The Thyroid Connection

Why You Feel Tired, Brain-Fogged, and Overweight -- and How to Get Your Life Back


By Amy Myers, MD

Read by Hilary Bogert

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From the author of the New York Times bestseller The Autoimmune Solution, a comprehensive, accessible overview of thyroid problems that will help you learn to identify the warning signs and finally take back your health.

Are you exhausted all the time, plagued by brain fog, and unable to lose weight? Do you struggle with insomnia, panic attacks, and tremors? But does your doctor insist that your labs are normal, and that you just need to eat less and exercise more? As anyone who has been there knows, nothing is more frustrating, stressful, and emotionally draining than feeling unwell and being told you're fine by the very person who is supposed to heal you.

The truth is, your symptoms could be triggered by a thyroid disorder—the hidden cause behind a wide array of health problems that can threaten to ruin your life. Thyroid dysfunctions like Hashimoto's disease, hypothyroidism, and hyperthyroidism affect at least 20 million Americans and yet conventional medicine frequently misses the diagnosis. The scariest part? Most doctors won't even order thyroid tests unless you specifically ask.

Now, in The Thyroid Connection, Dr. Amy Myers teaches you how to take your health into your own hands. Dr. Myers, originally misdiagnosed herself, understands the struggles of thyroid dysfunction firsthand. Fortunately, she also knows how achievable recovery and well-being are, and just how to get you there. In The Thyroid Connection, you'll discover:

How to work with your doctor to get the correct diagnosis What blood tests to ask for, as well as what they mean How to find the right type and dose of supplemental thyroid hormone for you The role of gut health, diet, toxins, infections, and stress in thyroid dysfunction A complete 28-day plan to jumpstart your health and reverse your thyroid symptoms

Complete with advice on diet and nutrition, supplements, exercise, stress relief, and sleep, The Thyroid Connection is the ultimate roadmap back to your happiest, healthiest self.


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Hey there.

You may be reading this book because you think you've got a thyroid problem or you know you've got one. Either way, you probably have the sinking feeling that your doctor is missing something, because he or she keeps insisting that you're fine, whereas you know that "fine" is the last thing you are.

Maybe you've been gaining weight even though you're sticking like glue to your weight-loss plan. Or maybe you've been eating and exercising just the way you always have—good, bad, or indifferent—but you used to have a stable weight and now the pounds are mounting up.

Or perhaps you have the opposite problem—your weight is suddenly dropping, quickly, even though you're eating way more than usual and seem to be hungry even after finishing a huge meal. Maybe you're struggling with a racing heart or sudden palpitations. Perhaps you're in a continual state of dread, a low-grade anxiety that has you constantly on edge.

Maybe you're having way too many senior moments—and you're only in your twenties. Or maybe you are in your sixties, but you know your brain should be working better than it is.

Perhaps you're tired all the time. Or listless. Or depressed. Maybe your hormones are all over the place. Or you can't get pregnant, even though you've been trying for a while. Or your sex drive seems to have gone permanently AWOL. Perhaps you've got some other upsetting symptom—indigestion, constipation, diarrhea. Maybe your anxiety has begun to erupt into devastating panic attacks that seem to happen for no reason.

Or perhaps your problem is achy joints, trembling hands, weakened muscles, flaky skin. Maybe you're always cold. Or maybe—and this one can be the most disturbing of all—your hair is starting to fall out.

Any or all of these symptoms can indicate a thyroid problem—either a thyroid that is underperforming or one that is overperforming (while the symptoms might be distinct, there can be a lot of overlap). And if your doctor has assured you that you don't have a thyroid problem—that your labs are normal, or that you're already getting the right amount of supplemental thyroid hormone, or that your issues are caused by female hormones (if you're a woman) or low testosterone (if you're a man) or by depression or stress or anxiety or not being disciplined enough about your diet—well, I'm here to tell you that, while some of this might be true, you still might have a thyroid problem.

That's right. Even if your doctor says you don't have a thyroid problem, you very well might. It is all too sadly possible that the tests you're getting aren't accurate, that your doctor is misinterpreting the results, that you're being undermedicated, that you're getting the wrong type of medication—or that you're suffering from some combination of all those factors.

