Hey, welcome back to the Thyroidcafe – we are discussing Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) this week, so maybe I’ll switch to decaf for this blog? For years I suffered every night. Fighting the urge to move my legs, though I didn’t give it much thought. After ignoring this symptom, I finally did my research. The many solutions and even prescriptions available were a pleasant surprise.
My experience and symptoms
I lay in my exhaustion. I self-medicated thyroid disease with a dozen cups of coffee, yet my eyes screamed for sleep. Yet my legs marched on. I would rub them together until wounds wore on my feet. Occurring at night or lying down, my symptoms were by the book. RLS is defined as restlessness only revived by moving your legs. It is common in those with chronic illnesses and those with a genetic predisposition to it. So my legs wiggled with the energy I’d wished to contain for the next day.
At Home Solutions
After asking my online friends for at home solutions and doing my research, the response overwhelmed me. Happily, there are many solutions to RLS. Vitamin D, Iron and Magnesium are the most common dietary solutions to RLS. Magnesium can be taken as a pill or rubbed in. For me, this was the solution to RLS. The ever taxing Epsom salt bath is another popular solution and one of my favorites. I also take CBD oil. It calms both mental and physical restlessness. If your legs are still defiant, massage and stretching may calm them, along with exercise. I had to laugh at the suggestion that RLS could be solved by getting more sleep, hello vicious cycle. Lastly, the Relaxis pad and weighted blankets were recommended. I haven’t tried either, but would love to know if they work.
More than an apple a day: Help from the Doctor
Despite my foolish pride and overly ambitious online endeavors, one must seek help when needed. From a less invasive perspective, chiropractic care can provide relief. I fear recommending medication because of the side effects. However Ropinirole is commonly and effectively used. Ask your doctor for help if at-home remedies are not working for you.
There are active solutions to our active legs. Through at-home and medical intervention, RLS can be one of the most manageable thyroid symptoms. For me, vitamin supplements and Epsom salt baths were the solutions. A few pills in the morning and a relaxing bath is the kind of symptom management I can handle.
Hey, welcome to the Thyroidcafe. I remember taking showers and pulling chunks of hair out, by the handful. At the same time in the early 2000s, I assumed my eyebrows were victims of the over-plucked style. But these were actually symptoms. I didn’t understand that this was more than vanity; it was a disease. My crown was not just falling out; it was telling me something.
The Three T’s
If I wanted to get back to Rapunzel, the first step was optimizing my thyroid levels. TSH, T4, and T3 hormones regulate hair loss and regeneration. Having your hormone levels not only within normal range, but optimized, is the foundation to getting your hair back. Once optimized, the results can take weeks, if not months, so it’s important to be patient.
You are what you eat
In researching, I found this study regarding hair loss. What was interesting was, it excluded thyroid patients. Their reasoning was that thyroid patients have low ferritin and iron levels. Following that strand (pun intended) it’s easy to see the effects vitamins have on hair growth. The table blow lists common vitamins that can help with hair growth. While I wish I had a Pinterest perfect diet, I can only do my best and add supplements where I fall short. They have helped me so much, both with my hair and otherwise, that I bought this pill organizer.
Vitamins: Vitamins B-7 (biotin) and B complex zinc Copper Iron vitamins C, E, A coenzyme Q10
There are plenty of snake oils promising recovery of hair loss. I have included the most common herbal remedies above. Though I cannot promise they work, as I haven’t tried them. Some side effects listed online, including drug interactions, are enough to scare me off. I linked some information for you to choose for yourself, simply click on the name of the herb.
And Everything Nice (Conclusion)
Common sense still rules. Gentle kindness will prevent breakage – of most things. Pulling your hair into tight styles can damage it. Brushing wet hair can cause breakage. Heat and dye stress your hair. However, hair health comes down to what we put into it. So, before you pull your hair out over hair loss, (I’ve been waiting all week for that pun!) try looking at it as a symptom. Addressing the underlying matters of thyroid hormones and diet can help stop hair loss. If you have tried the herbal remedies, I would love to know about it in the comments below.
Hey, welcome back to the Thyroidcafe. You’ve heard it. A million times. “Diet and exercise would help you lose weight.” But what if there’s more? Holding to this advice alone can leave you frustrated and dejected. But know for thyroid warriors, weight issues is more dynamic than that. We are not crazy or lazy. We are working double time towards a healthier body. Fortunately, weight can be regulated, even with our disease, but it’s a fight.
