Are You Suffering from Thyroid Dysfunction? Here’s How a Primal Lifestyle Can Help

Thyroid oldToday’s guest post is written by Elle Russ, author of Primal Blueprint Publishing’s newest upcoming title, The Paleo Thyroid Solution, which is available on To learn more about Elle, you can visit her website, ElleRuss.comElle is not a medical doctor. Her story and advice below are not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure thyroid issues, but instead to serve as a point of discussion between you and your doctor.

Chances are, you or someone you know has suffered from some kind of thyroid dysfunction.

There is a big discrepancy among experts’ estimates of how many thyroid patients exist in the United States. But the common assessment seems to be about 20 million Americans, while some groups estimate 27 million—with 13 million of them undiagnosed. Roughly 200 million people worldwide have some form of thyroid disease, and 60% of those with thyroid disease are undiagnosed and unaware of their condition.

Hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid disorder and the main subject of The Paleo Thyroid Solution, is disproportionately a woman’s disease. It’s chronically misdiagnosed; doctors often mistake the symptoms of hypothyroidism as symptoms of other conditions, without factoring thyroid dysfunction as a potential cause of those symptoms. Instead, the patient is given a prescription for the misdiagnosed condition (such as high blood pressure or depression)—and the patient remains hypothyroid and continues to deteriorate. Even when properly diagnosed, hypothyroidism is often treated with the wrong combination and/or wrong dosage levels of thyroid hormones along with the widespread unavailability of proper nutritional coaching. Both the absence of treatment and the widespread practice of mistreatment results in unnecessary suffering while creating a platform of disease within the body that eventually leads to other life-threatening conditions, such as diabetes/metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, depression, miscarriages, infertility, a variety of gynecological disorders, inflammation-related diseases, cancers, and more.

Twice in ten years, I struggled with hypothyroidism—I was slowly dying. I saw and corresponded with over fifty doctors during these two bouts, and no one knew how to help me either time. The reason all of those doctors failed to diagnose me is that they all ordered the same, incorrect blood tests, which is a widespread problem. I could feel my brain and body deteriorating rapidly, and I had developed a variety of other health problems caused by hypothyroidism and the low metabolic rate that goes hand in hand with it. It was frightening to say the least. If my thyroid condition continued to go unresolved longer than it had, I can only imagine the countless medical atrocities that would have ensued. I had already been misdiagnosed with another disease (PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome); I developed a uterine fibroid and a uterine polyp (which later had to be surgically removed); and I had alarmingly low hormone and nutrient levels of all kinds. What else was in store for me? How many more health disasters would I have experienced before I met an extremely premature demise? How many more years of my life would be wasted on this disease? These are the thoughts that motivated me to write The Paleo Thyroid Solution: so I could help save others from the grim reality of undiagnosed and mistreated hypothyroidism.

Ultimately, I took my health into my own hands—and without the assistance of doctors or medical professionals, I solved both bouts of hypothyroidism on my own (one bout was a Reverse T3 problem which is an ever-increasing problem in people who have not had a history of thyroid issues, as well as a growing problem for people on thyroid hormone replacement).

What’s So Important About the Thyroid Gland?

For one, you can’t live without it. Well, technically you can live without the actual gland, but you must give your body what the missing thyroid gland once gave you: thyroid hormones. The reason you cannot stay alive without a thyroid gland—or, more importantly, adequate levels of thyroid hormones—is that the thyroid is the master gland of the human body. The thyroid gland controls the metabolic rate of every organ in the body, from the production and regulation of sex hormones, adrenal hormones, body temperature, growth development, brain function, and heart rate, to every other element that keeps your body functioning. Inadequate or suboptimal levels of thyroid hormones in the human body will ultimately contribute to a miserable existence, likely rampant with diseases and health problems.

What Can You Do to Optimize Your Thyroid Function?

Adopting a paleo/primal lifestyle positively affects everyone’s fat-burning thyroid hormone metabolism more than any other way of eating and more than any other lifestyle strategy. This applies to people who currently don’t have thyroid issues and to people who take thyroid hormone replacement.