Meanwhile, you're feeling lousy, exhausted, old before your time, and—since your doctor won't believe you—possibly crazy. So breathe a big sigh of relief and get ready to feel better. Because in this book, you're going to find out that you were right all along. There is something wrong with you. You do have thyroid dysfunction, it can be treated, and as soon as it is, you're going to feel like a whole new person.


It's remarkable how many symptoms—large, small, and in between—are connected to your thyroid. In fact, just about every aspect of your body depends on thyroid function; if your thyroid isn't working up to par, you won't be either. Healing and supporting your thyroid is one of the most important ways you can connect to your body, and one of the best ways to achieve optimal health.

In this book, you're going to learn all about your thyroid—how it works, why it can make you feel so miserable, and what you can do to get a more accurate diagnosis. You're going to learn which tests to ask for and what treatment options to explore.

You're also going to discover how to transform your health through the right diet and lifestyle—healing your gut, getting the nutrients your thyroid needs, avoiding inflammatory foods, ridding your body of its toxic burden, treating infections, and practicing effective stress reduction. Toward this end, you'll learn just how much exercise is good for your thyroid, since exercising too much or too intensely can actually disrupt thyroid function.

Best of all, you're going to find out how to get rid of those symptoms. How to clear away the brain fog. How to soothe the anxiety and ease the depression. How to heal those achy joints and raging hormones. How to get your sex life back. How to drop those extra pounds and never regain them. And, yes, how to get your hair growing all thick and healthy—better than you've ever seen it—and have clear glowing skin and boatloads of energy to boot.

That's what I want for you—total vibrant health and nothing less. That's what you can look forward to when your thyroid is working optimally and you're following the diet and lifestyle that supports excellent health. I know you can do it, because that's what thousands of my patients have achieved. If they could get there, you can too.


There are two key aspects to thyroid health.

The most important depends on you. If you follow The Myers Way® Thyroid Connection Plan, my protocol for total thyroid health that I outline in this book, you'll see a dramatic improvement in your health, vitality, and well-being. After ten years of using this protocol both in my practice and for myself, I can promise you that nothing—and I mean nothing—makes you feel as good as giving your body what it needs.

The second aspect of thyroid health involves working with your doctor. In this book, you're going to learn everything you need to know to work with your physician so you can be 100 percent sure you are getting the right diagnosis and the most effective treatment. And wow, are you going to feel better when you do!

Few things feel as awful as a messed-up thyroid and a doctor who doesn't believe you have a problem. How do I know? Because before I became a thyroid doctor, I was a thyroid patient. I know how miserable your life can be when your thyroid is out of whack. I know how frustrating it is when your doctor doesn't believe you, or when you are told that everything is fine when you know that it isn't. I especially know how devastating it can be to think that you've run out of options, to believe that there's nothing you can do but resign yourself to a life of mood swings and weight gain, anxiety and depression, brain fog and fatigue and thinning hair.

I know it because I've lived it. At age thirty-two, I had my own raging thyroid to deal with, a terrifying disorder that made me feel as though my body was not my own and my mind was spinning out of control. And even though I was a second-year medical student and had more understanding of basic anatomy than most people, my own doctor refused to believe me. "Oh," she said, "it's just stress. And you medical students always think you've got every problem you read about in your textbooks."

No. I had a genuinely disordered thyroid, which my doctor initially refused to test. And even after I insisted on a full workup and got my diagnosis, the treatments offered to me by conventional medicine were often worse than the disease. Sad to say, most traditional doctors—not all, but most—do a very, very poor job of treating thyroid dysfunction. They just keep missing the boat.

So let me share with you my own personal thyroid connection, because that's what has inspired me throughout my medical career to listen to my patients, understand what's really going on, and seek out the best possible treatments—the ones that rely on your body's own natural ability to achieve optimal health. Conventional medicine failed me—there's no other way to put it. It's my mission not to let it fail you too.


"You don't have a thyroid problem."

Like millions of other patients before and after me, I heard those dismissive words and my heart sank. I had just started my second year of medical school. I had always been strong and healthy. I knew how to work hard, and I liked nothing better than to rise to a challenge, whether it was my two-year stint in the Peace Corps or that first year of medical school. Even through those long, grueling months of my mother's battle with cancer and her early death, I had found a way to rise to the occasion. And after she died, I had begun work in a research lab where I studied and patented a natural compound that might prevent others from dying as she did.

