Tag Archives: hypothyroid

My second alterna-doc disaster

When I was unable to convince my regular alterna-doc that I was hypothyroid, I made the mistake of returning to the only other major alternative medicine practice in town, a Den of Incompetence I had sworn never to visit again. Dr. Dumbass had left the practice and I convinced myself that my earlier experience was just a fluke.

My thyroid symptoms had worsened significantly and I had made the startling discovery that my healthy diet was the culprit. It turns out that drinking raw kale juice every day for a year is a bad idea, even for healthy people. I printed out the articles I had found, including the one from a British running association’s website that said one should only drink raw goitrogens once a week, and went off to my appointment.

The new doctor was a native Korean. I told him my theory, described my symptoms. “No,” he said. “Food has nothing to do with it.” I showed him the articles. He didn’t even look at them. “Put your papers away,” he snapped. “You need to educate yourself.”

Only 15 minutes into the office visit and Snake Oil, Inc. was back on my shit list. Visions of me maligning Dr. Shithole up and down the North Coast danced in my head. And I still had 15 minutes left in the appointment.

The moron began blathering about my older test results and diagramming the pineal gland with arrows and chemical equations. None of it disproved or proved anything thyroid-related. After waxing pompous for a while he said, “I think you have a problem with your thyroid.” He wrote a prescription for 1 grain of Armour, which is a pretty big dose to start a person on. It would have given me heart palpitations, not that I knew it at the time. I discovered later that I could barely handle 1/4 grain.

Then he said, “Why do you not wear makeup? Don’t you want to get married?”

Having never been addressed in this manner in my entire life, I began sputtering. I don’t know what I said. He followed that gem up a few minutes later with “You should not be so choosy. After all, you are not a princess.”

Back I went to my stand-by alterna-doc, determined not to take no for an answer. I probably would have considered taking hostages at that point. When I described the raw veggie juicing debacle and showed her the internet info warning about it, she said, “Really? I didn’t know that!” Which you have probably noticed in your own experience is a rarity among doctors. I left her office with an Rx for 1/4 grain of Armour, and after three weeks I felt much better.

For the next several years no medical practitioner who crossed my path escaped without hearing the story of the Pencil-di$%ed Pseudo-M.D. of Misogyny, may the fleas of a thousand camels infest his armpits. Even the coolest cucumber of them all, the reigning queen of CAM-dom in my area, could not control the skyward lift of her eyebrows after I shared that anecdote. Her nurse practitioner was less restrained and sort of shrieked. Another osteopath, younger and less jaded, actually used the F-word, which I found very satisfying, but I’m that kind of girl, if you haven’t noticed. They all made the whole miserable experience almost worth it.

If iron interferes with your thyroid function or thyroid meds, you might need zinc

After I started taking Armour thyroid to treat hypothyroid symptoms — including that lovely one where your hair feels like there’s an electric current going through it — I quickly realized that the 50 mg of iron I was taking every day for my abysmally low ferritin levels was making things worse. Even if I separated the doses by the requisite four hours or stopped taking the Armour altogether, I got more hypo-T symptoms — low mood, cold, fatigue, and insomnia.

Taking the Armour only fixed the symptoms to a certain point because of the low ferritin (which was at 6 for several years before any so-called health practitioner bothered to call my attention to it), but I couldn’t take iron to get rid of the rest of the symptoms or it would wipe out all the progress I’d made with the Armour. It was, I remember thinking every other day, like trying to get out of a parking spot in San Francisco on a Friday night — back an inch, hit the bumper, turn the wheel, forward an inch, hit the bumper.

Eventually I figured out that iron lowers zinc and a zinc deficiency can affect thyroid function. I took 50 mg of zinc for several months, then a little less for the rest of the year. After a few months, my mood no longer tanked when I ate dairy (oxalates in dairy will bind to zinc and hinder its absorption). It also solved the iron problem.

Sadly, I still couldn’t take as much Armour as I needed because my adrenals were trashed. Luckily, you can now find much better knowledge and guidance for these sorts of conundrums — see the Stop the Thyroid Madness website to start.

After 18 months on Armour I got sick of the whole thing and started calling acupuncturists all over the Eastern seaboard looking for someone with hardcore-enough training to do medical acupuncture on the thyroid. To my surprise I found someone 30 minutes away. After nine weeks and maybe 14 sessions with him, my test results came back within the newly revised, more accurate normal lab ranges. I stopped the Armour and haven’t felt any hypo-T symptoms since, knock on wood. My low zinc symptoms show up occasionally but they are unmistakably different from the lawdy!-my-thyroid symptoms — mostly low mood and $#@! irritability.