Here are four processes of fat-burning metabolism that apply to everyone (people taking thyroid hormone replacement and for people who have no thyroid issues):

The thyroid gland outputs T4 and T3?(or you take thyroid hormone replacement)
Your body converts the T4 into the active, fat-burning T3 hormone
The T3 arrives at work (the cells)
The T3 “punches in” to work (enters/affects the cells)

Why Is T3 So Important?

There is really only one thyroid hormone that we know for a fact is critical to life, and that hormone is called T3 (triiodothyronine). T3 is extremely powerful and is responsible for fat burning, brain function, body temperature, healthy heart rate, healthy blood pressure, physical energy, and more. T3 is energy. Having adequate levels of T3 contributes to lean muscle mass and calorie burning. T3 is what keeps your body temperature at an average of 98.6°F in healthy humans. And if you don’t have enough of it, that can lead to a whole host of hypothyroid problems.

Hypothyroidism Symptoms

I had all but three or four symptoms on this brutally long list. Many hypothyroid symptoms are not visible to others, and oftentimes doctors and family members/friends think these symptoms are in one’s head, somehow fabricated by hypochondriacal tendencies. These symptoms are not only real, they are rampant in people suffering from undiagnosed or mistreated hypothyroidism.

Cold hands/feet and generally being cold regardless of the weather
Insidious weight gain
Inability to lose weight no matter what you do
Weak arms
Low energy and stamina
Serious depression or general malaise
Needing a nap every day
Sluggish reflexes or clumsiness
Dry cracked skin on heels, ankles, and elsewhere
Hair feels like straw or like a rubber band when touched or pulled
Hair loss or loss of curliness in curly or wavy hair
Inability to focus and concentrate
Mixing up words in speech (sort of like dyslexia of the mouth) and difficulty finding/remembering words
Lower/deeper voice or scratchy/raspy voice
Brain fog and forgetfulness
Menstrual irregularities such as heavy bleeding, constant bleeding, uterine fibroids/polyps, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), miserable and long-lasting PMS.
Fibrocystic breasts (also an indication of estrogen dominance)
Infertility and miscarriages
Weak, brittle, cracking, breaking, splitting fingernails
Achy muscles and overall soreness
Blood pressure issues (high or too low)
Itchy inner ears (It’s like trying to scratch an itch that you cannot reach, even with a cotton swab. This one drove me nuts!)
Heavy legs when walking (feels like you are walking with cement legs)
Unhealthy/concerning cholesterol results
Low body temperature
Uncomfortable feeling in the throat/neck area
Digestive problems (gas, abdominal bloating)
Problems at work or the inability to function well at work
Relationship issues with family/friends, romantic partners, etc.
Increased or uncontrollable cravings for sugar and carbohydrates
Allergies (rare allergies are often related to untreated or mistreated Hashimoto’s)
Messy handwriting (Issues with brain-hand-muscle dexterity)
Heart palpitations (Often related to adrenals and/or low iron.)
Restless legs (Often related to low iron.)
Compromised immunity (Getting colds and/or flus more often)
Extended recovery needed after exercise and sore after exercise
Sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells (Often related to adrenals.)
Low or zero sex drive
Moody, sensitive, easily agitated, and feeling overwhelmed by simple everyday tasks
Swelling and inflammation
Puffy eyes and face upon waking – overall puffiness and bloat
Myxedema (Swelling of the skin and underlying tissues is typical of patients with underactive thyroid glands. Discoverable by visual assessment and not being able to pinch a miniscule bit of skin on the outside of your arms, near your shoulders. Instead one is only able to pinch a thick, large portion of skin.)
A growing “tire” of fat around your waist (thyroid and adrenal related)
Constant thirst and water won’t quench it
Feeling as if something wrong is happening to your brain, as if you are getting “dumb” and losing your cognitive abilities
Anxiety attacks

How to Get Help and More Information

The Paleo Thyroid Solution dispels outdated, conventional thyroid wisdom still practiced by uninformed doctors, and provides the in-depth guidance necessary to solve hypothyroidism, achieve vibrant health, and optimize thyroid fat-burning hormone metabolism. It contains the only lifestyle and weight loss plan specifically targeted for maximizing thyroid hormone metabolism in harmony with paleo/primal/ancestral health principles.

