A thyroid disease diagnosis can feel overwhelming, but it also marks the start of a healing journey. Thyroid awareness month resonates with me because of my personal journal with Hashimoto’s (Hashimoto’s disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid). I know from experience that with the right guidance, identifying the roots of imbalance and eliminating trigger issues there is hope. While this article referencing Hashimoto’s you will find that most of the information also applies to thyroid disease and autoimmune health in general. I am not a doctor and the following is personal opinion and does not mean to be medical advice. Always consult your physician before beginning any program or taking any supplement.
When I received my Hashimoto’s diagnosis it was extremely overwhelming. On one hand, I was scared and confused, not knowing what to expect when it came to treating and managing the disease. But on the other hand, I was somewhat relieved. I had been dealing with a mix of symptoms ranging from depression and anxiety, to infertility. Most of the doctors I had been seeing treated each symptom individually, but I had a feeling they were all part of something bigger. That?s why when my doctor diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism, it was a relief to hear that my symptoms were all interconnected, and I wasn’t–as some people had suggested–crazy.
If you’ve been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s I want to help you sort through the emotions, and find the next steps. I spent nearly 21 years on medication and never felt like I was on a true path to healing until just a few years ago when I got serious about healing holistically. Now that I’ve got a handle on my healing, I want to share some tips with those who have been recently diagnosed, so you can skip the waiting period and start feeling better as soon as possible.
Here are the first five things you can do to start your journey to acceptance and healing:
The First 5 Steps
ONE: KNOW THAT YOU’RE NOT ALONE There’s a chance that you may never have even heard of Hashimoto’s at the time of your diagnosis–it’s an epidemic that people are finally talking about. Hashimoto?s is the most common and fastest growing autoimmune disease, affecting mostly women between the ages of 40-60. It’s a disease in which the immune system attacks cells in the thyroid gland. Hashimoto?s can be triggered, in part, by high amounts of stress driven and fast-paced lifestyles, infections, toxins that enter our body through the food we eat and the air we breathe. And though the disease affects your thyroid, it is largely tied to your gut health.
Hashimoto’s can cause a range of symptoms, from weight gain and brain fog to mood disorders and hair loss, to name a few.
While a Hashimoto’s diagnosis can feel pretty isolating, know that you’re not alone in your struggle, and there are other people out there who understand and sympathize with what you?re going through.
TWO: ACCEPT THAT YOU MAY HAVE TO TAKE MEDICATION While I’m so proud of the fact that I healed myself, it took time for that to happen! Medication can be important in the beginning to help you reset your thyroid and hormones, so you can start your healing journey on the right foot. Doctors usually prescribe Synthroid, a synthetic drug that only contains the thyroid hormone T4. T4 must be converted into T3 in order to be used by the body, and in some people this conversion process does not work properly. That?s why I recommend a medication that has a T3/T4 combination, such as Armour, WP Thryoid or Nature-Thyroid.You might be reluctant to take medication, I know I was. Don?t beat yourself up about it. This is just the first step to healing, you might not need to be on these meds forever.
Remember that lifestyle and diet changes, as well as supplements, can help you wean your way off of medication eventually and support your body in healing itself.
THREE: REMEMBER THAT THIS IS NOT YOUR DESTINY Getting your Hashimoto?s diagnosis can feel almost like a life sentence. At the time of my own diagnosis, doctors told me that I would never live without medication–and it was crushing to hear. But many of the medications they were giving me were only treating the symptoms and not getting to the root cause. So I decided there needed to be a change.
And here I am 21 years later, having cured myself naturally of this autoimmune disease. It’s important to keep in mind that Hashimoto?s is not your destiny. Don’t let the doctors scare you or tell you this is something that you?ll have to live with forever. Find a team of people, not only friends and family, but doctors too–I recommend searching for a functional MD who is well-versed in autoimmune diseases. They take a more holistic, full-body approach to helping you heal. I found a great team in experts like Dr. Isabella Wentz, Dr. Aviva Romm and the Medical Medium, Anthony Willam . It might take you a little while to find yours, but don’t stop until you do.
FOUR: GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR GUT Autoimmune diseases can cause “leaky gut” or damage to the lining of your small intestine, which may allow undigested food, bacteria and other toxins to slip through the walls of the intestine and make their way into your bloodstream. This contributes to inflammation and a host of other problems that can make Hashimoto?s symptoms worse.