Round One: Meds
You’re cruising the highway. The wind blows and the scenery flies by you. But you slow. You push the pedal down, but sputter to a stop. A little orange light glares and you know, you’re going nowhere without gas. Expecting weight loss without getting your thyroid hormones optimal, is as effective as running a car without gas. Because thyroid hormone regulates weight, no amount of diet and exercise can compensate for uncontrolled hormone levels. So medication optimization is first on my list for a reason; it’s the cornerstone to weight loss.
Round Two: Listening
A yawn is not a silent scream for coffee, as much as I hate to admit it. It’s your body asking for a need, sleep. Listening to your body isn’t some mystical concept. It’s giving weight (pun intended) to your body’s basic needs. Tracking my diet is one way I learned to listed to my body’s needs. (See “Round Three” below for common problem foods.) Second, and to my great pleasure, listen to stress levels. When we’re stressed, our bodies increase cortisol levels, which lowers thyroid levels, causing us to gain weight. This is part of the reason extreme calorie restrictions don’t work for thyroid patients. Our bodies are already taxed, adding the stress of excessive calorie restrictions doesn’t help. And if you’re like me, stress leads to gobbling cookies like Shaggy and Scooby. So soak in that bath. See that old friend. Walk in that park. There are many needs we can be attentive to, such as thirst, indigestion, sensitivity to cold, etc. study your body, to understand its needs.
Round Three: Food and water
While “don’t eat fast food or binge drink soda” remains universally good advice, there’s more to diet for thyroid warriors. For us, food can cause weight gain through inflammation. After having kids, I was puffy Marshmallow Meghan. Pictures made me shutter until I read about inflammation. The table below outlines some foods that commonly cause inflammation. I would recommend removing as many as reasonable from your diet, then adding them back in, one at a time. I allowed a few weeks between introductions, to mark how they affected me. I post a lot of my meals on our Instagram account. They are all easy, family meals.
Foods that cause me inflammation
Foods I eat like Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka
Refined carbs, ie: “white” bread, rice etc Sugar, Has many listed names, Trans fats, Gluten, dairy, Processed meats oils, alcohol
Whole, high healthy fat, plant based proteins, fish, gluten-free food, fruit and veggies
Another helpful tip for weight loss is to drink plenty of water. No only does this keep the body happily hydrated, it fills the stomach. Diet is a broad topic, which I hope to chat about again at the Thyroidcafe.
Round Four: Exercise
I subconsciously took a deep breath before writing this. If you struggle with weight caused by thyroid disease, it is likely your thyroid hormone is on the lower side. If so, you may feel exhausted by the normal events of life. I don’t want to apply undue pressure to people already suffering. Regarding exercise, do what you can, when you can. Gentle exercise, such as walking, swimming and biking are a place to start, once you feel healthy enough to do so.
I desperately want to take the burden of this disease from my fellow sufferers. The exhaustion, depression, sensitivity to cold – all of it. But the worst for me was the preconceived notions of others. Maybe it was my age, but I spent years crushed by worry that others would think I was “just lazy and fat.” But ten years on, this previously “lazy, fat” woman just wants to be healthy. I wish we could change the narrative from weight loss, to healthy weight. Because excess weight is a symptom of a larger medical issue. Prescription optimization, diet, and exercise will help you lose weight. But the bigger reward is gaining back our health.
Hey, welcome back to the Thyroidcafe. It’s 2012. 9:00 pm and I’m in bed. Twisting and rubbing my neck, and shoulders. Attempting to silence snarling muscles. My elbows and knees soon join the cacophony, so I give up and hobble to the kitchen for pain meds. My grandmother and I walk the same way, I’m sixty years her junior. What was I to do? In those days, I popped Tylenol like a desperate starving animal. I had to find a better treatment option.
The cause of thyroid pain
Thyroiditis could be the cause of your pain. If the front of your neck, jaw or face hurt, a doctor should be seen. Other auto-immune diseases may also be a cause of your pain. For example, arthritis is more likely in thyroid patience than the general population. Thirdly, under treated hypothyroidism is a common cause of joint and muscle pain. But what about this sporadic, systemic dull ache? Diet is the cause I have found through support groups, and personal experience. Dairy was the cause of my pain, but each person must do her own detective work.
