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Chronic Neuroimmune Diseases
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Last updated January 1, 2014

Thyroid Need-To-Know

If you are taking medication for thyroid disease, here are some things you need to know...

©2002 Melissa Kaplan

Popping your daily thyroid medication isn't as easy as just opening the bottle and taking the pill...not if you take other drugs (prescription or over-the-counter), herbs, dietary supplements, and your brain doesn't function without that cup of extra-strength cappuccino in the morning.


Drug Interactions
Drugs can interfere with other drugs by blocking their action, or reducing their intended effect, or combine to cause other health problems, ranging from depression, GI symptoms, central nervous system disorders, and more. Be sure to inform your doctor about all the medicines you use (both prescription and nonprescription). As can be seen from the list below, there is a wide range of drugs and supplements that can interfere with your thyroid medication. Drug interactions and precautions fall into two main categories:

  • Drugs you should not take together but can take if they are separated by several hours

  • Drugs that, when taken during the same day, especially over a prolonged period of time, can cause health problems

If you are taking any of the following drugs or supplements, take them at least 4 hours apart from your thyroid medication:

Aluminum or calcium antacids
Calcium supplements
Iron supplements
Cholestyramine (Questran), colestipol (Colestid) and similar anti-chloresterol/bile acid drugs
Sucralfate (Carafate, Sulcrate) mucosal liners/anti-reflux
Sodium polystyrene sulfonate (antacids such as Amphogel, Di-Gel, Gaviscon, Gelusil, Maalox, Mylanta, Phillips, Riopan, Tums)

If you see more than one physician, be sure all of them are aware if you have been prescribed a thyroid medication and are also taking or have any of the following prescribed for you:

Anticoagulants (blood thinners)
Appetite suppressants (diet pills)
Medicine for asthma or other breathing problems
Medicine for colds, sinus problems, or hay fever or other allergies (including nose drops or sprays)


Complicating Conditions
Other health problems may affected by thyroid disease or the use of thyroid hormones. Be sure to tell doctors treating you for any of the following conditions that you are being treated for thyroid disease

Diabetes mellitus (Diabetes II; sugar diabetes)
Hardening of the arteries
Heart disease
High blood pressure
Overactive thyroid (history of)
Underactive adrenal gland
Underactive pituitary gland


For Women Only
Most women don't know - and for some reason most doctors either don't know or don't bother to tell them - that hypothyroidism can cause or contribute to a host of "female" problems, including cessation of menses, abnormally short menstrual cycles (periods coming every 15 days or so), and cessation of ovulation. In addition, the thyroid hormones play a role in the libido and so should be looked at in addition to the "sex" hormones (androgen, DHEA, the estrogens, progesterone, testosterone, etc.) when exploring the loss of libido and apparent peri-menopause.


Foods That Interfere With Thyroid Medication & Function
The following foods bind iodine which in turn affects your thyroid function, whether or not you have thyroid disease. You can take your thyroid medicine at any time of the day or night - just be consistent with when you take it. If you take your thyroid medicine in the morning, you can easily separate these foods by several hours from your thyroid medication. As for quantities of these foods - go easy on them and vary the ones you eat, as they may have one or more and varying quantities of the several known goitrogenic phytochemicals.

Calcium-enriched foods (juices, cereals, etc.)
Garden cress
Garden sorrel
Milk and milk products (cheese, cream cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt)
Soybean (tofu, soymilk, edamame, textured soy protein, soy yogurt, etc.)
St Johnswort


Prescription Thyroid Drugs
The following drugs are prescribed in the US:

Thyroid Strong
Triostat Westhroid

In Canada, the following are also available:

PMS-Levothyroxine Sodium

You can look up these and other drugs, and information on thyroid tests and diseases, at MEDLINEplus.


As with any chemical, you can overdose. Symptoms of thyroid overdose can include diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, headache, tremors, nervousness, stomach cramps, fever, chest pain, or difficulty sleeping. If you suspect an overdose, contact your local poison control center or emergency room immediately.

There are two ways to overdose. Accidental overdoses can happen in one of two ways: you may forget you've already taken your medication, or your pharmacist dispensed a higher dosage tablet than the one ordered by your physician.

The second way to overdose is iatrogenic: the doctor prescribes too high a dose. Since many of the symptoms of overdose are the same as untreated or under-treated hypothyroidism, you may end up needing to see an endocrinologist if your internist or other prescribing physician is not responsive to your report of continuing or new symptoms.


Phytochemical & Ethnobotanical Database

See also Thyroid Drugs FAQ about Food, Drug and Supplement Interactions




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