Wellness Connection

Alicia Marie


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Reversing Hypothyroidism Naturally

Reversing Hypothyroidism Naturally

I am still recovering from my hypothyroid condition, but in just two months my lab results are showing that my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) number has dropped from 4.39 to 3.82! The “healthy” range for TSH (0.4-4.50) is misleading. As my naturopath explains it-that range is basically saying you can walk comfortably in a size 6 shoe if you are a size 9. You can definitely still experience symptoms of hypothyroid when your numbers are within that range.

Hypothyroidism Explained:

The thyroid is located at the bottom of the neck just above the larynx and the adam’s apple. (See picture below.) When the thyroid gland is not working properly, the functioning of the other glands that make up the endocrine system may be thrown out of whack as well. One of those sometimes affected glands is your adrenal gland. (1)

endocrine_system

Therefore for my thyroid condition, I developed adrenal fatigue first and as a result eventually became hypothyroid. In medicine it can be tricky to remember that we must treat the whole body-not simply the parts that are causing us problems. If your pretty yellow sunflowers are thirsty-do you water their leaves? No of course not! You water their roots 🙂

Determining whether adrenal fatigue (or another underlying issue) may be causing your hypothyroid could move mountains in your life!

I learned to tune in to what my body was telling me when I was prescribed with levothyroxine for my hypothyroid. Levothyroxine is the fourth most prescribed medication in America. (3)

Immediately after taking this medicine I felt significantly more fatigued. While I am adjusted to feeling tired on a regular basis due to my condition, I am definitely not lethargic by nature. Levothyroxine drained my energy to the point that it took extreme efforts to move my limbs whatsoever. I did not even have the strength to go on a walk. It got to the point that I knew I wouldn’t be able to go to work if I kept taking the levo. I lasted two weeks before I told my doctor I needed to stop taking the medicine. I was not a happy camper.

How could this be that I had been on this medicine for only two weeks-supposedly the minimum time frame for my body to even adjust to the levothyroxine-and I had such awful side effects? I seriously felt insane, but there was no way this experience was “just in my head.”

Never crazy about the idea of taking levothyroxine to begin with since I seek out a natural remedy or dietary improvement as often as possible-I started researching hypothyroidism in conjunction with adrenal fatigue. My doctor had mentioned that she thought I might have adrenal fatigue during our first visit as well.

What I found in my research is that if like me you are primary adrenal fatigue and secondary hypothyroid; levothyroxine medication can really wreak havoc on your body. When you have adrenal fatigue, your body at its low energy state is begging you for rest. Levothyroxine further weakens your body in its attempt to speed up your metabolism and energy output. Bad mix! (2)

Here is what I did instead:

  • I stopped eating gluten as it can contribute to hypothyroidism. The gluten particles can be absorbed into your bloodstream and mistaken for antigens (bad guys) and as a result your body can attack its own thyroid. (4)
  • I stopped taking levothyroxine and rested-my body needed it after experiencing those negative side effects
  • I started taking Gaia Adrenal Health supplements
  • I started taking Rainbow Light Nair, Hair, and Skin Connection supplements
  • I started going to yoga as often as possible-an exercise that won’t put too much strain on my adrenals
  • I started eating more cooked veggies and less cold salads. I know, sad face, but some cruciferous vegetables are known as goitrogens which inhibit iodine metabolism -something the thyroid needs to function properly (4)
  • I replaced my soy milk with almond milk-soy is a goitrogenic food (4)
  • I started transitioning to all natural and organic products since dry skin can be a symptom of hypothyroid I don’t need those excess chemicals further irritating my body
  • I eat organic as often as possible
  • I bought a juicer!! Though juicing takes the fiber out of veggies it absorbs 90 % of the nutrients and is easy to digest. Power veggie juice + vegan diet =faster metabolism and goodbye hypothyroid!

Please note these changes did not all happen at once. I dropped the gluten pretty quickly, started taking my adrenal health supplements, slowly transitioned by chemical ridden products out of my cabinet as I went through them and opted for more veggies in general as a starting point. With health, there will always be room for improvement! I will always strive for a healthier tomorrow.

I am not a doctor, nor am I a nutritionist, but I do believe in listening to my body and doing my own research before subscribing to easy answers or popping pills for my health concerns. You should do the same! What is working for me may not work for you, but perhaps you can find some good leads from my experience or utilize some of my tips and tricks.

