A friend of mine messaged me a few weeks ago. She saw my personal Facebook victory post about bringing down my antibodies and about my TSH being so low that I could back off on my thyroid hormone pills. She was concerned because she had blood work done and her TSH was elevated. They were going to test for antibodies next. She wasn’t sure what to do. Then she let me know about a week later that her antibodies were 469. When 0-34 is the safe range and 0 is the goal, 469 is ugly!
“I really like my doctor but her answer is, if the TSH is still elevated then we’ll go on synthetic hormones forever…”
She was so dismayed.
“I would like to address the actual issue…”
I gave her some advice on great books to get a hold of and steps to take next. Ones that would empower her to make healthy/healing decisions for herself, to give her wisdom on how best to speak with her doctors, and to help her be her own best advocate. I decided that there are likely many out there who would benefit from such information…. so here it is!
I was just diagnosed with Hashimoto’s? What do I do now?
First things first, take a deep breath! It’s not a life sentence, it is completely possible to put into remission! For the best results you’ll need to follow the guidelines for an autoimmune paleo diet (AIP diet), address high stress levels, lower your toxic load, and minimize your triggers. Your symptoms will need to be listened to, your body is talking to you, so paying attention when it speaks is key. As you learn your body’s particular language you’ll find you can avoid the things that make you feel so bad, make you anxious or out of your mind, make you hurt all the time, and so on. You’ll get your life back!
How does one listen to their body?
Because all of us are effected by autoimmune disease differently no one-person has the same experience as another. Also, immune diseases tend to piggyback each other so if you have one you may have two or three. Don’t panic, what you need to do to help Hashimoto’s will also help minimize the development of other autoimmune diseases and will help the others you may already have. Bringing down your inflammation brings down all inflammation, whether it’s the Hashimoto’s, Ulcerative Colitis, Fibromialga, Lupus, or any other autoimmune ugliness. They all feed off inflammation, bring it down and your are going to feel like a new person!
Don’t panic, what you need to do to help Hashimoto’s will also help minimize the development of other autoimmune diseases and will help the others you may already have.
You’re life will change. For the the better? Absolutely. Eating whole foods, cutting out processed foods, minimizing poisons (yup, processed foods and make-up, etc. have a whole lot of poisons in them), reducing your stress levels, bringing down your weight (often times you can’t lose weight because it’s NOT FAT it’s inflammation; swelling!), and so much more, are all fabulous things you can do for yourself to live a long and healthy life all while putting your autoimmune disease into remission! WIN, WIN, WIN!
The side effects of these changes are healthy skin, smooth bowel movements, mental clarity, a state of well being, energy, a good nights sleep, painlessness, and more. Sound good?
The ‘solution’ doctors often promote is not so constructive. They usually only address the numbers on their chart from your blood work, and use pills to fix every symptom separately. If you “solve” this issue that way, it’s not solved, it’s hidden. It’s like putting a broken arm under a long sleeve shirt while taking oxycodone for the pain. How long do you think that will work? How high a dose will they let you take before they refuse any more increases and the pain becomes unbearable? And when gangrene sets in and your arm is removed completely was hiding the problem and taking the pills easier then the suggested life change? As much as we may prefer to take a pill and continue drinking our diet soda and eating our fast food, while working 80 hours a week, living in an abusive relationship, and/or putting make-up on filled with toxic levels of metal every day; it only temporarily masks the problem. The problem that is growing under that shirt sleeve and is about to erupt 10 times more ugly!
How do I know this? Instead of discovering my thyroid problem I was labeled bi-polar and medicated heavily. I experienced unstable “relief” and a ton of ugly side effects for over a decade, all while my thyroid problem grew and grew and grew! See my story here.
Many autoimmune diseases actually have a very short success rate with starter doses of medication. Very quickly you need something stronger, and stronger, and they work less and less successfully, while piling on more and more side effects that are sometimes worse then the disease they are trying to rescue you from. Does that sound better then a life change?
It doesn’t to me either….
All these things are important to understand as you look at the changes you’ll need to make to regain your wellness, your life. It is a lot to face, but if you tackle it a little at a time, making new good habits as you go, you’ll find the dissipation of your symptoms is well worth the effort.
Here’s the nuts and bolts of it…. Keep in mind…
Philippians 4 :13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”
Step One: Build up resources, be your own best advocate.
Buy some books to help you understand what you’ll be facing and what to do about it. Here are a few I highly recommend.
1) ‘The Autoimmune Solution’ by Amy Myers, MD
2) ‘Why do I still have thyroid symptoms, when my lab tests are normal?’
by Dr. Datis Kharrazian
3) ‘The Root Cause’ by Isabella Wentz, ParmD
4) ‘Against All Grain‘ and her cookbooks by Danielle Walker
5) ‘Your not crazy and you’re not alone!’ by Stacey Robbins
(Disclaimer: I have yet to read this book, however it comes highly recommended from friends and fellow sufferers as a must read, so I wanted to add it here)
Step two: Take a deep breath!
These books won’t be hard to read, I assure you. You’ll pick them up and all of a sudden everything will make sense. All the things you’ve been dealing with that seem separate, like nightmares so vivid you can’t shake how real they feel all day, or being so forgetful that you feel like your birth certificate was miss printed and your 35 years older somehow. All the “little” things your doctors dismissed or that you never thought to mention to them, you’ll find them here! Isn’t that awesome?
Answers; that you aren’t crazy and that you don’t have to stay like this!
Step Three: Go gluten free, preferably grain free
1) There’s a reason the ‘gluten free fad’ isn’t going away…it’s not a fad, it works. You may need 4-6 months to heal enough to really notice the benefit, give it time. Remember, it took you your life up til now to get here, it will take a bit to get back.
