Thyroid Tune-up Checklist

Imagine that all the cars in your neighborhood run poorly because nobody bothers to tune-up their autos. I show you how to tune your car and, lo and behold, 80% of the cars now run great. But 20% of cars still run poorly because their transmissions are bad. In other words, tuning the engine works when that’s the only problem with the car; if something else is wrong, then you car will not run properly.

So it goes with eliminating wheat from the diet. It works for the majority of people: substantial weight loss and shrinking waist size; reduced blood sugar and blood pressure; relief from arthritis, leg edema, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, etc. But some people complain that, despite saying goodbye to all things wheat, they still have problems. Obviously, as big a problem as modern wheat is, there are other causes for health conditions besides wheat consumption. There are  infections, injuries, sensitivities to other foods, inherited conditions, etc. While wheat exposure is a cause for an incredible amount of human suffering, it is not the only cause.

How about weight loss? If all things wheat are eliminated, most people can expect substantial weight loss. Some people will also need to reduce exposure to other carbohydrates, especially if a lot of body weight needs to be lost and/or pre-diabetic or diabetic patterns are established. We cannot say “eliminate wheat and eat all the ice cream and candy you want.”

Then there are people who do all that and still cannot lose weight. This is when it’s time to give serious consideration to thyroid dysfunction.

By “thyroid dysfunction” I am referring to various degrees of hypothyroidism, i.e., low thyroid hormone levels. (I’m going to ignore hyperthyroidism, since this is much less common and does not impose any limitation on weight loss.) This is a big issue, so I’m going to cover it as a check list, a series of bullet points that you can run down to cover as much territory as possible. There are three blood tests that everyone should have assessed to even start thinking about thyroid dysfunction: TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), free T3, and free T4. Optionally, a reverse T3 and thyroid antibodies (to identify thyroid inflammation/autoimmunity) can also be helpful. You do not need all the other nonsense often run, such as total T3 and FTI; these are outdated and often misleading.

Important issues to consider in deciding whether hypothyroidism is contributing to stalled weight:

Hypothyroid symptoms–Beyond stalled weight loss, the most common symptoms of low thyroid hormone status include cold hands and feet; low energy; mental “fog;” increased loss of hair and eyebrows; constipation; leg edema.

Low first a.m. oral temperature–While not validated in clinical trials, anecdotally an oral temperature immediately upon awakening can help you decide whether a thyroid question is present or not. Using a digital thermometer, take your oral temperature immediately upon arising. If it is consistently below 97.3 degrees F, then hypothyroidism is likely; the lower the temperature, the more likely and severe the thyroid dysfunction. However, note that disruptions of cortisol can do the same. (Contrary to some older discussions from the 1960s, axillary temperature should not be used due to excessive variation.)

Iodine deficiency–Though it’s not even on most people’s radar, iodine deficiency is a common and underdiagnosed cause for inadequate thyroid hormone production. The thyroid requires iodine to manufacture thyroid hormones, T3 and T4, the “3″ and “4″ referring to the number of iodine atoms per thyroid hormone molecule. Iodine deficiency was a huge public health issue up to the last half of the 20th century, pretty much solved by the introduction of iodized salt. Now that salt overexposure in some populations has been fingered as a potential health problem, the FDA and other “official” providers of health advice tell us to reduce salt and sodium. But what about the iodine? Everyone forgot about the iodine.

Many people, including physicians, assume that iodine intake from diet is sufficient. Nope. Even the NHANES data have uncovered substantial deficiency in some demographic groups, such as women of childbearing age, using their relatively lax definition of iodine deficiency. I’m seeing iodine deficiency and even goiters (enlarged thyroid glands due to iodine deficiency) frequently. Beyond having a goiter, a low free T4 and highish TSH (e.g., 3.5 mIU) is suggestive of iodine deficiency.