How to treat it
The simple answer: you can take Neo’s red pill (Tylenol) and go down the rabbit hole of masking your soreness and avoiding the problem. But my pain persisted and I needed an explanation. Around that time, I read about the AIP diet. As I was stumbling and slurping through the diet, I noticed my body pain left. After reintroducing dairy, my pain returned. I am not recommending we put cows permanently out to pasture, but rather that each of us tries an elimination diet, to see what helps.
If you’re having other low thyroid symptoms or your pain is accompanied by swelling of your joints, it’s best to consult a physician and rule out other causes. Keep in mind, even if your blood test comes back in the normal range, it may not be optimal. Discuss your symptoms with your doctor and work towards optimization. As always, I recommend being your own Thyroid advocate.
Because thyroid disease has multiple manifestations, I am doing a series on Symptom Management. Joint and muscle pain can have many causes and it may take time and detective work to find the root cause of your pain, but there are solutions. So now, after dietary changes, I can sit in bed at 9:00 pm and binge watch Netflix like a normal semi-adult. No Tylenol needed.
Hi, welcome back to the Thyroidcafe. I wanted to review a “Woman’s world” article today. Many in the thyroid community find these articles frustrating. I have read they are misleading and harmful to those who have thyroid disease, so I thought I would look for myself. Amist recipes of bright berry cobbler and Meringue cake, is a two page spread, declaring “Thyroid rescue!” It promises to “reactivate your thyroid to melt thirty pounds in thirty days.” I was cautiously curious.
A bold red banner declares “Thyroid Rescue” on July’s front cover, putting our disease literally front and center. At 600,000 copies sold a month, I’m thankful to raise awareness about thyroid disease. Inside the article, it “encourages everyone” to try eliminating sugar and gluten from their diet. It’s great to make the dangers of processed foods known. Giving further hope, the author highlights the importance of diet for thyroid patients by giving the testimony of thyroid warrior who gained health and lost weight on her diet. Excellent! To the right of her picture is a small paragraph. It is the only place in which they outline actual thyroid symptoms and advice.
While the dietary advice is sound, the article isn’t about thyroid disease. It misleads people into thinking diet either causes or cures thyroid disease. The reader may think those who gain weight because of their thyroid disease can loose weight by changing their diet alone. This is not entirely true. For more information, click here. While diet plays a role in thyroid disease; I hate to think of people judging others based on this articles misinformation.
What was great about this article, is crammed into the bottom corner. Symptoms are a one sentence synopsis, and medical treatments are an afterthought. If the article is about “Thyroid Rescue,” it’s pertinent to explain the disease and other treatments available. This would be of use to us fighting the disease and to promote understanding and sympathy. The article places too much focus on one symptom, weight gain. Simplifying symptoms to a weight issue, misleads the reader to play on common insecurities of women. This disease has a dynamic and fundamental effect on its sufferers and the article misses that point.
Sadly, the “Woman’s World” article reflects a common ignorance towards our disease. The simplified suggestions of dietary changes and “sleep 7 hours” belittle the disease and treatments thyroid sufferers face. While I recognize this is no medical journal, it is one way the public sees our disease. I wish the author was more diligent in her studies. Despite this, it puts thyroid illness on display; it promotes a healthy diet and it motivates me to keep telling the truth about our disease.
Welcome back to the Thyroidcafe. You may remember the marijuana of the psychedelic sixties, part of the counterculture movement. Or maybe you’re like me and the “War on Drugs” in the 80’s villainized marijuana as a gateway drug. Now in 2019, we are seeing the marijuana plant in a more dynamic way. No longer demonized, but studied. Through this we have learned about the properties of marijuana and its medical uses. But before we move Thyroidcafe to Amsterdam, let’s examine the medical benefits and risks of this controversial plant.
Plant Parts: Chemicals in Marijauna and What They Do
There are two well understood chemicals in cannabis, THC and CBC, though there are more. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the chemical in marijuana that gives you the “high.” THC benefits are anti-inflammatory properties, has dopamine (pain killer), can ease your mind, and increases appetite. Now I don’t need any help finding the chips and I need my mind firmly inside my body, so the following is my preferred option. CBD (cannabidiol) is the no-high alternative to THC. It is also anti-inflammatory, has dopamine (pain killer) and can ease your mind. I will discuss THC and CBC more blow. Because of the restriction on marijuana, the other chemicals found in marijuana are less studied.
APlant by Any Other Name
You go to the store and there’s all the tomatoes. Some are for hamburgers, others for salad and there’s always those Roma’s nobody knows what to do with. Pizza? Fancy pizza?
