There are many things that go through the mind as you learn of your new diagnoses of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. However, what I have found is that these questions don’t go away after a year, or two, or three. In fact, I’m over 20 years now with Hashimoto’s and the confirmation that this is a “journey” as described in my previous post here, is still at the forefront of my mind.
But for those who are relatively new to this condition, perhaps it is appropriate to help clear up some of these questions a bit. We have all kinds of areas to address when it comes to an autoimmune disease. At the top of my head there is everything including diet, exercise, hormone imbalance, insulin levels, food sensitivities, emotional issues, brain fog, thyroid medication, supplementation, gluten sensitivity awareness, and many, many more areas. It took a while for me to realize that the best way to deal with Hashimoto’s was a whole body approach. It’s like a full scale “goose chase” to do anything different.
That’s why I was so pleased that Pharmacist Izabella Wentz wrote her fantastic book on Hashimotos titled “Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause” which I think will turn a ton of sufferers lives around real fast. I say this because so many of us are/were stuck in the non-helpful and never understanding conventional health model of watching the TSH and other interventions that don’t address the root cause of our symptoms. You see, there is an autoimmune component to Hashimoto’s that is not being addressed by conventional medicine. In fact, it is just not a “component,” it is the definition of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. In fact, in the online Merriam-Webster.com dictionary, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is defined like this:
Definition of HASHIMOTO’S THYROIDITIS
: a chronic autoimmune thyroiditis that is characterized by thyroid enlargement, thyroid fibrosis, lymphatic infiltration of thyroid tissue, and the production of antibodies which attack the thyroid and that occurs much more often in women than men and increases in frequency of occurrence with age—called alsoHashimoto’s disease, Hashimoto’s struma, struma lymphomatosa (reference link here)
If the very definition of this disease is not being addressed by the conventional model, then it is not surprising that addressing just the TSH is not going to solve the under-lying attack. In fact, it gets worse while perhaps masking some of the symptoms in the short term. So, what is the answer? I suppose you hear it coming and are already saying to yourself that the answer is obvious but unfortunately what seems obvious to us for some reason sounds like quackery to the conventional medicine field (in general). Now, to me, that is crazy! The obvious answer is that IF there is a way to address the autoimmune aspect of this disease, then it makes perfect sense to give the patient that option, right? Well, from my experience and countless others I have spoken to in my years running this blog and now my Facebook page, it is not making sense to the conventional medicine community and some patients are even being laughed at and ridiculed for suggesting that there might be some help in diet. I know I was mocked and honestly, I will never forget the sadness I felt when I walked out of my HMO’s office with his words on my mind “you will never find a change through diet for this disease (paraphrased) although eating a good diet won’t hurt your ‘other symptoms.'” It hurts inside to be treated with disrespect and the sadness you feel when your doctors have no hope to offer you, is unbearable.
I have good news though! Between Dr. Kharrazian’s book “Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When all My Lab Tests are Normal” and Izabella Wentz’ new book, “Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause” (Izabella Wentz’ book is now available for immediate help through her eBook here which I highly recommend for those who don’t want to wait to get this information in the mail), we can begin to heal through many of the above-mentioned areas without having to wait for a doctor to instruct us. I am not suggesting anyone go without professional and competent medical intervention. However, complimentary help is necessary most of the time through natural doctors (or alternative medicine doctors that will prescribe your needed thyroid medication), and what I am doing which is using a both, one of which is a Functional Medicine doctor (you might be able to find one in your area through a search here). However, I highly recommend you read the aforementioned books first before hiring a doctor so you, as a patient, understand what you are looking for. It will help you to weed out anyone that is just in this for the money and give you a chance to come to a professional with some understanding as to whether their approach is appropriate for your situation.
And believe me, I got so frustrated that I actually had to pay out of pocket to leave my HMO in order to get well. But I can’t put a price tag on being able to function again. I don’t know where I would be (not even sure I would still be here) if it weren’t for this important step in my life! I spent 10 long years trying to get ONE doctor to acknowledge my symptoms as being from Hashimoto’s only to get all kinds of notes written in my file that resembled “hypochondriac”, “anxiety”, “panic attack”, “depression”, and you know what? I don’t miss the way I felt after those appointments! In fact, I am choking up just typing this out. I am free. And no, my pocketbook is not free but if our voice is heard loud enough, maybe these interventions will be covered in the future because gosh darn it, they work! I don’t need a scientific study to tell me that I am feeling better. I just am. And it isn’t easy to take this path but most of the time, we just have no choice. If we want to feel better, waiting for that magic pill or new medication is not going to help at the moment – perhaps this will be an option on the future but it’s not at this point.
So, when responding to the plea above, “Help! I Don’t Know What To Do First,” my answer is simple, yet complex. Get the information at your fingertips first. It’s all in one place now with Izabella’s book or better yet, her eBook for immediate access, and begin to troubleshoot your own situation. I wish Hashimoto’s presented a cookie cutter approach but it doesn’t. We must all be our own detectives and the good news is that we CAN now. After over 15 years of waiting, I can honestly say that the answers are coming in hard and fast and we are fortunate they are being compiled by these experts for our convenience in one place. One thing I feel I can say in confidence is that diet makes a difference and gluten free is a starting point, but many of us will need to heal going grain and sugar free also as well as address our own specific food intolerance’s. My blog shows my journey best and I found some relief in gluten free but I felt amazing results on the GAPS Diet and still do. It is my humble opinion that the SCD Diet or the GAPS Diet would not hurt anybody to try for a week or two in order to see how diet helps them (but remember to take your own food sensitivities into account when embarking on either one of these diets). Just don’t forget that if you are coming from a high carb and sugar laden diet, you will likely feel worse for a few days as you detox so you may need a professional to help support you during this time or take the gluten free challenge first and then upgrade to a more healing diet. That’s what I did and it was the way I needed to do it emotionally.
I would like to leave you on a positive note here. It is something I learned as I “turned the corner” to natural interventions for this condition. And that is to enjoy the journey! This disease has taught me more about myself than anything else in my life! I have learned that certain behaviors have not been good for my health. I have learned that I can see changes by doing the smallest things. I am dumbfounded why I never saw how important some of these things were before. But it’s exciting to know that I am learning these things and I am grateful for everything Hashimoto’s has taught me. And I am grateful to those natural doctors and professionals like those listed above and more (others are posted throughout my blog like Dr. O’Bryan and others) for continuing to make strides in educating our community. And for anyone that puts these professionals down because they are not MD’s, I would like to refer them to this interview by Mary Shoman with Dr. Kharrazian who explains beautifully why in some areas they are more qualified and as a patient, I agree!
Here’s to continued healing!Disclaimer: All posts are describing my personal journey through health issues and are in no way meant to guide anyone towards any method in particular. I am not a medical practitioner or have a dietary or medical license, and this blog is not intended to be taken as authoritative advice. Please see your doctor, or health professional before making any drastic diet changes! Also, occasionally I find others to partner with whom I have had tremendous help from and therefore, there may be paid advertisements and links to support them and help me financially run this website.