More than 25 million Americans have some type of thyroid disease. In my case, I have been diagnosed as hypothyroid (under active thyroid) due to Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks the thyroid gland. In this post I’d like to share with you part of my journey to (hopefully) heal my thyroid naturally.
I was diagnosed earlier this year (2008) with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. My thyroid is enlarged and has three nodules on it. Two ultrasounds about six months apart showed no growth in the nodules. They appear to be benign. I was told I did not need an ultrasound again for two years. They still want me to get my TSH checked every six months. Dr. Scott also wanted to check free T4 during the November tests.
11/12/2008 – I visited Dr. Scott to get my thyroid checked again. My TSH and free T4 levels had come back at the edge of high normal range and I had been having some symptoms commonly associated with hypothyroidism (cold hands and feet, fatigue, dry skin, some depression). I was not experiencing weight gain, but I was not losing weight, either, even though I exercise nearly every day. Dr. Scott suggested I try 25mcg Levothyroxin daily to see if this helped with the symptoms. He asked me to come back to retest TSH and free T4 in four weeks. When I specifically asked the doctor about diet or lifestyle changes I could make to treat the underlying causes of my disease, he told me there was nothing I could do. I should just get on medication and resign myself to my thyroid eventually destroying itself.
Over the next four weeks my beginning symptoms did not improve. In addition, I developed moderately severe joint pain in my right knee (this knee has bugged me occasionally but rarely this bad). During my menstrual period, I had severe cramping (much worse than normal) and felt physically ill for 2-3 days. I also felt that I had difficulty concentrating. I found myself rereading the same paragraph over and over again. I developed gastric reflux and by the third week it was starting feel as though my throat was closing up and it hurt/was difficult to swallow. This was similar to the (I believe) allergic reaction I experienced on amoxicillin and prednisone.
12/8/08 – When it came time to renew my prescription I decided not to do it. I called the doctor and canceled the blood work and notified them that I was going off the medication. We currently have no insurance and I do not know when we will have insurance again. (Note – my husband was unemployed at this time. Stress levels were way up for both of us.) I told them that I would check back in sometime in the future. The doctor was not happy and instead wanted to increase my dosage, but I declined.
I have decided to try alternative thyroid treatment. After doing some research online, I am continuing to use NatraBio Thyroid Support tablets three times per day. I have also begun taking about a teaspoon of coconut oil three times per day. I am also taking Rainbow Light Women’s One Multivitamin/Mineral, Rainbow Light Food Based Super C (1000 mg daily) and Schiff Vitamin D 2000 I.U. daily.
I corresponded via email with a lady named Darcy from California that I found on a thyroid board (she mentioned she was treating homeopathically after trying meds with similar side effects). She recommended Thyroid Assist by Native Remedies and virgin coconut oil and that she had visited a homeopathic practitioner who recommended these things to her and suggested that part of her problems might be sluggish adrenal glands, which do tend to become less active as we age. The symptoms are similar to hypothyroidism.
12/27/08 – The throat swelling went away in under a week once I stopped the Levothyroxin. I am no longer having acid reflux. My knee does not ache excessively. My hands and feet still tend to be cold and my skin is still dry, but it has been very cold this month with record breaking snowfall (over 3 feet for December alone). I have started using coconut oil as a face/body moisturizer, too. My head is clearer and I am able to read normally again. I started my period today and am not having any significant cramping/pain/fatigue, etc. Much better.
The bursitis is still present in my left hip. I found out that Mary and Lois (my two sisters) also both have pain in their left hip – Mary from her surgery and Lois probably from bursitis (she hasn’t been checked). It doesn’t bother me too much most of the time. I feel it more when I am tired or if I lay on that side when I sleep. (Note: The bursitis showed up after my second pregnancy. Dr. Scott said my hips were out of alignment from the delivery and did an adjustment in his office (he is an O.D., not an M.D.) that he said would resolve the problem. No such luck.)
I have been starting each day (before I get out of bed) with listing things that I am thankful for and asking that August find a good job, preferably in the area or at least reasonable within driving distance of mom. I am practicing counting my blessings instead of my worries.
