How Did Your Ancestors Survive Without Thyroid Medication?

By |2020-06-10T11:33:44-07:00June 10th, 2020|Hypothyroidism, Nutrition|40 Comments
  • surviving without thyroid medication

Odds are that the idea of no longer depending on your thyroid medication has crossed your mind at one time or another.

Maybe even the idea of using something that you believe is “unnatural” makes you cringe a bit.

If our ancestors could survive without thyroid medication, then why can’t we?

Say no more…

I completely understand and have had the same conversation with more clients than I can remember.

Yet, there’s a little more to this story than you probably realize.

While it is in fact “possible” to get off your thyroid medication, I want to give you a different perspective as it relates to your diet and how hypothyroid people have survived for thousands of years without today’s thyroid medications.

I’ll show you exactly how they did it (and how you can too).

Our Ancestors May Not Have Had Thyroid Medication…

…but that doesn’t mean they didn’t medicate with thyroid hormone.

In fact, our ancestors stayed healthy and survived for thousands of years (oftentimes under extreme conditions) by using thyroid hormone similarly to how we use it today.

Native Cultures Have Survived Using Thyroid Hormone

One great example of this comes from the work of Dr. Weston A. Price.

In his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Dr. Price described how a native Indian culture medicated using thyroid hormone to ensure the health and survival of their offspring.

Here’s an excerpt from the book…

“For the Indians of the far North this reinforcement was accomplished by supplying special feedings of organs of animals.  Among the Indians in the moose country near the Arctic Circle a larger percentage of the children were born in June than in any other month.  This was accomplished, I was told, by both parents eating liberally of the thyroid glands of the male moose as they came down from the high mountain areas for the mating season, at which time the large protuberances carrying the thyroids under the throat were greatly enlarged.”

In other words, these Indians have long since medicated with thyroid hormone to improve fertility and the health of their children.


They would hunt moose during the moose mating season when their thyroid glands were engorged with thyroid hormone.

Then both man and woman would consume the moose thyroid gland to supplement large amounts of thyroid hormone before getting pregnant.

If that’s not medicating, I don’t know what is.

Traditional Cultures Have Survived Using Thyroid Hormone Too

It has been a long time since we’ve depended upon bows and arrows to put dinner on our plates.

But that hasn’t stopped many traditional cultures from continuing to get lots of thyroid hormone by also using organs and endocrine glands in their diet.

Offals, or organ meats and glands have been used for centuries in traditional diets, most often known as dietary delicacies.

And offals are well known for their health benefits, particularly from the large amounts of vitamins, minerals, and hormones they contain.

For example, in Argentina, a traditional dish called “Molleja” is oftentimes made from a cut of veal thyroid gland.

But keep in mind that the thyroid gland is not the only offal that contains large amounts of thyroid hormone.

The brain contains a particularly large concentration of thyroid hormone and is one of the most common offals used in traditional cultures.


For example, fish head soup is a common dish used in China and other Asian cultures.

Traditional cultures have also long since used thyroid hormone to maintain their health by regularly using these thyroid rich organs and glands in their diets.

So, what about today?

Our Recent Transition to Thyroid Medications

As you can see, people have long since supplemented or medicated with thyroid hormone by simply getting what they needed from their diet.

Yet today, offal consumption has declined drastically, especially here in the US.

Is that a potential cause for the declining health we’ve been seeing for the past number of decades?

It’s very likely a contributing factor in my opinion.

Today, instead of getting the thyroid hormone we need from our diet, it has become much more socially acceptable to medicate thyroid in a “pill” form.

Our clients largely prefer this as well, which is why we developed our own raw desiccated thyroid supplement that doesn’t require a prescription. Click here to learn more about it.

But that doesn’t change the fact that our ancestors have always used thyroid hormone in one form or another.

The Truth About Getting Off Your Thyroid Medication

The truth is… we all need thyroid hormone.

And while some can produce an adequate amount of thyroid hormone themselves, many of us need more.

The amount of thyroid hormone you need depends on a number of variables, including age and stress.

For example, the older we get, the more our natural hormone production declines.

