Epilepsy Talk

Your Thyroid…What Everyone with Epilepsy Should Know… | September 28, 2018

Touch your neck, right above your collarbone, and you’ll find a little gland called your thyroid.  It only weighs an ounce, yet this thyroid’s hormones control your metabolism.

When those hormones are balanced, everything is fine.

But if your thyroid makes just a little less or more than you need…it could cause havoc, both with how you function and the effectiveness of your AEDs.

Hypothyroidism – or an underactive thyroid – is the real baddy.  It can result in fatigue, weight gain, constipation, fuzzy thinking, low blood pressure, fluid retention, depression, body pain, slow reflexes, and much more.

On the other hand, hyperthyroidism – an overactive thyroid — can result in a rapid metabolism and symptoms like: anxiety, insomnia, rapid weight loss, diarrhea, high heart rate, high blood pressure, eye sensitivity/bulging eyes, vision disturbances, and many other concerns.

Although any kind of hormone irregularity is cause for concern, endocrinologists, generally consider hypothyroidism the worse of the two.

Which leads us to the bad news…

In a new study, when researchers at the American Academy of Neurology called for hormone testing…

The team found that about 32% of epilepsy patients who were taking anti-epileptic drugs (both in mono or polytherapy) had thyroid hormone abnormalities.

The most relevant finding was in patients who were taking Depakote (Valproate) as a  monotherapy.

Previous studied had shown that Depakote increased the levels of thyroid-stimulating hormones which, in turn, can lead to hyperthyroidism.

However, when recent research compared anti-epileptic drugs, they found that the following drugs actually encouraged hypothyroidism.  (The no-no.)

These drugs were:

Depakote — Valproate (61.5% greater incidence of hypothyroidism)

Tegretol — Carbamaepine (47.9% greater incidence of hypothyroidism)

Dilantin — Phenytoin (17% greater incidence of hypothyroidism)

Although both thyroid irregularities can be successfully treated, you have to know they exist, in order to alter the situation.

If you have hypothyroidism, researchers suggest large doses of selenium — a common over-the-counter supplement — to bring your thyroid levels back up. You can probably get enough selenium by taking a good multi-vitamin and mineral product.  Just make sure you’re getting 200 mcg per day of selenium.

Hyperthyroidism is relatively rare and can be treated successfully with anti-thyroid drugs, prescribed by your doctor.

However, the bottom line is that thyroid illness is more common than you think.

That’s why we need to be pro-active about thyroid testing.

When you go to your internist, insist on running a full thyroid panel of T4, T3 and TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone).

Most docs will only test your TSH and tell you everything is ducky if you don’t spell out the full panel requested.

(Believe me, I speak from experience.)

Also, please take the initiative to ask for your results and check them against the norms, before you decide to take any action.

If you think you do have hypothyroidism, it’s as easy as taking selenium or a thyroid supplement.

And if your testing shows you to have hyperthyroidism, it’s just a matter of taking an anti-thyroid medication.  And in a little time, it will probably “fix” itself.

But make sure of your results first!

Your thyroid might be the last thing on your mind. But please, if you’re on any kind of AED, ask your doctor to run a full thyroid test panel once a year.

It could make a world of difference in how you feel.

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  1. I do not know what percent of IODINE really needs to be at for good brain health. I know IODINE is important to have for a strong immune system, and the thyroid helps to do that. The THYMUS gland to also activates different energies or lack there of, based on the lack or great amounts the IODINE levels are in the body. Anyone can tap the THYMUS gland which is that little hump in the upper chest below the throat area. IODINE has been a mineral where it is getting depleted from the uses of all drugs & radiated foods from all RED meats in our diets among other foods where we now have people than ever living with weak immune systems, plus the facts that flu shots & other drugs & foods that FDA & USDA approves to be safe, are from from it, & we keep on having worse health for it all. So I say study on how much IODINE a healthy brain needs, compared to a brain which seems to be immune to have seizures of any kind, based from how lack of IODINE may be a real reason / root cause among few or many more why a seizure happens. MSG & ASPARTAME abundances can & do affect all brain health & much more. http://www.msgnews.com has a story how MSG affects the liver. The brain can be affected by an unhealthy liver.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by CD — September 28, 2018 @ 1:43 PM

