other substances in the pills not the synthetic medication). Anyway, I wanted to find a doctor in Eagle, Idaho (about 30 minutes from Boise) who wants to treat patients with Armour thyroid. Can you recommend one?

    • Melissa

      Hi Bashawn, I’m in Eagle, ID as well and am just finding out about hyperthyroid. Can’t get my Dr. to correctly diagnosis me. Labs are normal. Yea right! Good luck. I can tell this is going to be a long journey, but I’m determined!!

  7. Melinda Keen

    Years of pain and learning (thanks to you) I am well and want to help others. The Low Oxalate Fresh and Fast Cookbook is available on Amazon.

  8. Maria

    I have four goiters. My Doctor said I should have an operation to take them out and also my Tyroid . I don’t want that, is there any herbs were I could strink my goiters. Please help me.
    Thank you very much

    • Janie Bowthorpe

      Maria, if you know there is no cancer, there’s another blog post here about the use of iodine to shrink goiters.

      • andrea

        Hi Maria.. After having half my thyroid removed because of a benign growing tumor nodule, a few years later, the otherside grew a big nodule.. since I had no money, no insurance, no energy to even stay awake during the day.. I started drinking Yerba mate tea.. all day long and it literally after 7months disintigrated that nodule into nothing.. ate it gone.. I swear by it.. I now take a mixture of other healthy herbs mixed with it called power blast.. Extremely healthy stuff

  9. Elenor

    I use MCT oil (more-highly refined coconut oil; always liquid) as a moisturizer — and have thrown a double handful of magnesium flakes into the jar, figuring I get some mag transdermally this way. (I also add a couple drops of food-grade lime extract; I love the citrus-y small.) MAN! This stuff is a great moisturizer! I spread it (on my face, neck and upper chest, esp.) in the morning before I brush my teeth (Spry brand, no-fluoride paste) and hair (amazingly, using a very small ‘spray’ of MCT oil on the brush (without the magnesium flakes) helps with my old-lady, (and hypo) dry hair without making it greasy!); then I use a ‘special-purpose’ towel to wipe the excess off my face, neck, and chest. (By only using that towel for the MCT, I don’t have to wash it more than weekly-or-so.)

    My (91-yr-old) mother had a real problem with magnesium pills. Dunno if she was taking too many (probably {eye roll}) or just sensitive — but she was having the most horrendous diarrhea; she’d take her morning vitamins and then be unable to leave her house for a couple hours!! Her doc was preparing to do a colonoscopy to see if she had cancer or something… I kept urging her to do a very-complete food-log — if she did not know WHAT she was eating in the time before the ‘disability,’ she had no chance of fixing this! The food-log IDed “the vitamins”; I did some research, got her OFF the magnesium pills, and she is fine. Now, trying to get her to do the mag-in-water spray…

  10. Cheryl

    I have had part of thyroid removed and have suffered thru many symptoms. I am always tired, feel depressed, and have gained a lot of weight. My metabolism is very low and I can exercise all I want and still gain weight. Currently I am on synthroid. Do you have any suggestions on what I should take to help me feel better?

    • Janie Bowthorpe

      Cheryl, go here: http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/natural-thyroid-101 And I would strongly recommend you get the revised STTM book. It’ll take you far down the road in better knowledge to help you feel better again. http://www.laughinggrapepublishing.com/

    • Kathleen

      You probably need a different combo of meds. I tried synthroid and felt awful. Even using half synthroid and half armour thyroid and was so tired i couldnt get out of bed. I went to 60mg armour thyroid and am back to myself. The difference of having T,1,2,3 rather than just T3 can makes a huge difference. It could also be that you need some T4. Finding a good doctor that listens to you and knows how to read labs properly is key. Get off of all gluten and dairy the proteins cause a thyroid reaction from what I understand especially with autoimmune disorders like Hoshimotos (which I have). Honestly, the grains can really make you feel depressed even if you are not celiac. I have been depressed for years, Have MTHFR C677TT and cutting out grains and reducing sugar is like flipping a switch, you feel so different. Just keep trying! Learn about supplements. D3, B6, methyl B12 A,C,E, probiotic, and fish oil (My nutritionist likes Artic Oils) its hard to find a high quality one that is affordable and this one is. Also and your check your blood for deficiencies and get tested for MTHFR. This site has been a godsend and has helped many if us remain sane! Good luck.