And the more stress we are under, the more thyroid hormone we need to compensate for that stress.

So, the older we get and the more stress we are under, the greater our need to supplement or medicate.

We can do a lot to increase the amount of the thyroid hormone that your thyroid gland is producing.

So, if you’re young with low stress, then it can be very possible to produce an adequate amount of thyroid hormone yourself without the need for medication.

But if you’re older or live a more stressful lifestyle (also known as the majority of people in the world) then more thyroid hormone is oftentimes necessary.

Whether that thyroid hormone comes from food or medication, it doesn’t really matter.

However, most people today prefer a supplement or medication in place of offal any day of the week.

This is why when working with clients, our goal is not to get off thyroid medication.

Instead, our goal is to take a two pronged approach.

First, we want to ensure that we do have an adequate amount of thyroid hormone available.

And second, we use diet (no offals necessary) to boost thyroid function by unblocking your Thyroid Hormone Pathway so you can produce more thyroid hormone and make sure your cells get and use that thyroid hormone more efficiently.

(Note: I show you a few very easy ways we do this in our 3 Food Triple-Thyroid-Boosting Daily Protocol.

The Simple 3 Food Triple Thyroid-Boosting Daily Protocol

You can download this daily protocol here.

So, here’s my question to you…

How do you prefer to get your thyroid hormone… through food (offals) or supplement/medication?

Leave a comment below and let me know.

About the Author:

Tom Brimeyer is the founder of Forefront Health and the creator of the popular Hypothyroidism Revolution program series. Specializing in thyroid and metabolism disorders, Tom's work has impacted over 50,000 people spanning more than 60 countries. Tom is also a highly sought after practitioner who runs a successful health consulting practice where he continues to help clients across the globe to take back control of their lives from their devastating health conditions.


  1. Ellie Lawrence January 13, 2016 at 6:41 am - Reply

    I see you talk about eating organs ,but what if you don’t eat meat, is there vegi based option.

    • Tom Brimeyer January 13, 2016 at 7:18 am - Reply

      Hi Ellie, unfortunately you won’t be getting much thyroid hormone from plants.

  2. Gillian Crow January 13, 2016 at 6:41 am - Reply

    It is also true that in the past many people had goitres. And many people today are hyperthyroid. So it is dangerous not to be assessed by a doctor who knows you. I have taken levothyroxine for 35 years and it is wonderful

    • Tom Brimeyer January 13, 2016 at 7:17 am - Reply

      Hi Gillian, in the past goiters were caused by iodine deficiency from farming land depleted of iodine. That is a very different issue. Today goiters are more commonly the result of estrogen dominance and the effects of estrogen on the thyroid gland. I’ve actually worked with a number of clients who were diagnosed hyper-thyroid but upon further testing were actually hypothyroid. It has much to do with estrogen dominance.

  3. Lois M. Sandri January 13, 2016 at 7:21 am - Reply

    I’d much rather get my thyroid hormone through food.

  4. Ingvild flesland January 13, 2016 at 8:11 am - Reply

    Yes I would also like to get my thyroid hormone through local food.. To have to get it sent across the world seems a little wierd and unpractical. Particular through the Norwegian toll and rules!!

  5. Sara January 13, 2016 at 8:30 am - Reply

    HI there
    I’m on thyroid medicine for 5 years now and doctor keep increasing the does for me
    my question is

    I know thyroid likes protein .
    Is good to have that protein since i have thyroid cancer ?
    I’m on natural path and doing good but again cancer and meat ??????

    what do i need to heal my thyroid and get rid of medicine ?which protein ?
    I love this article .

    • Tom Brimeyer January 13, 2016 at 8:34 am - Reply

      Hi Sara, Protein is important for both the liver and thyroid but not all proteins are created equal. The studies that have been done have more to do with processed meats and meats that are higher in PUFA, which is thyroid suppressive.

  6. Paula January 13, 2016 at 8:37 am - Reply

    Does this also apply to people with Hashi’s? Also what about the possibility of becoming hyper with too much thyroid hormone, from food ? My TSH shows that I am hyper (if you go by that Holy Grail). However I am hypo and have been for over 30 years with lots of hypo symptoms, so would eating the proper foods work for me?