Iodine is not optional; it is necessary for health, including breast health, oral/gastrointestinal health, and the health of a developing fetus. The RDA for non-lactating adults is 150 mcg per day, the quantity required to not have a goiter, but not necessarily ideal thyroid health. I’ve therefore been advising 500-1000 mcg per day from an iodine supplement, such as kelp tablets (dried seaweed), available at health food stores (not pharmacies). The only adverse effects of iodine arise in people who have inflammatory thyroid disease, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, unsuspected thyroid nodules, or longstanding and severe iodine deficiency. In most cases, very low doses of iodine, e.g., 100 mcg per day, can be introduced and increased gradually over months. (Ideally, this would be undertaken by your healthcare provider, but good luck finding one knowledgeable about iodine.)

For most people, restoration of iodine usually develops over 3-6 months.

Ideal TSH–Notice I didn’t say “normal” or “reference range” TSH. I look for ideal TSH. Contrary to the values often cited as “normal” or “reference range” on laboratory values, ideal TSH is in the range of 1.5 mIU or less. This is the level at which thyroid dysfunction no longer contributes to stalled weight loss, as well as distortions of lipid (“cholesterol”) values and cardiovascular risk. The higher the TSH above 1.5, the greater the hypothyroidism.

Ideal free T3 and free T4–The upper half of the “reference range” quoted by your laboratory can serve as a reliable guide to desirable or ideal levels of these thyroid hormones. In particular, low free T3 levels are becoming a common problem and a frequent cause of stalled weight loss. It is not clear why T3 levels are impaired, but potential explanations include disturbed circadian variation of cortisol levels and exposure to organochemicals such as perchlorates (residues of synthetic fertilizer in your produce and water) and others. Unfortunately, the endocrinology community (which is woefully unhelpful with thyroid issues except in the most severe cases) sooner prescribe antidepressants than treat low T3 levels, which they regard as a non-issue. (I had low T3 personally with normal TSH and free T4, along with flagrant symptoms of hypothyroidism and a body temperature of 94.6 F, all corrected with thyroid hormones that included T3.)

Reverse T3–Less commonly, some people develop a T3 thyroid hormone mimic, reverse T3, or rT3, that blocks the activity of T3 in the body. In this situation, it is worth more seriously considering disrupted circadian cortisol variation and using higher doses of T3 thyroid hormone to overcome the blockade.

Should prescription thyroid hormone replacement be chosen, most people do best by including the T3 thyroid hormone, liothyronine, along with T4, levothyroxine. They can be taken separately and as a single tablet in desiccated thyroid gland preparations like Armour thyroid and Naturethroid. Alternatively, if you already take a T4 preparation like Synthroid or levothyroxine but have stalled weight loss or persistent symptoms of hypothyroidism, then adding T3 nearly always solves the problem.

Unfortunately, the biggest hurdle in obtaining helpful feedback on your thyroid is usually your doctor, who will declare your thyroid status normal usually by just looking only at TSH and seeing whether it is in the “reference range” quoted by the laboratory–if he/she even bothers to check it at all. Lately, the naturopath community has been very helpful to many people in my area eager to have their thyroid status intelligently assessed. As a last resort, you can purchase fingerstick test kits to obtain thyroid measures, such as the ZRT test kits we make available in my Track Your Plaque heart disease prevention program.

Once properly corrected, the majority of people enjoy resumption of weight loss, not to mention feel happier, more energetic, with improved overall health, including reduced cardiovascular risk. Add that to the health and weight benefits of wheat elimination, and you can make substantial strides in regaining ideal health.

This entry was posted in Thyroid disease, Weight loss. Bookmark the permalink.

247 Responses to Thyroid Tune-up Checklist

  1. Shirley says:

    Dr. Davis,

    OK, my weight is 118 for about 9 weeks, down from 144. Shall I stop or reduce the Kelp tablets? I don’t salt my food and recently started eating more fish.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Only if you have developed hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, which is unusual.

      I am a big fan of lifelong iodine supplementation. Like vitamin C, if you don’t get some every day, weird stuff happens.

  2. Jane M. says:

    Dr. Davis,

    Thank you for the valuable information in your book. I am now completely wheat free for three weeks and am slowly losing (approx. 8 pounds so far). I started out the WB journey by checking that my bloodwork results were in order. I got them back last week. The doctor says my thyroid is fine but I wanted to see if you think that there is any room for improvement.

