ZocdocAnswersOnce on thyroxine, can a person ever get off it?

Question

Once on thyroxine, can a person ever get off it?

I've been told by 2 doctors that once a person takes thyroxine because of a thyroid insufficiency (whatever the unidentified cause) that the thyroid will shut down and never produce again - thus resulting in the patient being on lifelong thyroxine therapy. Yet, I've read that certain diet programs, herbs, and vitamin/mineral/glandular supplementation often can restore thyroid function. Does thyroxine close down the thyroid permanently? Can a person be weened off thyroxine??

Answer

I will start off answering your question by discussing briefly with the thyroid gland produces. The thyroid gland produces two different types of hormones T4 and T3. Levothyroxine is what we give by pill when somebody has hypothyroidism is actually the same chemical formula as T4. Thyroid insufficiency can be due to multiple different causes and I suggest that you schedule an appointment with an endocrinologist. The most common cause is a condition called Hashimotos thyroiditis. This is when the immune system attacks the thyroid gland and causes portions of it to die off. When this occurs, most people do not regain their thyroid function, but some do. Currently, we have no treatments available that are capable of restoring normal thyroid function other than to replace the hormone directly with levothyroxine. There are no dietary programs and no herbs, vitamins, minerals, or other supplements that can restore thyroid function. If it is going to be restored, it will do so on its own. The only exception would be if you were iodine deficient, then supplementing your diet with iodine would be helpful. However, because iodine is in our salt, almost nobody in the Western world ever becomes iodine deficient. Again, I suggest that you schedule an appointment with an endocrinologist. An endocrinologist will follow your thyroid stimulating hormone or TSH levels which is the blood tests that we used to gauge the overall thyroid function. By keeping your TSH levels normal, your doctor can titrate the levothyroxine dose.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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