5 years ago I went to a doctor and asked him quickly to check my thyroid. I asked quickly because the doctor had the annoying habit of running for the door if a patient paused between words. On the plus side, it was very easy to make an appointment with him. He was always available for prescribing antibiotics and saying really helpful phrases such as “Exercise and do not smoke.”
I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
A few doctors later, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system makes thyroid antibodies that attack the thyroid, a small gland that produces hormones that coordinate essential body activities. At the time of my initial diagnosis, my thyroid antibodies count was 457, whereas 0-34 is considered normal. The endocrinologist told me that they do not need to be measured ever again because I would always have them. I was prescribed thyroid hormone medication, which I was supposed to take for the rest of my life and was told to see a doctor 4 times a year to adjust the dose.
My wake up call was when I was denied medical insurance.
My wake up call was when I was denied medical insurance based on my preexisting condition. It turned out Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis was a big deal in conventional medicine when it came down to making bets. If you think about it – if your thyroid gland has been constantly attacked and the body receives replacement thyroid hormone anyway, would you agree that the chances are that at some point, your thyroid gland would quit? I decided that I was too young to lose my thyroid or have other complications down the road, including cancer, and decided to do something about it.
I sought help from functional medicine.
So what did I do? I sought help from functional medicine, which is a great deal different than conventional medicine. I made an appointment with a functional medicine physician; she has a medical degree (i.e. an “M.D.”, just like my prior doctors), but the difference is that she takes the time to treat the whole body, and not just by prescribing medicine. It was so refreshing to be listened to. Suddenly, my symptoms mattered, the way I felt mattered, and ultimately, I mattered. Shortly after I started working with Dr. Myrto Ashe, MD, MPH, my thyroid antibodies, a sign of the thyroid gland being attacked, went down from 457 to 110. What did we do? We simply addressed my body’s numerous vitamin and mineral deficiencies, my body’s inability to digest chicken and fish, toxic chemicals found in me, and stress. One size does not fit all in functional medicine, and Dr. Ashe fashioned (and has adjusted) a program just for me, based on my own body’s needs.
After a gluten-free and nutrient-dense diet, I felt like a whole new me.
Recently, after 6 weeks of a gluten-free and nutrient-dense diet (and yes, a test confirmed that I am gluten sensitive), I felt like a whole new me. My skin cleared up, my energy level improved, I stopped losing hair, and I felt more confident and less shy. (Who would have thought that improvements in health may even change your personality?) I looked and felt as if I were in my early thirties again. So when I got the test results that confirmed I am healthier now, I felt happy for me and sad that I had not addressed my illness sooner. I also felt sad for people who struggle with autoimmunity every day and do not know that they have the chance to get rid of it. When I brag about my test results to a friend, she told me that her thyroid was removed.
Why am I writing this?
Why am I writing this? To brag about how great my life is, of course. Why else do we engage in social media? No, seriously, I write because currently in the US, 10% of people suffer from Hashimoto’s Thyroditis (many are not diagnosed). I want to spread the word about that fact that our bodies have self-healing powers. And I want to encourage you to be open to receiving answers from functional medicine. Functional medicine MDs believe that chronic diseases can be reversed by addressing the underlying causes of disease. (Revolutionary, right?) Functional medicine doctors spend time to get to know their patients. They partner with you to get you off the medication; they do not partner with the pharmaceutical industry, which makes trillions of dollars.
It is worth to address the underlying causes of an illness.
I won’t lie. To find and eliminate the underlying causes of any illness is not easy. Our bodies are complex and the possibilities of individual causes are numerous. For example, the environmental triggers of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis include, but are not limited to gluten, dairy or soy sensitivities/allergies, intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”), iodine deficiency/overload, bacterial and viral infections, hormonal imbalances, stressful experiences, pregnancy, therapy with certain types of medication, and exposure to heavy metals and endocrine disrupting chemicals. It requires commitment. But now once I know how it feels to be healthy, there isn’t any going back.
My next steps are…
While my thyroid has not been attacked any more, it has not restored its ability to produce the right amount of hormone yet. We are hoping that it is a matter of time. We reduced a dose of the replacement thyroid hormone to encourage the thyroid to function. In the meantime, I will continue working on finding the optimum diet and detoxifying. My next step is removing 7 amalgam fillings in my teeth that may be an explanation for mercury in my body. And I will keep on striving banning toxins from my day-to-day life. (Next post is an update on yoga mats.)
Healing is possible
I hope this will help you to make improvements in your health. Please remember that everybody is different so what worked for me, might not work for you. But healing is possible.
This book is a great of overview of what it might take to reverse Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: