When I got diagnosed with Hashimoto’s 8 years ago, my endocrinologist at the time would test my TPO and AB antibodies every time I would go in for thyroid labs. Each time he would simply show me the numbers and say they were ok or they were high. Then, I would proceed to tell him all my symptoms to which he would reply, “Hmmmmm, those have nothing to do with your thyroid, so I can’t help you there.” This reply was from an endocrinologist to one of the top Major League Baseball Teams! He was supposed to be “the top.” Much to my dismay and regret I ignorantly trusted him and was not my own advocate at the time. Had I known what I know now, I never would have submitted to the fact that all my symptoms were unrelated to my thyroid and antibodies and instead I would have simply changed my lifestyle to get the antibodies down and the thyroid numbers where they needed to be for my body to feel better.
After needlessly suffering for many years and increasing the damage to my thyroid, by the Grace of God, I was able to find several ways to actually reduce my antibodies which in turn reduced the damage being done to my thyroid and eliminated the myriad of symptoms I was fraught with. At one time, I could fill an entire college ruled lined piece of paper, front and back, with my symptoms! It was absolutely debilitating and awful. The silver lining was this discovery of these things that helped aid in my healing. If you want more details about my health journey you can read my health story here.
Healing my thyroid has many facets and is greatly an individual process. By that, I mean that all the things that helped me may not have the exact same effect on you. They could certainly help but you may have other facets to explore and deal with in addition to these things or you may have less to deal with than I did. Hashimotos and Hypothyroidism are multi-faceted and are actually quite complicated and there is no one size fits all treatment. My hope in sharing my experience is to give you ideas of things you might want to explore that might help you feel better and reduce, if not eliminate the antibodies damaging your thyroid gland and causing inflammation. Also, this list is not exhaustive. To keep it “blog post length” I only wanted to share my top 7 changes that I saw dramatic results with. Here they are in specific order.
1~ Temporarily Eliminating ALL Trigger (inflammatory) Foods
Inflammatory foods include: Gluten, Grains (including corn and seed or seudo-grains), sugar, eggs, nuts, dairy, legumes, starchy vegetables, & all processed foods. Visit my Pinterest board with info on some of these inflammatory foods.
This treatment is where I saw the fastest and most amazing results. For me the GAPS diet is what I used to start my healing journey. Within 3 days of eliminating trigger foods I could not believe how my energy was starting to come back and the fatigue was getting left behind. Before this my fatigue was so bad that in between teaching homeschool subjects (every one of them) I would have to go lay on the couch and take a nap. I would sleep for at least 13 hours per night and still wake up exhausted. I now know that my body was working overtime trying to process all the foods that I was eating that were causing inflammation in my digestive system.
I literally went cold turkey overnight and dropped all foods that were not allowed in the Intro GAPS (stage 1- with vegetables) diet. Actually, I had to stay on this part of the intro for many months because my intestines were so “leaky” and damaged and could not process much. On Feasting On Joy I documented my 60 day, 90 day and 1 year of healing during my GAPS Journey. To this day I don’t eat nuts or dairy as they still cause major brain fog and fatigue for me. I figured this out through a process of reintroduction and trial and error. After 7 months of doing a modified Intro of the GAPS Diet I moved onto the Paleo Diet. I only moved past GAPS once all of my symptoms were gone and my testing showed that my antibodies were very close to normal (it would take one more year of faithful commitment to keeping this way of life – food and lifestyle- to get them into normal range.) Eliminating trigger foods doused the fire of inflammation for me which in turn caused my antibodies to decrease.
When it comes to finding trigger foods I rely entirely on an elimination diet NOT food sensitivity testing. You can read my three part journey of ALCAT food sensitivity testing and “diet” here.