    • Tom Brimeyer January 13, 2016 at 8:43 am - Reply

      Hi Paula, it does still apply to Hashi’s and consuming too much shouldn’t be a concern. And low TSH is NOT an indicator of hyper-thyroidism. It’s simply an indicator that your thyroid gland is not having to produce much thyroid colloid. You can have a low TSH and still be very hypothyroid. We actually prefer to see low TSH as TSH itself is an inflammatory hormone. This is why we use a specific testing protocol to avoid these types of misnomers.

  7. Stephanie W. January 13, 2016 at 8:39 am - Reply

    Many pregnant women seem to get more hypothyroid during pregnancy, so is it okay to eat/take a thyroid glandular during pregnancy as well?

    • Tom Brimeyer January 13, 2016 at 8:52 am - Reply

      I wouldn’t say that women in general become more hypothyroid during pregnancy, although it can happen. In general hormone production, including thyroid hormone but even more importantly progesterone, increases. Once the placenta develops, it produces large amounts of progesterone to protect both mother and baby. And progesterone is very thyroid supportive. In fact, many women see improvements in symptoms into the second trimester because of this. However, postpartum hypothyroidism is much more common as pregnancy hormone levels drop.

      Either way, getting adequate thyroid hormone during pregnancy is very important, especially for the health of the baby.

  8. Stephanie W. January 13, 2016 at 9:14 am - Reply

    Thank you; I was just curious, because my thyroid med. had to be increased during my pregnancy. So, I wondered if taking a thyroid glandular would be better.

  9. Jo January 13, 2016 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    I would love to get off (Armour)medication and go strictly food for thyroid health.

  10. Joan January 13, 2016 at 5:27 pm - Reply

    Hi Tom,

    First, I want to say thank you for sharing all the research you’ve done on this topic. For 30+ years, I have sought natural ways to achieve and maintain good health—not an easy feat in a world that is basically toxic—and I know how complicated hormone issues can be firsthand. I rarely leave comments on a board like this, but I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate what you’re doing.

    Now, to answer your question food vs. meds. I have to say meds. I take 30 mg of Armour in the morning and 16.25 of Westhroid Pure mid-afternoon.

    Idealistically, I’d love to get it from food. But I am a practical person. I do not like offal meats in general. The only one I actually like is chicken gizzards—and I’m not sure they would count. Aside from that, it is rare to see offal meats in a grocery store—even Whole Foods where I shop regularly. I do not have a traditional butcher near me and no one in my family hunts for wild game, such as deer or elk. But even if I could easily get offal foods, the plain and simple truth is I could not make myself eat them regularly because I do not like them.

    Years ago, I dealt with an acute health issue by strictly adhering to a macrobiotic diet for 3 months. I am not a fussy eater, but I do not like seaweed. No matter how much my macrobiotic counselor expounded the benefits of eating seaweed, I couldn’t bring myself to suffer through it—mainly because I don’t believe that suffering has any value, and I try to enjoy every bit of life I can—including what I eat. It took some convincing but eventually my counselor understood that my eating plan had to be sustainable and practical.

    So, I think that people need to be honest with themselves about whether or not they could adhere to shopping for, cooking and eating offal meats on a weekly basis. Certainly some people could, by my guess would be that most people would not be able to.

    I hope this helps. Thanks again.

    • Tom Brimeyer January 13, 2016 at 6:53 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing Joan!

    • Janel Clarke May 9, 2016 at 5:55 pm - Reply

      Joan.. great comments.. I just wanted to ask why you take a partial dose of Armour in the a.m. and then another partial dose of Westhroid Pure in the afternoons? I will be talking to my doctor about going off Armour and onto a different NDT, like Westhroid or Naturethroid.. I am gathering good information for that change. Please share! thanks, Janel

  11. Diana Chalene January 15, 2016 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    Hi Tom ,
    I wanted to say thank you for all the info you provide to us that suffer with thyroid.
    I am on levothyroxine & liothyronine started both end of last summer.
    I was only on armour thyroid but experienced huge amounts of hair loss within a few months of increasing the armour. So tested me every 2 wks until he got me off of the armour and on the Levo & liothyronine .