In The Paleo Thyroid Solution, you will learn:

  • Paleo protocols for naturally preventing and reversing low thyroid function
  • The correct blood tests to diagnose hypothyroidism and how to interpret results
  • How to optimally treat hypothyroidism with thyroid hormone replacement
  • How to have a doctor diagnose and treat Reverse T3 issues (including T3-only treatment)
  • How to find a good doctor or help educate your current doctor
  • How to lose the insidious fat and weight gained from hypothyroidism
  • An MD’s perspective on why and how doctors are uninformed and still practicing outdated thyroid protocols (in-depth commentary from integrative physician Dr. Gary E. Foresman, MD)

You can order a copy of The Paleo Thyroid Solution here.

If you or someone you know is suffering from thyroid issues, just know that there is hope, and don’t believe any doctor who tells you that your symptoms are permanent or something you’ll just “have to deal with” throughout your life. It is my mission to help thyroid sufferers get on the right path to wellness and transform from being fat, foggy, and fatigued to FIT, FOCUSED, and FULL OF LIFE!

Elle Russ

About the Author

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77 thoughts on “Are You Suffering from Thyroid Dysfunction? Here’s How a Primal Lifestyle Can Help”

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  1. Great post!! So glad Mark has someone here to talk about this issue! I just pre-ordered my copy. I can’t wait to read it!!!!

      1. I was looking for the Kindle edition of this book but couldn’t find it.

        1. me too (kindle version)

          also does it discuss sub-clinical hypotyroidism?

  2. Thyroid dysfunction is rampant and I’m so grateful we have someone in the primal community (who’s gone through it) talking about it. I know people who have Hashimoto’s and I know they’ll benefit from this book!!!

  3. So great. Going primal has been a boon to me in so many ways. I’m sure it affects thyroid health immensely, so I’m glad we now have another medium to reach people through.

  4. I love Elle on the Primal Blueprint podcast and can’t wait to read her book!!

  5. “Educate” your current doctor? With a book written by a lay person? Good luck with that.

    If you have thyroid issues that aren’t being treated adequately by your present doctor, your best bet is to find another doctor, and you may have to shop around quite a bit. That said, I do think it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can so you can discuss your thyroid malfunctions (or any other issues you have) on the same level as the doctor. He/she is much more likely to take you seriously if you know what you’re talking about.

    1. There is a highly decorated MD on the book with an very in-depth Q&A and we talk all about uninformed doctors. So, it’s not just from a laypersons mouth…it’s from a doctors mouth too. If you read the book, that’s exactly what you’ll find.

  6. I’m really looking forward to reading this. Maybe I missed it but does anyone know when the book is actually going to be released?

      1. That’s what I needed to know – thank you so much for responding. I was just curious as to when the book would actually be available to reach us as opposed to when I could order it. Thanks again, everybody!

  7. Excellent article! Very insightful, and this will surely assist others who may experience these type symptoms. Thank you!

  8. Mary Shomon covered this ground years ago (without the hyperbolic language) in Living Well With Hypothyroidism. A must-read.

    1. +1. Maybe this Paleo twist offers some new insights, but it strikes me as reinventing the wheel. Nevertheless, a Paleo/Primal diet erases so many health issues that it almost has to be good for the thyroid as well.

      1. That’s a heavy suspicion for not having read the book yet, but you are entitled to your opinion.

    2. She actually has not covered the ground I cover – or I wouldn’t have written this book. Mary Shomon has contributed greatly to the thyroid community, but she has never experienced a REVERSE T3 problem nor has she been on T3-only. So she doesn’t address these in detail like I do (which is in addition to what most thyroid books lack). My book goes into depth on dosing protocols and gives examples of before and after lab work and before and after pictures. Her books do not. She also does not offer, nor does any author offer, a detailed look at the various connections between a paleo/primal lifestyle and thyroid health. Only The Paleo Thyroid Solution does 🙂

        1. Margaret, Chris got most of his training and info from Datis Kharrazian, whose book “Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests Are Normal” is a must-read for any thyroid patient. It identifies 22 patterns of hypothyroidism. Dr. Kharrazian is the one who deserves the credit, not Chris.