    My results are:

    TSH – 1.57
    T4 – 10.3
    T3 uptake – 32
    Free Thyroxine – 3.3
    T3 – 117
    Also, glucose is 93
    LDL/HDL ratio is 1.9 / tot cholesterol is 247 (Doctor said that’s good).

    Do I need any medications to jump start the weight loss? I also run 3 times a week and do a strength boot camp once a week.

    Thank you,
    New Jersey Jane

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Actually, these thyroid values are pretty darned solid. While there can be forms of thyroid dysfunction present even with these values, it is very uncommon.

      Stay tuned to an upcoming discussion of all the factors that can impede weight loss success when you’ve eliminated wheat.

  3. LorLor says:

    I just got the results of my company health screening and I’m freaking out a little bit. My TSH, which was 3.37 several months ago at my last doctor’s visit, has shot up to 6.0. I’ve been on Wheat Belly for about two months and taking iodine for about a month, in addition to my prescription medication.

    Is this a temporary effect of going off the wheat? I’ve lost very little weight so far and with numbers like that, I can see why. I’m starting to go even lower carb but I need to know if this is cause for alarm.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      It has nothing to do with the wheat. And the only way iodine would do that is if you were taking a toxic dose, e.g., 12 mg.

      It is much more likely that you simply began your wheat-free adventure while you were experiencing declining thyroid function. The diet has not served to stop it and it has simply progressed.

      Find a healthcare practitioner who will treat your responsibly and prescribe both the T4 and T3 containing thyroid preparations, such as Armour thyroid or Naturethroid, not the more commonly prescribed levothyroxine or Synthroid. If that is the answer you get, run the other way and find someone who is interested in health, not in following the drug industry line.

  4. LorLor says:

    Thanks for the quick reply! I faxed my test results to my regular doctor, who agreed to consider running a full thyroid panel on me (which apparently never occurred to them before). I managed to locate two other doctors in town who have been known to prescribe Armour so if it doesn’t work out with my regular doc, I’m going doctor shopping. I’ve been on levothyroxine for years but apparently it’s not doing much and my doctor (or should I say PA, since I haven’t seen the actual doctor in years), doesn’t seem terribly interested in pursuing better results. Last year at my physical when I mentioned how difficult it was to lose weight, the PA handed me a photocopy of the government’s new plate guidelines. Period.

    You’re the best!

    • Michelle Weaver says:

      This actually answers some questions I had too, LorLor – thanks for asking. Looks like I need to find a new doctor. I’ve been on Levothryoxine .75 mg for about 10 years now. I swear there are times when I feel “off” and that my levels are too low, but my doctor just checks the basic level and if it’s normal, great. I am going to look for a dr. who specializes in a more natural approach, and also prescribes Armour thyroid.

      • LorLor says:

        Good luck with your search! Unfortunately in my state, naturopaths are not allowed to write prescriptions, so I would have to look for a regular GP with an open mind; hard to do around here. To get a true second opinion on anything I’d have to go out of town, they all know each other around here and won’t disagree with their colleagues. The nearest functional medicine doctor is two hours away, but I’ve thought about it.

        Honestly, the more I become an informed health consumer, the more I feel almost betrayed by the doctors I’ve seen over the years. I’m just grateful to have access to the miracle of Wheat Belly at a young enough age that I have a real shot of not becoming my parents’ health problems. (Guess who’s getting a copy for Christmas?)

        • Shelley says:

          My elderly parents both have type II diabetes, heart disease (mom had open heart surgery, dad has had stents in his heart as well as an aorta-bifemoral by-pass on his legs), high blood pressure, and they’re still overweight. It amazes me that they’ve lived to 75/72, respectively. They spend (and I’m completely serious) about $1,700 per month on medications. At this point, I have no real hope that they’ll ever change their lifestyle.

          I thought I would need to take draconian measures to avoid a similar fate, but it turns out that it’s quite simple. Eliminate wheat, avoid grains, and take detailed responsibility for my health. Doctors (most, certainly not all) and Big Pharma are in bed with each other and have no real regard for my health or whether I live or die. It’s up to us to take good care of ourselves. Sounds like you’ve learned that young too! Knowledge is definitely power.

      • LorLor says:

        Just got a call from the doc, I can do a blood draw tomorrow for thyroid studies and check of my Vitamin D level. I already know my levels are messed up so I’m curious to see if they’ll recommend Armour, etc. or fall back to the same old levothyroxine.

