Q. I have long had all the symptoms of hypothyroidism: fatigue, “brain fog,” dry skin, trouble controlling my weight, muscle cramps, elevated cholesterol, etc. A thyroid test came back normal in my blood work.

Is it possible to be just under the radar on a blood test? I am hoping there is some natural way to normalize my thyroid without taking Synthroid or other chemicals.

A. Your symptoms are classic for low thyroid function, but it is sometimes tricky to get the correct diagnosis. You should ask the doctor for the exact results of your blood test; experts often differ about the cutoff for “normal.”

The Guide to Thyroid Hormones that we are sending you explains how to interpret such test results as well as symptoms of thyroid imbalance and treatment options. Anyone who would like a copy can download it for $2 from the Website.

If you are hypothyroid, you will probably feel much better on prescription thyroid hormone. The natural alternative to Synthroid or Levoxyl is desiccated thyroid gland such as Armour or Naturethroid.

Get The Graedons' Favorite Home Remedies Health Guide for FREE

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

  1. Wendy

    I am in the midst of arguing with doctors. My immunologist ran some blood test for autoimmune diseases and thyroid antibodies because I had chronic urticaria on my face and neck. When we got the results the only problem I had was high Thyroidglobulin Antibodies. He told me to talk with my primary about seeing endocrinologist.

    I go to see my primary and all she kept saying is nothing is wrong with your thyroid because your TSH is normal. I asked what could be wrong and she told me it’s not your thyroid and stormed out of the room.

    I spoke with immunologist and he recommended endocrinologist and he ran my TSH agian. In the process of waiting for the appointment endocrinologist my thyroid enlarged and became visible so my friends would ask me wow your thyroid is swollen are you checking it out. At this point I call back the primary doctor and she was out so one of the other doctors saw me and ordered an ultrasound. The ultrasound said thyroid was normal but I have either a swollen parathyroid or lymph node by my right thyroid lobe. Doctors review the results and say still nothing wrong with your thyroid. I ask why are my TgAB high and why is my TSH going up? Why do I feel like crap. She says come in and we will talk about it.

    Meanwhile I am waiting to see endocrinologist. I have a family history of Hashimoto’s Disease. I asked the doctor to test TSH in August and November 2015, she refused. I requested again in January and here goes the results………
    1/11 TSH -1.2 Normal
    1/12 TgAB – 6.8 High (normal is <4.0)
    1/28 TSH – 2.2 Normal, T4 Normal
    2/4 Thyroid is enlarged and visible in my neck, both lobes, you can make out the butterfly
    2/8 – Ultrasound show hypoechoic structure possibly enlarged parathyroid or lymph node MRI is suggested

    I am still waiting to see endocrinologist, I have an appointment soon.

    I am so frustrated with doctors. I hope the endocrinologist can figure this out, so I understand some of your stories.

    Any thoughts on my experiences or results are welcomed.

  2. DC

    I see this was back in 2011 – Brain Fog is my #1 symptom, normal levels, but hashimotos. Did you ever figure it out Cindy?

  3. fbl

    AS, boy do I hear ya! The thyroid thing is a really confusing situation. I am blessed with a very patient Dr. who is a medical Dr., a Homeopath, and a Chinese Acupuncturist. It took my Dr. years of testing, trying and tweaking.
    Apparently my body does NOT convert T4 to T3, I think it’s 4 to 3, so I take NatureThyroid and Cytomel. The artificial thyroid meds did nothing for me but speed up my heart rate while I could barely have the energy to sit up. Yes, that was with Synthroid. Also I have to take my meds with a digestive enzyme to make sure they get assimilated. I take the Cytomel at night and the NatureThyroid in the morning.
    My favorite digestive enzyme is great as it has 200 mg of Betaine HCL as well as the lipase, and other enzymes. I do have to take more Betaine HCL with meals as the 200 mg is not enough. I wonder if part of your problem is assimilation? When a very smart Dr. put me on the digestives over 30 years ago my body did amazing things. My fingernails actually grew instead of splitting and peeling and breaking into the quick. No more split ends on my hair (yes it was short then!). My hair is longer now and I still don’t have split ends. My fingernails grow nicely too now.
    Vitamin D is a puzzler for me too. My Dr. finally threw up his hands in exasperation and told me to double the vitamin D dose. It was taking years for the numbers to creep up. I’m taking huge doses now and am only at 72.5. He wants my D level at 100 because I’m a cancer survivor (cervical). The irony here is that I haven’t had a cold or flu since getting tested for allergies in ’85. Why did I get cancer but not colds or flu?
    If you find any answers to these puzzles let me know. Try a natural thyroid and see if it makes a difference. It sure did with me but give it a few months. When we started out my temperature taken before getting out of bed in the morning didn’t even reach the fist line on the glass thermometer. Probably about 94 or 95. It stays about 98.00 to 98.4 now.
    Something else you might want to try is iodine. My Dr. started me with a liquid nasty tasting stuff but I found Iodoral tablets and he approved. No more fibrocystic breasts either!