In order to heal your gut and give it a fresh start, you must rid of the bad bacteria and rebuild the good ones. For killing the unhealthy bacteria and lowering viral loads in the gut, I recommend supplementing with a high-quality bioactive silver in the morning. Then, at night, to rebuild the good bacteria, supplement with probiotics (50 billion and up), l-glutamine (3 grams) and aloe vera.
Cut out processed foods, sugar, gluten and dairy, and add more of the foods that are going to benefit your gut like kefir, kimchi, tempeh, saurkraut and kombucha. Also, add more food that will improve your overall health, like leafy greens, wild-caught salmon and foods high in healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, ghee, nuts etc.).
FIVE: MAKE LIFESTYLE CHANGES Add supplements, remove stress & emotional trauma. Changes to your lifestyle can make a world of difference when it comes to healing from Hashimoto’s. I always put a strong emphasis on the importance of lowering stress levels, since stress plays a role in the development of autoimmune diseases. I found an intense sense of calm in energy healing, but yours could be anything–meditation, reiki and yoga are great for making you feel calmer, and they can also contribute to improved immunity and lowered blood pressure. Recovering from emotional trauma is also crucial for the ability to heal completely. Talking out your issues with a therapist, healer or a friend is great for this purpose and can can really help you get in touch with yourself. Make sure you’re adding this essential ?me time? to your schedule, even if it’s just for 20 minutes to take an epsom salt bath or do some breathing exercises.
As far as supplements go, here’s what I added:
+ ZINC SULFATE | Zinc can help to control T4 to T3 conversion, decrease inflammation and improve immune function.
+ SELENIUM | Selenium is extremely important in regulating normal thyroid functions and can help stimulate thyroid hormone production
+ ASHWAGANDHA | This adaptogen can provide adrenal support and help your body create a better response to stress
+ VITAMIN B12 | (B12 with methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalmin.) People with Hashimoto?s are more likely to be deficient in B12, so this is an important supplement to take ? especially if you are on a vegan or vegetarian diet
+ ESTER-C | Most people know that vitamin C plays an important role in immunity, but it can also be extremely helpful when it comes to lowering your viral loads
The bottom line is: You shouldn’t let Hashimoto’s control your life. These are just a few of the first steps that can help you on your way to healing and feeling like your best self again. In this series, we?ll address the root causes and lifestyle interventions ?? like dealing with past traumas or emotional baggage that is getting in the way of your healing. Also, learning to lower your viral, heavy metal and toxin loads–as well as detoxing your organs–will not only help to alleviate the symptoms, but also reverse the disease, like I was able to, and help you on your way to living your healthiest and happiest life!
Below we’re digging one step deeper and talking about the unavoidable process of emotional healing. Stress and emotional trauma are inextricably linked to most auto-immune conditions??
“Cleanse” is a word we hear all the time in the wellness community, and we associate it mostly with the foods we?re eating. For example, someone may go on a juice cleanse to try and reset their digestive system, or maybe they”ll partake in my soup cleanse that focuses on eating whole, nutritious foods. I think that cleansing your body through food is great. But there’s another, just as important cleanse, that people tend to forget about? and that?s an emotional cleansing lifestyle.
I see so many clients walking around with the weight of massive stress and trauma hanging on their shoulders (and blocking their minds) ?- I recognize it, because I was once in their place. I never realized how many toxic emotions and experiences I was holding onto until, at the age of 34, I was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s. I finally began to learn that our emotions, and the state of stress and anxiety that they bring, can have serious detrimental effects on our health.In my case, I believe it contributed to Hashi?s developing in my body.
That?s why, when it comes to healing yourself from an autoimmune disease, or any disease for that matter, I think it?s so important to focus on emotional factors. Here?s how you can cleanse your emotions, to give your body and mind that sense of calm they need to truly heal.
Before anything else, practice self-love. Establishing a consistent practice of self-love is critical to healing, because you have to put yourself in a positive, loving, mindset to heal. While it may seem selfish to focus on yourself and your needs, it?s an inside job and it must be done if you want to thrive long-term. There is some confusion on what self-love actually means. It?s much more than taking a bath and having a spa day. This quote perfectly sums it up:
?Self-love requires you to be honest about your current choices and thought patterns and undertake new practices that reflect self-worth.??~Caroline Kirk
There isn?t a magical pill you can take to stop your negative self talk, your repetitive destructive patterns and your choice to put yourself last. No one can ever make you happy, loved or well until you practice it yourself.?Here are some ways to get started:
CHOOSE YOURSELF FIRST?That might mean you will have to start turning down activities and interests that don?t serve you in the moment. Recognize when you?re tired, overwhelmed or simply not feeling it and honor that feeling (with the assurance that there will be no guilt afterwards). Tuning into your self and your needs is a very big step in self-loving behavior.
