Hashimoto’s and Stress: The Kryptonite To My Thyroid

Sometimes it seems like no matter what you do or how well you take care of yourself, stress can undo all of the good, healthy things you’ve done. Hashimoto’s and stress do not play well together.

I was doing well last year. I started taking Selenium, which brought my antibodies down from over 1300 to just over 400. I was no longer in constant, daily pain. I could walk for miles and workout without fearing I’d be unable to get out of bed the next day. I lost 38 pounds. I felt like I could do anything. And then came November…

Work was super stressful. I was on tight deadlines with too much to do and so little time to do it. I put in a lot of overtime in November and December. And all the stress made me sick and threw me into Hashi’s hell. It’s May and I still haven’t recovered. Even with an increase in my thyroid medication, my TSH went from 4.7 to 9.7 in the last two months. The stress has only gotten worse and, despite all the meditating and attempts at stress reduction, I’m more sick than ever. As I write this, I’m just getting over my umpteenth cold of the year, I’ve gained about 10 pounds because my metabolism has slowed down so much, and I’m freezing my patootie off under a heavy blanket because I’m full-blown hypothyroid. In addition, I hurt… a LOT, back spasms and costochondritis. Fun. In short, I’m a mess.

I asked my doctor to not only test my TSH, but Free T3, Free T4, and Reverse T3. TSH was high, of course, but Free T3 and Free T4 were normal. It was the Reverse T3 that showed the real story. My Reverse T3 was elevated. It was 31 when high end of the normal range is 24. There are many reasons Reverse T3 can be elevated and stress is one of them. I’m pretty sure that’s the case here!

Normally, when my Hashimoto’s is well treated and under control, I’m smart, fairly confident, strong, and as some folks have said, “very zen”. When I’m in Hashi’s hell, I feel the opposite: stupid, insecure, anxiety-ridden, weak, and not in control of my emotions at all. Returning to good health is my number one priority right now. It’s a struggle. How do you get better when the trigger, stress, that contributed to your illness hasn’t been removed or is hard to remove? I’m battling with that right now. I don’t want to take medical leave, but I may have to if I don’t get better.

One goal I have, which seems so remote right now because I’m so ill, is to be able to run my own business from home. That would be an ideal situation. But right now, it’s all I can do to just take care of myself and stay barely functional…



Yoga For Overweight Beginners

In addition to getting my Hashimoto’s into remission, I am working on improving my overall health. If you suffer from Hashimoto’s, it’s very likely that you’re a bit overweight like I am, so I’m sure you know where I’m coming from. My brother and sister both do yoga, so I was inspired to try it. I looked up yoga for beginners on YouTube. The video I tried, either the person doesn’t know what I mean by “beginner” or there is another category below beginner that I just don’t know about. Haha! So, I quickly went back to searching, this time on “yoga for overweight beginners”. Jackpot!

I found a video (that’ll I’ll share below) that really fit my idea of “yoga for overweight beginners”. The lady in the video was much more overweight than I am and was recovering from a knee injury. That really motivated me, because if she can do it, I can do it, right? She made it clear she was not an “expert”, but was sharing her modifications she’s made to allow her to continue to become more flexible and fit. She kept mentioning her pants didn’t fit well because she’d lost so much weight. Bonus!

The instructor not only shared the modifications she made, but she made it entertaining to boot. I appreciated the fact that she didn’t seem self-conscious at all and really put herself out there in order to help others struggling like she had. Honestly, I’m not that confident yet to put myself out there like her, but I’ll get there. I’ve subscribed to her channel. If you find her videos helpful, please subscribe to her channel too and/or leave some comments. She also runs a plus size yoga support group for those that are interested.

And now, without further ado…

Yoga For Overweight Beginners

If this post has helped you, please leave a comment below and let me know so I’ll post more things like this. If you know someone else this post might help, please share it on social media!

Brain Fog: What is it and what can you do about it?

Brain Fog

Brain Fog

Brain fog is the term used to describe the feeling of confusion and inability to concentrate or focus your thoughts despite your best efforts. It’s like living in a haze or fog. There are other neurological symptoms that accompany it, such as depression, cognitive issues, memory loss, searching for words, and anxiety. Brain fog is an indication that you have inflammation in your brain caused by the immune cells, called microglia, in your brain. Thyroid hormone can help keep these cells in check, which is why brain fog often lessens if you’re well treated with thyroid hormone replacement.