“Bare Bones” Food Elimination and Reintroduction
To really start feeling better it is best to go “bare bones” for at least two weeks but 30 days is the best choice. “Bare bones” equates to drinking LOTS of bone broth (I was making 21 quarts every four days), lots of cooked veggies and cooked, non-GMO, pastured meats and safe fats. That’s all – no other foods. If tolerated, you can add in a small portion of starchy vegetables like yams or sweet potatoes but generally, it’s good to wait on these if you can for at least two weeks. If you are low energy try to introduce these and see how you do. After 30 days (or more for people like me), when symptoms are gone then you work on introducing foods every four days monitoring closely for reactions. ONLY introduce ONE food at a time or you will have wasted your entire time eliminating because when you introduce more than one at a time you can’t pinpoint what food you have a reaction too. This is a nutshell of how to do the elimination diet and could be an entire post but eliminating all trigger foods is where I saw the best results! Lastly, there are several different diets out there that help with eliminating foods. Since one diet does not fit all I thought I would share this post that describes the different diets out there, how they work and what is recommended.
2~ Consume Lots of Homemade Bone Broth
As I said above in my ultra-healing days where I went from my death bed to thriving I was making 21 quarts of homemade bone broth every four days. Introducing bone broth into my diet was one of the most powerful ways to heal my intestines. For those with intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut) drinking broth multiple times a day repairs the tight junctions in your intestines. It is also filled with collagen, gelatin and minerals that help rebuild and protect your gut lining, reduce inflammatory symptoms like joint pain, eczema (which I had in an awful way), and it also helps to detox as well as aid in a good night’s sleep. Homemade bone broth is powerful! Here is a great article with more facts of the healing power of homemade bone broth along with a very simple recipe to use that is similar to how I make it. Currently, I drink one to two cups of bone broth a day and I also cook a lot with it. It is a remedy we use for helping get well from a cold or flu too. To put it simply, by healing your intestines your also build up your immune system and reduce inflammation which in turn lowers your Hashimoto’s antibodies. It worked wonders for me!
Here is a very scientific explanation by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne of what leaky gut is and here is another article explaining leaky gut by Chris Kresser, L.Ac. * Chris’s article has a few things in it that did not work for me initially which were eating lots of fiber and fermented foods. For the first 7 months of my journey I had could only eat cooked vegetables and I could not even tolerate sweet potatoes or extremely starchy vegetables. The fermented foods would cause a Herx. Reaction in me that was unbearable so I had to take my probiotics at very low doses and very small doses of fermented foods. After the main healing took place I could tolerate these foods though and they truly are an integral part of a healthy immune system when tolerated. Start making bone broth today! This simple homemade food amazes me.
3~ Taking L-Glutamine, Betaine HCL with Pepsin and Digestive Enzymes
Each of these three supplements has a different purpose and helped me tremendously in healing my gut and lowering my Hashimoto’s Antibodies.
L-Glutamine is taken to heal and seal the gut lining which is yet another way to recover from intestinal permeability. It is a teeny bit controversial and so it is important that you talk to your physician before taking this (or any supplement really.) Clinically, it has been shown to help in giving the intestines what they need to be “the barrier” again.
Betaine HCL is taken in order to break down protein that with a damaged digestive system may be hard to process. Most people with Hashimotos’ have low stomach acid and essentially that is what Betaine is – more acid to help your stomach break down what you eat. At every meal, I take Betaine and eventually I should be able to taper off. I know that I have a mutation that makes it hard for me to digest fish and chicken. When I eat these proteins I take a few more Betaine during my meals. Here is how to properly take Betaine HCL.
Digestive Enzymes are to aid the already ailing digestive system in breaking down, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Usually, when you have low stomach acid you have a low presence of enzymes as well- or vice versa. In my case, I was not breaking down my food with the help of stomach acid (because I didn’t have enough) or enzymes (because I didn’t have enough of them either.) Since that chemical process was not occurring my digestive system would allow undigested food to go through my intestines. The problem with that is I was not absorbing any nutrients from my food (hence the huge weight loss during my rock bottom) and when those food particles got through my permeable gut my blood cells marked them as foreign (which they were) and started an inflammatory process. This explains why every time I ate anything my eczema and itching would flare up driving me to tears every time. At each meal, I would put more fuel on the fire until I addressed healing my gut lining (the barrier) AND giving my digestive system what it needed to properly break down food and absorb the nutrients to give to my cells. This inflammatory process was a vicious cycle that was killing me – literally. The stress from the inflammation was driving my antibodies up and when I healed and sealed my gut and gave my digestive system what it needed my antibodies came down and my symptoms decreased and almost all of them went away.