        So glad to have the correction information, it really is power.

  5. Kara says:

    Hi Dr. Davis! HELP! I am a 40 year old woman, who has suspected a thyroid problem for years, but my bloodwork has always come back “normal.” I was diagnosed with depression 5 years ago (I currently take Celexa) and have battled severely high triglycerides for many years. I started Wheat Belly on September 1st. I initially lost 8lbs, but the last 5 weeks I have lost nothing. Chronic achiness and headaches are gone, but in its place I have developed extreme fatigue, brain fog and sluggishness. I am so frustrated. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. I assume that adding iodine would be helpful. Below are the results of my bloodwork from last week. The good news is that my trigylcerides have dropped over 300 points!
    TSH: 1.32 mIU/L
    T4 free: 1.0 ng/dL
    T3 free: 2.3 pg/mL

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Great on the triglycerides, Kara!

      However, you have a problem with the 5′-deiodinase enzyme: Something is blocking your 5′-deiodinase enzyme that converts T4 to T3, thereby allowing a low T3 thyroid hormone level, along with fatigue, brain fog, sluggishness, and stalled weight loss. This blocker might be perchlorate from the residues of synthetic fertilizer in your produce. It might be many years of exposure to polyfluorooctanoic acid from non-stick cookware.

      There is a long list of chemical exposures that that could account for such an effect. Problem: I know of no way to undo these effects and, for instance, erase the effects of perchlorates on your thyroid.

      Solution: Take the T3 thyroid hormone (liothyronine), e.g., 10 mcg per day, increasing until these phenomena recede and you feel happy, energetic, warm, and weight loss resumes.

      Problem 2: Getting someone to help you get this done. You may need to consult with a functional medicine practitioner or naturopath. But I predict that, after wheat elimination, restoration of your T3 will be life-changing.

      • LorLor says:

        I totally relate to Kara’s problem. Although my TSH has shown high for years, last week was the first time I had my free T3 and T4 checked (at my insistence). They came back at 2.37 and 0.77, respectively. Vitamin D was on the low end of the range too, which I understand can be negatively affected by long-term levothyroxine use. Since those numbers are in the “normal” range my doc (or should I say her PA), in her infinite wisdom, just wants to up my dose of levothyroxine for the third time in the last several years.

        After reading this blog and doing some other research, I made an appointment with a nurse practitioner in town who is known to prescribe Armour as needed. Hopefully I can make some progress now. Hang in there Kara!

        Dr. Davis, one more question. The lab also said I had low alkaline phosphatase at 19 U/L. I Googled it and found that hypothyroidism can cause that, but is it anything to worry about?

        • Dr. Davis says:

          I know of no adverse consequences or concerns with that alk phos level, Lor.

          And good move on the Armour! It’s really SO simple but so neglected.

        • LorLor says:

          New doc, new results – after two weeks on the PROPER medication, my thyroid levels are dead-on. I actually lost 1 1/2 pounds over Thanksgiving week! Skipped the rolls and gravy and cookies and pie. I made the apple-cranberry crumble recipe from this site and even my sugar- and wheat-loving relatives thought it was great!

          • Dr. Davis says:

            That’s great, Lor!

            You can see how easy it SHOULD be if we are given the proper diet advice and rational thyroid information-painfully easy!

  6. Amy Garrow says:

    Dr. Davis,

    I am a huge fan of your work! You really explain things that would otherwise be so confusing. I was hoping you would have an opinion on my situation which me be similiar to Lor Lor. In August I had my blood taken and my Total T3 was well below range 80 (92-178). My TSH was .9. Keep in mind I had this taken after I took my unithroid and Armour. So my meds were changed…I was taken off my 50 mcg unithroid and moved from 60mg Armour to 90 mg. My tests the next month, early morning and I hadn’t taken meds, my Total T3 was 62 and my TSH was 1.78. So, this is fun, because they put me back on 50 mcg of unithroid and kept me on 90 mgs of Armour. My tests this month showed NO change in my total t3 even with the 30 mg of Armour added and my TSH is .0056.