But now, seemingly out of nowhere, my body was totally out of control. Every day I struggled with anxiety that at times would erupt into full-blown panic attacks, complete with racing pulse, rapid breathing, and a growing feeling of doom. At night, I lay awake, hearing my heart beat double-time in sync with the ticking clock, unable to calm myself into sleep.

I was also losing weight at an alarming rate. If I didn't eat two pieces of Ezekiel toast spread thickly with butter right before bedtime, I would weigh in at two pounds lighter the next morning. And if that sounds like the ideal weight-loss plan, let me tell you, it was anything but. I was gaunt, haggard, and frail, my muscles trembling so badly when I went down the stairs that I had to clutch the railing for dear life. I was always hungry, even after I ate. It got so bad that while I was sitting in our school's giant lecture hall, I couldn't even take proper notes—my hands had developed such a pronounced tremor that my fingers couldn't control the pen.

Anybody's friends would have been worried. My friends were medical students who observed my symptoms firsthand. "Amy, go see a doctor," they insisted. So I went—only to have her tell me that I had "medical-student syndrome": believing that I had every symptom we were learning about in school.

No, I insisted. I knew my body. Something terrible was going on.

"Maybe it's just stress," the doctor suggested, already preparing to move on to her next patient. "After all, the second year of medical school is one of the hardest."

Stress? I had helped care for my dying mother and made it through her funeral. I had spent more than two years in the Peace Corps in a Paraguayan village so small, it wasn't even on a map, with no running water and an eight-hour journey to the nearest telephone. I had successfully completed my first year of medical school. That was all stress—and my body had never responded with weight loss, insomnia, panic, and tremors; nothing even close.

It wasn't easy to listen to my own self-knowledge rather than the authoritative pronouncements of my doctor, especially when I was so ill I could barely function. But I've always been a feisty Louisiana woman—that's how my mother raised me—and I just couldn't go along with a diagnosis that I knew was so off base.

"Please," I insisted, "I need a complete workup." Somehow I managed to stand my ground, and, reluctantly, she ordered a complete battery of blood tests.

One week later I was spending the weekend at my aunt's house on the Gulf Coast when I got a phone call from this very same doctor. I don't think she actually apologized. But she did tell me that I had a serious disorder of my thyroid.

As you'll see later in this book, there are two ways your thyroid can go out of whack. The most common is hypothyroidism, when your thyroid underperforms. Hypothyroid conditions may or may not be autoimmune. The autoimmune version is known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis and is actually the most common form of underactive thyroid.

Or you can have hyperthyroidism, when your thyroid overperforms. That less common condition is what I had, and it also may or may not be autoimmune. I had the autoimmune kind, known as Graves' disease.

When you've got an autoimmune disease of any type your body is basically attacking itself. The vast majority of thyroid disorders are autoimmune in nature—your immune system begins attacking your thyroid. To get at the root of the problem, you need to address both the thyroid gland and the immune system, but sadly, most conventional doctors just ignore the immune system and treat only the thyroid. I would later discover that this is a very incomplete way to treat both Hashimoto's and Graves'.

Later, too, I would learn that I could have treated my condition through a combination of diet, high-quality supplements, and lifestyle changes—the protocol that has become The Myers Way Thyroid Connection Plan. But I didn't know then what I know now, so when I was referred to an endocrinologist—a physician who specializes in hormonal disorders, including thyroid dysfunction—I was sort of stuck with what he told me.

"You've got three choices," he said. "One, take a medication known as propylthiouracil, or PTU, which will shut down your thyroid and stop it from overperforming. Two, use radioactive iodine"—I-131—"to blow up your thyroid." (Like Hiroshima, I thought with a shudder.) "Or, three, have a surgeon remove all or part of your thyroid."

In fact, none of those choices sat well with me. My parents had been into holistic health and Chinese medicine. I grew up eating home-cooked meals made of organic whole foods. Mom grew organic tomatoes and sprouts and fed us home-baked whole-wheat bread and homemade plain yogurt. Until I left home, I didn't know that rice came in any color but brown. At fourteen, I became a vegetarian. Even when I entered medical school, I planned to be a holistic doctor of some kind—someone who relied on the healing properties of good food and viewed the body as a whole—although at the time, I had no idea how to pursue that goal.

