Do you have a thyroid condition? Low thyroid? Overactive thyroid? Do you suspect your thyroid imbalance is fueled by autoimmunity, as in Hashimoto’s or Graves disease?
Whatever your diagnosis, I hope this post will be of help to you. Actually, I know it will, since the resources I’m sharing with you have been of tremendous help to me! I’ve briefly mentioned my Hashimoto’s thyroid condition in previous posts, but I’ve not written an entire post dedicated to thyroid health, until now. Here’s a take-charge-of-your-thyroid-health photo! This is the kind of tenacity you need when advocating for yourself. Read on, and you’ll understand why. (This is not me, even though it looks like me. )
My Hashimoto’s thyroid story began in my early 20’s with indicators of autoimmune antibodies. Apparently, my general practitioner did not see this to be a problem, for he had no special treatment plan for me to follow. (This happens often, by the way. If I had only known then that a gluten-free regimen could have possibly saved further destruction of my thyroid!) I was feeling fine and my TSH levels were in the normal range.
In my mid 20’s, I took a modest dose of natural thyroid for a few years. But my TSH levels normalized once again, and I was able to stop thyroid hormone for a while. Fast forward to 2008 when I had a serious health crash and my thyroid was no longer able to regulate itself. My TSH levels began skyrocketing (meaning I had low thyroid) and my TPO autoimmune antibodies have been steadily climbing ever since.
For a couple years I took Acella, a generic brand of natural thyroid, but then discovered it may contain gluten! After that, I took Armour, the most commonly prescribed brand of natural thyroid, for another two years. Then, believing I may have been reacting to the fillers in Armour (like corn maltodextrin), I made the switch to a compounded dessicated thyroid without any fillers. That was three years ago, and I’m still taking the same natural thyroid, filled by a local compounding pharmacy, every morning.
Thyroid hormone maintains my energy levels and digestive processes. I certainly noticed a difference when I missed a few doses after not refilling my prescription in time! However, lifestyle changes have made an impact on my thyroid health as well. Lowering my stress, finding time for fun, and eating a grain-free (Paleo-like) diet have all made a big difference. I’m currently going through a detox program to get rid of heavy metals, in hopes of lowering my autoimmune antibodies. My goal is to reduce the immune attacks on my thyroid tissue.
What’s your story?
It’s important to know your thyroid story, because it’s very common for women to have hypothyroidism. Inherited genes, stress, poor diet, gluten sensitivity, pregnancy, and autoimmunity can all lead to low thyroid. In fact, there are millions of women walking around with hypothyroidism, and they may not even know it. Symptoms may include severe fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, depression, irregular menstrual cycles, constipation, allergies, joint pain, cold hands and feet, foggy brain, and much more. Consider these thyroid realities.
- Ninety percent of hypothyroid cases are autoimmune. Yes, 90 percent! That means that many women who have been diagnosed with low thyroid actually have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This is important because there are additional lifestyle factors, besides taking daily thyroid hormone, that significantly affect thyroid function. Unfortunately, many doctors do not test for TPO and/or TGA thyroid antibodies, so patients are unaware they have an autoimmune condition.
- The “normal” TSH range on lab tests does not measure optimal thyroid health. The spectrum is far too broad and outdated. My naturopath would say that if your TSH is above 2.0, then it’s too high (indicating low thyroid function), even though the average laboratory marker usually ranges from 0.5 to over 5.0! Women are often told by doctors that their thyroid is normal, when in reality they are physically ill and suffering major symptoms.
- Some thyroid medications contain gluten, which can wreck havoc on the thyroid. In a case of mistaken identity, the immune system can attack the thyroid when it sees gluten molecules. This process is called molecular mimicry. This is why it’s important for patients with Hashimoto’s or Graves to pursue an entirely gluten-free lifestyle.
Thyroid health is such a huge topic, I could go on and on about fascinating facts! There is much more to say about lab markers, thyroid medications, and dietary factors. But for now, I hope these three gems have whetted your appetite to do more research.
Now on to my top five online resources, so you can learn for yourself and understand your condition better. These websites have been invaluable to me in my thyroid health journey. Let me know which ones you find to be most helpful.
5 Helpful Websites to Improve Thyroid Health
- Thyroid Lifestyle – Dr. Izabella Wentz is a pharmacist specializing in thyroid health who has personally struggled with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Her articles are easy to read and very informative.
- Stop the Thyroid Madness – Janie Bowthorpe oversees this patient-to-patient website. It includes articles that expose the lack of appropriate treatment for thyroid conditions in the allopathic medical system.
- Thyroid Book – Dr. Datis Kharrazian’s book Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? was a eye-opener for me. He is very smart practitioner that truly cares about the health of his patients. His blog will keep you interested in thyroid information for hours.
- Suzy Cohen – Dubbed America’s Most Trusted Pharmacist, Suzy Cohen’s latest book is called Thyroid Healthy. She is a wealth of information, especially about the side-effects of pharmaceutical drugs and benefits of natural treatments.
- Hypothyroid Mom – Dana Trentini is a everyday mom with hypothyroidism. She also runs one of the most popular thyroid sites on the Web. If my top five thyroid websites aren’t enough information for you, she has a extensive list of thyroid resources here. This short video about her story is empowering.
I encourage you to take charge of your thyroid health because many conventionally-trained doctors will not address the full spectrum of your thyroid disorder. They will give thyroid hormone, which is often necessary, but they may overlook the advantages of lifestyle changes and vitamin and herbal supplements for patients with autoimmune thyroid. Educate yourself and become your own best thyroid advocate. Until my next post about thyroid health, I wish you the best in your thyroid research, learning, and especially improvement!