  9. Interesting, such a long list of symptoms too. I’ve had a few of those symptoms before myself. Impossible to know whether or not they were related to my thyroid though. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought a pro-longed state of ketosis would down regulate your metabolism and cause a hypothyroid like state. Which ultimately causes weight loss to stall. I stay above the 50 carbs a day zone for this reason. Also not getting enough iodine and selenium will cause this too.

  10. I have a friend who has been diagnosed with Addison’s disease but presents all the symptoms of thyroid disfunction. She remains primal resistant and refuses to give up her processed convenience foods. I wish I could help

    1. Addisons/adrenal issues and thyroid issues go hand in hand because one effects the other and vice-versa. She might need more than to adopt a primal lifestyle, but it would be the ultimate in adrenals-management.

  11. Unfortunately my multitude of doctor’s were not smart enough to diagnose me until cancerous lumps were found on my thyroid by accident on a scan given for different reasons. Now I am praying that I respond to medication without having to fight for Armour. My thyroid was completely removed and my scans were clear. Thank God for luck.

    1. I took Armour for several years. Asked my PCP for it rather than Synthroid and took him some articles from StopTheThyroidMadness dot com. He was ok with it and I did much better. Then another MD told me NatureThroid was 1/3 the cost of Armour and the same desiccated pig thyroid so I switched. No problems getting either one. Docs have just been so indoctrinated by pharma reps that Synthroid is the way to go and although it’s only T4 (and synthetic at that!) your body will convert to T3. Not true for many people. I told him, let me try Armour and see how I feel and if not better, I’ll go back to Synthroid. He didn’t argue with that and now sees I do much better with the good old fashioned stuff! Important to find a doc with an open mind!

  12. Barry wrote: “I thought a pro-longed state of ketosis would down regulate your metabolism and cause a hypothyroid like state. Which ultimately causes weight loss to stall.” I also have heard/read this. I hope Elle, Mark, or some of the other very knowledgeable people on this forum will address this.

    1. This is a misconception. I will be talking about the whole subject of ketosis, low carb and thyroid connections on upcoming podcast interviews. But the short answer is: when one becomes fat-adapted, goes into ketosis, and becomes more calorically efficient, labwork might show a reduction in thyroid levels (or a need for less thyroid hormone replacement). But the person should not FEEL or BE hypothyroid. If someone claims ketosis made them hypothyroid, there are a million nuances to why this could occur, including appetite suppression from ketosis to the point of not eating enough calories for that person’s needs. In response to excessive caloric restriction, the body would need to reduce fat-burning T3 levels (chronic cardio and other stress can also do this). Also, there are underlying tangential brewers like low iron, low selenium, low vitamin D and other factors involved, which are too in-depth to go into here. But the real short of it is, IF ketosis in and of itself made people hypothyroid, we wouldn’t be here talking about it, because our population wouldn’t have advanced. People would not have successfully mated nor have had successful births, etc. (Our ancestors were often in a state of ketosis, after all.) Again, lots of nuances behind this and too much to go into here. But Jimmy Moore also talks about this subject in his book KETO CLARITY if you are curious.

  13. I have been hypothyroid for about 8 years. No endocrinologist has helped, the last one wanted me to eat 700 calories a day and take some sort of filthy “shake” as a meal substitute.
    I take T4 & T3 replacements. I gained 50 pounds. Immediately after I ditched the endo, I went Primal. I do a W30 at least once a year. I think Primal lifestyle it is the only reason I can control most of the symptoms on that list. Still impossible to lose the weight, but at 64 I am managing better than expected. I will see a new Dr. next month. Not holding out much hope for enlightenment. I should read this book first and perhaps arrive well armed. If I can remember any of it.

    1. Listen to my podcast with Dr. Foresman tomorrow. We talk about why endocrinologists are often the worst doctors to go to for thyroid health – and we also go in-depth on this subject in my book 🙂 Have a friend or family member read my book with you. I suggest this because if you’re having brain fog and cognitive issues from being hypothyroid, it can be hard to retain and assess information. I’ve been there. Also, you can always join the free Yahoo group called “Natural Thyroid Hormones” and communicate with moderators and other patients on this topic.

    1. James Bond, if you are in the UK and have thyroid issues, please visit TPAUK.

  14. Wow, thanks for all of the information. I knew some of the symptoms, but had no idea the list was so long. It’s really scary to think how many people are not being properly diagnosed.

