Should Type-1 Diabetics Take Thyroid Replacement Hormone?

I remember an episode of Northern Exposure. The New York doctor was treating one of his aboriginal patients in the small Alaskan town. The native was back again for a health problem he had already been to see the doctor for a few months earlier. The problem had gone away and then came back.

The doc asked if he was still taking his medication. The aboriginal man said, “No.” At that point the doctor gets quite mad at him. “Why did you stop?” To the native it didn’t make any sense. Was the doctor expecting him to take the medication for life? Why wasn’t the doctor fixing his problem instead of handing him a crutch?

While I don’t remember what health problem the aboriginal was facing… the situation applies so well to thyroid replacement therapy. People look upon ingesting hormones as almost being natural and healthy. No one questions their doctor as to why they simply can’t repair their thyroid gland and make their own hormones?

A recent blood test showed that Nicole has a very high TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) level. Another blood test showed that her level of thyroid hormone (free T4) has dropped from 16 pmol/L (July 2014) to 5 pmol/L (January 2015).

In October Nicole stopped taking her prescription of thyroid replacement hormone. She’s been taking this prescription for the last 25 years. Like many (if not most) type-1 diabetics, her thyroid gland is not producing sufficient thyroid hormones. Without supplementation she is considered to be suffering from hypothyroidism.

Her good doctor at the dialysis clinic was not at all supportive of her going off the thyroid replacement hormone. EndrocrineWeb would agree: “Left untreated, the symptoms of hypothyroidism will usually progress. Rarely, complications can result in severe life-threatening depression, heart failure, or coma.”

I find it interesting how they use the word “untreated” since the condition is usually never “treated.” Or, at least, the thyroid is not treated. Instead, its function is artificially replaced with a pharmaceutical. No effort is made to repair the thyroid.

Likewise, I’d question how certain they are that the life-threatening complications they list are actually caused by the low thyroid function. It may be other health issues that coincide with a low thyroid that cause heart failure and other such conditions. Hypothyroidism may have just been at the scene of the crime.

Still, by no means am I underplaying the importance of thyroid hormone. I’m just saying that the risks of avoiding thyroid replacement hormone may be over-exaggerated.

Still, why would we opt-out of thyroid replacement hormone therapy? Not only does Nicole suffer from low thyroid function, but I myself. It would seem, like insulin therapy, that thyroid replacement would be a logical choice.

We, however, have come to the conclusion that it is not possible to heal the thyroid while taking thyroid replacement hormones. We also think that before Nicole can hope to heal her failed kidneys or reverse type-1 diabetes, the thyroid gland must be fixed. Without a properly functioning thyroid gland the body can not produce and use energy properly. Without adaptative energy, how can healing happen?

Here are four reasons why we think Nicole needs to avoid thyroid replacement hormone in order to start producing her own thyroid hormones. In future posts I’ll go into more details about each point:

  1. If there’s supplemental thyroid hormone in the blood stream, then the pituitary gland won’t produce thyroid stimulating hormone. No thyroid stimulating hormone, no reason for the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormone. (See Type-1 Diabetic’s Thyroid Function Appears to Double for more on this topic.)
  2. Unlike with glucometers and diabetes, there’s no do-it-yourself meter for measuring thyroid hormone. Our hormone needs change throughout the day. Taking thyroid supplements naturally leads to having too much hormones in the blood stream when you need less (like when sleeping).
  3. While no thyroid hormone replacement makes one feel tired, taking a replacement leads to over-stimulation. Since going off thyroid hormone replacement Nicole sleeps much better and is more relaxed. This may mean she’s exhausted all the time, but that gets her resting. Without lots of sleep and rest how can her body ever regenerate itself?
  4. I’ve heard plenty of clinical and anecdotal cases from various practitioners where they’ve been successful in restoring thyroid function. In all those cases it was conditional on stopping thyroid supplementation.

Evidence suggests that the key to healing Nicole’s thyroid is getting iodine (the main ingredient in thyroid hormone) into the thyroid gland. This means kicking out the mercury, chlorine and bromine that most likely is congesting her thyroid gland. We’re combining a number of therapies (such as a sauna and kelp) to facilitate this process. We should hopefully see a slight climb in thyroid hormone levels with her next test. Of course, the process may take a year or two.

For more information on how to measure thyroid (and adrenal) function with hair mineral analysis read my previous post: Two Burnt-Out Adrenals, One Weak Thyroid and Type-1 Diabetes. To find out how Nicole’s thyroid function improved by September 2015 you can read Thyroid Healed: T4, T3 and TSH in Normal Range After 28 Years of Severe Insufficiency.

About the Author: John C. A. Manley researches and writes about alternative treatments for type-1 diabetes and its many complications. His wife, Nicole, of 15 years has had type-1 diabetes for four decades. Together they have lowered her HgbA1c below 5.5%, regained thyroid function, increased kidney function and reversed gastroparesis. Read more about their journey out of the T1D matrix or subscribe to their Diabetic Dharma blog..