Can you correct subclinical hypothyroidism naturally?
After finding out in June of this year that my thyroid was slowing down, I went on a mission to find out whether there were any food or supplements that benefit patients with subclinical hypothyroidism. Is it even possible to reverse hypothyroidism and restore normal hormone levels using only natural means? I decided to find out.
My Current TSH Levels (last measured Aug 2019)
A blood test in June of this year revealed my TSH level (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) was too high but my T4 level (Thyroxine) was normal. This means I have a subclinical hypothyroidism. The normal range is between 0.27 – 4.20. I had my blood tested again almost three months later in August. The levels had increased slightly further. The image below shows my results.
After reviewing my results my GP referred me to a Consultant Endocrinologist. In the months while I was waiting for my appointment I went away to research whether it was possible to correct my TSH levels naturally.
The first thing I discovered was a randomised controlled trial which was conducted in India in 2016 looking at the effect of Ashwaganda on subclinical hypothyroidism. 50 patients with subclinical hypothyroidism, aged between 18-50 were divided into two groups. One group took 2 x 600mg Ashwaganda daily and the other group took a placebo. After eight weeks the the group who were taking the Ashwaganda supplements had significantly reduced levels of TSH in their blood. The Ashwaganda effectively normalised their TSH levels. The conclusion of the study was that Ashwaganda may be beneficial for normalising thyroid incidences in patients with subclinical hypothyroidism. The full study can be found via the following link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28829155. In September this year I began taking 2 x 600mg capsules of Ashwaganda per day (one in the morning and one in the evening).
Foods That May Reduce TSH Levels
I also began to research what other supplements and food may be beneficial to patients with elevated TSH levels. I discovered that cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage might interfere with the production of thyroid hormones by blocking the thyroid’s ability to utilise iodine. Iodine is essential for the thyroid to function normally. Other cruciferous vegetables include Brussel spouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnips and book choy. I used to eat a lot of broccoli in my diet (usually one or two servings a week) so I started replacing this with green beans and asparagus. I looked at what other foods I should be avoiding and discovered that gluten and soya should also be limited. Unsurprisingly alcohol, sugar, caffeine and processed or fatty foods were also advised against.
Supplements That May Reduce TSH Levels
As well as my Ashwaganda supplements I researched other vitamins or herbs may be beneficial. Although I could not find a large study into it I did find a small amount of research that magnesium supplements may be of benefit. One small study (found on the Thyroid Pharmacist website) described eleven patients who had elevated TSH who took magnesium citrate for 6 weeks. At the end of the trial every patient had a drop in their TSH level. I was unable to find the source of this research however.
The main three supplements that seemed to be recommended by a number of sources were Selenium, Zinc and Vitamin D. I have started taking these supplements alongside supplements which I already take (Omega 3 fish oils and vitamin B12).
I am going to post again in a few months time when I get my TSH levels checked again to report whether there has been any change since I altered my diet and started taking Ashwaganda. I am eager to find out whether different food or supplements benefit patients with subclinical hypothyroidism. I will provide updates over the next year.
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Supplements I am Currently Taking
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Subclinical Hypothyroidism FAQs
Do we treat subclinical hypothyroidism?
Some doctors will treat subclinical hypothyroidism while others won’t. Subclinical hypothyroidism is when your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level in your blood is too high but your thyroxine (T4) level is normal.
What TSH level is considered subclinical hypothyroidism?
Subclinical hypothyroidism is a TSH level of 4.6 to 10 mIU/L. A normal TSH level is 0.4 to 4.0 mIU/L.
Is subclinical hypothyroidism serious?
No, it is a common problem.
What is the difference between subclinical hypothyroidism and hypothyroidism?
Subclinical Hypothyroidism is where the only abnormal hormone level is an increase in TSH. Hypothyroidism is where you have both an increased TSH and a decreased T4 level.
What causes subclinical hypothyroidism?
The most common cause is an autoimmune thyroid disease, such as Hashimoto’s disease.