I work in the technology sector where I regularly have to deal with highly technical concepts. Normally, I’m an overachiever, highly motivated, and I know I’m smart. Right now, I don’t feel smart. I’m exhausted, I’m not motivated in the least, I’m lucky I remember my own name let alone events from 5 minutes ago, and highly technical concepts fly right over my head. That is Hashimoto’s brain fog and I hate it. I can deal with the exhaustion and I can deal with most of the other symptoms, but I have a difficult time dealing with the brain fog. When my brain isn’t functioning right, it’s hard to do my job right. I struggle to keep up with everyone else. That’s stressful because my family is depending on me. And stress doesn’t help matters any.

Depression

As a result of this brain fog, I know I’m suffering some low-level depression. Fortunately, I know what’s going on and can take steps to mitigate my issues, but many people suffering from Hashimoto’s or hypothyroidism don’t. Some of them aren’t even diagnosed yet. In fact, many people are misdiagnosed with mental illness, when simply treating the thyroid properly will help. Many women in my family know this from personal experience, anti-depressants don’t help this.

Cognitive Issues

There are times when Hashimoto’s brain fog can make you feel like you’re losing your mind. You forget things easily or find it hard to remember things you should know. You can’t find words, even common ones, and you find yourself pausing to think of them. The cognitive issues from brain fog can even prevent you from understanding concepts you normally wouldn’t have a problem with.

How To Treat Brain Fog

There are several theories about what contributes to brain fog. Some experts say leaky gut leads to leaky brain. Other factors include chronic stress (yeah, I know all about that!), poor diet, insulin resistance, and untreated or poorly treated autoimmune disease. So, how does one treat brain fog effectively?

Well, the two main objectives are making sure your thyroid is well treated and reducing your brain inflammation. Request thyroid labs from your doctor, including Free T3, Free T4, Reverse T3, and antithyroid antibodies. If your TSH is above 3 and you’re having a lot of symptoms, work with your doctor to get it between 1-2. Many Hashimoto’s patients report feeling best in that range. My doctor has upped my thyroid medication dosage and my TSH is slowly coming back within what I call the “sweet spot”. Nutrition is important. I am trying (not always succeeding) to eat better to support my gut health and, in addition, my brain health. Going gluten free reportedly helps autoimmune sufferers reduce inflammation and antibodies. Getting a good night’s sleep gives your body the time to repair and renew itself.

What has seemed to work best to battle my brain fog was asking my endocrinologist to try a T3 medication (such as Cytomel). Some Hashimoto’s patients have trouble absorbing or converting their T4 medication (Synthroid, Levothyroxine, etc) and I suspected I was one of them. After reviewing my lab work, my doctor agreed, and the fog has almost completely lifted.

Taking Action

One of the things I have promised myself this year is to take charge of my health. That includes educating myself on Hashimoto’s, breaking bad habits, adopting healthy habits, and making self-care my priority. And since I am a perfectionist and overachiever, I’m learning to cut myself some slack when I’m not perfect or just not productive.

As part of my education, I’m reading a LOT more. I’ve just ordered “Why Isn’t My Brain Working?: A Revolutionary Understanding of Brain Decline and Effective Strategies to Recover Your Brain’s Health” by Dr. Datis Kharrazian. He was one of the very knowledgeable experts in The Thyroid Secret documentary. In addition, Dr. Izabella Wentz’s new book “Hashimoto’s Protocol: A 90-Day Plan for Reversing Thyroid Symptoms and Getting Your Life Back” just came out! I’m reading it, too. I’m going to educate myself and take action. I hope you’re educating yourself and getting your life back, too!

If this post helped you or know someone else it will help, please share!

 

The Thyroid Secret: The Truth About Toxins

The Thyroid Secret: The Truth About Toxins “The Truth About Toxins” is the fourth episode in The Thyroid Secret documentary. This episode discusses the big impact that toxins in our environment have on our thyroids and thyroid disease. It is estimated that we come in contact with over 80,000 different toxic chemicals every day in such things as food, makeup products, and our cars. That was quite a shocking statistic to hear.

Our thyroid, which is programmed to take in nutrients, instead starts taking in toxins we’re exposed to, making us sick. Possibly even triggering autoimmune disease. When toxins enter our body, our cells go into danger mode, slowing or even shutting down to protect the body. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the Ukraine in the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Studies have shown that nearly 80% of the children in the area have developed thyroid problems. And there is an epidemic of thyroid cancer around Fukushima, as well.