  15. After all, what is the solution for Hypothyroidism without having to read a lilvro? Levothyroxine T4resolve? I guess not. LCLF? Lugol’s iodine?

  16. I have already pre-ordered this using the link from here, but I have some questions.
    1. is this available in large print?
    2. I have had most of thee symptoms for many years and many doc’s have said I physically look as if I have this condition. My mom, sister and daughter all do, by I test negative for it on all tests done over the years. I have often been advised to take 1 T. of coconut oil a day, which is easy for me as I always have it on hand but, can I put it on food or must I just take it all by itself and on an empty or full stomach?
    I was SO excited to discover this book here.
    Thank you SO much

    1. The eBook would give you the option of enlarging the print on your iPad or other reading device. Otherwise, it’s currently not in large print.

  17. Such a wonderful resource, Elle. Thank you!

    Looking forward to passing it along to clients, many of whom have been on thyroid meds for years or decades and whose previous doctors never discussed the role of diet or healing power of food.

    1. The friends of yours on thyroid medication might be mistreated on thyroid medication by their doctor – that happens a lot unfortunately – and I go into depth on that whole subject in my book as well 🙂

  18. Awesome article! I’m a nerd (and proud of it!) and always love reading stuff like this to deepen my basin of knowledge. Unfortunately, after reading all of those signs of hypothyroidism, I have convinced myself that I have a Thyroid dysfunction…keep the goods coming!

  19. hi,
    do you think you would release this as an ebook for kindle in the near future ? I’m in Aus and I would rather get it on kindle than get shipped from US


  20. Anthony William did a radio broadcast on Understanding the Thyroid today on Hay House Radio. He says most thyroid problems are the result of the Epstein Barr virus attacking the thyroid. The symptoms mentioned above are the symptoms of an Epstein Barr infection and not of a thyroid dysfunction.

    If you go the route suggested above and aren’t seeing positive results, then see Anthony William’s book and Facebook page, The Medical Medium.

  21. I have a lot of these symptoms, but I don’t have weight gain, or high blood pressure or high cholesterol, in fact I struggle to gain weight and my cholesterol and blood pressure are very low. Could this still be a thyroid issue?

    1. Sounds like you may have Hyperthyroidism. I wonder why no one talks about this type of thyroid problem.

  22. Elle,

    Have you ever seen any link between eating disorders (even in being in recovery from one) and low thyroid levels?


  23. YES, will someone please address HYPERTHYROID issues? Will someone please write THAT book? I search and search for information dealing with the opposite end of this spectrum and find very little that’s helpful. It’s just as debilitating but gets WAY less attention or notice. I think because it affects women more is one of the reasons why it’s ignored or dismissed so often. At the worst of my illness I too, felt like I was slowly dying, suffering severe depression and fatigue and MOST of the symptoms on the above list. For years Dr.s were telling me I was “borderline” but they couldn’t tell me what that really meant, what caused it, or what I could do about it. It wasn’t until I had full blown panic and anxiety attacks with severe heart palpitations that it was diagnosed, and then I had to be treated with radioactive iodine which “burned” off the damaged part of my thyroid. It worked to a degree and that was the same time I found the PB, so I’ve been able to heal and have some happiness and health, but it’s been a long, long road to recovery.

  24. From what I’ve read, T3 is mostly produced in the liver and kidneys. So,these (hypo)thyroid problems can actually be due to a sluggish liver.
    So,wouldn’t trying to solve the sluggish liver problem automatically resolve the thyroid problem?

    However I’d like to know, what are the most frequent causes for sluggish liver ?
    …and more importantly what to do to get that undone? (when you don’t have loads of money to buy all kinds of supplements,detox products etc.)

  25. (Pre-)Ordered the book. Ten years ago, I found Stop the Thyroid Madness, and Janie’s stuff made a HUGE difference for me! (She also has, on her website, a list of docs who are smart / self-educated about thyroid. Usually because they, or a close family member, struggled with the “Big Med” complete lack of knowledge. (And we usually call it SynthCRAP, not Synthroid!)