Anyways, like tomatoes, marijuana has many varieties. But I will explore the three most notable . Cannabis Indica is known for its relaxation qualities, both mental and physical. It also decreases nausea, pain, and increases appetite. Another variety is Cannabis Sativa. I use this variety during the day as it is not a sedative. It dulls my pain, increases creativity, focuses me and even gives me energy. This is a picture of the product I use, it’s sold in most health food stores.
Lastly, Cannabis Ruderalis is naturally high in CBD and low in THC, giving it no “high.” It does a great job treating depression. Each species of cannabis can be made to have more or less CBD and THC. Keeping the species in mind enables you to treat your symptoms specifically.
What does Medical Marijuana treat?
With the Opioid Crisis rearing its ugly head, pain management is one of the most sought after characteristics of marijuana. Many people with thyroid problems suffer from anxiety and depression. Personally, I have found relief from both using Cannabis Sativa. Medical marijuana also helps with insomnia. On the other hand, some strains of cannabis can give you more energy and clarity of thought. This is why it’s important to know the variety. Lastly, all varieties helps with inflammation. While this isn’t a miracle drug, there are obvious benefits to be explored. For a list of other diseases cannabis is thought to help, see below the conclusion.
More than Puff, Puff, Pass: Types of Marijauna products
Before you bless the neighbours with a skunk-like smell, let’s discuss your options for taking medical marijuana. Availability depends on where you are, so please explore. Both CBD and THC oils can be bought online. Oils have a high concentration, so a little drop ‘ill do ya. See below for how much I take (140 lbs)
I use the CBD oil to relieve my pain, anxiety and ease my depression. Next are waxes, or butane hash oil, they can be vaporized. It is potent and is popular for those treating chronic pain. Tinctures sound more exciting than they are. To make tinctures, alcohol is infused with cannabis and take a few drops under the tongue. Taking it this way allows it to take effect faster and last longer (45 mins-ish). Balms take the high out of cannabis. Lotions, sprays and topical oils are rubbed into the skin for pain relief. There are also suppositories and lets just say, I will not be going there.
Risks of Marijuana
There are some risks to using medical marijuana. Firstly, if you choose to smoke it, there are the respiratory risks inherent to smoking anything. Secondly, short term memory loss is marked in some users. Lastly, prejudice from your employer or school. Even CBD shows up on a drug test, so know the policies in place that may limit your use.
So let’s let the reputation of marijuana in the sixties pass, most people don’t remember the sixties anyways! And let’s set aside the War on Drugs to look reasonably at a product that could help us. Like opioids, marijuana needs to regulation to prevent misuse. But, that does not negate valid medical characteristics. If you are uneasy about hallucinogenic properties, try CBD. If you prefer not to smoke, try balms or oils. While I won’t be watching reruns of Harold & Kumar and chowing on Cheezies anytime soon, I will use marijuana to manage my symptoms. So what do other thyroid patience think about this taboo subject? Do you use medical marijuana? See our Facebook and Instagram or comment here.
Other diseases cannabis can help: Glaucoma, arthritis, cancer, migraines, anorexia, depression, anxiety, stress, nausea , PTSD, Insomnia, Crohn’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, ADHD, Epilepsy, PMS, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease
Hey, and welcome to the Thyroidcafe. Grab a seat and join me as we discuss the basics of medication. I’m thankful my local pharmacist let me interview her for this blog. She rattled off medication names long enough to dominate a Scrabble board and I grew in my knowledge. She explained each medication, who takes them and the best way to do so. Her information corroborated with the online studies I read. So I combined the information for you; I hope you like it.
Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) prompts your body to make T4, which in turn produces T3. The prevailing theory on thyroid treatment is that by adding T4, the body will produce T3.
When doctors take our “Thyroid Levels,” they usually measure Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH). Here is a table to keep in mind when reading your TSH panel.
TSH Normal Thyroid Range: 0.4 – 4.0 mU/L
TSH At Risk: 2.5 m U/L – 4 mU/L
TSH Ideal Range: 2.5 mU/L
Who can take thyroid medication
The medication we are discussing is for people with Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism. Restrictions on who can take it depends on allergies. (For example, food colouring.) Also, morality as there are animal products in some pills.