Dr. Wentz mentions several of the different common, every day toxins we come in contact with, some you wouldn’t even suspect. They include plastic bottles, dental amalgams, fire retardants, parabens, thalates, pesticides, off-gasing of bromine from new cars. Even some of our food contains toxins. Dr. Wentz states that high fructose corn syrup can contain mercury and rice is high in cadmium and arsenic.

Several suggestions are given to help detoxify the body of specific toxins. Cilantro oil and selenium can both detoxify the body of mercury. Liver detoxification can help with chemical sensitivities. Other suggested therapies include milkthistle and infra red sauna. (Always talk to your doctor before starting any sort of detox!)

This episode, “The Truth About Toxins”, was eye opening. I never realized just how many toxins we are subjected to on a daily basis. If you’re concerned about how toxins in your environment are affecting your Hashimoto’s, you definitely must watch this episode.

If you have found this post helpful, please share it and spread the word!

The Thyroid Secret: Unknown Thyroid Therapies

The Thyroid Secret: Unknown Thyroid Therapies “Unknown Thyroid Therapies” was the episode that really started to dive deep into the details of what can help heal your thyroid disease. I got a lot out of this episode and am planning on implementing many of the treatments suggested, provided I can get my doctor on board for some of them.

Dr. Wentz has done a lot of research on sites such as PubMed and has discussed innovative treatments with experts in various medical fields. A lot of this research is not publicized and as the name of the documentary alludes, it remains a secret to those who need it the most. She reveals many of them in this episode.

Most doctors simply prescribe Synthroid or Levothyroxine to treat Hashimoto’s. And that may help many people with Hashimoto’s. But many people continue to have annoying symptoms even on thyroid replacement. For those people, it would be beneficial to determine if they have trouble converting T4 to T3. If they do have trouble, the addition of T3 (Cytomel, etc) may improve Hashimoto’s symptoms.

One of the most interesting unknown thyroid therapies that is currently being studied is low dose naltrexone (LDN). Low dose Naltrexone helps to balance the immune system, reduce inflammation, and promote healing in the gut. It essentially turns off the cells that cause autoimmunity. The great thing is that there are very few side effects to this treatment. Dr. Wentz goes into great detail about how it works. This treatment, of course, requires a prescription from your doctor. This is one I’m going to explore with my endocrinologist! If you want to try it, you’ll have to coordinate closely with your doctor as well. As you heal, your regular dosage of thyroid hormone may cause you to go hyperthyroid, so you’ll need dosage adjustments.

Dr. Wentz is a big proponent of Functional Medicine.Throughout the documentary, Dr. Wentz interviewed many practitioners of Functional Medicine. It is a medical discipline that addresses the underlying causes of disease instead of just treating the symptoms. It involves treating the real causes instead of putting band aids on the problem. If your current doctor is not helping you to treat the root cause of your disease, a doctor that practices functional medicine may be a good option.

Other briefly discussed topics in this episode include stem cell research and low level laser therapy. This episode alone made watching the documentary worth it. I now have a plan of attack to get my Hashimoto’s into remission and I’ll be referring back to this episode often.

We hope this summary has helped you and given you some information to use on your own journey to remission.

If you have found the information in this post helpful, please share it and spread the word!

The Thyroid Secret: Thyroid Misinformation & Misdiagnosis Machine

Thyroid Misinformation and Misdiagnosis The second episode of The Thyroid Secret is titled “Thyroid Misinformation and Misdiagnosis Machine”. In it, they discuss the myths and misdiagnoses that surround Hashimoto’s and thyroid disorders in general. I’ll try my best to summarize it below.

Dr. Wentz identifies five stages to autoimmune thyroid disease:

  1. Genetic predisposition. You don’t have the disease, but are predisposed to developing it.
  2. Development of autoimmune reactivity to our own thyroid gland. Our thyroid begins to be attacked by our immune system and we start to develop symptoms.
  3. Subclinical changes. We start to see changes to lab markers and more symptoms.
  4. Overt hypothyroid symptoms.
  5. Progression to other autoimmune conditions.

Most people with Hashimoto’s aren’t diagnosed until they’re in the fourth or fifth stage, when symptoms are really evident. So, they usually don’t even start treatment until then as well. And, of course, conventional medicine only treats the symptoms and doesn’t prevent progression of the disease to the fifth stage. Hardly anyone questions why conventional medicine is quick to destroy or remove the thyroid as part of treatment instead of treating the root cause. Many patients are not told about the autoimmune factors of their disease either.

