Monday, March 10, 2014

THYROID NODULES, NATURAL THERAPY

In 1989 during a yearly exam by my ob/gyn, small lumps in my thyroid were felt and I was referred to an endocrinologist for further investigation. Blood tests and a radioactive iodine scan were performed. This test shows whether the nodule/s are "cold, hot, or warm". It is the cold nodule/s that may be malignant and in fact, only about 10% or less of them are thyroid cancer. Also cancer is less likely with multi nodules than with a single nodule.
It was determined I had multi nodules and they were not cold. That was a relief but the endocrinologist put me on the synthetic thyroid hormone, synthroid to shut down my natural hormones and shrink the nodules. He never offered any other information such as diet, lifestyle and supplements to try and help the problem naturally.
Now this was at a time when I hadn't fully begun my journey into natural therapies and still listened to the "wisdom" of conventional medicine. So I took a dose of synthroid every day, had bloodwork done every six months followed by a visit to the endocrinologist. Some of my physical complaints prior to the nodules diagnosis; sporadic rapid heartbeats, fatigue, some weight gain, early menopause, etc. did not improve while being on the drug.  During 10 years of taking synthroid and a few years into being post menopausal, I had my first bone density done. The test showed osteopenia and with this information in hand, the endocrinologist told me I should be taking hormone replacement therapy, to which I said no. Every visit to his office, he said the same thing until my final visit with him. On that day I was told if I don't take hormone replacement therapy, my body will decline rapidly in every way, along with my quality of life! I left his office angry and swore to never go back. 
It was time to start investigating what to do about my thyroid situation. That is when I learned synthroid may in fact make a person's quality of life worse and can lead to osteoporosis. Just because the drug may make thyroid blood tests fall into a "normal" range, the synthetic chemicals compete with the remaining natural hormones still being produced by the thyroid. If enough T4 hormone is not being produced, using a synthetic alternative should really be a last resort. Combining T4 and T3 (the other thyroid hormone) is also a better therapy and T4 is a drug which is very hard to keep within the optimal dosage range, taking too much or too little will produce numerous side effects. An excellent site for information and details on this subject is Mercola.com and of course, Prescription for Nutritional Healing.
Armed with some much needed information, I went to my GP for a routine exam and asked him about stopping the medication. He said it was OK to do so as long as I slowly wean myself off and that my thyroid would take over again. Within 3 weeks, I was off synthroid and introducing a daily kelp supplement, Nature's Way Kelp to insure getting enough iodine which is the basic substance of thyroid hormone. By then, a good, whole foods multi and extra B vitamins were also part of my routine. My diet was a work in progress and improving all the time adding more organic foods, eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, cutting out refined foods, cutting back on sugar, etc. When I went back to my GP in 6 months, my thyroid blood test numbers were within range and I was feeling fine. Having my thyroid functioning well by itself was good, but I also wanted to see if anything could be done naturally to shrink the nodules. Even though, a lot of what I had been reading indicates that nodules in themselves pose no immediate threat unless they grow to a size where swallowing or breathing are affected. Many in fact, do shrink in time. A wait and see approach using ultra sound to keep track of the size, is a good approach. About 4 years ago, the first ultra sound was done on my nodules. After that, I had also added grape seed extract to the antioxidants already in my regiment; vitamin C with bioflavonoids and vitamin E. My second ultra sound done in 2013 showed they had shrunk a little. This was good news! So,I will continue to do what I am doing and have ultra sound scans done every couple years for comparison. Somehow, I think my thyroid, my nodules and me are doing just fine. 

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I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. These are just my experiences and conclusions.
© 2014

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