Of course, now I know that dairy, gluten, grains, legumes, and nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, potatoes) can trigger inflammation —an immune system response that is at the heart of autoimmune conditions, thyroid dysfunction, and many other chronic health problems. I also know that my body needs the nutrients in wild, organic animal protein to support both immune and thyroid health as well as other bodily functions. Ironically, my vegetarianism and Mom's "healthy foods" were part of what was making me sick.

But that was something I'd learn later on. Meanwhile, I was rightly suspicious of those three conventional choices. Harsh medication with devastating side effects? Assaulting my thyroid with radioactive poison? Surgery? None of them sounded like how I wanted to treat my body.

So I tried to go another way, working with a doctor of Chinese medicine who had her own herbs and dietary protocols. She loaded me up with fermented foods, sprouted grains, disgusting powders and teas and tinctures. Fermented foods can be good for your health, but not when your system is as distressed as mine was. And all the rest of it just made me feel worse.

So back I went to the endocrinologist, and at this point, my symptoms were really bad. The insomnia was insane—I was lucky to get three hours of sleep a night. My heart was racing so fast that it felt as though it were beating out of my chest—and yes, I was taking beta-blockers, a prescription medication to slow my heart rate, which contributed to the brain fog. I had the sinking feeling that whatever symptom I brought in, the doctor was going to medicate it. Then I'd be dealing with my thyroid dysfunction and all the side effects. Thanks to all those sleepless nights, I was having a hard time showing up for class, and I couldn't afford to fail medical school. So, grudgingly, I began a long, draining, and dispiriting series of conventional medical treatments.

First I tried the PTU, because that seemed like the least invasive choice. Maybe it was, but it was still pretty brutal. The medicine dried out my mouth and nose to an agonizing extent, and to top it all off, the meds turned my overactive thyroid into an underactive one. Say hello to a whole new set of symptoms: fatigue, constantly feeling cold, dried-out skin, and hair that started to fall out in clumps.

After a few weeks of feeling terrible, I returned to the endocrinologist. He was more worried by my chronic fatigue than my other symptoms and ran some blood tests. Later that day, he told me that the PTU was beginning to destroy my liver in a condition known as toxic hepatitis. That was a one-in-a-million risk, but it had happened to me, and if I didn't get off the medication right away, I might eventually die of full-blown liver failure. I was ordered to get into bed and stay there until my liver recovered—which could be weeks or even months.

Okay, instead of three conventional choices, I was down to only two: surgery or the destruction of my thyroid via radioactive iodine. As little as the nuclear option appealed to me, surgery seemed an even more frightening prospect. I had become so debilitated and demoralized that if something had gone wrong under the knife, I seriously questioned my ability to fight my way back to life. I spent day after day searching for alternative treatments but found none. So I chose to ablate —or destroy—my thyroid with radioactive iodine.

If you go this route, your thyroid gland, while it is being destroyed, can dump large amounts of thyroid hormone into your bloodstream. Eventually, you won't have a thyroid at all, and you'll have to take supplemental thyroid hormone for life. But before I could get to that point, those sudden, massive surges of hormone sent me into even more severe panic attacks made all the more upsetting because they could strike at any time. I had to add Xanax to my personal pharmacy because I literally never knew where I would freak out next—at the dog park? The supermarket? In church? I began to avoid leaving my house for any reason whatsoever; the fear of having to struggle through a public panic attack was just too great.

Then, as if I were caught in a medical pinball machine, my system ricocheted back in the other direction—low thyroid. Once again I was exhausted and constantly cold. I quickly gained ten pounds, and, yep, I was back to losing hair. To make matters even worse, I developed irritable bowel syndrome.

Since my thyroid had been intentionally destroyed, I now needed to take supplemental thyroid hormone, so my doctor put me on Synthroid. But my symptoms continued. And here's the thing: even though I felt like death warmed over, my thyroid labs were normal.

So once again, I was begging a doctor to believe me. I'd run through my symptoms and say how awful I felt, and my doctor would look at my lab reports and shake his head. Talk about adding insult to injury.


