Some of you may know that I have hypothyroidism plus a few other health issues (mostly adrenal fatigue, hormone imbalances, and nutrient deficiencies).
I’ve also had really bad gut health issues in the past, which I’ve now solved – yay! You can read about my gut health issues and how I fixed them here.
I find with hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue, the symptoms develop slowly and you get worse and worse. It isn’t until you’re really unwell that you think there might be a problem. So I was in the same boat.
I probably had the issues for years, but it got to a stage where I was so sick and unhealthy, and that’s when I finally started looking into it.
Since posting about my hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue on my social media and blog, I’ve had comments from SO many women who have the same issues.
And a lot of you have been asking me about my diagnosis and treatment so I wanted to share my information with you all. If you are experiencing the same issues, you will be able to seek the right help and get fixed ASAP rather than waiting a few years like me!
Here are my other blog posts if you want to have a read –
- What I’m Struggling With At The Moment (covers everything)
- My Struggle With Gut Health
- How A Hormone Imbalance Can Cause Weight Gain
Also, I haven’t done a full post on adrenal fatigue because there’s just sooo much to write!
Your adrenals and thyroid are linked (both being a part of the endocrine system), so if you have a problem with one, you most likely have a problem with the other. I will write a whole different series of blog posts on adrenal fatigue.
MY HYPOTHYROID SYMPTOMS
I had been experiencing some symptoms associated with hypothyroidism such as weight gain / difficulty losing weigh, puffy face, tired all the time/no energy, dry skin, depression, etc.
But I just though that the physical changes were from getting older and the other symptoms were caused from travelling and also the past issues I’d had with gut health. These symptoms had been developing over several years. And it wasn’t until they got really bad that I decided to do some research online.
I came to the conclusion that I had a hormone imbalance due to long term use of the contraceptive pill, so I went to see a naturopath in Canada (where I was at the time).
Tests showed I had a hormone imbalance and suspected hypothyroidism. I needed more testing for the hypothyroidism but we were leaving for Europe and then did some pretty heavy travel so I never got to get the testing done.
I went off the contraceptive pill and didn’t get my period for 6 months. Once it came, it was a bit all over the place (usually around 40 day cycles) for about another year. 18 months after coming off the contraceptive pill, my periods are now normal.
OK back to were I was! I did more digging and after lots of research, decided I had hypothyroidism (I’m a classic self diagnoser).
My face had become so puffy, especially around my eyes and cheeks. But also my nose had become bigger, and my jawline.
My whole face shape changed. I had also gained about 5-8kgs 2 years ago and had never been able to lose it, no matter what I did. The weight was mostly around my mid section, thighs, back of arms and face (OK everywhere really).
TESTING FOR HYPOTHYROIDISM
By this stage, we were back in Australia so I immediately booked in to see my naturopath. She referred me to a holistic doctor who specialised in hypothyroidism. We did all the testing and my results came back fine.
I was told my TSH, Free T3 and Free T4 for levels were OK, I was just extremely deficient in iodine and had a few other deficiencies such as zinc and vitamin D (all of which are really important for your thyroid). Your thyroid can’t actually function properly without iodine (and zinc) so my doctor suggested that I take iodine and zinc supplements, which I did.
I started taking 288mcg of liquid iodine (Bioceuticals brand) daily. After a month I hadn’t noticed much difference. I did some research online (I’m a sucker for it!) and found a lot of stories about people with hypothyroidism and how some people were taking 12.5mg of iodine daily.
I was taking 0.288mg. Not even 1mg! I upped my dose to 1.2mg daily (not even close to 12.5mg) and after about 6 weeks I started noticing improvements. The weight started dropping off and I hadn’t changed my diet and exercise. I was actually doing a lot less exercise. I was happy about this, but I wanted some better advice.
I booked in to see another naturopath who specialised in hypothyroidism and I finally got the results I was after! Turns out my Free T4 and Free T3 levels weren’t OK – they were both low. But what my other doctor didn’t test for was Reverse T3.