  2. I use Prolamine Iodine supplement for my hypothyroidism. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in 7th grade, it was by accident when I went to see a Pediatric Endocrinologist and Nephrologist up at Mayo Clinic. I was there getting my kidney disorder (Nephrotic Syndrome) in control at the time, as I was at risk of being on dialysis for life or ,God-forbid, I had the possibility of not even being alive. It’s been in remission since. I take it once a day like you would Synthroid.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by trekkie80sgirl — September 29, 2018 @ 7:01 PM

    • I’ve heard there are lots of alternatives to synthroid, such as a prescription thyroid medication that is derived from the dried thyroid gland of pigs.

      Glad you were diagnosed sooner rather than later!


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 29, 2018 @ 8:26 PM

      • Standard Process Prolamine Iodine has Calcium Lactate, Magnesium Citrate, Cellulose, Prolamine Iodine (Zein), and Calcium Sterate. I don’t really know what Zein is, but they are all organic and gluten-free.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by trekkie80sgirl — September 30, 2018 @ 1:50 PM

      • Thanks so much.

        You’re always such a good resource!


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 30, 2018 @ 1:59 PM

  3. Thanks Phyllis for the Info! Makes me even More Thankful that I’m not taking either of those medications anymore!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by David Jensen — September 30, 2018 @ 11:38 AM

  4. Well, that’s good news.

    What’s the secret to your success?


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 30, 2018 @ 11:45 AM

  5. Thank you Phyllis for the information. I’ve been having hypothyroidism for quite some time. I thought it was stress related, I never thought my tegertol played a part in it. Sadly, it’s the only thing that keeps me seizure free.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Natalie — October 2, 2018 @ 10:55 PM

  6. Nice Post

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Hipolito Magee — February 11, 2019 @ 4:07 AM

  7. Thanks for the info Phylis, I am scheduled to see an endocrinologist next week. It seems some of my labs have been getting more irregular and my internal med doctor wants it checked out. This will help me ask better questions, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Cindy Fiser — February 25, 2019 @ 8:56 AM

  8. Actually, hyperthyroidism may cause seizure activity. For those with epilepsy having high thyroid hormones could lower the seizure threshold. Some researchers believe hyperthyroidism is also linked to SUDEP because of the cardiac consequences of hyperthyroidism. So, I would say that hyperthyroidism is far more more dangerous.
    Here are just a few of the many articles available:


    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by C. G. — April 19, 2019 @ 2:04 PM

    • C.G.

      Thanks a million for your insights and knowledge.

      I write from what I read and research.

      But obviously, you did me one, (or two), better.

      Thanks for the qualifications, scary though they may be.

      I appreciate it.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 19, 2019 @ 7:33 PM

  9. During my pregnancy I have never had one seizure for nine months I am seizure free within five minutes after giving birth I will have a grand mal seizure I have four kids and it was the same every time can’t doctors look into what kind of hormone women produce more of during pregnancy that would prevent havingseizures I can’t have any more kids but it would be nice to know why the seizures stop when pregnant

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Ronda harris — January 3, 2020 @ 1:01 AM

    • Research shows that the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, act on certain brain cells, including those in the temporal lobe, a part of the brain where partial seizures often begin.

      Estrogen excites these brain cells and can make seizures more likely to happen.

      In contrast, natural progesterone can inhibit or prevent seizures in some women.

      Some women with epilepsy experience changes in their seizure patterns when their hormones are fluctuating.

      Seizure activity may influence levels of hormones in the body, and the levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body can affect seizures.

      I hope this helps in some way.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 3, 2020 @ 9:00 AM

  10. AAARGH! Just got the results from a recent blood test and my thyroid is way low. My doctor emailed, “We should watch that.” Nothing about seizures. In less than a minute, I had your considered, informed response to the relationship between thyroid and seizures. Phylis, you are a treasure! AND I don’t have to climb onto the examining table. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by HoDo — February 10, 2020 @ 12:54 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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