    I’m excited to see what Elle has written about rT3; I’m self-treating with T-3 only (ordered from Mexico) and Iodoral (ordered from Amazon.con ), and doing my own blood tests (way cheaper through because I have no insurance. My adrenals were shot (I don’t CARE that “that’s not a legit diagnosis” — it WAS true, and three years on *physiological* doses (NOT “treatment” doses, which are way larger) of hydro-cortisone (doctor-managed for this) turned me human again!!); and if your adrenals are shot, addressing your thyroid issues will NOT succeed! (Esp. not addressing them per “Big Med”!)

    It’s a bit of a struggle to separate out what’s right-and-good in thyroid / adrenal / pituitary, from what’s common and often wrong — but it’s very worthwhile! Just like learning (for yourself!) about Primal / paleo / low-carb and finding out everything you knew about food is wrong!

    I’m currently haranguing an acquaintance who is pushing his doc to send him to a nutritionist. He has CLEAR signs of adrenal problems, but insists on attributing them to psychological causes! (ARGH!) How, I keep asking him, will he have ANY idea whether or not this nutritionist is any good if HE has no idea?! He keeps saying he *will* buy “Primal Blueprint” — and his wife, with a removed thyroid will also benefit: Get on it!) I got him to start doing a tablespoon of coconut oil every morning, and whaddayh know?! It has helped hugely!

    (Ah well, all you can do is all you can do.)

    1. I love how there are a few negative comments on here from people saying they’ve already read this material – when they have not yet read the book. Stop The Thyroid Madness is one of the best websites and books for thyroid issues and ONE OF ONLY TWO books that I recommend in my book as a resource (The other one is Recovering with T3 by Paul Robinson). However, the Janie Bowthorpe did not experience a Reverse T3 problem, nor has she ever been on on T3-only….it’s a different ball game. And, there is no detailed discussion of how to lose weight in ANY thyroid book and I guarantee I have read more thyroid books than most people. Furthermore, not one book connects the paleo primal aspect and I do more than rattle off a primal food list or a definition which most books do.

      Bottom line folks – it’s irrational and illogical to pre-judge a book before reading it. I wrote this book because it does not currently exist…”If you can’t find a book you’re looking to buy, you need to write that book” – Toni Morrison

  26. Oh, should I mention my horror and dismay (and absolute fury) that my bro-in-law — on SynthCrap for decades — was unwilling to do the research: “he was fine” — as long as you discount (and he did) the fact that he woke bolt awake every morning at 3 a.m. (typical adrenal symptom — poor old adrenals shooting you some cortisol in a panic reaction — and related to insufficient thyroid treatment!) So, to deal with “being awake” he would go out on a bike ride…. 3 a.m. in L.A.! Right up until the night he was run down by a drunk and suffered traumatic brain injury, nearly died, and is now, my sister says wistfully, “not her Mark.” (He’s about 85% back from the brain injury (frontal lobe) — but he’s (unsurprisingly) a different man.)

    And DAMMNIT!! It was SO unnecessary!! “He was fine on Synthcrap.” No! NO, HE WASN’T!!

  27. Thank you for this article I have 95% of those symptoms and feel awful at the moment. Will you be releasing the book in a PDF or kindle version?

  28. I just pre-ordered. I’ve watched my mother, aunt and grandmother suffer through thyroid issues most of my life while I’ve packed on stubborn weight. My latest blood tests are showing the ‘beginning signs of thyroid issues”, which was the kick I needed to get back to eating primal.

  29. I concur with two of the commentors above………someone needs to address HYPERTHYROIDISM also, which many of us are dealing with. I’ve had weight loss, heart palpitations, and hair loss due to hyperthyroidism, and the only advice I’ve seen regarding how to heal from hyperthyroidim is to take certain supplements, which have not helped me at all. I have been eating a paleo diet (or very close to one, anyway) for 6+ years, but the hyperthyroidism still came on within the last year, and I have no idea why. Any other suggestions that might help???