  4. AS

    It took me over 2 years to get my diagnosis of hypothyroidism. It started with 6 months of mono, then 8 months to recover (which felt like I never did), I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which in my opinion is just a load of crap from a doctor who didn’t want to do his job.
    Then I found a doctor who just tested me for everything and my TSH was slightly elevated. At this point I found out my Vitamin D was low too. That doctor sent me to a specialist.
    The specialist redid my lab work and found my thyroid antibodies to be through the roof! She said all my other symptoms are from my thyroid, including the vitamin D deficiency.
    So they started me on Synthroid almost 2 years ago now. I started at 75 dose and now up to 100 dose. Still feel like crap!
    I had an ER doc suggest PCOS in addition to the thyroid, he said they are all hormones and when one hormone is messed up, it can mess with other areas in your body.
    Any ways… my point being, you have to be aggressive with your health care. If you don’t ask or push for something NO ONE else will do it for you. Yes it is extremely frustrating, but there is hope if you work for it.
    FYI – I am also a nurse and I see doctors do more for those who are informed and ask for what they want verses wait for someone to miraculously heal them!
    — My question for those who have hypothyroidism or Hashimotos — do you ever feel like your thyroid level changes on a regular basis, from hypo to hyper? Tired and cold one day, hot and hyper the next?

  5. Joeanne

    Hiya both parents had thyroid cancer. I a few mths ago well it actually happens a lot suffer with like a tight throat feeling so had an ultra sound. Stated I had a nodule and early signs of goitre. Since then I’ve had very high heart palpitations was put on blood pressure tablets. High cholesterol. But I don’t eat junk. I barely sleep I’m forgetting things my body aches sometimes I wake up sweaty. Sometimes I lose weight other times I gain weight. I shake…..
    Went had another X-ray the one were they inject radiation into your blood stream. It came back saying over active thyroid consistent with ‘Graves’ disease and my nodule has disappeared. But blood tests come back normal drs say I’m ok.
    I’m only taking blood pressure meds and the contraceptive pill.
    I’m confused should I still see a specialist could blood test be wrong ?

  6. mb

    I had. The same problems getting diagnosed. I went to an endo. After blood tests confirmed I have pcos and hashimotos autoimmune disease. My Tsh was always normal with no one listening. She also found a nodule that was confirmed with ultrasound and waiting for next Tuesdays biopsy. She started me on levothyroxine to see if it help my symptoms. Get second opinions!!!!

  7. ashlie upset

    I’m having a hard time getting diagnosed, my Dr suggested ADHD! just bc of ONE SYMPTOM in relation to it!! this is getting frustrating. I have a visible goiter but my test come back normal. However only thing abnormal is too large blood cells. HOW CAN I GET HIM TO LISTEN TO ME?! :(

  8. Melissa

    My sister had papillary thyroid cancer and had her thyroid removed, she is doing great by the way guys!. I have recently noticed that my thyroid has become enlarged. I had an ultrasound done and this showed enlarged thyroid. They adopted a watch and wait policy. Recently I have felt that this is getting larger and is quite uncomfortable. My cholesterol is also 6.2 (total cholesterol). I am not overweight but feel I don’t loose any when I try. I have no energy either, aches and pains and cant pin point where the pain is coming from.
    Is it possible to have Hypthyroidism with normal blood results, they have even done thyroid antibody tests and these are all normal, or am I being paranoid that my sister had cancer. ??
    Any help be greatly appreciated
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: Here’s a link to some good information on thyroid cancer. From it you can also get to Mary Shomon’s excellent info on other types of thyroid problems.

  9. tracie

    I have all the symptoms of low thyroid, including a big bald spot starting on the top of my head, and my tests came back with high thyroid. The only symptom I have for high thyroid is the high heart rate. Can it take a while to get to the root of the problem?

  10. Terry G

    Those who are interested in thyroid diagnosis and treatments, as all of you are, may want to listen to our latest show on the subject. You can stream it from http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2012/04/14/853-thyroid-controversies/
    or go to iTunes to get a podcast download. We interviewed three different experts (one of them expert patient Mary Shomon) to get different perspectives on the controversies.

  11. DJ

    I have been hypothyroid since I had the R half of my thyroid removed in 2007. I have the complete panel done now about every 6 months. My results are normal but I feel hypo. I am sensitive to cold, low energy, and have terrible sleep problems. I am lucky to get maybe 5 or 5 1/2 hours sleep a night. I take Synthroid q AM and wait an hour to eat. I just don’t know what else I can do to improve my situation. The reason I had the thyroidectomy is I had a large goiter on that side of my thyroid.