I don’t want to get too technical, but basically Free T4 needs to convert to Free T3 because Free T3 is the active form of the thyroid hormone. My Reverse T3 was very very high and I was told that my Free T4 was converting to Reverse T3 instead of the usable Free T3.
I finally had some answers!
I was also tested for every possible deficiency that you can imagine and I was still low in iodine (although it had increased a fair bit since taking the supplements). I was also still very low in zinc, and a whole range of other things such as magnesium and iron.
TREATMENT FOR HYPOTHYROIDISM 2017 – FROM NATUROPATH
The second naturopath (who did the better testing) gave me the following supplements.
ENERGY FORMULA ONE
This is basically like a multivitamin, just with more absorbable forms of each vitamin/mineral. I have been taking this long term and it seems to help. It has lots of B vitamins, zinc and selenium, which are all important.
It also has a high dosage of iodine in it. I found that liquid iodine (Bioceuticals) worked better than capsules for me.
My naturopath told me that this type of zinc is more bioavailable than over the counter zinc supplements, and is a stronger dose. I’m currently taking 2 of these per day (60mg in total). Correction – zinc picolinate is the best form according to my doctor.
I tried this capsule form of iodine as well, but didn’t see much difference.
OCTOBER 2018 – UPDATE
After taking this medication above, I was still struggling with hypothyroidism symptoms such as extreme fatigue, weight gain / inability to lose weight, puffy, etc.
I came back to Australia and decided to see an Integrative Doctor rather than a naturopath. In hindsight, I should have done this much sooner.
We did more tests, and turns out I had the following:
- Hypothyroidism caused by poor T4 to T3 conversion, and high Reverse T3
- Pyrroles disorder (deficiency in zinc and Vitamin B6)
- Iodine deficiency
- Other deficiencies including silica, chromium and magnesium.
- High leptin (my leptin levels are that of an extremely obese person)
TREATMENT FOR HYPOTHYROIDISM – INTEGRATIVE DOCTOR
TO TREAT HYPOTHYRIOIDISM – SLOW RELEASE T3
To fix the T4 to T3 conversion and high Reverse T3, I need to take a T3 only supplement. I had mine made at a compounding pharmacy. I am taking it for 50 days. After this, I will be tested again and then my dosage will either by changed, or I will be able to stop taking them.
I noticed a HUGE difference in fatigue within the first 2 weeks! It is honestly the best I’ve felt in a long time.
You can only get this medication from a doctor, not a naturopath, and you cannot order it online. Most regular doctors or endocrinologists will not issue this medication, so it is best to see an Integrative Doctor.
TO TREAT PYRROLES DISORDER
Pyrroles disorder results in chronic long term deficiencies of zinc and Vitamin B6. I won’t go into more detail about this disorder in this blog post. But I will need to take medication for life to treat it. The medication is high dosage zinc and Vitamin B6 in the right ratios.
I am also taking extra zinc, in the form of zinc picolinate.
TO TREAT IODINE DEFICIENCY
I have been taking low dosage iodine for 1.5 years and am still deficient. So this time, I am again taking the high dosage iodine supplement from Lucy Rose Clinic (capsule form).
Last time though, I didn’t think it did much for me. So I am also taking Bioceuticals liquid iodine as well. I will have my levels tested again soon to make sure they are back up where they should be.
TO TREAT NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES
My nutrients deficiencies are magnesium, chromium and silica. I am taking supplements for all of these (still waiting for my silica supplements though).
Fibroplex Plus powder is great for magnesium. It also has a low dose of chromium in it, but I am taking another chromium supplement as well. It also has glutamine which is great for your gut health.
TO TREAT LETPIN REISTANCE
This one is a little more difficult to treat, and I am mostly self treating this one.
Treating zinc deficiency, adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism will help this reduce on its own. As well as getting good quality sleep!
I read these articles here and here from an Integrative Doctor and it provides some great information.
I am taking this supplement (Inositol), which lowers both insulin and leptin. And am also taking Alpha Lipoic Acid.
