Vita Pedrazzi, Contributor
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, thyroid disease is a systemic problem. It’s not really so much a problem with the thyroid – more than anything it’s an autoimmune disorder that spans your whole body. That’s why if I want to treat my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, I must look at my body holistically: I must heal body, soul, and mind all at the same time.
Around 20% of Hashimoto’s cases can go away on their own (or be put into remission). Even more so if people actively try to heal themselves. I simply can’t believe that nobody talks about it apart from Izabella Wentz in her wonderful book “Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause” (it’s a must if you have Hashimoto’s thyroid disease). Mind you, doctors openly say that it’s incurable and you’ll be dependent on drugs all your life, plus your thyroid will eventually stop – BS! Thanks for great motivation! And thanks for completely knocking out any kind of feeling of control out of people’s hearts!
I prefer to look at Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis or thyroid disease as an inflammation of the whole body. If I cool it down, it will go away and let me live my life. It’s doable. Lots of people have done it. There are lots of documented cases. Let’s do it!
My 3-Prong Healing Strategy for Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease
My thyroid disease healing strategy is based on three different areas:
- Improving the FT4 to FT3 conversion (that’s the real reason for my fatigue and hypothyroid symptoms)
- Reducing inflammation mostly by reducing stress (or the stress hormone cortisol),
- Improving my digestion.
All of the things I’m doing to heal my thyroid are going to also be helpful for you if you have plain hypothyroidism without autoimmunity or if you have any other autoimmune disorder. No matter what kind of symptoms you have, the root cause is more similar than it might seem and all the steps I’m taking might be very useful for you.
So what exactly am I doing to heal my Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease and Hypothyroidism?
After months of researching since my thyroid disease diagnosis, I’ve decided on a few different weapons to heal my body, soul, and mind. Let me take you through them one by one.
- Balancing my sex hormones. A blood test showed that I’m slightly estrogen dominant with perfect levels of progesterone, but slightly elevated levels of estrogen (not surprising considering that I took birth control pills for 10 years and that my mom has always been estrogen dominant as well). I’m combatting estrogen dominance with 100mg of DIM per day (I’m using this one, but this one is really good, too) – it’s a supplement that helps the body convert a dangerous form of estrogen to a harmless one (or a very available form to a less available form). Estrogen dominance interferes with the FT4 to FT3 conversion, that’s why it’s part of my thyroid healing action plan. It also happens to be one of the most powerful skin clearing tools – I can attest it’s working because my skin is crystal clear after taking it for around 3 weeks! Woohoo! I first heard about it from Tracey at The Love Vitamin and got intrigued. However, she uses a very expensive brand, which I don’t think is necessary.
- Selenium supplementation – it plays a pivotal role in the FT4 to FT3 conversion, which is my main concern. I take 200 micrograms of selenomethionine or simply eat 3 Brazil nuts a day.
- Zinc supplementation –zinc, jut like selenium, also plays a huge role in the FT3 to FT3 conversion. Birth control pill depletes zinc. Anyone with skin issues is zinc deficient. Anyone with low stomach acid is zinc deficient. That sounds like me! I take 25mg of chelated zinc most days. I also eat a good amount of beef or lamb and seafood, which are the best natural sources of zinc.
- Magnesium supplementation – lots of vitamin D from sunshine or supplements + lots of calcium in the diet + magnesium deficiency = calcifications in the thyroid, which can lead to Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism. I take around 300mg of magnesium citrate (I’m using Natural Calm right now) or magnesium chloride every day. I also get tons from my diet. Magnesium makes a huge difference and if I forget to take it for a few days, I really feel it in my muscles, joints, and teeth. Magnesium deficiency creates a lot of tension. If there isn’t enough magnesium, the body is unable to dissolve serum calcium, which causes a lot of issues throughout the system, and of course weak teeth and nails as well!