SCHEDULE TIME TO PROVIDE YOUR BODY REST, EXERCISE, AND COMFORT WHATEVER IT MAY NEED?If you need relaxation and comfort, schedule a massage. If you?re feeling depleted or tense, try foam rolling at home ?- it?ll get your blood flowing and your body feeling great. If you?re feeling exhausted and need to recharge, allow yourself a 30-minute nap. If you need an outlet to clear your mind and care for your physical body, make exercise 3-4 times a week a priority, no excuses. These are simple ways that you can listen and respond to your needs in a caring manner.
FIND A POSITIVE MANTRA TO REPEAT TO YOURSELF FOR EVERY DAY?If you repeat something to yourself enough, chances are, you?ll start to believe it. This is something I said to myself, ?Every day and every way, I am getting better and better,? until eventually, it became true! I highly recommend picking up You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. This book is a great start to put to use positive mantras and to accept responsibility for making self care a daily practice.
WRITE DOWN 3 THINGS THAT YOU LOVE ABOUT YOURSELF EVERYDAY Owning your inner and outer beauty is a beautiful act of self-love. Make sure each day you have something different. It may seem hard at first, but you?ll be amazed at how many positive things you notice about yourself with a simple shift of mentality.
DO SOMETHING YOU?RE GOOD AT This one is such a simple and easy self-esteem booster. I always clean out my closet. It may seem like a small task, but I know organization is one of my strong suits, and at the end I always feel more proud and accomplished than when I started. Or make a beautiful dinner for others or yourself and savor the food that was made with love and care for your body. Owning your qualities, even when no one else is around to experience them, isn?t something you should be ashamed of!
RECOGNIZE YOUR TRAUMA AND HEAL FROM IT We carry with us so many of the toxic and traumatic experiences that have occurred throughout our lives. These are things that could have happened as early as childhood or as recent as a few weeks ago. And while we may not be thinking about them at all times, they still have an impact on the way we think, manage stress and even on our body?s ability to heal.
For me, after I was diagnosed with Hodgkin?s lymphoma and completed the treatments, I thought and hoped that I was done with cancer?s nasty effects. But what I didn?t realize at the time was that the trauma lingered on. Holding onto these traumatic experiences caused me a great deal of stress and, in part I think, contributed to my development of Hashimoto?s and made it severely worse. Carrying your trauma with you can change the way your body operates, and not for the better. That?s why finding a way to release this trauma is so crucial.
For some, talk therapy could be an effective way to obtain this release by getting traumatic events that you may be repressing out into the open, and effectively letting them go. For me, however, talking about my cancer in therapy felt like I was reliving the trauma over and over. I found my release in many different energy healing modalities. They helped me relax, find happiness and focus deeply on recovering from trauma.
TRADITIONAL ENERGY HEALING?This is the strategy that I found to be, by far, the most helpful when it came to healing from trauma. I visited shamans and energy healers who helped me get in touch with the negative subconscious thoughts that were stopping me from thriving. They helped me learn how to remove these blocks within my body?s energy. Use your gut and intuition to really feel who is the right energy healer for you, and go with an open mind.
REIKI?This form of meditation involves the redistribution of energy throughout the body through touch. The focus is on creating an awareness of different areas of your body while slipping your mind out of the chaos of the day-to-day anxieties. Reiki is used to promote relaxation, calm the mind and ultimately reduce stress so you can become more balanced in mind, body and spirit. Learn more about this healing modality here.
EFT TAPPING The idea behind tapping is similar to acupuncture but instead of needles, you?reusing your fingers to tap pressure points. At the same time, you?re recounting something traumatic or worrying, and the tapping helps to relieve the feelings of anxiety or stress that are associated with that thought. The whole purpose is to send a flow of calming energy throughout the body to promote healing.