And I am also making the following dietary changes, which are recommended for leptin resistance:
- No grains or processed sugar
- Higher fat and lower protein and carb
- 3 meals and no snacks
If you want to try out this type of diet, I have a 7 day meal plan that is dairy, gluten and processed sugar free. But you need to be consistent and patient :)
I am also taking the following:
- Adrenotone – to help with adrenals
- Vitamin C (natural, not ascorbic acid) – vital for adrenals as well
- B complex vitamin
- Iron (only during my period)
- Vitamin D (only when I don’t get much sun)
- NAC or “n-acetyl-cysteine” – helps to reduce mucin, which is the fluid build up experienced with hypothyroidism. This is generally around the jawline, backs of arms and mid region.
- Chlorella, spirulina and camu camu (put in my smoothies)
- Brazil nuts (for selenium)
ADVICE ON SUPPLEMENTS
If you buy supplements online, the best brands are:
- Thorne Research
- Pure Encapsulations
- NOW Foods
SUMMARY OF WHAT HAS HELPD THE MOST
Seeing an Integrative Doctor helped a LOT! I had seen other doctors and naturopaths, but finding the right one to help you is the most important thing.
Also, getting the right tests done is super important (see below about what tests you should get for hypothyroidism). One thing I have found with naturopaths is that they are great with doing the right tests, but not as good with treatment (that is just based on my experience).
Sleep and reducing exercise are 2 critical things – your body can’t heal without these. This made a big difference for me.
And finally, T3 medication has helped me an extreme amount! When I first started taking iodine, I noticed a huge difference too.
Just keep in mind that treating hypothyroidism and feeling better won’t happen overnight. Likely it will be years. So don’t get disheartened if you don’t feel great straight away. Keep going!
TESTING THAT I RECOMMEND
If you do suspect that you have hypothyroidism, please see a specialist and make sure you get tested for ALL of the following (make sure they don’t miss anything out!):
- Free T3
- Free T4
- Reverse T3
- Thyroid antibiodies
- All nutrients (but especially zinc, magnesium, iron and selenium)
- It could also be worthwhile getting your saliva cortisol tests done to see if you have issues with your adrenals.
Reducing the amount of stress in your life, and increasing your sleep are both 2 things that are critical.
I reduced the amount of travel I was doing as this severely affected my sleep and put a lot of stress on my body.
And I have been sleeping as MUCH as I can – roughly 10 hours per night. I do absolutely everything I can to make sure I can get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep is the most important thing for helping adrenal fatigue, so it is extremely important. Don’t skip your sleep!
I also cut back my exercise. It was really hard to do at first, especially when I was gaining weight. I just wanted to exercise more and more.
But what your body needs to recover is rest, sleep, the right supplements and just for you to slow down. All I have been doing is walking and a few circuits (all light circuits – no HIIT or weights). And a little bit of yoga. It has helped a lot!
If you want to change your lifestyle in order to help your body recover faster, I have a complete workout plan that combines cardio and lighter resistance training. And I’ve designed an 8-week meal plan that will help you eat healthy and cut down on processed sugar. You can find my workout and nutrition plan here.
Changing your lifestyle will probably help a lot but I would also advise you to find a good integrative doctor :)
Good luck! I wish you all the best xxx
You are such a blessing to me (in my life)!!!
This post helped me so so very much you have no idea.. you just saved me!!!
Thank You soo sooo very much for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to wright this post, a post with such detail and depth as this hypothyroidism post!!!
You are a life saver and such an inspiration too me as an independent woman!
You are just amazing Rachel Attard!!!
I’m so glad to know that Rachael was able to help and inspire you through her story. We’ll make sure to forward your message to her. :)
If you need help or tips, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We wish you all the best! xx
Hi please can you let me know which doctor you saw in Australia , I suffer from the same and suffer from weight gain, hair loss and extreme fatigue and mind fog
Thanks for reaching out! :)
Rachael went to Dr Ruth Quinney at the Cassia Wellness Clinic at the Gold Coast – she specializes in thyroid.