Now, I know my story is more extreme than most. But whether your story is just like mine or somewhat different, you are likely suffering from the same root cause: a dysfunctional thyroid, perhaps also a disordered immune system, and a body that is struggling with a damaged gut, a toxic burden, an underlying infection, or an overload of stress. Like me, you are probably dealing with a doctor who either doesn't believe you or simply doesn't have the right approach—to thyroid or diet and lifestyle—to make you feel better.

I'm so sorry you are going through this! You deserve to feel terrific. The information in this book can get you there.

How can I be so sure? Because I have treated thousands of thyroid patients over the past ten years, and believe me, I've heard it all. I've treated people whose symptoms were so subtle and whose labs seemed so normal, they could barely believe they had thyroid dysfunction—except for the periodic brain fog, the slow drain of energy, the mild depression, and the weight that just wouldn't go away. I've treated women who couldn't get pregnant and men who felt as though their sex drive had completely disappeared. And I've worked with patients who, like me, had Graves' disease and helped them completely reverse their symptoms, get off medication, and return their thyroid hormones back to normal levels without the use of any of the harsh medications or extreme treatments that I was offered.

Each of these stories has its own unique details, and certainly yours does too. But here's what they all have in common: a person whose life is being diminished because his or her thyroid just isn't working the way it's supposed to.

Here's another thing these stories have in common: a doctor who is failing to effectively diagnose and treat thyroid dysfunction. And, wow, do I understand how frustrating that is—frustrating, debilitating, devastating. My patients tell me how dismissive and unhelpful their previous doctors have been, how these physicians insist that the real problem is depression, or sex hormones, or stress, or anxiety, or even that the issues are "all in your head." How insulting is that?

It's outrageous, but it's true: the way conventional medicine approaches the thyroid virtually guarantees that many—perhaps even most—cases will be misdiagnosed or mistreated, frequently both. Most conventional doctors don't run nearly enough tests. They don't interpret the tests properly. They don't offer enough treatment options. And they don't back up their treatments with a diet and lifestyle that can help restore thyroid health.

Which is why I was beyond relieved to finally discover another way—a better way—than conventional medicine. It's called functional medicine, and it transformed my life.


I first discovered functional medicine at an integrative health symposium, and it was like a bright light turned on to illuminate the darkness. I sat in the auditorium listening to a physician lay out the true root causes of chronic illness, and I thought, Yes. This is the explanation I've been looking for.

For the first time, I understood the role that diet, gut health, toxins, infections, and stress had played in my health. I found out that foods I'd always believed to be healthy were undermining my gut, my immune system, and my thyroid, especially the gluten, grains, and legumes that had been the mainstay of my diet.

I learned about a condition known as leaky gut, in which the gut wall literally leaks partially digested food into the body, compromising the immune system and assaulting the body with toxins. I discovered many other ways that toxins had compromised my health. I found out that seemingly minor infections were weakening my immune system and that psychological stress was indeed a prime contributor to autoimmune disease.

My life would never be the same. After that conference, I took my health into my own hands. I eliminated the toxic and inflammatory foods from my diet and added in the high-quality supplements needed for optimal thyroid function. I healed my gut, detoxified my system, treated underlying infections, and relieved my stress. Within weeks, I began to feel healthy—for the first time in seven years.

What a difference this new protocol made! My anxiety and panic attacks evaporated. My energy came bounding back. My hair and skin looked terrific. Best of all, I had that glowing sense of well-being that you get only when your body is getting exactly what it needs. Welcome to optimal health!

I stopped seeing the conventional doctors who wanted to ignore the bigger picture and moved my care to a functional medicine physician. I also enrolled in the functional medicine certification program through the Institute for Functional Medicine. I wanted to learn everything I could about this new approach to medicine and health—to become the kind of physician who had helped me achieve such extraordinary results.

If I had known about functional medicine when I first got Graves', I might not have had to suffer through the harsh medications, and I wouldn't have had to destroy my thyroid. I might have been able to treat my overactive thyroid with herbs while eliminating inflammatory foods, healing my gut, and ridding my body of the toxins, infections, and stress that were at the root of my illness. It's remarkable but true that diet and lifestyle can conquer diseases that conventional medicine can scarcely tame. I was sorry I hadn't discovered functional medicine sooner. But at least I could share this tremendous healing with others.