There are two broad categories of thyroid medication, synthetic and desiccated. Synthetic medication has many brands (Lavothyroxine, Levoxyl, Synthroid, Tirosint and Unithroid.) All synthetic brands contain solely T4. Desiccated pills are derived from either bovine or swine. Some common brands are Armour Thyroid, Nature-Thyroid, WP Thyroid, NP Thyroid. Because of their source, they contain both T4 and T3. (See below for more information) My pharmacist noted, desiccated pills are almost always on backorder. So talk to your local pharmacist about supply.
Which medication do I choose?
Most people start with synthetic pills. They are more reliable as T4 levels are lab tested. The pharmacist recommends Synthroid as it comes in small doses increments, giving more accuracy. Desiccated pills, or animal derived pills, contain both T4 and T3. They are controversial because their hormone levels are tested less frequently. However, some studies show that a subgroup of patients improvement in mood and cognitive function on Desiccate pills. Most online articles advocate for Desiccate pills and I hope to try them. I will report back. To read more studies, click here https://academic.oup.com/labmed/article/41/6/338/2657554. Most studies conclude that if symptoms continue, it is good to try desiccated pills.
How do I take medication and missed doses?
Both types of thyroid medication are best taken first thing in the morning; as they must be taken on an empty stomach. Take your medication and then wait a half hour to eat or take other medicine. It is also important to take your pills at a consistent time each day. Missed pill should be taken as soon as possible. My pharmacist suggested that if over a few hours late, skip that day and resume a normal schedule the next day. Do not double up your pills.
These are the fundamentals of thyroid medication. It is a broad and deep subject. As we grow in the knowledge of our disease, we empower ourselves to take our health into our own hands. Knowing the medications, opens our options if symptoms reappear. Once we decide, taking our pills as prescribed enables us to benefit fully from them. Now. Can someone please tell me how to wait a half hour for my coffee?
Hi, Welcome to the Thyroidcafe, I’m glad you could come. If you’re new, welcome, I hope you find a home here. I’m looking forward to the final installment of the Diagnosis Story. In part two, I introduced my husband. You may remember us as the fools who rushed in? Well, this fool had a little diamond on her left hand before long. In the other hand though, was the responsibility of caring for my terminally ill dad. The difficulty of this time were seen as the cause of my symptoms, until one day I took my health into my hands. A short and deceptive conversation later, I had a diagnosis and prescription in hand.
We decided to marry in haste. Being that my dad only had a matter of months, we arranged the wedding in just three months. One thing I wanted to get right was the dress. Despite this, the prospect of trying on dresses seemed like swimming through a pool of melted marshmallows. Exhaustion and brain fog detached me from this happy time. I tried to smile at the appropriate moments, tried to enjoy, but I was too tired. I did, in fact, sleep through many of the major choices made in wedding preparation. My husband stepped in, picking food, setting up decor, and organizing our family. With the kind help of my mom and future mother-in-law, I did get a dress. I hope they understand my gratitude.
One thing my family couldn’t help me with was my father’s illness. On our wedding day, he was too sick to attend. Because of the sensitive nature of this time, even I excused my symptoms of depression and exhaustion. My dad died December 12, 2008. Funeral arrangements and other end-of-life affairs are all a blur to me. The depth of my grief fueled an angry, determined fire in me; I needed to get healthy.
Anger is not something women generally speak about. One regret I have is not being open to my doctor about my mental health. I did open up to Google though. After entering my symptoms online, I scrolled through. I came across a video. A man described symptoms. I found myself in each one. I fought back tears. Hashimoto’s disease. The prospect of a name for my struggle was such a relief. He ended the video saying “there is hope” and there is.
The Deceptive Diagnosis
Having frequent visits to my doctor during this period, she was clearly annoyed to see me again. In my ignorance, I thought she would be happy that I figured out what was wrong. I was mistaken. She brushed me aside, rejecting my idea. On those sidelines, I made a plan. After she came back from a vacation, I vaguely referenced our thyroid conversation, inferring that she concluded I had Hashimoto’s disease. Then I politely asked for a prescription. I don’t remember if she took blood test or not. But after a lifetime, she gave me my diagnosis.
Thyroid warriors fight twice. We fight life’s normal battles, and then we take up arms against chronic illness. After repeatedly being overlooked by the medical system, I took a risk and got my diagnosis. While this wasn’t the wisest choice, (I did find a new doctor, and was properly diagnosed) I learned a valuable lesson, my health is my responsibility. That is why Thyroidcafe, and places like it, are so important. So that all thyroid patients can know, there is hope. So thanks, for reading this and joining me in spreading awareness of thyroid diseases.