    This is the fun part. My doctor was dumbfounded, so called another doctor in and argued about it in front of me! Now I did start having a high pulse rate at night and some pain in my left shoulder which usually means heart palpitations, so they were concerned. But one doctor said cut her Armour in half and up her Unithroid. The other one said no…up her to 120 mg Armour no unithroid. I am on Wellbutrin for a couple years at 150 mg, that could cause palpitations. I am really tired, I’m 40 years old with my own company, and a 3 year old daughter. Since I had her, they have never been able to get this right. So yes…I have been doing this fun medication swap for 3 years at about 4 times a year. My pharmacist o so confused she doesn’t do automatic refills for me because I have 10 different prescriptions!

    I follow fairly clean wheat free diet, everyone once in awhile I succumb to some gold fish or a cookie. I eat organic fruits and meat. I am really trying here! But my doctors are making me crazy!!! I can’t stand the constant med swaps. Am I missing something, didn’t they go to school for this???

    I would LOVE your feedback. I am so ready to get off this train! I didn’t even take my meds today because I don’t even want to look at them. My own little personal boycott.

    Lots of love and appreciation for your work Dr. Davis,

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Wow, Amy.

      It’s great that your doctors are at least willing to think about things. But it really should NOT be this tough. A few thoughts:

      1) The total T3 value should never be used to judge adequacy of T3 status. The free T3 value is what you need. (The total value is subject to too many extraneous influences and may reflect other phenomena not relevant to T3 status.)

      2) Think of Armour as your default preparation, not the Unithroid.

      Because your doctors have been blundering around and not truly understanding some basic and very simple principles, they are never quite getting it right. It sounds like you may NEVER get the answers you need from the Three Stooges act they are carrying on and you need a new doctor.

      It is really painfully simple once the basic principles are understood.

    • Abby says:

      Hopefully you’ve gotten things sorted out by now (!), but just in case you haven’t — be very careful with the meds with a TSH that low. A value of .0056 is your body’s way of saying it already has waaaaay more thyroid hormone than it needs (hence the heart rate issues).

      I’m not a Dr., but am speaking from experience. After not one, but TWO trips to the ER for what felt like a heart attack (at the age of 34), I ended up in the psychiatric ER with what was later determined to be thyroid psychosis. This was only after I completely freaked out on a trio of doctors who insisted Valium was the solution. I live at the low end of the energy scale and knew Valium wasn’t going to fix whatever my problem was. When one of the three stooges finally looked at my intake form and saw I was on Armour, they ran a thyroid panel. When my TSH came back as .0002, I was transferred out of the psych unit for monitoring/treatment.

      The story gets longer from there, but hopefully this serves as a warning to listen to your body and be your own advocate. Don’t be afraid to freak out on the stooges if you have to :)

  7. Amy Garrow says:

    Thanks Dr. Davis,

    So let me clarify, when I speak to my doctors, it sound like I need to push for the Free T3 test and ” humbly” suggest they lower my unithroid and up the Armour? After that, run and find new doctors! LOL. Not as easy as I thought, Charlotte NC is very conservative with treatment.. When I was pregnant, 2 of the best endocrinologists tried to take me off Armour.

    The one doctor was really adamant about there being an inappropriate amount of T3 in Armour. It not being the human golden ratio of 90/10 made him think it was dangerous for my heart.

    I greatly appreciate your time, more than you know!

    • Dr. Davis says:

      I wouldn’t do anything humbly, Amy!

      I say tell them to all go to h— and find yourself a health advocate, not people who are great at mucking up your health. And don’t waste ANY time with an endocrinologist: a more useless breed of specialist you could not possibly find.

  8. Bonnie says:

    Hi Dr Davis
    I had graves disease about 18 years ago. I’m on Armour Thyroid and I’m happy with that. I’ve gotten your wheat belly book; mostly because my sister was diagnosed with ciliac disease (All the women in our family have had either graves; hoshimotos or thyroid cancer. We are very similar) I was checked for ciliac by blood but it’s negative. I’m post menapausal and have gained 50 lb’s in the last 10 years no matter what I eat or how much I excercise it keeps climbing. All of my labs are normal and the Doc is checking more than just the TSH. I am currently taking an iodine supplement; but, often find I’m shaky at the end of the day) Any suggestions?
    I’d be very happy to finally reverse this weight gain issue… ps I still have brittle hair; dry skin ; lethargic most days etc.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Gee, Bonnie, it sounds like you are still hypothyroid!