RELEASE YOUR STRESS?Stress is pretty hard to avoid. Whether it be a job, finances, relationships, family dramas, the list goes on and on? it?s easy to feel the effects of stress start to build up in your body. Stress in the short term is not necessarily bad, it sometimes can be used as a strong motivator if you have the right mentality. But when you stay stressed for long periods of time, it can do some serious damage to your body. Cortisol is one of those handy stress hormones that helps to prepare your body in a ?fight or flight? situation. When cortisol levels are raised for too long though, like in the instance of chronic stress, it can wreak havoc on your immune system and blood sugar and cause various health issues. Constant stress also plays a role in the development of autoimmune diseases and can make the symptoms worse. There are some effective ways to manage stress though.
MINDFULNESS MEDITATION | Practicing mindfulness can help you stay in the moment instead of constantly thinking ahead and picturing worst-case scenarios. It even helps your body cope with stress better in the long term. All you need to do is focus your attention on a single point of reference. That could be your breath, a mantra, body awareness and even a word. In doing so, you become present in the moment, which, as easy as it sounds, becomes very difficult today in our busy lives.
BREATHWORK EXERCISES?A good breathwork exercise can help your body from entering fight-or-flight mode and diminish the harmful, immune suppressing stress response. Try breathing in through your nose for 4 seconds, and then releasing it through your mouth for 6-8 seconds. Practice daily, 5-10 minutes.
EAT A NUTRITIOUS AND ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET Inflammation and stress go hand in hand, so in stressful times, you want to make sure your diet contains plenty of anti-inflammatory foods. Plus, filling your meals with nutrient-dense fruits and veggies will help keep your body and mind feeling great.
We?ve discussed what to do first after a diagnosis and why an emotional cleanse is just as important on a physical one. Next up, I’ll explains the impact of our cumulative toxic load and what we can do to lighten it?
There?s a common culprit at the root of so many of today?s health issues. It is the toxins that we have been exposed to over our lifetime, such as pesticides, heavy metals and viruses. The one virus that I?ve been really focused on is Epstein-Barr, the same virus that causes mononucleosis (AKA the ?kissing disease? that was always going around in your high school and college years). It?s a sneaky virus that nearly 95% of the adult population has. Even if you haven?t had mono, the virus could still be living in your body. But here?s the good news: You can heal yourself from it and, at the same time, lower your toxin load overall, and by doing so, heal your body of the illnesses it causes, including Hashimoto?s.
The Role of Epstein-Barr (EBV)
The Epstein-Barr virus is also occasionally known as the ?thyroid virus.? This virus has been tied to a number of diseases, including certain cancers, like the Hodgkin?s Lymphoma I was diagnosed with at the age of 32, and autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s. One study found that of all the people with Hashimoto’s tested, 81% of them also had EBV. Anthony William, the medical medium, estimates that approximately 95% of all thyroid problems can be attributed to this virus.
It was William who actually introduced me to this idea that this virus could be causing so many of my health problems. As a kid, I was always getting sick: I had chicken pox, strep throat, tonsillitis, mono, shingles, herpes — you name an illness and, chances are, I had it. I never realized that they could all be interconnected until I saw William and he explained that I likely had EBV living in my organs, and that was the cause of so many of my maladies ? including Hashimoto’s.
Most of the time, Epstein-Barr lays dormant in the body and shows no signs, but the virus can spread. Here’s where the Hashimoto’s connection comes in. If the virus spreads to your thyroid, and enters the cells there, the immune system may try to attack both the virus and the thyroid cells, thus causing the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s. Plus chronic infections, like EBV, begin to wear down your body’s stress and immune response, therefore making you more susceptible to disease. If you think you might have Epstein-Barr you can ask your doctor to run a standard EBV test, but if it’s been a long time since you had a flair up, it might not show up on a blood test. Also, if it’s living inside your organs, there are no tests to detect it.
The Role Toxins Play
What really sets the virus off, and can lead to it becoming more than just a dormant intruder living in your body, is exposure to toxins. The Epstein-Barr virus essentially feeds off certain toxins, so the more you have in your body, the higher the chance the virus will spread. These toxins can be anything from pesticides and heavy metals in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the foods we eat, to bacteria in our makeup and beauty products. Additionally, many of the environmental toxins that we are exposed to can contribute to low levels of thyroid hormones, AKA hypothyroidism. Heavy metals, in particular, love the pituitary gland, which is in charge of producing some important thyroid hormones. So when that’s out of whack, your thyroid most likely will be too. Most of the time, we are not even aware of the heavy metals and toxins that we are ingesting because it happens in everyday life. But when you know how to recognize the sources of your toxin exposures and how to detox yourself from them, you can heal your body and prevent the progression of EBV.
