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Is Surgery Required to Overcome Hashimoto’s & Hypothyroidism? Thyroidectomy and other treatments

You go into your doctor with some concerns about your health — maybe you’re feeling exhausted and lethargic, no energy, you’ve unexpectedly gained some weight, you’re fighting insomnia and brain fog… Or worse, you’ve found a lump at the base of your throat.

What seems like an achingly long time and dozens of tests later, and your doctor gives you the news: it’s your thyroid and he wants to take it out.

In fact, thyroidectomy is being studied by some doctors as a treatment not just for Graves, goiters, thyroid cancer and other growths, but for Hashimoto’s disease.

Surgery, no matter how supposedly major or minor, is no laughing matter, and neither is removing a vital organ from your body!  Being faced with the possibility of a thyroidectomy can be a terrifying and confusing ordeal.

Can you ever heal after having a thyroidectomy and return to a “normal” life?  Will you have to take synthetic hormones forever?

Do you need to have a thyroidectomy in order to heal?  Is it the only way forward?

So let’s break it down and clear up some of the confusion.

Thyroidectomies: The good, the bad, and the ugly

First, let’s talk about what a thyroidectomy is and when it might be necessary.

A thyroidectomy is just what it sounds like: removal of all or part of the thyroid gland. The thyroid has two “lobes” — picture the two wings of a butterfly. When only one lobe is affected by a growth or other problem, sometimes only a partial thyroidectomy is necessary, and the patient can keep the other lobe, which can continue to function normally.  

When part of the thyroid is removed, the other part can continue to produce some or even all of the thyroid hormones the body needs.

A full or partial thyroidectomy is a common treatment for thyroid cancer, because one of the best treatments for cancer is to remove the cancerous tumors before they have a chance to spread.

If you have a confirmed cancer diagnosis, thyroidectomy may be medically necessary and is definitely something to consider. However, I recommend first watching The Truth About Cancer series; then take the treatment options that resonate with you to your doctor, and use your list and her recommendations to come up with your personal healing plan.

When it’s not cancer

Unfortunately, many doctors are quick to prescribe a thyroidectomy for problems that don’t include cancer. Goiters, Grave’s disease, other benign (non-cancerous) growths and even hyperthyroidism are sometimes treated by removing the thyroid.

And while thyroidectomy is generally considered “safe” by the western medical community, there are risks any time you have surgery. Risks with thyroidectomy can include uncontrolled bleeding, infection, nerve damage, and damage to the airway or vocal chords.

In addition, removing the thyroid gland causes a permanent imbalance in your hormones that is most often treated with artificial thyroid hormone replacement drugs — which have side effects and complications of their own.

My personal opinion on this (and this is not medical advice, remember) is that surgery is too often prescribed as a remedy for thyroid problems. Just because we can live without our thyroid, doesn’t mean we should, and too often, surgery is provided as the solution before the root cause of the problem has ever been found!

Just because we can live without our thyroid, doesn’t mean we should. Click To Tweet

It reminds me of the old saying, “When you have a hammer, every problem becomes a nail.” A surgeon is likely to recommend surgery to fix most any problem he thinks he can fix, because that is what he is trained to do.

But in many (if not most) cases, thyroid problems can be addressed with diet and lifestyle changes that address the root causes of the problem, rather than just trying to eliminate the symptoms.

Treatment options to prevent thyroidectomy

Of course, you must work with a doctor you know and trust, because every situation is unique, but in my experience, many thyroidectomies could be avoided given the time and opportunity to address the root causes of the problem with lifestyle changes:

  • Add a functional medicine doctor or qualified coach to your healing team. Functional medicine looks at the whole body and the whole person, rather than focusing on a single symptom or set of symptoms. A functional medicine doctor can help you identify and treat the root causes of your thyroid problems.
  • Tackle the three pillars of thyroid healing: repair your leaky gut, support your adrenals, and balance your hormones. For many people, this trifecta will help to address the root causes of your thyroid problems and put you on the path to healing.
  • Eliminate the possibility of infection. Working with a doctor who understands the intricacies of thyroid disease, have yourself tested for the most common infections that can be an underlying cause of thyroid problems. A wonderful program that helps you work with your doctor to battle infections is

Approved!Dr. Izabella Wentz’s Hacking Hashimoto’s Program. She developed this course “for people who have “tried everything”, after having worked with hundreds of people with Hashimoto’s. In surveying the participants, 75% were able to reduce their fatigue and 56% saw a reduction in thyroid antibodies within three months, among many other improvements.”

  • Check for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Many problems are caused or exacerbated by deficiencies in our diet. We live in such an age of abundance, it’s hard to imagine that our bodies could be starving, but often they are because of the poor quality or variety of foods we eat.
  • Add more iodine and selenium to your diet. Iodine is vital for proper thyroid function, but too much can be toxic. Selenium is a natural balance to prevent iodine toxicity. Adding iodine and selenium-rich foods to your diet can be a healthy way to help rebalance your thyroid.

Of course, if you’ve already undergone a full or partial thyroidectomy, don’t worry!  There is still hope for you to heal.  

In my experience working with hundreds of thyroid patients, I’ve found that the same diet and lifestyle changes that have the biggest impact on people looking to heal their thyroids often have the same kind of impact on people who have had their thyroids removed.

Following the three pillars of thyroid health will improve the way your body accepts and processes thyroid hormone, and may help you reduce the amount of thyroid hormone you need to take as a replacement therapy — and therefore reduce the side effects.

