Weaning off Hashimoto’s thyroid medication: Here’s how (and why) I did it after needing it for over a decade.
This is Part 8 of my Healing Hashimoto’s series which outlines my personal experience with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Disease. The other posts in this series include:
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional. This site is for informational purposes only and does not provide medical advice.
There are many things I was told over the years by various doctors regarding my thyroid problems.
A few examples:
- I’ll have Hashimoto’s Disease for the rest of my life.
- There’s nothing I can do about it because it’s in my genes.
- Diet won’t do anything.
I’m not alone in having this experience, as I know many others who were told the same things. All of these turned out to be false.
However, there was something I was told and sincerely believed it to be true. I, like many others, was told I’d need thyroid medication for the rest of my life.
It made sense to me… my Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune attack on my thyroid gland, therefore damaging it and hindering its ability to function normally. I viewed the thyroid medication simply as supplementation for what my own body could no longer provide.
I thought the continuous, decade-long assault on my thyroid gland would result in irreversible damage.
And that, also turned out to be FALSE.
Now, I know there are some people who will suffer from irreversible damage. This is considered “end stage” Hashimoto’s, but from my understanding, it takes a long, long time of doing absolutely nothing to decrease inflammation before that happens.
Like, way longer than 10 years.
What I’m saying is… for many of us, there is a possibility of decreasing or eliminating our need for thyroid medication. Which is much better news than the doom and gloom of needing medication forever. Right?!
But maybe you’re asking… how do I know when it’s time?
I stumbled upon that answer by mistake not too long ago. (Just please remember this is my personal experience and this isn’t medical advice! Please always consult a doctor before stopping any medication.)
(If you’re ready to get started on your own path to Hashimoto’s Healing, click the button below and we’ll send you our Free Hashimoto’s Starter Pack.)
Hypothyroid/Hashimoto’s thyroid medication is a Goldilocks type of situation.
This means that too much of it can throw things into overdrive, possibly pushing you into HYPERthyroid symptoms (because you have more thyroid hormone than your body needs). And when there is too little, your body’s needs are not adequately addressed, and can keep you in the same HYPOthyroid state you’re trying to overcome.
Therefore, it’s important to learn about the symptoms of both a hyper and hypo thyroid state, AND also monitor thyroid hormone levels via bloodwork.
Because, once you hit that point where your body no longer needs medication, and you are not paying attention to your symptoms, things can get pretty weird. Even, really weird.
Plus, everyone is different (through lifestyle and/or genetics), and sometimes people with hypothyroidism can have hyperthyroid type symptoms and vice versa. Wonderful. Glad this isn’t confusing… (eye roll).
But there I was, on day 3,650 of taking thyroid medication (10 years, for those doing the math), and I noticed my heart was palpitating throughout the day. Every once in a while, I’d have one of those big, BOOM palpitations where it felt like a drum against my chest. That was freaky.
Then the next day, not only did I have more big-boom heart palpitations, but I also developed this hyperdrive-anxiety where I felt like I was on the verge of exploding. This was NOT normal anxiety, nor was it related to anything. Not even the standard “mom-anxiety” like the kind you get from crawling out of your sleeping baby’s room at 2am. This was something new. I think I even got sweaty!
And that’s when I knew it was time to do some digging. I called the doctor and had my blood drawn immediately and it showed… no more Hashimoto’s disease. Excitement! Confusion…
My antibodies indicated my Hashimoto’s was gone, but that didn’t mean I no longer needed thyroid medication. As I explained in the intro, Hashimoto’s damages the thyroid and some of that damage may not be reparable. I thought, “Maybe I need a smaller dose…”
Thus, began the weaning process (unintentionally).
Weaning Off Hashimoto’s Thyroid Medication: How I Did It
Because thyroid medication is supplemental hormone that the body has grown to depend on, it is not something to just stop abruptly. Therefore, a gradual reduction in dosage over time (with the supervision of a trusted health professional) can help the body adjust and normalize.
My plan was pretty simple: gradually decrease my medication by ¼ grain and monitor my symptoms and thyroid hormone levels.
At the time, I was on ½ grain of thyroid medication a day (the brand I used is called Westhroid Pure®). So, I switched to ¼ grain a day. This itself was astonishing to me, because way back when, I needed at least a full grain of medication to drag myself through the day. Further evidence that my body and thyroid were indeed healing.
After reducing my dose, my extreme anxiety and heart palpitations went away. I was also in my first trimester of pregnancy while this was all happening.
But, the symptoms came back 1-2 weeks later. Still fairly confident my body needed the medication, I decided to cut that ¼ grain in half. Honestly, I think this is the teeniest-tiniest dose you can get: 1/8 grain.
The same thing happened though… and within 1-2 weeks, I was right back on the anxiety and heart palpitation train. So, this was the moment. This was when I started to think: “Hmmm… maybe my thyroid is capable of doing this all on its own.” A moment of pride. Triumph! Like taking the training wheels off a bike for the very first time.