    What I am experiencing is a dry scaly scalp now, dandruff never goes away? And the coarseness in my hair? Corners of my fingers next to my nails sometimes cracks & bleeds. Even bottom of my feet are so dry.

    Is that something that will just always remain with my hair ? It did stop falling out like it did, but isn’t really grown back either. I go back for blood work end of January but I assume something still isn’t right because of my scalp & hair.

    Thank you for any guidance.
    Will that just always be

  12. Victoria N February 11, 2016 at 8:26 am - Reply

    Hi Tom, firstly I think the research you have done is amazing! So much of what you have said is identical to issues I’ve been experiencing the last few years and the doctors have just shrugged their shoulders and said “that happens as you get older.” Thing is, I’m only 30. I’ve seen several comments on goiters being related to estrogen dominance, which my most recent lab test show me as way above the normal range and progesterone as almost menopausal and I’ve recently felt my thyroid enlarge (feels like someone is holding onto my neck!) although my tsh was on 2, I asked the doctor if there are ways to balance those hormones naturally- purge estrogen and raise progesterone, but she only wants to put me on an progesterone cream. I’ve been taking Vitex, the occasional maca powder, and I’ve been eating a plan called Trim Healthy mama for 10 months and lost 40 lbs. No gluten, no sugar, liver detox teas, I use Norwex to clean my house, getting rid of plastics…. I don’t know what else to do! I have an ultrasound on the 15th and don’t want to get caught with some recommendation that’s only going to harm. Please! Some guidelines before I go in would be amazing! My brother has hashi’s and my mom is hypo, I just feel like I’m young and healthy enough and willing to make changes that I could stop this before it goes crazy!!

    • Tom Brimeyer February 11, 2016 at 5:56 pm - Reply

      Hi Victoria, thanks for reading and your not alone as these are very common issues that we deal with. I would recommend going through some of our protocols. You’ll find that our approach is very different than most because we are addressing the real underlying issues. You could always start with our 3 food daily protocol:

  13. Kim April 10, 2016 at 9:41 pm - Reply

    I have Graves and was wondering if I can work with you? Do you take clients?

    • Tom Brimeyer April 12, 2016 at 9:38 am - Reply

      Hi Kim, please send an email to support@forefronthealth regarding consultations.

  14. Tracy April 11, 2016 at 11:56 am - Reply

    is the body damaged when this happens to be found at a level of 372 tsh and how can the body recover if it was in fact damaged?

    • Tom Brimeyer April 12, 2016 at 9:34 am - Reply

      Hi Tracy, TSH itself is an inflammatory hormone so having a TSH that high would generate a lot of inflammation by itself. But you can always recover.

  15. Kathleen Alexander May 5, 2016 at 10:35 am - Reply

    I have been hypo for the last 8 years. My tests are all in the normal range – yet I have the symptoms of underactive thyroid. My Doctor says my thyroid does not produce any hormone and that because my tests are in the normal range that I am fine. The fatigue is very bad – I come home from work and can barely make it to the couch. Each day I can only function for 10 hours then the fatigue is at the worst and I am longing to go to bed.
    I have signed up for The Ultimate Thryoid-Boosting meal plan etc.
    Will this help me with the symptoms and give me back my energy?

    • Tom Brimeyer May 9, 2016 at 9:03 am - Reply

      Hi Kathleen, the goal of the UTB Meal Plan is to help jumpstart thyroid function so for most this will result in an improvement in energy. However, for some who have extremely high stress hormones then we can see a more calming effect initially.