      It means finding someone truly capable in managing thyroid hormone restoration, which is almost NEVER an endocrinologist. You may be someone who has a specific impairment of the 5′-deiodinase enzyme that is supposed to convert T4 to T3. If impaired or blocked, no amount of Armour thyroid or levothyroxine will correct. You need to take T3 specifically above and beyond what you are getting from the Armour.

  9. Rindy says:

    My GP thinks that the generic levothyroxine is unreliable so he only prescribes Synthroid. My thyroid has been more stable since switching.

  10. Karen says:

    Hello Dr. Davis,
    I am so excited to have received your book! I truly feel it will be life-changing. I have Hashimotos Thyroiditis. What kinds of adverse effects can iodine supplementation have on this disease?

  11. Karen says:

    “The only concern with iodine is in people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or (rarely) an overactive thyroid nodule. Anyone with these conditions should only undertake iodine replacement carefully and under supervision (monitoring thyroid hormone levels).”

    Thanks for responding Boundless. I re-read the threads and specifically am curious at to the possible adverse side effects of iodine supplementation with regard to Hashimotos and thyroid nodules, as I have both. I would like to start supplementing with kelp tablets, but would like to be as informed as possible when I speak with my PCP. My thyroid antibody is 5X the normal limit. My TSH is in the 3.0-4.5 range.

    Thanks again,

    • Boundless says:

      Well, Karen, the material I re-posted was already more than I know :)
      I just happened to recall the discussion, and know how to search this blog.

      Dr. Davis may or may not respond further (and I don’t speak for him), as your inquiry may be getting into patient-specific web diagnosis, which is a risky area.

      I’d suggest working with the sort of physician recommended in the various discussions here. One that, for starters, recognizes the worthlessness of typical blood tests for lipids, thyroid (and PSA, I might add). The tests that most people get are little more than emotional placebos.

  12. Lisa Davis says:

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    I was told by my doctor about six weeks ago that my TSH levels were elevated above the “normal” limits at 5.54. My doctor ordered a thyroid ultrasound and additional bloodwork. The ultrasound showed an enlarged thyroid and a nodule that appeared to be benign. I started taking kelp almost immediately when I was told that my TSH levels were elevated. I had some blood work done about 3-4 weeks later which showed my TSH levels had come down to 3.5 but also showed that there were some antibodies built up against my thyroid. She has now placed me on a low dose of Synthroid.
    I do have a weight problem and the typical “wheat belly” which I have recently been working to eliminate. My question is do you think the Kelp was helping to bring my TSH levels down? My doctor said probably not since there were antibodies built up. Do you think I should continue the Kelp? My doctor didn’t tell me not to but I’m wondering if it was just an oversight on her part.
    Also, could a sensitivity or allergy to wheat cause the autoimmune disease in the first place? Sorry for being so lengthy but brevity was never my strong point! :-)
    Lisa Davis

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Well, I am not a thyroid expert . . . but clearly your doctor has a limited understanding of thyroid health.

      Yes, iodine may indeed have partially restored thyroid function to the extent that iodine deficiency was limiting thyroid hormone production. And the least desirable way to correct the residual degree of thyroid dysfunction is Synthroid. This is the path of the doctor who accepts everything from the drug industry hook, line, and sinker.

      My advice: Get a new doctor, one who understands thyroid health and starts with prescriptions like Armour thyroid or Naturethroid that gives you the chance to assess whether you will lose weight faster, feel happier, and have more energy with restoration of the T3 as well as the T4 thyroid hormone.

  13. Rob says:

    Dr Davis,

    My mother in-law who is 65 yrs has had atrial fibrillation since her triathlon days when she was in her late 30′s – 40′s and has been prescribed 200mg Teva-Amiodarone and Pradax 150 mg for this.

