Surgical removal of the thyroid gland is referred to as thyroidectomy. Sometimes the entire thyroid gland is removed, while in other instances only part is removed. It is a fairly common operation and I see many such patients at my clinic. The thyroid gland may be removed due to thyroid cancer, enlargement (a goiter) or an over active thyroid gland caused by nodules in the gland. These nodules are called “hot nodules” because they over produce thyroid hormones. The thyroid can become over active as a result of Graves’ disease or hot nodules.

Looking after your health following thyroidectomy can be tricky

After a total thyroidectomy, it will be necessary to take thyroid hormone replacement pills; either synthetic hormones or natural hormones for the rest of your life. It may take some time to get your dosage of thyroid hormone right, as hormone levels tend to fluctuate for some time after the thyroid gland is removed. Certain nutritional supplements can be immensely helpful to overall wellbeing; particularly improving energy levels and making it easier to lose weight.

A lot of my patients who have had their thyroid gland removed feel quite confused about which supplements they should and shouldn’t take. Here are their most common questions:

Is it harder to balance my thyroid hormones?

Unfortunately yes it can be. Surgery is a shock and stress to the body. This can cause hormone levels to fluctuate and it can take some time to normalize thyroid hormones. That means it is important to have regular blood tests in the months following thyroidectomy and we recommend every month for the first 6 months. During this time, your thyroid hormone prescription may need adjusting. It is common to experience some lingering fatigue for some time also.

Can it be helpful to take T3 as well as T4?

Yes. The most commonly prescribed thyroid hormone after thyroidectomy is Thyroxine, also known as Synthroid. This is the thyroid hormone T4 which contains 4 molecules of iodine. T4 is not a very active hormone. In order to gain the benefits of thyroid hormone, your body must convert T4 into its active form, which is T3 which contains 3 molecules of iodine.

Many people do not perform the conversion of T4 to T3 very well, and consequently they continue to feel unwell and not be able to lose weight despite taking T4 medication.

Most conversion of T4 into T3 occurs in the liver, and having a fatty liver, or a liver that isn’t ideally healthy, can compromise this conversion step. Having high levels of inflammation in the body, such as that caused by autoimmune disease can also impair the production of T3 and the action of T3 at the receptor site.

T3 is present in porcine thyroid hormone extract, which is commonly known as Armor thyroid. T3 can also be taken individually or can be combined with T4 in capsule form. You can also supplement your thyroid pills or capsules with THYROID HORMONE CREAM which contains a mixture of natural porcine thyroid hormones. Apply one pump twice daily to skin of inner upper arm.

Do I still need to take selenium?

Yes. Just about all my patients who have had a thyroidectomy feel better when they take a selenium supplement. This is largely because selenium is necessary for the conversion of T4 into T3. Selenium is also wonderful for reducing elevated inflammation in the body because it is needed for the production of glutathione. Glutathione is your body’s own, most powerful antioxidant and detoxifier. If you have a health problem that results in excess inflammation, your body will be depleted in glutathione because you need more of it and production can’t keep up with demand. In these instances, it is also beneficial to take a supplement of N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), because it is a precursor of glutathione. Selenium helps to reduce the risk of many types of cancer, and this is important for people who have had a thyroidectomy because of thyroid cancer.

Do I still need to take iodine?

Yes. Iodine is a trace mineral naturally present in the ocean. Therefore it is found in seafood and seaweed. Unfortunately much of the seafood available now has been farmed, and the fish has not eaten its natural diet. That means few people are getting enough iodine through their diet.

Iodine is not just needed by the thyroid. Many tissues require it, including the brain, immune system, prostate gland, ovaries, uterus, and breasts. It acts as an antioxidant and reduces the risk of cancer. It is particularly protective to the breasts and ovaries. After the thyroid gland, the ovaries and breasts are where most iodine in your body is stored. Iodine helps to promote healthy ovulation and reduces the risk of cysts in the breasts and ovaries.

Iodine is also a natural antibiotic and people low in iodine are prone to more frequent infections.

Thyroid Health capsules contain iodine, selenium, vitamin D and zinc. They are beneficial for a range of different thyroid conditions. For more information see the book Your Thyroid Problems Solved.

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.