I went through a series of allopathic doctors to which I begged them to retest me for hypothyroid and to prick my tiny finger to test me for anemia. Sounds a bit masochistic after I type that…but truth be told I always sensed something was wrong. I was experiencing symptoms of hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue for most of my life. I felt almost embarrassed going to the doctor for “being tired or anxious”—I mean really who doesn’t get tired or anxious from time to time? The ten minute appointment would consist of a quick nod, a sad stare and a prescription for Buspor, Zoloft, Prozac, and eventually Adderall.

As soon as I embraced what my body was telling me and took my health concerns into my own hands and did my own research, I was able to feel much more in control of my life and begin experiencing recovery.

I composed a list below of side effects that I experienced from my hypothyroid and adrenal fatigue condition. I did not copy these symptoms from a list composed by Mayo Clinic, WebMD or any other premade list. These are my personal observations—it would be normal for your body to have a different reaction to hypothyroidism or to share some symptoms in common. We are all unique and beautiful creatures and deserve to be listened to and treated as such.

  • Constant Brain Fog/Weariness—it’s hard for me to differentiate between the two but basically even after a night of deep slumber and dancing with fairies I still feel like I’m wearing a veil over my face the next day. I don’t ever really wake up completely.
  • Poor memory
  • Slow processing of information
  • Dry hair that will not grow
  • Nails that will not grow fast or are fragile and break easily
  • Dry sensitive skin (As my condition became worse I was actually diagnosed with eczema because my skin became so itchy this past winter)
  • Thin, short eyebrows (signature for hypothyroid-sometimes it looks like you over plucked to the point that you have half an eyebrow-mine are just very, very thin. Thank you eyebrow pencils!)
  • Sensitivity to sunlight (not to sound like a vampire…)
  • Trouble staying asleep/Not restful sleeps
  • Horrible circulation

Kemp, Stephen, Dr. “Anatomy of the Endocrine System.” EMedicineHealth. Ed. Melissa C. Stoppler, Dr. WebMD, 2013. Web. 30 May 2013. (1)

Lam, Michael, Dr. “Adrenal Fatigue versus Hypothyroidism.” Adrenal Fatigue Center. Michael Lam, 2011. Web. 30 May 2013. (2)

Mercola, Joseph, Dr. “Are Synthetic Thyroid Drugs, Like Synthroid, Actually Making Your  Condition Worse?” Mercola.com, 2011. Web. 30 May 2013. (3)

Osensky, Eric, Dr. “Goitrogens: Thyroid Inhibiting Foods You Should Avoid.” Natural Thyroid Treatment Methods Graves Disease Hyperthyroidism Hashimotos Thyroiditis & Hypothyroidism. Natural Endocrine Solutions, n.d. Web. 30 May 2013. (4)


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The Balancing Act

Recently I have struggled to decide between a graduate program in nutrition or medical school for naturopathy. To help me determine my calling, I decided to schedule some shadowing and informational interviews. Today I had the wonderful opportunity of shadowing an incredibly, talented and lovingly recognized naturopathic doctor.

As we wrapped up our morning together with some final questions, I opened some discussion regarding the topic of balance.

I think that balance is a struggle for many of us. How do you balance school with friends (let alone medical school?) And how do you balance your career with your family? How do you implement a healthy diet or exercise regime into a chaotic schedule?

At the end of the day, people seek time over money. More time with their kids, to pursue their hobbies, to watch the game with their friends. This quote by the marvelous Brian Andreas truly encompasses that importance of appreciating the little things:

 

And thus my infatuation with nutrition. I find happiness and balance in filling the bellies of the people I care for and pursuing a career that will allow me to heal my peers through a different approach.

I understand that naturopaths often offer supplements as an alternative to prescriptions, but I see so much potential to heal people and reverse illnesses through a proper diet. Diet is so often the underlying problem for so many different health problems. I do not know that I honestly believe that even supplements can always provide the long lasting results of a lifestyle and diet change (granted it is difficult to make long-term lifestyle changes. Therefore counseling is often implemented into nutrition programs).

While a vegan diet may seem radical to some, there are so many testimonies from people who have survived cancer, fought heart disease, improved complicated digestion issues and so forth who have thrived off of this way of living.

I feel a great sense of power in my knowledge of health especially related to nutrition and an enthusiasm to learn more and earn recognition and credibility for the additional knowledge I gain in graduate school.

I dream of designing meal plans in impoverished schools and communities, counseling patients who must change their diet and lifestyle as a result of an illness, inspiring people to build a healthy relationship with food and a loving relationship with their body.

In finding balance in my own life, it is my greatest desire to give it back to those around me.