- Reducing cortisol and improving thyroid function with adaptogenic herbs – I’m taking Rhodiola Balance Complex right now. I don’t think it’s helping as much as I expected and Rhodiola increases both T1 and T2 immune systems, which isn’t ideal for someone with an autoimmune disease. If you don’t have autoimmune disease, absolutely go for it if you have non-autoimmune hypothyroid, fatigue or depression (better to avoid if you have high blood pressure). I’ve found two things that are supposed to work much better for my particular situation: I’ve ordered Ashwagandha and Holy Basil (or Tulsi in Hindi). They should be much more fitting to my needs because they both increase the T1 immune system that I’m lacking of. Ashwagandha improves the conversion of FT4 to FT3 and is brilliant for people with hypothyroidism. However, it might not work well for those with overactive T1 immune system. I suspect in my case it’s the T2 that is overactive, so Ashwagandha should be perfect for me. Tulsi is well known for its cortisol decreasing properties – I suspect my cortisol is out of control because my fasting blood sugar in the morning is always high, but it’s normal during the rest of the day. That’s a clear sign of cortisol trouble in the mornings. Apparently, Tulsi is also very good at normalizing blood sugar (blood sugar spikes promote autoimmunity).
- Improve my digestion – I believe the root cause of my hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is low stomach acid. I have both low stomach acid and silent reflux (also called LPR). If the body is unable to correctly break down proteins (e.g. from casein, gluten, eggs, meat, etc.), they will get to the intestines in much bigger pieces than they would normally do. The body treats those protein pieces as foreign invaders and starts up the whole immune system to fight them. Undigested protein particles are linked to all of the “fun” things like leaky gut, food intolerances, celiac disease, autoimmune disease, etc. Plus, low stomach acid means that I am unable to absorb nutrients properly. Selenium and zinc are dependent on proper stomach acid.If I am low, I would be seriously deficient regardless of how well I eat. It’s not really what you eat, it’s all about what you absorb. You can test yourself for low stomach acid at home – here’s how. I burped after around 10 minutes, so my stomach acid is clearly low. In order to naturally increase my stomach acid, I’m drinking juice of half lemon with water before each meal. I’m also taking digestive enzymes and digestive bitters. I’ve also just started taking Betaine HCL and Pepsin – that is the thing that I’m hoping the most from. So far it’s working really well. I’m doing the stomach acid challenge right now (here’s how to do it) – I’ve started taking one and I don’t feel anything, so I’ll keep going up until I find my individual dosage.
- Staying away from gluten – at least for now. I personally don’t think that grains or gluten are inherently bad. They are only bad because our digestive systems are compromised, but if we rebuild them, gluten should theoretically stop causing troubles. For example, sourdough rye bread can be very healthful and nutritious if broken down properly, but it’s not the best thing for me at this particular point of time.
- Limited calcium (around 700mg per day). It’s important to keep the right ratio between magnesium and calcium. It should be anywhere between 1:1 and 2:1. (I learned about this from a fascinating book called “The Magnesium Miracle” – a must read!) Until recently, I was doing it completely wrong because I consumed at least 1,000mg of calcium every day and just around 400mg of magnesium. It’s even more important if you’re also getting lots of vitamin D from supplements or the sun – the more vitamin D, the more magnesium is needed by the body to process it. No wonder why my teeth were suffering and I was feeling extremely tense and constipated. I’ve been able to successfully reintroduce raw dairy (mostly goat), but I’ve been limiting myself to 2 portions a day. Conscious consumption makes it so much more enjoyable.
- Clean diet – as always, no processed foods, no white sugar, fruit and nature’s sweeteners in moderation. My diet is similar to the Jaminets’ “The Perfect Health Diet”, but I do include legumes every day. I also don’t shy away from some gluten free grains occasionally. If you’re looking for a really balanced nutrition book, I highly recommend “The Perfect Health Diet”. I’ve read hundreds of nutrition books in my lifetime, but this particular one taught me so many things I didn’t know. Love how balanced it is. No silly dogma. No brainwashing. Just real food and solid nutrition data.
- At least 8 hours of sleep every night, even 9-10 hours if I get a chance. Take naps if needed. Go to bed by 10PM. Sleep is extremely healing for thyroid disease, especially between 10-12pm.
- Metabolism raising yoga -certain postures like Shoulder Stand, The Bow, Cobra, and many others put gentle pressure on the thyroid and increase blood flow to the area, which is very healing. My best friend in the yoga department is “Slim Calm Sexy Yoga” by Tara Stiles. It’s a brilliant yoga book!