4~ Eliminating the use of ALL my toiletries with suspect ingredients. I didn’t use anything on my body that I couldn’t eat
This section could also be an entire post in itself but I will keep it brief. The reason this one is further down the list is not because it is less important, rather it is because it took some time, energy and finances to do and it didn’t happen first. Finding TRUE safe and non-toxic products is difficult. Thankfully more and more companies are understanding and caring about what ingredients they use and how they affect their consumer’s health.
Initially, I stopped wearing make-up. It didn’t really matter though because I was so sick I wasn’t going anywhere. I used water and a washcloth to wash my face and we invested in a filter for our shower (and the boys) so when I took baths I wasn’t soaking in chlorine. Over the course of months, I changed all my make-up, my shampoo and conditioner, my face wash, my toothpaste, my cleaning products (I make them all using doTERRA Essential Oils now), my deodorant, my laundry detergent and more. Basically, we had 365 days of change around here! This change also included our kitchen pans and food storage. The reason I went to this extent (with my husband’s support) is two-fold. My body already has a hard enough time detoxing due to an MTHFR mutation in my genes so the less toxic burden I have the quicker I can heal and secondly, my boys have my genes. They are susceptible to the health problems I have. It is motivating to lessen the load for them and give them a fighting chance by making these lifestyle changes.
Reducing toxins, detoxing and lowering oxidative damage in my body down to my cells helped lower my thyroid antibodies. Educate yourself and make these changes with baby steps. It contributed to purging the junk from my body and cleaning up the damage done by years of too many toxins. In turn, my thyroid antibodies tested within normal range. If you want to get educated and learn more visit my Safe Cosmetics and Skincare Pinterest Board.
5~ Epsom Salt Baths
Baths are relaxing, detoxing (if you are not in toxic water), and a great stress reducer. Epsom salt is also naturally detoxing, full of the essential mineral magnesium and reduces inflammation. My body was already overloaded with stress physically and mentally especially in the beginning of this healing journey. When I was at my worst I could only take a “half bath.” One that the water didn’t touch my arms, neck or face because my eczema was raging, open, itchy and consuming. Even the half baths with pure Epsom salt were efficient in helping me heal and helped my body to detox.
*Only buy epsom salt with no added ingredients like “essential oils,” etc. The essential oils added to epsom salt is synthetic and merely a smell rather than an ingredient that is actually therapeutic.
When I would take baths they were warm and not hot and usually had about 3/4 – 1 cup of Epsom salt in them. I would also add doTERRA Lavender Essential oil (which IS therapeutic, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant and non-toxic) to my bath and soak in it for at least 20 minutes. Be sure the bath is warm, not hot if you add essential oils so you don’t kill the active constituents in the oil. If you want more information on Epsom salt and its benefits click here.
These daily baths helped me to continue to purge toxins, give my body an essential mineral boost and start my day on a relaxing note. I still take them multiple times a week. I highly recommend taking time out to take a soothing Epsom salt bath. They are a facet that can help your thyroid antibodies to lessen and inflammation to decrease.
6~ Eliminating all supplements that had hidden ingredients like dyes, gluten, dairy, corn, rice (grains), yeasts and more
I want to reiterate the fact that even though this is number six on the list it is still very important. In fact, if you have Hashimoto’s it should be one of the first things you work with your doctor and pharmacy on. Shortly into this healing way of life I discovered that supplement and medication ingredients were something I had to pay particular attention to. I remember reading Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBrides GAPS book and that she said do not compromise your health progress with one supplement or medication that has inflammatory ingredients in it. What she meant by that was to read labels and pay close attention to the “other ingredients” on a label because one pill can hinder your progress in healing. Since reading that I became even more of an avid label reader. Through this, I have been shocked that many companies who claim non-toxic or clean ingredients actually are far from safe. It is important to educate ourselves on what is an ingredient that can be harmful. Because I want to sound like a broken record (not really) this could an entire post on its own and I can’t get into all the ingredients that are harmful. I have started and will be continuing and Educate Series (first one on parabens in products) that will delve into all these ingredients, one at a time, so you can understand where the harm comes from. For now, here is a starter article.