So I eventually left my position as an emergency room physician and opened my own functional medicine practice in Austin, Texas. There I treat a wide variety of patients, with a focus on leaky gut, inflammation, autoimmune conditions, and thyroid dysfunction. I developed The Myers Way, my own personal protocol for healing that has helped thousands of people. I wrote my first book, The Autoimmune Solution, which quickly became a New York Times bestseller. And now I'm writing this book, because I want you to benefit from everything I've learned.


When I first encountered functional medicine, a whole new world opened up. A world where doctors actually listened to their patients. A world where each patient was treated as an individual, with a kind of personalized medicine that can make all the difference between dragging yourself along—not really sick, but not really well—and striding through life feeling absolutely terrific. A world where thyroid dysfunction is no longer mislabeled as depression, anxiety, obesity, or hormone problems but is correctly diagnosed and treated with the right kind of supplemental thyroid hormone or medication plus the diet and lifestyle that your thyroid and immune system need. A world where the body is supported with the right food, exercise, sleep, and stress relief to achieve total, optimal health. Functional medicine has enabled me to help thousands of patients—and, thrillingly, to heal myself.

Now it's your turn. You shouldn't have to go through one more day of having your symptoms misdiagnosed and your condition poorly treated. So I'm going to help you understand what's happening in your body, including what your thyroid, your immune system, and your gut are doing. If you want to find a functional medicine practitioner, I'll provide you with the resources to do that. But if you want to continue with your own conventional doctor, I'll help you work with him or her more effectively so that you can get the tests, diagnosis, and treatment you need and that you deserve.

In this book, you'll learn about which blood tests are typically ordered and what all those numbers mean. You'll find out about other blood tests that you can ask for so that you and your doctor can get a more comprehensive picture of what's really going on. (Yes, the majority of conventional doctors don't ask for enough tests—but most of the labs I'll tell you about are standard blood tests that can be run in any office or by any lab.)


  • "Who doesn't want to eat delicious foods, have more energy, and feel their absolute best? You don't have to upend your life to see amazing results--you just have to read THE THYROID CONNECTION."—Mark Hyman, MD, Director, Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine
  • "Thyroid disease is incredibly prevalent and affects every organ system in the human body. In THE THYROID CONNECTION, Dr. Amy Myers skillfully and eloquently guides us to the understanding that our lifestyle choices play major roles in determining thyroid health and function. Her message is empowering for those with thyroid issues as well as those who want to maintain thyroid health and resistance to disease. This book belongs on the reference shelf for anyone wishing to remain healthy!"—David Perlmutter, MD, author of Grain Brain and Brain Maker
  • "In THE THYROID CONNECTION, Dr. Myers paints a picture of how thyroid dysfunction can subtly contribute to health problems, and then brightens that picture with a brilliant, comprehensive plan to solve your thyroid problems once and for all."—Dallas Hartwig, coauthor of The Whole30
  • "Dr. Myers's plan is one of the most accessible, inspiring, and effective programs I have ever encountered. Anyone with a diagnosed, misdiagnosed, or even undiagnosed thyroid disorder will benefit from reading THE THYROID CONNECTION."—Robb Wolf, author of The Paleo Solution
  • "In THE THYROID CONNECTION, Dr. Amy Myers dismantles myths and exposes the truth about thyroid dysfunctions--some of the most misunderstood disorders plaguing millions of Americans."—Frank Lipman, MD, author of The New Health Rules
  • "As a sufferer of thyroid dysfunction herself, Dr. Myers writes with a compassion and understanding that is not only comforting, but hugely inspiring."—Terry Wahls, MD, author of The Wahls Protocol
  • "Dr. Amy Myers is the hero that 20 million Americans suffering with undiagnosed thyroid disorders have been waiting for. THE THYROID CONNECTION is a revelation."—Dr. Josh Axe, author of Eat Dirt

On Sale
Sep 27, 2016
Hachette Audio

Amy Myers, MD

About the Author

Amy Myers, MD, is a specialist in autoimmune diseases whose career was set in motion by her own experience dealing with Graves’ disease. Myers earned her medical degree at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and is the founder and medical director of the nationally renowned functional medicine clinic Austin UltraHealth. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Autoimmune Solution.

Learn more about this author