2) Also, because grains burn straight into sugar you’ll likely go into withdrawal for a bit, so you may feel worse for 3-5 days and still crave it for a week before this fades. It’s more addictive to your body then cocaine. The withdrawal is your body healing. Look at it like this… however strong your headache or illness as you withdrawal, that’s how much that ‘food’ had a hold on you. Scary, huh?
3) Here is a fabulous article by Dr. William Davis on the blog Wheat Belly about withdrawal. “Most of these phenomena are caused by withdrawal from the gliadin-derived opiates in wheat, the 4- to 5-amino acid long polypeptides that increase appetite and cause addictive eating behaviors.” Yuck!!
Step four: Find a support group
1) Facebook groups can be a great help. Don’t have an account? I would recommend you open one for this very reason. I have accepted several to the groups I work with who’s accounts are brand new.
2) Because doctors, unless you can go to a functional medicine physician- which I recommend!- won’t be of much help. They’ll test your numbers for Hashimoto’s and afterwards only your TSH so they can increase or decrease your thyroid hormone pills…that’s it. Even my endocrinologist, a specialist for this little organ, stopped here. This doesn’t address the huge elephant in the room, that it’s an IMMUNE SYSTEM DISEASE, not just a thyroid issue! Because of this, the best support is learning from the trial and error of others. Thus you can minimize your efforts and get the best results possible. Check in resources for support groups.
3) Word of caution: Many sufferers on the sites are not taking the healthy route you have chosen (you have, right!?). They can be very sick, angry, and may not always answer kindly. This is not always the case, and the groups I recommend are very supportive in addressing the body as a whole to minimize inflammation and have very diligent administrators who monitor comments to keep it positive. This warning is more for other groups you may find on your own. Remember to keep your answers kind as you make discoveries you want to share and keep in mind, when you post a question, that everyone is coming from a different place.
Glean what you can and ignore comments that may be less then helpful.
Step Five: Take baby steps
1) Rome wasn’t conquered in a day. This life change will take time. If you are a ‘completely on board type A personality’ who can drop all ‘bad’ foods, minimize stress, and drop all bad habits like that, Fabulous! Just keep in mind that does not mean your family and friends will be so forthcoming. Taking baby steps will ensure that your new way of life sticks with you.
2) You’ll need to search labels of foods to find the one’s safest for you to eat. Choosing ‘cereals’ one grocery trip until you find one that works, and then on your next trip finding a ‘salad dressing’ that is ideal, takes the weight off you. Once you learn safe brands and favorites you won’t even realize it was once something you were intimidated by!
3) You may find it easier to change one thing for a while and then find something that may be best for you to change next. You may already be eating very clean and yet working 80 hour work weeks or in a bad relationship and thus burning your candle at both ends. It may take some work to find a more ideal job or break off the abusive relationship.
4) Give yourself time. Change one thing, going gluten free is the best place to start. Once you begin to see how much better you feel after that one change, the other changes will be much easier to do. You’ll be excited to feel even better!
Step six- last step!: Journal
1) Write down the things you did each day on one side of a little composition book, down the facing page write all the symptoms you are dealing with. This will be easier after you read the book by Dr. Datis Kharrazian who lists every symptom related to thyroid disease. There are many you may not realize are related.
For example, I suffered from horrible periods…Now I have a normal cycle! Read this story here.
2) Because symptoms may show themselves a day or two after the event that caused them, separating the symptoms and what you did means you can look back a few days if you, for instance, all of a sudden have joint pain really bad and go “what did I do yesterday? The day before?”
3) Maybe you did several things and you aren’t sure which caused it, circle the concerning things and write ‘joint pain’. The next time the same pain happens look back. Which things coincide with the previous time this happened? You may find only one thing happened both times! Bingo!!!
4) It may be something like ‘going grocery shopping’ that sets off your system. You can’t skip grocery shopping, but maybe you can work it that you go during a less peak time, when it’s quieter. Or maybe feeling rushed to get home after work is what adds the stress of your stop, so going on Saturday and taking your time helps you tremendously. Only you can figure out what’s best for you, but the journal will direct you to the cause.
As you face this know that you aren’t alone. Our spiritual well being is very important as well. There are many who search for worldly answers to spiritual well being, but the only true source is a relationship with the Lord through Jesus Christ. His word is full of promises we can stand on and claim over our situation. He gave us the Holy Spirit, too, who dwells in us, if you invite him in! Then you are truly never alone.
Isn’t that fantastic!?
You are not alone struggling with this. He loves you and loved you so much he sent his only son so we’d have a way out. (John 3:16).
He knew we would need to rest, we weren’t made to go 24/7 365 days a year. We need a break. Stress is a huge part of this disease. You can do all the food and toxicity removal to the letter but if you don’t find rest and relieve stress, it’s all for not.
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Jeremiah 31:25 “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”
I pray this gives you the deep peaceful breath you needed. That sense that ‘It’s going to be okay’. My prayer for you is that you see the amazing results this method of recovery has given me. I am no longer bi-polar, I no longer have debilitating joint pain, my mind is my own again, I have the energy I need to raise my 2 children (2 and 5 years old), and I can enjoy time with my husband. I am living a full life and I’m only on Armour Natural Thyroid hormone, instead of the 3,000 mg a day of prescriptions I used to have to take… that they said I’d be on for life. Thyroid hormone is something I am working to no longer need. I claim my healing every day.
Funny, this way of eating and taking care of ourselves matches up completely with the word of God. See my blog on this here.
May God bless you and keep you!
Melissa Bouchard Phipps
Melissa, you did a great job with this! Your advice is exactly what I wish so many would follow. Congrats on the beautiful blog and more importantly for taking charge of your health and healing your body 🙂