1/22/09 – Symptoms are about the same – skin still dry, hands still cold – but, hey, it’s winter! Joint pain has decreased significantly. I am exercising every morning again.
Dec 2009 – I started dry brushing and cold rinses in the shower, and decreasing my carbs while increasing my fat intake after reading “Eat Fat, Lose Fat”. Over the month of December, I dropped ten pounds, even with the holidays. Skin is much less dry and itchy, as are eyes.
January 2011 – Down about another ten pounds. Recently read “Primal Blueprint”, and other material indicating that gluten may be contributing to my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Working to reduce/eliminate gluten/grains in the diet, but I’m not there yet. I’ve changed up my work out routine, and started including “sprints” and weightlifting again. Still under a lot of stress due to job uncertainly. Bought a TRX system, which just arrived this week, so looking forward to incorporating that into the workout routine as well. My skin is softer and smoother, and bowel movements are regular (constipation is a common symptom of an under active thyroid).
Where I’m at nutritionally:
- I’ve settled into a diet that is relatively high in fat, lower in carbs, working to eliminate grains/gluten.
- I don’t use refined salt, only sea salt, but include small amounts of kelp or other seaweed in my diet.
- I still take coconut oil before every meal.
- I do eat cruciferous vegetables, but I try to cook or ferment them before consumption.
- I eat a Brazil nut every day, as they are high in selenium.
- I consume one or more fermented foods/drinks per day, including kombucha, water kefir, milk kefir, sauerkraut, raw milk cheese, yogurt and other fruit and vegetable ferments. Kombucha’s my favorite. I believe that digestive health is critical to the health of the rest of the body.
- I’m working to get more veggies into my diet, and have started eating/drinking green smoothies.
- When the weather allows, I get plenty of sun exposure. In the winter months I supplement with vitamin D3.
- I try to include turmeric and plenty of other anti-inflammatory foods and spices into my diet.
- I avoid unfermented soy, excessive amounts of peanuts and raw cruciferous vegetables.
- Processed foods, fake fats and all the other garbage passing itself off as food is a no-no.
- Sourcing my meat and eggs locally, from people I trust. All of the critters spend time on pasture and are light on grains.
- I grow most of my own veggies, and try to source the rest organically. Working towards the same with fruits.
I haven’t been back to the doctor. I’m looking for a practitioner that’s more open minded and haven’t found one yet. I am largely asymptomatic at this point, so I am reluctant to go in to someone I don’t trust.
Do you have a thyroid disorder? If so, what have you done to help your thyroid heal? I hope other people will find my story useful in finding solutions that work for them.
I will be updating this story soon, as I just went in for a blood draw on Friday (yesterday) and an ultrasound. Still waiting for official results, and still not expecting much from conventional medicine. I’ve started a new detox protocol, which I will also be writing about, that I am hoping will help my body to continue healing.
Some folks has asked for additional resources, so I’d like to recommend the following books that I found helpful:
Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? When My Lab Tests Are Normal: A Revolutionary Breakthrough In Understanding Hashimoto’s Disease and Hypothyroidism – If you’re only going to read one book, this is the one I’d recommend. There’s discussion about gluten, adrenal connections, liver connections, detox, gut issues – a lot about the “why” of your thyroid going on the blink. it did leave me wanting more information about the specifics of “how” to fix it, but I guess the author needs to keep his practice in business and avoid getting sued by the FDA.
Iodine: Why you need it, Why you can’t live without it by David Brownstein, M.D.
Overcoming Thyroid Disorders Second Edition by David Brownstein, M.D.
I read Dr. Brownstein’s books first, and they opened my eyes to the importance of iodine. I’ve read some mixed reviews on Dr. Brownstein’s supplement recommendations, so please do your own research before making any decision to supplement and speak with a trained healthcare provider.
A couple more related books that deal with coconut oil that may also be helpful are The Coconut Oil Miracle and Eat Fat, Lose Fat. I know saturated fats are currently demonized, but I have lost weight on coconut oil, and these books explain why.