Dr. Lizard is now going to pick on the naturopaths. ND, Doctor of Naturopathy, Dr. Naturalpillsonly, except I ain't never seen a pill growing on a damn tree, so define "natural".
I have three patients in the last few years who have come to me from naturopaths on thyroid medicine with major issues.
We have Bastyr University*, a campus in Seattle. There is more than one campus. I didn't know that until today. It's spreading. Ugh.
Perhaps there are some excellent naturopaths out there and only the patients with problems are transferring to me. Often they are not transferring. They want to see me to have laboratory and medicines covered by medicare or other insurance, but they would like the naturopath to run the show. "I don't trust the medical community." they say grandly. "I don't take pharmaceuticals. I only take natural medicine**."
I want to say, "So, why are you wearing shoes? And that's your car, right? Are cars natural?" BUT there really is not much logic in all of this. I think Jung is right: cut off from nature and the soul and told to be logical, people long for nature, long for the soul, long for "natural". So they take pills instead of taking a walk in the woods. Maybe you have a better explanation. Send it to me.
Anyhow, these people want refills on their thyroid. As an MD, I check a TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone, once a year. TSH is produced by the pituitary. When it's high, it's signalling that the thyroid gland is not making enough thyroid hormone, a mix of T3 and T4. When it's low, the thyroid is making too much and the person is hyperthyroid.
Hyperthyroid is rarer and can damage the heart, especially causing atrial fibrillation. It can also affect the eye muscles and you get those sticky out eyeballs. That's very rare. People who are hyperthyroid can also be manic and not sleep much. And it's not just, ok, high thyroid, must be Hashimotos. There can be thyroid tumors, benign or malignant and also pituitary tumors. Isn't medicine fun?
Hypothyroid is way common. Stress increases cortisol and adrenaline, chronic stress borgs the immune system, and then you make antibodies to your thyroid. Voila! Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Some people get hyperthyroid first then hypothyroid. Other's just show up with hypothyroidism. The functional medicine doctors and naturopaths and the writer of The Thyroid Secret say "YOUR DOCTOR WON'T TELL YOU IT'S HASHIMOTO'S!" Well, because the only place in the world that still has iodine deficiency thyroid disease is New Guinea. Exception for newborns: some of them don't make thyroid hormone and that's one of the heel stick tests. Those babies need lifelong thyroid supplementation.
My three new patients needed lab testing. One had not been tested for two years. Hey, naturopathy person, what the hell? All three came back with a TSH below normal: iagtrogenic hyperthyroidism. That is, they were on too much thyroid hormone.
All three fought me lowering it. "I like it like that." What? "I feel good at this level. I had to go to a naturopath to get the right dose."
"Uh. You are on too much thyroid. Hyperthyroid. It can damage your heart. We have to lower the dose."
"I like it like this."
"Um. I do not prescribe things that I KNOW will harm someone."
One woman fought so hard that I threw up my hands and referred her to an endocrinologist. I wrote for a lower dose. And only gave her two months of prescription. Why two months? It takes 6 weeks for the TSH to correct, so do another TSH in 6 weeks. Again, there are exceptions. Pregnant women we track every three weeks, because it can harm the fetus.
The endocrinologist said the same thing, rechecked her, the new dose was right.
The other two read the Mayo clinic site on hyperthyroidism*** and agreed to have their dose adjusted. All were rather unhappy that they didn't have that energy kick. Hey, there's always cocaine, right? It causes heart damage too and I am definitely not recommending it... just saying people make interesting health choices.
I've learned new words from thyroid medicines, too. Many are not on levothyroxine. "It's made in a lab! It's not natural!" Well....it's lab made human thyroid hormone, ok? So it is people thyroid. Instead, some people are on Armor, which is pig thyroid. Since you can't just squeeze it out of the pig, it too is extracted in a lab. And then I have come across bovine hormone and more recently ovine. I had to look that up. No caprine yet.
The fall out of this and other interesting experiences sharing patients with naturopaths is that now I want the notes. If the person is seeing a naturopath, an acupuncturist, a shaman, a chiropractor or consorting with Dr. Google and if they are getting ANY PILLS, I want to share notes with the providers and I WANT TO SEE THE PILLS. I want to know exactly what my patient, shared patient is on....
**made by pharmaceutical companies.
Iron Noder: Tokyo Drift 10