Rachael says that in terms of naturopaths in Australia, it really depends on what the issue is and what city you are in.
She doesn’t really have any good recommendations, unfortunately.
She recommends that you do lots of research and find one that really specializes in your hormone issue – the more specialized they are, the better!
Hope this helps! :) xx
I love your content and thank you for sharing your journey! Did your doctor indicate that your hyperthyroidism was due to the long term birth control use or other factors as well?
The main factor for my hypothyroidism was actually adrenal fatigue and really high and then really low cortisol levels. The thyroid hormone T4 needs to convert to T3 (T3 is the active form). My messed up cortisol levels were causing T4 to convert to Reverse T3, and so my T3 was very low. The issues with cortisol were actually brought on my stress, travel and not sleeping. Long term birth control use can also contribute though. Your thyroid needs iodine, iron, selenium and zinc to function properly. Birth control depletes these nutrients and makes you deficient, so your thyroid doesn’t work as well. I had to take all of these as supplements. Also, I had hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), not hyperthyroidism (overactive). I hope that helps!
Hello- so helpful to see someone with a similar journey. Thank you so much for sharing. I have a few questions that I hope you could answer:
– how is your hypothyroidism doing now?
– did you get any side-effects from the iodine supplement?
– how long did it take for you to feel better (ie more energized, mental clarity, lose the excess weight etc.)?
– where can we access your meal and workout plans for people dealing with this?
Thanks so much!!!
Rachael has been taking iodine, T3 (thyroid hormone) plus a few other things. It took her about 4 months to lose weight and feel back to normal. Unfortunately her iodine deficiency is still bad so she’s still taking these supplements. I think the weight loss and other side effects are more from T3 but iodine does help a lot too!
We don’t have a special program for women who are having these issues, but we highly recommend giving our Lean Legs Program a try because it’s suitable for you as well! :)
The Lean Legs Program has been designed to include the perfect type of resistance training and cardio to give you a lean and toned look, without making you bulky.
It’s an 8 week workout and nutrition plan that will help you slim down your legs, but will also help you slim and tone your upper body and core too (the workouts are full body).
It also includes a full meal plan, a separate recipe ebook and demonstration videos.
You can find out more about it here:
Lean Legs Program
Do u know of any good clinics like that in the Uk? London? The ones on Harley street cost rather a lot.
Unfortunately we don’t know of any good clinics in the UK yet. I hope you find the right place soon! xx
Hi, reading your post was like reading my own story. Thanks so much for sharing. Are you able to share the name of the integrative doctor or clinic? I also saw a naturopath and had limited success with the energy formula one so would love to know who can actually prescribe T3 meds in Australia. Thank you again!
Any integrative doctor should be able to prescribe T3 medication. :) Rachael went to Dr Ruth Quinney at the Cassia Wellness Clinic at the Gold Coast (she specializes in thyroid and she is amazing)! xx
I have the same issues as you, I struggle. Could you tell me who was your naturopath? I live in Australia NSW, I thought maybe I could go and see the naturopath who helped you out.
I’m struggling with Lyme disease since 6 years and lingering adrenal fatigue and I think I have some kind of thyroid disregulation but I do need someone to listen and help me.
If you have any advice to share please do :)
Thanks for sharing your story, gives me hope and strength!
Rachael went to the Lucy Rose Clinic in Brisbane and she would recommend it to you. They also have clinics in NSW. I hope you get the help you need there :) wishing you best of luck! xx
Lean Legs Club support
I’m struggling with very similar symptoms that you have listed, and I’ve also done a lot of online searching for answers (i’m also a sucker for it!). I found that many of my symptoms fit right in with hypothyroidism.
I’ve also had a lot of issues with gut health and digestion in the past, and it was a very lengthy and difficult process just to get a doctor to take my problems seriously..
I was wondering if you could possibly email me back with those photos of you before you were diagnosed and treated for hypothyroidism?