  12. Nancy J N

    The comments sound very familiar.
    My friend had a goiter when she was quite young and had most of her thyroid removed. She is very medically knowledgeable and assertive, so when the medical insurance said no to natural thyroid and put her on Synthroid (or generic), she was having trouble again. I hope she raised heck to get back on the meds that work for her. She has enough physical problems as it is. At least they don’t stop her from being one of the strongest personalities I’ve ever known. She has a tremendous work ethic and though she can be as flexible as a solid titanium rod, she is my best friend and a pleasure to know.
    Oddly enough a doctor was a bit too enthusiastic palpating her remaining thyroid and stimulated it into putting too much thyroid out. She was not happy. Actually, she was – polite word? – annoyed.
    I have the opposite problem, thanks to the mood stabilizer from the past 60+ years, Lithium. It is a vicious poisonous salt and it dumbs your mind very, very well and causes hypothyroidism. I’m on different mood stabilizers now, but I still take generic Synthroid but still have the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Thank you for the 98 degree info. I will pass that on to my doctors.

  13. abigail

    Symptoms for low thyroid are almost the same as those for diabetes. If armour thyroid doesn’t work for you, it might be a good idea to get an A1C test and blood glucose testing. These do not have to be fasting tests.
    It is true that some medical professionals do not use the lower TSH levels as norms, so if you are above 2.5 on your TSH level, and your doc thinks this is normal, it might be a good idea to get a second opinion.

  14. cpmt

    I had similar problems (including losing hair, brittle nails, etc etc) for the last few years, I told the dr. she ask for a T4 test and comeback normal… nothing was done until I went to a health clinic and the first thing they told me ‘when you go back home tell you Dr. to make you have a complete thyroid panel’.

  15. Cindy B.

    I have every single symptom mentioned in the main article — MOST ESPECIALLY BRAIN FOG AND FATIGUE. The brain fog is so bad I’ve been researching Alzheimer’s relentlessly, looking for ways to stave off what could possibly be early-onset Alz’s. However I’m very bright and articulate and can do NY Times crosswords quite fast.
    I’m having EXTREMELY dry skin and wake up every morning with a crackling dry mouth despite taking lots of hyaluronic acid. I’ve been starting to experience terrible muscle cramps (also mentioned above), and that has me just flummoxed. I never had these until recently! I was sure I had low thyroid, but like all the rest of you, my tests came back negative.
    I eat VERY well and take VERY good care of myself… I shouldn’t be having any of these symptoms! My Dr. pooh-pooh’s my low-thyroid concerns as if I’m some kind of hypochondriac. But now I’m even more sure that the tests are falling short. Anyway, thanks…

  16. Carol H.

    Change doctors! The traditional medical profession has been notoriously resistant to newer information about thyroid problems. A lot turns out to be trial and error and re-trial by a doctor who will be willing to work with you and treat the symptoms, not the numbers on a piece of paper. Good luck. I had hair loss from synthroid, and am now on a natural compounded version, similar to Armour. Find a compounding pharmacy (they the individual ones, not the Walgreens or CVS’s) and ask they which doctors order compounding from them – there’s your doctor.

  17. cpmt

    You can ask for a complete thyroid panel. I had the same panel, my test showed normal but i have hypothyroidism … now I am taking algaes: green-blue algae, dolse, and kelp etc… with salads, soups etc… and this is helping me at least until my thyroid is check again.

  18. Dolores

    fbl Sept. 6 2011 11:36AM — Where is your doctor? Now that is the doctor I should have. I have been on some type of thyroid medication since I was in my middle 20’s after nine months of testing. I am now at my middle 70’s.
    I started out with an excellent doctor who put me on dessicated, Armour, and Cytomel. I had blood tests every month to make sure the dose was right. I did great. When it was necessary to change doctors it got sloppy. I ended up on Synthroid for their convenience. I’m still on it and not doing well. The tests are always “normal” within limits. I’m still looking for a doctor who will listen, at least about my thyroid.

  19. fbl

    Boy, do I hear you! Fortunately I have a very smart and patient Dr. He had me take my temperature before I got out of bed in the morning. The blood tests were not showing a problem but the temperature sure did. Just barely over 96 degrees!
    Apparently there are a lot of enzymes and things in the body that simply do not function below about 98 degrees. My Dr. played around with the different types of thyroid meds until we found the ones that worked. Synthroid didn’t work at all and I wound up having to take two different ones: NatureThyroid and Cytomel. Now my temperature is usually just over 98 and I have my energy back.
    I have also lost weight very slowly over about eleven years. Eating for my metabolic type has helped this weight loss as well. I am a protein type. The blood tests are completely wacky and of no use. Fortunately my Dr listens to my body.

  20. DH

    The same thing happened to me. I asked my doctor if he would agree to a one-month trial with Synthroid and he did. All symptoms cleared. After that my doctor had no problem with keeping me on Synthroid, which I’ve been on for years now. I go in yearly for blood work and my results continue to be normal. It might be worth seeing if the doctor would agree to a trial period.

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted.

Your cart

Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.