What Your MD Isn’t Telling You About Your Thyroid Medication

Levothyroxine (Synthroid) is the second most prescribed drug in the United States and if you’re taking it there is a good chance that you shouldn’t be. In my practice, I frequently see patients who are taking thyroid medication who come in and still feel crappy. Their thyroid levels are fine, so they don’t think it has anything to do with their thyroid or medication. My first question to them is, “did they test your adrenals before putting you on thyroid medication?”

Guess what the answer is? The answer is always, “no.” Why is that important? In the drug inserts for these medications and on their website literature it says, “This drug should not be taken by those with insufficient adrenals.”

So, should you be taking the drug if your adrenals haven’t been tested? No! How are you going to know if you have insufficient adrenals if they aren’t tested? You won’t. If you have insufficient adrenals you should not be taking this drug. Is that my opinion? No, it’s on their label!

The thing about insufficient adrenals is you can’t correct it properly. If it’s not properly tested, you will never get long term adrenal function. It will keep coming back and, if you are familiar with the Swiss Watch Principle you understand that it’s going to impact other parts of your body’s function because all the body systems are connected.

What is adrenal insufficiency? It’s a pretty broad definition.

  • Under function
  • Feedback loop isn’t working
  • Overworked
  • Too much stress
  • Excessive cortisol
  • Too much DHEA

Like I said, that’s a pretty broad definition and let’s be real- there are a lot of people this could apply to. If people with insufficient adrenals should not be taking this medication, why aren’t they testing adrenals before prescribing. That’s a good question!

It could be because they don’t know or because they don’t know of another option to help you. One of the problems with this is the adrenals and the thyroid work together. It’s that Swiss Watch Principle again. If one goes up the other must go down.

If you actually have low adrenals the thyroid will try to compensate and go up. So, if your adrenals are low and you take a medication to make them go up you suppress your adrenals even more. So, the thyroid medication can actually further exacerbate adrenal insufficiency. It can push you into adrenal disease!

This can induce side effects like heart attacks. How can a thyroid medication have a heart attack as a side effect? The medication can induce adrenal problems and that can greatly affect the aortic function. All of our body systems are connected!

You have to be very careful.  I have seen thousands of patients whose thyroid medication was inducing a major part of their health problems but their TSH levels were normal, so they never connect it to their medication. They say, “my thyroid is great.” They don’t link it to the other problems they are having. Let me say this again for those in the back…before you take a thyroid medication, you need to get tested properly.

Signs of Adrenal Insufficiency

  • Pupil dilation
  • Allergies and breathing complaints
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Depression
  • Dry skin
  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Loss of muscle tone
  • Blood pressure problems
  • Low sex drive
  • Poor circulation
  • Weight gain

Those symptoms for adrenal insufficiency are the same symptoms for the thyroid problem. So, you could go into the doctor with those symptoms and if they don’t test you they could just put you on one of the most prescribed medications in the U.S. They might just assume you have a thyroid problem when you have an adrenal problem.

So, what do you do if you have these symptoms? What would I do for myself and my family?

Get tested

Getting tested properly will tell you what is going on. Your doctor can’t make an assessment for a functioning body if the testing is incomplete. You won’t know what your body needs to function normally and without medication.

Start shutting down at 9 pm.

Your circadian rhythm impacts your adrenals. I hear from ladies all the time, “Doc, I’m a night person” If you’re a night person you’re going to be very sick. Because you’re running on adrenaline and eventually you’re going to puke out. You need to get rest at night. Try going to bed earlier compared to later. Even if you get the same number of hours sleep you will feel more rested if you go to be earlier! The number of hours you get before midnight can dramatically change your health.  Also, make sure to sleep in a dark room and start turning lights/ electronics off before bedtime to get good sleep.

Get an inversion table

When you put your heart and head below your adrenals it’s going to let your adrenals rest. Where are your adrenals? Right above your kidneys. That’s why if you’re adrenals are stressed you can have lower back pain. An inversion table is something you can find really cheap on craigslist or find another way to get heart and head below adrenals. Try yoga or even putting a board under the mattress at the bottom of your bed.

Reduce EMF exposure

We are surrounded by radiation from electromagnetic fields all the time. Our modern-day world has boosted that exposure with electronics including microwaves, WiFi, computers, and that phone in your pocket. Reduce your exposure by turning off the appliances and devices when you aren’t using them. Reduce the harm of exposure by regularly grounding. Get those feet on the ground and feel the grass between your toes.

Want to learn more about grounding? Check out this quick tip:

Ashwagandha is a Helpful Adaptogen

I don’t like recommending herbs without testing but there is always someone who just wants to take something. There is one I feel comfortable recommending in this case. Ashwagandha is by far the best adaptogen that will help your adrenals adapt. Unlike medications, or some herbs, they will help your body adapt to what it needs not push it in a particular way.

Learn Stress Management

Stress is one of the easiest ways to make yourself sick and it will drain your adrenals. It is very important to find ways to manage your stress. Set strong boundaries and make priorities to ease some of that strain. Find time to build yourself and to relax.


CBD oil can support your adrenals in a few different ways helping with stress, sleep, and immune system. It can help you manage stress, which we already talked about being a common way to make yourself sick. CBD oil can help you get the sleep you need for your body to repair itself. Take a little before bedtime if you have been waking up still feeling exhausted. The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD oil will support your immune system to help you heal. CBD oil is great in so many ways. Look for a high-quality, full-spectrum oil like the one we make.

Get Educated on Your Thyroid Medication

Levothyroxine (Synthroid) is one of the most prescribed medications. Is it causing you or someone you know harm? Why am I worried about this? As a chiropractor it is my job to remove stresses from the body. The goal is to get your body to homeostasis, or balance, so you don’t need medication. As a practitioner, I want to be sure people are not getting hurt from their medications. If you have insufficient adrenals, or if you have not been tested, you should not be on this drug that can harm your body. Now you know.

Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn

Learn more in Dr. Patrick Flynn’s Quick Tip with Dr. Shannyn Pearce