    She has been about 75% paleo for the past 3-4 years but still indulges in whole wheat and still does 1/2 marathons. She also has high blood pressure (usually 140′s/90 sometimes 150′s) and her doctor gave her Teva-Valsartan 320 mg and Apo-Furosemide 20 mg.

    In the last few weeks her thyroid has been low, AND NOW she has been prescribed Synthroid 50 mcg.

    Her HCL and LDL are fairly normal, she still has lots of energy and no noticeable side-affects.

    She does not take any multi vitamins or minerals and her doctor is typical, have a symptom – prescribe a drug.

    Any advice? Thanks from Manitoba Canada!

  14. Lindsey says:

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    I just caught on to the wheat belly lifestyle and it make so much sense to me! I have not fully started yet (building up a stockpile of good food). But I have struggled with my weight since I turned 20 ( I am now 28). I have been on Synthroid for over 2 years. My TSH was 6.5 before taking it and I was extreme achy and overly tired all the time. But one thing that has lessened but not gone away are panic attacks or a rushing adrenaline feeling. I just recently had my vitamin D checked, haven’t got the results. Oddly though, when I have taken a dose of vitamin D it felt as if it cancelled out my Synthroid (strange!), so I stopped taking it. Also since I have been taking Synthroid, my calcium and potassium have increased to a point where they were checking my kidneys and the PTH (?Peri-thyroid). My calcium and potassium where normal before taking Synthroid. Ever heard of that before? My doc had no idea and checked with others, but I never got a straight answer. I doubt my doctor will be excited to switch me to Armour, so I would like to know if you have any suggestions on doctors in the Daytona Beach, FL area. Thanks so much for all of your research and dedication to helping us lil guys:)


  15. Season says:

    Hi Dr. Davis -

    Hoping you can give me some insight/feedback.

    I had my thyroid partially removed in 2006. I was then diagnosed after the fact with Hashimoto’s.
    Have been trying to get my levels in an ideal range and have tried all sorts of meds.
    I am currently on 75mcg of Tirosint for the last 9 months.
    My levels are currently:
    TSH 1.34 (was around 5.0)
    FreeT4 1.1
    FreeT3 3.0

    My dr says these are all within range although I feel like I am having worse hypo symptoms, I have put on more wieight in the last few months than ever. So decided to go gluten free just recently but wondering if my levels ARE indeed ideal. I am hoping to see my weight stabilize or drop by going gluten free. I am feeling like if I look at food I gain no matter what.

    Thanks in advance!

  16. My biggest problem was finding a doctor that would listen. Most see a middle aged, overweight woman and blame everything on their weight or depression. I have a good doctor now that thinks I have low thyroid function but when he ordered the tests – the lab ran the TSH only. It was within range, so they didn’t do the FT3 and FT4 that he had ordered. I recently had half of my thyroid removed due to hyperparathryoidism and early nodular hyperplasia – but my thyroid was sluggish before that. He has ordered the tests again written hemithyroidectomy in the notes, so I am hoping they actually do them this time.

    My TSH is always normal – between 1.4 and 2.85, I have low level antibodies and my last FT4 (done almost a year ago) was 11 (range 9-22). Previous doctor told me this was fine and refused to discuss it. The one before that practically threw my results at me and told me I didn’t need drugs because my thyroid was fine. I have changed doctors quite a few times in the last few years and finally found a good one. I had a really low FT4 8years ago when I was pregnant of 6.3 (range was 7.5-21) but no one seemed concerned about it once I had my son and it was back to ‘normal.’

    • Ron Standridge says:

      I can relate on the doctor issue. I was just diagnosed as hypo. My doctor REFUSES to put me on anything other than Synthriod. I am currently looking for a new doctor.

  17. heymom says:

    Dr. Davis,

    I have been on WB for 1 month. I have not seen any change in my weight. I went to see my Dr. 2 weeks ago and she switched my thyroid to Armour thyroid and put me on Metformin. How long will it take for these to things to kick in and I begin to see some weight loss? Waiting for some results….and trying not to get discouraged.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Well, it’s not an all or none situation.

      Just changing to Armour is a start, but the dose may have to be adjusted, which can require weeks to months. However, if you were on the ideal dose to start (unlikely), you should to lose weight almost immediately.