Would you be able to tell me roughly how old you were when you first started experiencing symptoms of hypothyroidism? I’m asking because I am only 20 years old and I’ve read that hypothyroidism is typically most common in women of ages 40+.
Also, do you know why your first thyroid panel came back OK? I’m afraid that mine will come back OK and I will be left without an answer for all of these symptoms I am having.
Thanks so much!
Hi Rachel, I found your blog via Google because I am sitting here with a pot of Energy Formula One capsules which has just arrived from the Lucy Rose clinic. “SNAP!!”
I am concerned by your comments about adrenals and will certainly start this supplement with caution.
I am on the Gold Coast and attend the clinic there.
I may well have your naturopath next time as the lovely lady I see here is heading overseas and someone from Brisbane is coming.
I took the 24 hour urine test (Thyroid analysis) and the Hormone profile blood test. Did you also take these tests too?
After paying out all those dollars I am hoping that they have chosen the ingredients which are correct for me.
I have also just started taking Activated beet greens (a compound made up in the clinic by the naturopath), and Activated beet greens powder, supplied by the clinic. No Lugols is recommended.
Having used another naturopath 3 years ago who disappeared to Perth to do more study, and who followed the regime determined by Nutripath, I am so far happy that the Lucy Rose Clinic is independent of supplier pressure.
Since she departed and left me in the lurch my hypothyroidism has become progressively worse, so I am really in need of good informed care.
Great article, thank you for posting! I’ve been looking into the Lucy Rose Clinic. I’ve had debilitating fatigue for nearly a decade and now highly suspect I have adrenal fatigue and thyroid issues.
I’ve been reading it’s important to treat adrenal fatigue before thyroid. So, I’m not sure what the best first step would be. Are the Lucy Rose Clinic experienced with adrenal fatigue? Or should I get myself tested elsewhere? Or would going to their clinic from the get go still be helpful?
If doing it all over again with the knowledge you have now, what would you do first?
Hi Emma! I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through adrenal fatigue and thyroid issues – I know how difficult it can be! Knowing what I know now, no I would not go to Lucy Rose Clinic first. They are not experienced in adrenal fatigue and you are right, you should treat adrenals before thyroid otherwise it can backfire (which kinda was the case with me). I would definitely seek help from an adrenal fatigue specialist before anything else. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask me! I wish you all the best xxx
Wow l feel like l have just read my story thus far ..?…thanks for sharing ☺
After reading all this
i know i am a little late but just reading all of your responses and this sounds a lot like me. I was wondering if anyone knows of a great naturopath in Adelaide South Australia.
Hi lovely, I don’t sorry. I would try to look for one that specialises in gut health. I wish you all the best! xx
My story sounds just like yours but unfortuately it took years before I found the answers. A month ago I went to the Lucy Rose clinic and was put on a similar treatment as you. I’ve been taking the energy formula for 2 weeks now and am having detox symptoms and not much else, still feeling pretty crappy actually. How long was it before you started feeling a difference in your energy and weight loss? I have had to stop running, cycling and weight training literally because I feel so weak, but I cant wait till I start to feel normal again so that I get my fitness back! And I cant wait to be able to lose the 8kg I have gained in the last 2 months! Thanks for this blog Rachael, I want to hear more :)
Hi Katrina, oh I’m so sorry to hear this :( It took me a couple of weeks to start getting results. But after a while, I started to go backwards. The main reason was because I also had (and still have) adrenal fatigue, and was treating my thyroid without treating my adrenals first. The medication was too stimulating and was causing my adrenals to work extra hard when all they needed was time to recover. So it is in part my fault for not realizing this, but unfortunately the Lucy Rose Clinic was not experienced with adrenal fatigue and those hormones so that’s why it didn’t end up working out too well for me. They did help me realize nutrient deficiencies and heavy metal toxicity and addressing those did help! I’m not sure if you have adrenal fatigue issues, but perhaps read of this blog post I wrote for more info. I wish you all the best!! xx
Thanks so much for your reply. The energy formula was too stimulating for me too, your experiences made me realise that, and I was experiencing were detox symptoms. I have cut right back on the dose and for the first time in weeks I am starting to feel better. I woke up naturally at 6am and went for a run! Unbelievable! Anyway, thanks.