      • sandy schmitt

        hi i just found this site and would like to ask all kinds of questions if that is alright? I have had thyroid issues since 1996. started out hyper and then went to hypo. have done tsh-free t3-free t4. i have been under alot of stress that is not going to go away. This summer has been a challenge and am working with my holistic dr. we did tests in April and the tsh was .18 ref range .36-3.74 low–free t3 3.93, ref. 2.18-3.98–free t4 .73 low ref .76-1.46. so she said i was hyper and decrease the armour from 90 mg to 60mg. also decrease my progestrone. we did tests again in July and tsh was 1.40-t4 normal free .75 low and free t3 4.69 high. i was feeling hyper and tired. she then said to reduce the armour to 30mg and add levo 25mg. but was able to function through the summer but went down hill fast. we did saliva tests end of july finding i have high cortisol levels and kind of low dhea. so she said to try Cerenity in the daytime calming and cerenity pm in the night which has phosphatidylserine from soy in it to decrease the high cortisol and add 3mg melotonin. but i can not sleep after 3am and am exhausted and can not get out of bed. unable to function before 2pm in the afternoon. i feel i do not want to eat alot until after 4-5pm then i want to eat everything in site. i feel i am losing my mind i can not focus or remember anything. so many symptoms to list. can anyone relate to this or have advice on what i can do? please/

  11. Judith Hopkins

    How do you make magnesium oil?

  12. JB

    After being diagnosed has hypothyroid/Hashimoto’s early last year, I started on a low dose of Synthroid. Unfortunately it left me feeling worse than before taking any thyroid meds. In a matter of 8-weeks, I was sleeping 10-12 hours a day (sometimes more) and gained 10lbs. I have recently tried Armour, which left me with migraines. So now my doc has prescribed Nature-throid. It has only been a couple of days. But the fatigue is hitting hard again. My antibody count isn’t very high and it was suggested to try iodine. Has anyone had success with iodine use even though they have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s? My iron levels are good, as are vitamin D levels. I also take an adrenal support. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. So tired of being tired.

    • Janie Bowthorpe

      JB, there’s a good chance that you didn’t use Armour correctly. i.e. patients start on one grain, then raise by 1/2 grain every two weeks, slowing down in the mid-to-upper two-grain area and make slower raises as needed. Did you do that? Or your iron may not be where it actually needs to be (results have nothing do with simply falling in the normal range), or you aren’t treating low cortisol correctly. For iron, see this: http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/ferritin and for adrenals, this: http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/adrenal-wisdom

      • JB

        The doc started me on 1/2 grain per day of the Armour. I assume this is a low dose. Unfortunately, the migraines started after taking Armour for 5-days.
        My most recent Ferritin Serum test is at 128. Is this a good range to be in?
        The doc did recommend cortisol testing, which may be the next step. Thank you for the additional information; it is greatly appreciated.

        • Janie Bowthorpe

          For most, that’s too low to start (but a small minority may need to). Migraines could have started because that’s too low, or they were revealing other issues. A ferritin of 128 shows you have inflammation. You need the other three iron labs–going by Ferritin is not enough information. Cortisol testing needs to be via saliva and not blood.

  13. Hadassah

    Janie , I used to be on Synthroid for 23 years and today my Dr switched me to Levoxyl with combo of T3 5 mcg . I was taking Synthroid sublingually I wanted to know if I can continue the same way with Levoxyl ? And I split my T3 twice a day .


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