  16. Diane (Greco) Allen May 9, 2016 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    Tom,This is a very interesting topic. I am not a fan of eating organs of any animal, but I understand that medicine and holistics have considered this as a part of treatments, using ox bile replacement for aiding those who have opted for gallbladder surgery and Armour, pig hormone for thyroid replacement hormone therapy. If you recognize the foods considered as “goitrogens”, such as soy, peanuts, cabbage, cruciferous vegetables, strawberries, etc. then you might see the connection between the estrogen effects of these foods and the body’s response. I have considered that low thyroid is correlated with the body’s response to metabolic responses that are occurring in relation to healing processes and response of immune function, possibly overwhelmed immune responses. I feel that if we are attempting to address only one gland’s response to what is occurring in the body, then it will have an effect on other glands as well with the treatments and foods that we chose to treat them with. Maybe a “goitrogenic” food is one that is kicking the immune system response into overdrive with the antioxidant effects from these foods, even the heavy greens. So too much of anything even “goitrogenic” foods at any one given time maybe overwhelming, especially as we are exposed to more infectious diseases, yeast growth, and fungus, over our lifetime. What are your thoughts on “leaky gut” and the thyroid ??

  17. Carson June 12, 2016 at 3:55 pm - Reply

    What about liver? since the liver has a part to play in making the t3/t4 hormones would it also contain Thyroid?

    Ray Peat Also mentioned that milk(for sure) and possibly shellfish contain thyroid. Heard him in interviews.

    • Tom Brimeyer June 13, 2016 at 3:33 pm - Reply

      Hi Carson, liver does contain some thyroid, but you don’t want to use in excess because of the high iron.

  18. Lisa October 9, 2016 at 10:47 pm - Reply

    Hi.I have a family member in the 70s which has hypothyroid and does not want to take the medication prescription. .is it really possible for them to start a diet without medication and remain healthy

    • Tom Brimeyer October 10, 2016 at 8:49 pm - Reply

      Hi Lisa, keep in mind that T4-only medications often make people worse, so it depends largely on the medication and how one responds to it. I always recommend starting with diet. Using the right organ meats, one can regulate thyroid function without medication. But many of my clients have started with this 3 Food Thyroid-Boosting Protocol here:

  19. Elizabeth R. August 2, 2017 at 6:45 am - Reply

    Hi Tom,
    I would rather take the daily Levothyroxine pill than eat offals. The only organ meats I like to eat are chicken and calf livers. Thanks for all your informative and helpful information on Hypothyroidism.

  20. Gabrielle Rice August 30, 2018 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    Thankyou Tom for your research. Can light therapy be helpful in total thyroidectomy patients. Can the enzyme be stimulated from other organs? Is sunlight as efficient as the lamp, or is the lamp more targeted? Thankyou.

    • Tom Brimeyer September 4, 2018 at 7:33 am - Reply

      There’s still many benefits, especially with the cytochrome c oxidase enzyme, which is active in the skin.

  21. David August 30, 2018 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    What about people who no longer have a thyroid gland & are on high dose t-4 to keep tsh at close to 0 in order to possibly slow cancer progression. Feel bad & tired all the time.

    • Tom Brimeyer August 31, 2018 at 6:13 am - Reply

      I’ve written about thyroid health after RAI treatment and thyroidectomy here:

      Keeping TSH suppressed is very protective of the thyroid gland.

      However, it’s important to understand that just because you take thyroid hormone doesn’t mean that the hormone is getting to your cells. Thyroid hormone can get blocked many places along this pathway. For example, most hypothyroid people can’t convert inactive T4 thyroid hormone to active T3 thyroid hormone that your cells need. If you no longer have a thyroid, then your gland won’t be producing the small amount of T3 needed to help the liver convert thyroid hormone. This is why T4-only medications are a poor choice after thyroidectomy or rai treatment.

      You can supplement all of the thyroid hormone you want but if you can’t get the hormone to your cells then you will still be hypothyroid.

  22. Marcha August 31, 2018 at 9:40 am - Reply

    This makes so much sense. I remember reading an article years ago where a meat processing plant somewhere or another goofed up and was including the thyroid glands of slaughtered cattle in the hamburger. The majority of the town suddenly become hyperthyroid.

  23. Bethanne September 3, 2018 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    What about Hashimoto’s Syndrome? I’ve been treated for hypothyroidism for over 15 years, and finally a new PA in my doctor’s office asked me if I’ve been tested for HS… Since I hadn’t, they did some tests and found that my thyroid glad is healthy, but my immune system is attacking it every time it secretes hormones… Do you work with HS sufferers? Thank you!

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