Oh good for you lovely! I hope you make a full recovery soon :) xx
Rachel, really great that you shared your own experience. I was nodding to all the symptoms you’ve had (including pass 2 years!).
Would you happened to have any recommended naturopath / doctors in Sydney perhaps?
Hi Jo, I went to the Lucy Rose Clinic in Brisbane, but their main clinics are actually in Sydney. I would highly recommend them! I saw a few different doctors and naturopaths but I thought they were the best :) Good luck! xx
I also was diagnosed of hypothyroidism last year. I experienced the same as you did – suddenly started gaining weight, was always tired, had digestion issues, and thought it could be coz of getting older. Haha! But my cholesterol was very high and that’s when my doctor tested my thyroid hormones.
I used to have the opposite in my teenage years, hyperthyroidism, and I was very skinny then. It got cured in my early 20s and I was on a good weight and body shape after that for a long time. I would gain weight sometimes but it was easy to lose it by exercising and dieting.
But 2 years ago, the weight gain started eventhough I was actually exercising more and eating healthier. And just like you, I noticed the gain around my waist and upper legs. I have long legs and they used to be slim so I’m hating the change and how they look now…? And this is actually how I found your website!✨
Well, I just want to say that your posts about your struggles with hyperthyroidism are very helpful. I have different medication but I think I will try to add some iodine and zinc to my supplements. Zinc is good for skin anyway so that’s a plus!
Also, despite the sickness, how you got back to the body you like with your program gives me hope and encouragement. You’re my role model now and I’ll try to work hard too to get back to the body shape and health that I’m happy with. Thank you for your website and posts!?❤️
Hi lovely, aww thank you so much for your comment. I definitely know how tough it can be. I’m glad to hear that you got the tests done and are getting treated. I have only been on my medication for a few weeks so it’s still a challenge finding out what is working and what is not. I’ll update this blog post in a couple of weeks with my progress. I’m happy that my story can help others! I wish you all the best xxx
Thanks for posting this, Rachael. I’m going to my first appointment with a naturopath in a few weeks for some similar issues (stubborn belly fat/bloating), so this is helpful.
Would you mind answering a few other questions?
1) Have you noticed any side effects from any of your supplements or prescriptions? (e.g. nausea, headaches, etc.)
2) If you are not on contraceptives, are you taking any sort of hormonal/birth control medication? (feel free to skip this one- I know it’s a little personal!)
3) Are these medications that you are taking meant to be taken for a limited amount of time, or are they part of your long-term wellness plan?
Congrats on your upcoming wedding! (I’m getting married in June as well- hooray for June brides!)
Hi Kate, happy to help! Yes I did have a bit of nausea, trouble sleeping and some flu like symptoms. But they seem to be going away now. I have been told that the medication is quite strong so these symptoms are normal and are because of your liver detoxing. I’m not taking any form of birth control at the moment as I’m scared of putting any other fake hormones into my body. I’m tracking my cycle on a free app called MyDays so tells you when you’re ovulating and we’re just extra careful around those times ;) The medication I’m currently taking will be for about 12 weeks only. After that, my naturopath is going to give me a lower dose of iodine for maintenance, and I’ll continue to take probiotics for my gut health. But that should be about it :) I hope that helps! And congrats to you on your wedding as well! xx
This post has been really helpful and sounds just me. I have been doing lots of exercise and dieting but gaining weight instead of losing. Thyroid tests came back normal. Would you mind sharing details of your naturopath. I am in Brisbane if it helps. Would love to get these tests done asap. Thanks heaps for sharing your story.
Hi Shobna, I saw Rachael Fuller at the Lucy Rose Clinic in Brisbane. Anyone at the Lucy Rose Clinic would be great though as they really specialise in just this. Definitely go and see them – they are amazing! Good luck, wishing you all the best xx