Ways to Lower Your Toxic Load
DRINK WATER. This might seem like an obvious suggestion to some, but making sure you’re properly hydrated can do wonders for your body. Most people are not drinking enough filtered clean water, and if you?re dehydrated, your body can’t properly flush out toxins. For an extra toxin-removing boost, try adding some freshly squeezed lemon into your water. And if you really want to take it to the next step, add some aloe vera to the mix. Aloe is a strong antiviral and can help remove toxins from your liver and bloodstream.
ADD BARLEY JUICE EXTRACT AND SPIRULINA. When it comes to detoxing, if you really want to take your daily hydration routine to the next level, try adding some barley juice extract powder and spirulina.
Vimergy Barley Juice Extract Powder is packed with thyroid-supporting micronutrients, and is great for removing heavy metals like mercury from the body and detoxifying the liver. It has a protective effect on the thyroid, particularly when it comes to the Epstein-Barr virus.
Nutrex Hawaiian Spirulina Powder is another favorite green powder of mine. It’s extremely supportive for the thyroid. It contains iodine, which acts as an antiseptic against EBV and it has important nutrients and antioxidants that can help to remove toxins from various organs, essentially removing EBV’s fuel and stopping it from spreading. Spirulina can reduce the growth of nodules and tumors.
BOOST IMMUNITY. You want to make sure that your immune system is properly prepared and strong enough to fight off the toxins and viruses. For this, I recommend supplementing with Nature’s Answer (alcohol free) Goldenseal/Echinacea and Astragalus; Eidon Ionic Zinc Sulfate Concentrate; and LipoNaturals Liposomal Vitamin C (made from sunflowers not soy). Making sure you get enough sleep is vital for good immunity, so try to get 7-9 hours per night.
BE AWARE OF TOXINS IN THE PRODUCTS YOU?RE USING. For women, this is a common source of toxin and bacterial exposure. Beauty products, like makeup, hair products and lotions can contain toxins that can seep into your body through your skin. Try to stay away from products containing parabens, sodium sulfates and other chemicals that may bring you harm. Be mindful of the products you?re using, from those in your cleaning closet to your bathroom cupboard, and try to find products with natural (and pronounceable) ingredients.
ADD CELERY JUICE TO YOUR DIET. Celery gives your body certain mineral salts that work against EBV. Celery helps to give the adrenals a little extra support; it cleanses your thyroid and boosts the gland’s hormone production. It also aids in the liver?s production of bile to make sure food is broken down efficiently. I juice straight organic celery and drink it on an empty stomach.
SUPPLEMENT WITH CAT?S CLAW, LICORICE ROOT AND BIOACTIVE SILVER. These are all great natural supplements to help reduce your viral and toxin load. When starting supplementing, begin with one thing at a time to test your sensitivity. Start with the recommended dose on the bottle and then once your body has adjusted, double it. And always be sure you?re using an alcohol-free supplement.
Hawaii Pharm Cat’s Claw (alcohol free) contains important phytochemicals that can destroy certain viruses that cause inflammation. It stimulates the immune system and can help remove toxins and waste. And it can reduce tumors and nodules in the thyroid and the liver.
Natures Answer Licorice Root (alcohol free) can help to remove the Epstein-Barr virus from the thyroid, liver and reproductive system and helps to restore the adrenals and kidney (don?t take this supplement if you have high blood pressure, try licorice root tea instead).
Finally, supplementing with Sovereign Bioactive Silver too can boost your immunity and kill all kinds of pathogens. To read more about the supplements that can help you heal, read the first part of this series here.
EAT SEA VEGETABLES AND WILD-CAUGHT FISH FOR IODINE. Iodine is a great antiseptic, meaning it immediately kills germs, and it is a great antiviral and antibacterial. Wakame, kombu and nori are all great sources, but stay away from hijiki because of the possible high arsenic.
These are just a few of the things you can do to help your body reduce its levels of toxins and viral load, particularly when it comes to the Epstein-Barr virus. Healing your body from Hashimoto?s is not something that happens overnight, but with time and careful consideration to your health, you can gain control of the disease and feel better than ever.