Tag Archives: memory

Rx, OTC, diet-, and needle-based ways to treat hypothyroidism

It took me two years from the time I first suspected I had thyroid problems to get treated for it. I was very tired, had a weird, periodic hum in my body as if the ship’s engine on “Star Trek” was running in the background, was unbelievably cold outside in the winter, and my hair felt like it had an electric current running through it. But my test results from my traditional doctors, who were only looking at TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), always came back normal. When I read that ideally other markers should be looked at as well (e.g. T3, T4, etc.) I asked for those tests, but they, too, came back normal.

In the meantime, after going gluten-free, I had decided I was going to REALLY get healthy. I started eating fish several times a week and every morning I would drink juiced greens, including Swiss chard, mustard greens, and two types of kale.

I was rewarded with a worsening of my thyroid-esque symptoms (and with elevated mercury levels, but that’s another story). During yet another bout of research, probably at about.thyroid.com, I discovered that cruciferous vegetables — such as greens, cauliflower and broccoli — when ingested raw are capable of tanking the thyroid, either by lowering iodine levels or by affecting hormone production directly.

I also learned at around the same time that a New England Journal of Medicine article had declared that another, wider set of lab ranges were more accurate for diagnosing and treating hypothyroidism.

So I stopped the goitrogens immediately and felt better soon after, but the issues remained. I had at this point already given up on traditional doctors so went straight to the two alternative medicine practices I had visited earlier. The doctor I saw at the first one told me that food had no effect on the thyroid and to “put those papers away” (the copies of the research papers on goitrogens) and that “you need to educate yourself,” in a tone reserved for the types of people who believe you can get pregnant by swimming in a public pool. Then he listened to a list of my symptoms and pronounced me hypothyroid.

The alterna-doc at the second group had also heard about the NEJM changes but had never heard of the effect of those vegetables on the thyroid. She started me on 1/4 grain of Armour thyroid, which is derived from pig thyroid and has been around since the 1920s (I think). After a month or so my mood, temperature, memory, fatigue, and skin were much improved.

However, I discovered that if I took iron, which I needed for fatigue, it brought back the hypothyroid symptoms, even if I took it at the requisite four-hour interval from the Armour. Without the iron, I was exhausted. Eventually I discovered that I could avoid this effect by taking 50 mg of zinc.

Wonderful as it was, that dose of Armour did not resolve everything. When I tried to increase the dose I got heart palpitations, a weird vibration in my thyroid, insomnia, and jitteriness. Most glorious of all, a hair would start to grow out of the middle of my forehead. This is when I discovered that you can whip your thyroid all you want, but if your adrenals are shot, you won’t get very far.

The alterna-doc gave me hydrocortisone (Cortef) for about six months in an attempt to boost the function of the adrenals, but I noticed no effect at all. My cravings-driven chocolate intake also probably thwarted anything positive we could do for them.

After 18 months I got tired of taking Armour every day and asked Needleman the acupuncturist to treat me with acupuncture. That involved nine weeks of about 15 treatments, 60% of which was covered by my insurance. (This has since dropped to almost no coverage.) At the end of the nine weeks, my test levels (by the new ranges) were normal, so I dropped the Rx and never felt those symptoms again.

My thyroid numbers are still obscenely robust, or so I’m told, and yet I still cannot eat goitrogens, such as pears, buckwheat, or broccoli, without feeling symptoms. That makes me think that my remaining complaints — stubbornly low iron, fatigue, insomnia, hair thinning, and brain fog — might still be associated with thyroid function. (They are also associated with adrenal function.)

Two doctors who’ve written books on iodine (Brownstein and Abrahams) believe that under some low-iodine circumstances, the thyroid can display my type of complaints without betraying anything in the usual lab tests. In other words, it might have been bludgeoned into submission with an Rx but isn’t necessarily healthy.

Three strange and unexpected effects of correcting a vitamin or mineral deficiency

1. Vivid dreams.
This effect of vitamin B6 is fairly well-known. Some members of Yahoo’s pyroluria group (pyroluria is a condition in which vitamin B6 is chronically deficient) say that you’re at the right dose when your remembered dreams are pleasant, and that you’re on too much if they are too vivid or jittery-making, but I’ve never come to any conclusion myself.

2. Random, pointless memories.
I’ve occasionally experienced this when repleting with big doses of calcium, magnesium, iron, or B12, all closely associated with memory. At the same time I realized I could recall long-forgotten Photoshop commands or go to the grocery store without a shopping list, I would also be visited by utterly insignificant memories floating across my brain: the brickwork around the entrance to a store in my old neighborhood that I never even went in, or a pair of flip-flops I wanted in fifth grade that my mother wouldn’t buy for me. I wouldn’t call them intrusive thoughts, a term used SQUIRREL in discussing mood disorders; it’s more like the Goodyear blimp materializing above your backyard — quiet, harmless, and unmistakably out of place.

My theory is that in repletion the brain finally has the resources to process the backlog of old memories, but the worker imps assigned to sort through the piles and stacks aren’t used to having to work so fast and in the chaos they occasionally send a memory down the consciousness pneumatic tube instead of the archives tube, leaving you standing in the shower wondering why the &@!* the third stanza of “Take Me Home, Country Roads” just popped into your head. There are studies to back this up — Harvard, NIH, SETI — but I don’t have time to search for the citations right now.

3. Aches in old bone injuries.
I was warned about this by another pillpopper prior to taking calcium the first time. Rebuilding calcium levels, either with calcium or with vitamin D, might encourage your body to start repairing old bone injuries, causing fleeting aches and pains. For me the loci of the pains correspond closely to past incidents involving coffee tables, ten-speed bikes, and gravel running tracks.

Note: beware a constant, dull pain, as it can be a sign of toxicity, which I once had after waaaaaaaay too much vitamin A.