Eventually, I went from a daily dose of 1/8 grain to every other day, to every few days, to none at all. It got to the point where even just one dose would give me anxiety within 20 minutes.
The entire process only took 6-8 weeks. My hormone levels remained stable, but my TSH did climb to around 3.5. Historically, this is normal for me during pregnancy, but now that I am post-partum, it is back in the 1-2 range and continues to decrease. Still, I am keeping a watchful eye on it.
In the mean-time, I am employing supportive measures to help my little ol’ thyroid as it chugs along. I imagine it like the Little Engine that Could.
“I think I can. I think I can.”
How I Am Supporting My Thyroid
(I should preface that these things below are in addition to all the things that got me into remission in the first place – diet, lifestyle, supplements, etc.)
Related: How I Keep My Thyroid Antibodies Low
Red Light Therapy
Red light therapy, which is often referred to as Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), was a trend (maybe it still is) that popped up not too long ago. I don’t usually jump into trends, but this one piqued my interest because of studies suggesting it may help reduce thyroid autoimmunity¹ and improve thyroid functionality² (therefore leading to reduction in thyroid medication).
Interestingly, I bought the Joov red light (not affiliated) a couple years ago and decided to give it a try. Within a couple weeks of using it daily, I developed a thyroid-shaped rash on my neck. It was colorless and did not irritate me, but I could feel it when I ran my fingers across my neck. Around this time, I started to get heart palpitations which, as I stated above, is a key sign that my thyroid is headed into a possible hyperthyroid state.
But, then life as a mother got in the way, and I wasn’t able to stick to my daily routine. I stopped the red light and the rash went away. Given that I definitely had signs the red light was doing something (I’m not sure yet if it was good or bad), I am working to incorporate it back into my daily routine. We will see how that goes…
I’m a fan of essential oils, but mostly for cleaning and stress relief. I would’ve never thought to use them for my thyroid until I read about it in Izabella Wentz’s Hashimoto’s Protocol book. She reported that a few of her clients experienced a reduction in thyroid antibodies and thyroid medications by using frankincense essential oil.
It just so happens that… frankincense is my all-time favorite essential oil EVER! So, sign me up. I dilute it in carrier oil and apply it over my thyroid each day. To keep it simple, I’m just using frankincense, but eventually, I may switch to this thyroid blend by Vibrant Blue oils.
Homeopathy is one of the best kept secrets when it comes to autoimmunity… and pretty much anything related to health. Of course, that’s my opinion, but I can tell you from personal experience that homeopathy WORKS. I love it.
Right now, I am working with a professional classical homeopath, but also have the Banerji Protocols for hypothyroidism in my back pocket in case I need them. I learned these protocols years ago from Joette Calabrese in her “Good Gut, Bad Gut” online course and highly recommend the study of homeopathy if you are interested in gaining more independence in regards to your health. It is life-changing.
Will I Be Off Thyroid Medication for Good?
I’ve been asked this before and the answer is… I don’t know, yet. At this time, it seems like everything is healed up, and my blood levels continue to improve as time goes on, but that could always change.
On top of that, I would like to have more children, and pregnancy can do strange things to the thyroid, especially in the post-partum timeframe. My continued goal is to support my body and thyroid in the best way possible so it can adapt to all of these changes.
One thing I’m happy to know, both from my personal experience and also my family history, is that I definitely have the genetic tendency towards thyroid problems. While I may not need medication for the rest of my life, it will still be one of the first places I look if my health ever starts to go downhill again. I will continue to monitor it at least 2-3 times a year for a while.
In the mean-time, I’m going to celebrate each day I go without it, because that is a huge win after a decade of needing it!
- Höfling, D., Chavantes, M., Juliano, A., Cerri, G., Knobel, M., Yoshimura, E., & Chammas, M. Low-level laser in the treatment of patients with hypothyroidism induced by chronic autoimmune thyroiditis: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Lasers Med Sci. 2013 May; 28 (3): 743-53. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22718472/.
- Höfling, D., Chavantes, M., Juliano, A., Cerri, G., Romão, R., Yoshimura, E., & Chammas, M. Low-level laser therapy in chronic autoimmune thyroiditis: a pilot study. Lasers Surg Med. 2010 Aug; 42 (6): 589-96. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20662037/.
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Hi! I’m Anna, co-founder of Healthy Habits Reset. After managing my own autoimmune diseases using lifestyle, habit, and mindset changes, I now work to teach others how to navigate the treacherous and confusing journey of chronic illness living. I firmly believe YOU hold the power to question, think critically, and become your own rock-solid advocate in a world full of unhealthy habits. Consider me, and my husband, Frank, your autoimmune disease health coaches. Are you ready?!