I came to this board several times over the last 6+ years, since I was diagnosed with Hyperthyroid/Grave's. With that said, I've spent the last year having great success in normalizing my thyroid levels and wanted to be sure to share what's worked for me in case it can help someone else.
To give some context:
-Diagnosed with Grave's in 2006
-TSH was undetectable, FT3/FT4 both very high, and a ridiculously high uptake scan
-I have also had an enlarged thyroid/goiter
-Started PTU in 2006
-Slow response to PTU, but always experienced setbacks when trying to decrease dosage
So in early 2011, my Endo told me it was time to have a thyroidectomy. It was a matter of my thyroid not having responded effectively to PTU and I think she felt she couldn't keep me on PTU for any longer due to the potential liver damage (I did have one lab scare - flagged high). I was devastated by this idea. I eventually canceled my consultation with the surgeon and sought (1) an second opinion from an Endo, (2) alternative medicine and (3) better education.
I started seeing a Doctor of Oriental Medicine last Spring. And I made up my mind to commit myself to giving it a real try. But I wasn't going to abandon Western Medicine, so I notified my Endo of my plan and continued getting regular blood tests and taking my PTU. The biggest changes that the DOM had me do were this:
1. Acupuncture - I am a believer. Please don't discount it until you try it. I have no doubt that this is the leading reason my thryoid levels are normal and continue to stay normal.
2. Diet - I work with my DOM to tailor my diet to the seasons. But most importantly, he had me quit eating all chicken and turkey (i.e. all land fowl). The way I understand it, these meats cause inflammation of the organs, specifically the liver which affects the thyroid. After cutting it from my diet, I immediately noticed that I was able to tolerate the summer heat much better. (Note: I replaced with fish, lean pork and alternative proteins vs. red meat)
3. Green Seaweed - I now take Kelp tablets, but initially I used dried seaweed to cook into foods. The iodine in the seaweed is intended to treat/cure goiter.
So with all this, I am very happy to report that I have had six months of great lab results! Most importantly, I've been able to reduce my PTU to its lowest level and it seems highly likely that I'll be going off it altogether very soon, as it's still pushing me slightly hypo. (Crossing fingers) I've now read in many places that ATDs are more effective when used in combination with acupuncture, but I don't anticipate medical doctors will start recommending it anytime soon. I would highly recommend trying it before rushing to RAI or a thyroidectomy.
A few other things I've learned that seem worthy of sharing with others that are facing the same troubles:
1. Remember that the thyroid is the victim - it is not the cause of Grave's. I couldn't bring myself to remove or ablate my thyroid for this reason. (Read Elaine Moore's "Grave's Disease: A Practical Guide" - great, empowering book)
2. Believe and don't be afraid to say that you can be CURED. To cure is to restore health. Don't avoid this term - too many times the power of positive thinking has proven science wrong.
3. If you're like me, I found it hard to be willing to gain weight in order to get healthy, as strange as that sounds and as hard as it is to admit. At times over my five years of purely ATD treatment, I found myself not wanting to take meds because I knew they were slowing my metabolism. Now that I'm healthy, I can focus on losing the extra weight. And it will be a lot easier than trying to control my weight without a thryoid...
I hope that some bit of this will help someone else. I received some great advice here in the past and have visited here for many of my own questions, so I wanted to be sure to share what I've learned.
Great to hear. The herb bugleweed is used as a natural treatment for hyperthyroidism as well. To add, a 2010 study published in the Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging demonstrated the neurophysiological effects of acupuncture using MRI technology.
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