  18. Bethany says:

    So frustrated. When to my primary to have thyroid panel run and all he did was TSH (2.67) and t4 free (.9). He asked me to call his office after running the tests and just said they are fine and that was it. No, let’s discuss what we can do to fix the issues you are having since you came into my office with complaints. My tsh was 2.0 7 months ago when I had my physical. I had a total hysterectomy in March and wonder if that can have an effect.. I was on WB for 2 months and lost 4 pounds (I have about 60 to lose). I thought when I went to my GP that I would have a panel run instead of just those two tests. So, thinking I was doing the right thing, I went to an APRN and the suggestion was made to return to Zoloft. I am not depressed, I am overweight and can’t lose weight. She did agree to run a thyroid test see if my thyroid has an immune problem and is checking my estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Sigh … I don’t like to doctor shop but what can I do? Is there a study that shows that 2.67 is not optimal for the TSH. I just found out yesterday that my dad has been treated for hypothyroid disease for years as was his mother. I am 50 and have been overweight since about 32. It has always been written off as depression but I am convinced it could be my thyroid. I’ve slipped the past week or 2 from WB because I am so angry at the doctor for just placating me but will get back to it tomorrow although I’m not sure that the weight will leave as long as I may have an outstanding thyroid issue. Can you provide a list of the thyroid tests that should be run? Also, is there available research that I can print and share with someone in the medical field to try and convince them that this is something I’d like to focus on even thought the numbers are “in range”?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      You definitely need to “doctor shop,” Bethany. Just as you take bids on a construction job and don’t go with just anybody, so it goes with my colleagues. Your current doctor failed a simple test. Look for a functional medicine doctor.

      Search in for “Hunt study” + thyroid, as well as the many other studies that associate any TSH of 1.4 mIU/L or higher with escalating cardiovascular risk.

  19. jess says:

    i have hashimoto’s thyroidism, and i was told that you can’t take iodine as it would make it worse. but i tried it anyway and ended up having to take 4 times as must armour as normal. i quit the iodine and eat fish once a week. slowly my need for a high dosage went away. i was down to around 45 mg before i started the wheat diet. i am now taking 30 mg and am trying to see what happens if i cut it in half. why? waiting for a dr. and tests do not work for me. insurance doesn’t want to pay for them that often. also i had so much energy at 30 mg. that i was not tired all day and into the night. but hashimoto’s i understand can swing. so i don’t know what to think.

    have i lost weight? no. do i feel better. 100 percent. my shortness of breath is almost gone, as is my acid reflex which was not something i noticed often, but i can now eat beef again although dr. didn’t know why i couldn’t. i stick to lean beef and very little for now. my b/p went down to normal, which pleasantly shocked me, especially since my dr. thought maybe i needed drugs for it. my indigestion is gone.

    and so now i am cutting out all sugar and lost one lb. but i don’t trust that yet because i get swings in my weight.

  20. Linda says:

    I have been wheat free and starchy carb free since Jan. 2, 2013 and have not lost a pound. I have every symptom of thyroid disease and wake from a sound sleep with terrible leg cramps 3-6 times/ night, at least twice a week.. I drink 6-8 20 oz. glasses of water /day, exercise and lift weights 3-4 times a week, take a multi vitamin with fish oil, vitamin D (5000 iu) and magnesium (400mg).
    I have an appointment with Dr. Nickels on April 3 but would welcome suggestions for the cramps before then if anyone has any tips. My tsh last year was 3.15.
    In June I told my doctor my laundry list of issues so she ordered a bunch of tests and told me I look really good for my age(64). The test results were mailed to me without any interpretation just a bunch of letters and numbers and a note saying everything was normal. I have had thyroid symptoms for 5 years and have been to 3 different doctors and keep hearing that I’m fine, its all just part of aging. Really????

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Since I personally know that Dr. Michelle Nickels is one of the few truly knowledgeable and effective with thyroid, I believe you will find that everything starts to fall in place with her advice.

      For the leg cramps, we use magnesium malate, 1200 mg twice a day. Most magnesium is nothing more than a laxative; you want forms that are absorbed, such as the malate. Many people also need to add back some salt, e.g., sea salt, due to the removal of the sodium-retaining effect of wheat.