Anyway, I got rid of all my supplements and medications that contain dye (Synthroid/Levothyroxine – different colors for different dosages), gluten, dairy, corn (source of GMO’s and a grain), sugar, all grains (since they are irritating to my gut and hinder healing) and yeasts. This was no easy feat but well worth the time it took to examine labels. Many times you will hear a physician say, “Oh don’t worry about it. The amount is so small and insignificant that it won’t do any harm.” Be wary of that. Even a crumb of gluten can put a Celiac into flu like symptoms for days! Plus, those small amounts of ingredients add up in a big way when you have them in your supplements, medications, toiletries, and more. Be your own advocate. Currently (and continually) I read ALL labels for all supplements (even the ones that my good Functional Doctor recommends) to ensure they are safe for me. I also get my thyroid medication compounded with no fillers at a compounding pharmacy near me. It does cost more but in the long run it saves in doctor bills because it aids in my healing rather than hinders it. Once I got rid of all supplements and medications with toxic and inflammatory fillers my thyroid antibodies came down. Yay!
7~ Resting during the day and sleeping at least 8 SOLID hours a night
Last on the list but certainly not least is sleep! God designed our bodies to have a resting phase every. single. day. During our sleep, many of systems go into a relaxed mode which allows energy to be allocated to our brain to detox and our whole body to detox the unwanted nasties. If we deprive our bodies of this time, we don’t give ourselves a chance in keeping the toxins away or at least keeping the toxins from building up. Toxic build up in often why we get sick in the first place. It compromises our immune systems. This nightly detox happens usually around 10 pm-2 am (I’ve also read 4 am) every night. It regenerates and replenishes our bodies to be able to function properly the next day.
When I was so badly sick and suffering I would always get up in the middle of the night. It was either because I just woke up or because I had to go to the restroom. What I found is that as I implemented treatments 1-6 in this post and the things in the linked article in this section, like no screen time 2 hours before bed or wearing the ultra sexy amber glasses at night, I actually started sleeping through the entire night. I wasn’t getting up inadvertently at night anymore and that solid REM sleep that I needed I was getting. This change did take some time as I was suffering from adrenal fatigue too but I started feeling better because my body was able to truly rest. Sleep and stress along with technology can cause dire effects on our ability to sleep well. You can read many articles about this on my Adrenal Fatigue and Sleep Problem Solutions Pinterest Board.
The other facet to rest is getting it during the day. I am a wife, mother, teacher, housekeeper, maid, and wear many other hats and I am also a type A personality. It’s a blessing and a curse. For me rest is hard. Doing nothing is not comfortable but it is a must. During the first year of my healing, I made sure to lay down for a half hour each day. This helped with my adrenal fatigue because it allows the adrenal glands to function better and helped my mind to slow down (a bit.) It gave my body the boost it needed. If you work, you could go to your car or maybe close your office door to rest or even go home for your lunch hour and take a half hour to lay down. You don’t actually have to sleep but just the process of resting helps to rebalance your cortisol levels in your body. Altered cortisol levels have a cascade effect on your thyroid function and so it is best to be mindful of rest, sleep and stress. Recovering from adrenal fatigue, getting 8-9 hours of deep, solid sleep and resting during the day aided in my AB and TPO antibodies going into the normal range.
Be Encouraged, You CAN feel better!
This post is so much longer than I intended but I guess this type A just doesn’t want to give too little detail. I don’t want to leave you hanging or wondering what to do. My goal is to encourage, inspire and show you a path you can take that could make you feel better.
Cheers to your journey in reducing or getting rid of those terrible Hashimoto’s antibodies that are causing inflammation and making you feel so horrible. Be encouraged! You CAN feel better with commitment and time! Please feel free to ask any questions or contact me via email or in the comments section of this post.