- Exercising ONLY when my body craves it. I’m not planning to force myself. I don’t believe in the No Pain No Gain BS. If my body wants to move on a certain morning, I’ll let it move with gentle exercises. If it’s feeling tired, I’ll listen to it and will go for a gentle walk instead. This morning I felt like moving for the first time in months. I felt elated! So I went and did a 15-minute beach body workout. It energized me. This evening, while my dinner was cooking, I really wanted to stretch for a bit, so I did another gentle 7-minute workout. It felt right for my body, but if tomorrow I don’t feel like doing it, that’s perfectly fine! I’ll wait until my body is ready.
- Leading a healthy, relaxed lifestyle – lots of fresh air, walking, regular trips to the beach, and moderate sun exposure.
- Meditation – I really need to get into the habit. I’ve started the Deepak Chopra’s 21-Day Meditation Challenge and I really hope I’ll stick with it this time. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. All I need to do is close my eyes and focus on my breathing at least once a day, even if for just 5 minutes. Meditation is very good at reducing stress hormone cortisol, which reduces inflammation and helps control autoimmunity.
- Positive Affirmations – what helped me the most was Louise Hay’s book called “You Can Heal Your Life”. Truly life-changing and empowering. I repeat relevant affirmation many times a day until I start believing in them, then I move to a different one and keep working on it until it starts feeling like reality. I also try to look at myself in the mirror and say how much I love myself and that I’m enough – all while looking into my own eyes. It’s very embarrassing at the beginning, but it works!
- Avoiding negative emotions – by that I mean avoiding people that suck my energy or that are always negative about everything and always complaining. I distance myself from them. I’m not being mean, I’m just protecting myself! The same thing goes for movies – I try to stay away from kill & shoot or horror movies, especially before bed. I also try to stay away from doom & gloom world news – all kinds of cancer stories (including thyroid cancer), murders, etc. I actually put a filter on my Facebook account which cleverly filters everything to do with murder, cancer and Kardashians. Super chuffed about it!
Why am I staying away from gluten?
The first thing that any Hashi’s patient needs to do is give up gluten because the gluten molecules are very similar to the thyroid molecules, and the immune system gets confused. If a person is sensitive to gluten, the immune system attacks it viciously as if it was a foreign body. But the thyroid cells are very similar, so for someone with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, the immune system will attack the thyroid as ferociously as gluten. It doesn’t work like that for everyone though and some people aren’t really sensitive to gluten. As I explained above, I believe it’s all due to compromised digestive system, not necessarily due to gluten being so bad.
However, it’s worth being cautious, at least at the beginning and especially because my sister has just been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. For now I’m definitely staying away from all gluten, whether I am actually sensitive to it or not, I must do it for the sake of my thyroid. But I really hope that once my thyroid is healthy again and my immune system is under control, I’ll be able to reintroduce organic sourdough. Fingers crossed! But first, I need to win the fight against Hashimoto’s thyroid disease or thyroiditis.
How is my thyroid and Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease so far?
Brilliant! I’m feeling the best I’ve felt in at least 3 years (basically the way I felt before I started the Paleo diet and ruined my health with it). My energy is stable and is increasing every day.
My digestion is much smoother – not perfect by any means, but it’s getting there. I’m now able to eat good quality dairy and fruit without any issues, which is amazing. I’ve learned that eliminating food groups isn’t the right way to go. Fixing the digestion and healing the gut is the right way!
As as positive side effect, my skin has been absolutely incredible in the last few weeks (pretty much since I started taking DIM and even more so when I started the digestive enzymes and Betaine HCL). It’s really true that everything starts in the gut, including beautiful skin and autoimmune thyroid disease.
My nails are much stronger and I have all 10 half moons now. I used to have only two on each hand and that always worried me because according to Ayurveda missing half moons signal congested liver. So relieved to see them back!
My hair is OK, but it’s still falling. Nothing major, but it’s still falling more than it should. It’s been like that for many years, so it’s not something I’m super worried about. It will sort itself out once everything else comes into balance.
I’ll keep you posted!
About the Author
Vita Pedrazzi had unbalanced hormones, constant fatigue and feelings of inadequacy. One day, she decided she’d had enough, and tried to fix these issues. Her blog, Vita Lives Free, is about living free – from health issues, acne, excess weight, food cravings, emotional baggage, ego and of course the rat race. She has set herself free and built a life full of joy – now it’s your turn, and she is here to help! Check out her health and thyroid disease information on YouTube and Facebook. Her original article can be found here.