  30. I have a serious thyroid condition where I ping pong between hyper and hypo thyroid states. When I first got sick the team of endocrinologists (who, I feel, did a good job of diagnosing me) recommended that I let them kill my thyroid gland and take thyroid hormone replacements for the rest of my life. (I prefer to die all at once and not in a piecemeal fashion, thank you very much.) That was all they could offer me. After administering many pinpointed tests and spending lots of time on a diagnosis, they offered me no treatment help other than what I considered (and still consider) a rather barbaric and last resort solution. In my experience Western medicine misses most subtleties in the body and is woefully behind in understanding autoimmune conditions like thyroid disease. I got sick over four years ago and was so sick for the first year that I had to go on intermittent FMLA and miss many, many work days. I was barely functioning that first year and couldn’t think about anything other than moment to moment survival. I am now in a vastly better place and while I still have healing to do my life is hardly impacted now by my thyroid disease (which I can get into complete remission for longer and longer stretches of time, but which I understand that I will always have).

    What has worked for me has been following the autoimmune paleo protocol, getting lots of sleep, meditating, avoiding stress (as much as possible), yoga, keeping artificial chemicals out of my household cleaners and beauty care products, getting acupuncture, taking supportive herbs (prescribed by my naturopath), and working with a highly qualified (and certified) somatic experiencing therapist.

    The last is perhaps the most important to share in this forum because while Western medicine (even with their many blind spots) has documented a clear correlation between survivors of sexual abuse and thyroid disease (, I rarely hear this brought up in autoimmune paleo circles. (Perhaps this is why women get thyroid diseases at such high rates. Interestingly, the thyroid gland and the ovaries share a hormone. Another likely factor for women’s higher rate of thyroid diseases is that our endocrine systems are more complex and therefore more susceptible to environmental toxins than men’s.)

    One explanation for the high correlation between survivors of sexual abuse and thyroid disease is that severe traumas like surviving war or sexual abuse cause ptsd where the body is constantly on high alert, eventually burning out the adrenals and having other serious adverse effects on the entire system. This is really well explained in the book The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk.

    In my personal experience while everything I listed above has helped, and continues to help, me to heal, the most powerful and effective by far has been the somatic experiencing therapy that I’ve utilized to heal the trauma of the sexual abuse I endured from my father when I was 4 and 5. This therapeutic work has (in uneven bursts of growth) clearly, and at points dramatically, healed my thyroid disease. (Somatic experiencing helps to release trauma that is trapped in the body. While there is talking, it is not talk therapy per se. For a deeper understanding check out Peter Levine’s book In An Unspoken Voice.)

    Those of you who are doing everything right in terms of diet and lifestyle but are still really sick with a thyroid disease might really benefit from somatic experiencing or another therapeutic modality aimed to release trauma and help the body regain equilibrium. In my experience getting my diet, herbs, and lifestyle pristine was helpful but ultimately ineffectual on its own. Removing the trauma (in bits and pieces) from my body has been a complete game changer for my health.

    I should say that there are other traumas that can affect the thyroid besides sexual abuse, plus it isn’t always necessary to even name the trauma when doing the work to release it. Knowing the story of the trauma isn’t as important as simply releasing it from the body. (Trauma stuck in the body doesn’t know time, so it doesn’t matter how “old” the trauma may be.)

    I hope sharing my story is helpful. Best wishes for healing to everyone who needs it.

  31. All the information out there seems to be geared towards hypothyroidism, what about hyperthyroidism? Hard to find anything on treating it with a primal diet. Lol maybe I’m just unlucky.

  32. What about people with both hashimotos disease and graves disease?

    Hyper and hypo thyroidism?

  33. Hi Elle,
    So I have a few questions. I recently bought a product about healing your thyroid. This person suggests no avocado because the ratio of PUFAs are too high. Also suggests orange juice and salt in the morning and keeping your sugars higher because hypoglycemia is a metabolic problem and you need to continue to put sugar in your body to acclimate your body into metabolizing sugar again. This is good for your thyroid. He also likes milk products as well for your thyroid. I am having such a hard time with these concepts. I would love to hear your thoughts. I am paraphrasing and I could copy and paste what they said and studies they site if you would like. I have been eating primal like 80% of the time. and so far I have lost some weight and lowered my medication twice without doing any of these things. He also suggests taking your temp and pulse at certain times of the day as well so monitor. He is not in favor or low or extremely low carb and says this is damaging to your thyroid as well.
    I appreciate any feedback.