Whether you have already undergone a thyroidectomy, are facing a recommendation for one, or simply want to prevent the need for one in the future, I provide a ton of resources on healing your thyroid, including:

  • Our totally free Thyroid Healing Type Assessment, Report and Coaching Sessions
  • Right here on my blog, where I talk about what’s worked best for me and my clients, as well as the latest research and resources I come across.  You can subscribe to get new blog posts delivered right to your email by signing up on the righthand side of the page.
  • My book, Healing Hashimoto’s Naturally — part memoir, part instruction manual for how I personally healed my Hashimoto’s disease.
  • My exclusive free 6 Thyroid Myths That Can Keep You From Healing workshop — with info on the comprehensive Thyroid Fix in 6 program, which walks you through, step-by-step, the exact actions you need to take to heal your thyroid and get your life back! We’ve seen hundreds of participants in the Thyroid Fix in 6 avoid, decrease, or even eliminate the need need for thyroid medications.
  • The incredible Your Best Thyroid Life Video Bundle, in which I personally invited 27 of the world’s top health experts to share their best tips for living with and healing thyroid disease.

Remember, no matter what diagnosis you’re facing, you always have a choice. Build your healing team with that in mind, and you can heal and have a normal life again!

Jen Wittman Thyroid CoachJen Wittman is a Certified Holistic Health Expert, Chef, Author & Vitality Coach, who teaches women how to reverse thyroid and autoimmune conditions naturally. She’s helped hundreds of women decrease (or even eliminate) their thyroid medications and has helped others stay off thyroid medication entirely.

Through her free Thyroid Healing Type Assessment, Jen teaches easy and simple steps to thyroid healing that can fit into your busy day. She also provides print outs to bring to your next doctor’s appointment so you can get the support and respect you deserve.

**This article contains the ideas of Jen Wittman and is not meant to be  considered medical advice. For medical advice, consult a licensed doctor or specialist.

4 thoughts on “Is Surgery Required to Overcome Hashimoto’s & Hypothyroidism? Thyroidectomy and other treatments

  1. Ann Zaffarese

    Hi there,i have had the run around with so many doctors that ive given up,i have a goiter that no one can feel,ive bee told im hyper and to have rai or surgery,i choose none of them…I cut out bread and cut down on sugar,ive been adding turmeric and coconut to my diet,im feeling better but day of anxiety are still full on…and my muscles had deteriated a fair bit.I have been going through menopause for the last 10 years due to surgical hysterectomy and ovarian cancer…Shouls I still have my thyroid removed?im worried it will go cancerous if I leave it?and is ovarian cancer linked to the thyroid at all being the endocrine system?

    Reply |
    1. JenWittman

      Hi Ann,

      I’m so sorry you’ve been getting the run around. There is a connection to thyroid dysfunction and cancers. I discuss this a little more in detail here…. Unfortunately, I can not advise you on whether you should get your thyroid removed. Seek out a functional doctor in your area to get be advised on that. Each person’s situation is unique when it comes to their body, lifestyle and health history and it is important you seek medical care from a medical professional who can thoroughly review your history.

      What I can offer is that nodules can grow and disappear depending on how well you’re taking care of your body and nourishing yourself. Make sure you’re eating a supportive diet and doing self-care practices in addition to working with a doctor. I have more information on diet and self-care in the free coaching sessions that come along with the free thyroid assessment at the top of the page. Be well and don’t hesitate to reach out. xo

      Reply |
  2. Tabatha Gauthier

    Hi, I had both my thyriods removed 01/25/2016. On January 4th, 2016 I that I was anemic and had severe Iron Deficiency. Surgeon was notified and did blood work morning of surgery I was 89. He said it was safe for me to still have the surgery. I also take blood thinners (Warfarin) everyday. I stopped taking the blood thinner five days before surgery and started 100mg of Loveknocks twice a day. I have had two separate blood clots to my lungs and one blood clot in the deep veins in my left leg. My thyriods were removed because the left side did not function any longer and had two tumours and the right side was not fully functional with three tumours on it. I have a long history of thyriod cancer in my family. Three closely related to me had both thyriods removed and all six thyriods were cancerous. I was not able to have mine by-opsy because of risk of bleeding from blood thinners. So I went ahead and had both thyriods removed. I suffered from a major mental breakdown down in 2014 spent 8 months in hospital. I was treated for cronic depression the was very restrain I was placed on many anti depressants none worked. I left hospital still non-functioning. In April 2015 was placed on a new antidepressants which helped a lot over the next few months I was getting better and was feeling great until about December 2015. Since my surgery I am lifeless no energy sleep constantly don’t eat loving weight and very depressed. I am being told that it should get better once my body adapts to the meds. I take 150mg of Shytriod a day. I am six weeks post op and just feeling like the life is being sucked out of me. I had my levels checked 3 weeks after surgery and assumed all was normal because never heard back from Dr. How often should I be tested. I do not want to go back to the person I was in 2014 but at this point I am hopeless. I go from the bed to the chair back to the bed. I have a 21 year old and 18 year old thank goodness they can care for themselves because I can’t do anything. Can’t even clean. Please tell me this is going to get better.

    Reply |
    1. JenWittman

      Tabatha – it absolutely can get better if your body is nourished and supported. We’ve got loads of free resources on the site to help your body feel it’s best (even if your thyroid isn’t present anymore). If you take the free quiz at the top of the page, you’ll also received free coaching sessions via email that will walk you through how to feel better. Be well! Warmly, Ashley, Team TLC

      Reply |

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