Many of you know from personal experience that when your Hashimoto’s flares up (when the body is attacking itself), things go haywire. You’re suddenly “allergic” to many different things you didn’t have a reaction to before. The problem is, if you don’t treat the root cause of your disease, you can’t promote true healing. The attack against your body will continue. This can lead to other conditions including vision problems, balance problems, alopecia, psoriasis, eczema, Crohn’s, etc.

Throughout this episode, patients discuss their symptoms and struggles, from fatigue to depression. Many of them were misdiagnosed and prescribed anti-depressants or other medications that didn’t help their condition. They were told it was all in their heads. They were told their lab results were “normal”. Well, you can have normal TSH and still not have your hormones be normal. Doctors should running labs for not just TSH, but for Free T3, Free T4, and Reverse T3 to get a whole picture of what’s going on.

It can be devastating when thyroid misinformation and misdiagnosis keep patients suffering instead of healing. Nearly 80% of people diagnosed as bipolar have Hashimoto’s and when properly treated, symptoms go away. It’s tragic how many issues related to mental health could be prevented when the cause is hypothyroidism. Personally, my doctor told me he suspected I was bipolar. I told him I never had manic episodes. I insisted it was my thyroid. He gave me medication that not only didn’t work, but compounded my problems. When he finally properly treated my thyroid, my issues went away.

The antithyroid antibodies implicated in Hashimoto’s are as follows:

  • Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPO Ab)
  • Thyroglobulin Antibodies (Tg Ab)

Near the end of the episode, there was a discussion on how a change in diet can help with Hashimoto’s issues. Grass fed red meat can help with anxiety. Protein for breakfast can help sugar levels. Getting off gluten, as well as taking Zinc, can help with anxiety too.

The episode ended by discussing how Hashimoto’s antibodies can be found in the brain. They can cause ataxia and Hashimoto’s Encephalopathy, a rare neurological condition associated with Hashimoto’s. Again, changing your diet can help with this as well as treating the root cause.

I really related to the patient interviews in “Thyroid Misinformation and Misdiagnosis” and I’m sure you will too. I really got a lot of good information out of this episode.

The Thyroid Secret: Thyroid Disease Revealed

Thyroid Disease Revealed The first episode of The Thyroid Secret is titled “Thyroid Disease Revealed”. In it, Dr. Izabella Wentz begins by discussing how she didn’t get the answers she needed from her doctors to properly treat and reverse her condition. She talks about her struggles with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. She discusses the pain, confusion, and hopelessness of being stuck with a disease that seemingly would never get better. The Thyroid Secret documentary is a result of her digging for the information she couldn’t get from her doctors. It’s the information she used, and that you need, to improve your thyroid condition.

In “Thyroid Disease Revealed”, Dr. Wentz describes what the thyroid gland is and what it does. She talks to experts about the various different thyroid diseases, their various symptoms, and the treatments that most of us will encounter in conventional medicine. She then goes on to talk about so many things that your doctor never told you.

For example, she mentions that most thyroid patients are never told the cause of their illness, just that their thyroid isn’t working right. That was my experience. I didn’t even KNOW what a thyroid was and what it did when I was diagnosed. I didn’t know why I got Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. All I knew was that I had to take a pill every day for the rest of my life to survive. Dr. Wentz describes many patient experiences similar to my own in this episode. It really illustrates that we’re not alone in fighting this disease.

Dr. Wentz also talks to several thyroid patients, some with Hashimoto’s, some with Graves’ or other diseases. Their experiences are so relatable, I almost cried. Dr. Wentz really hit home when she said “It feels like your freedom is taken away.” I personally have experienced that feeling and I think many of you have, too. But, with the information she has uncovered by using herself as a guinea pig, she has helped so many to improve their lives, mine included, with her interventions.

She states that you have to be your own advocate. You have to take control of your health because doctors will often shut you down, simply because they don’t know what you’re going through. Most doctors treat the symptoms, not the root cause. This cookie cutter approach doesn’t work for most of us.

Root causes of thyroid problems, including nutrient deficiencies, food allergies, inability to handle stress, inability to handle environmental toxins, leaky gut, and chronic infections are also discussed. Dr. Wentz touches on the three main factors why Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and thyroid problems in general are on the rise: genetic susceptibility, toxic foreign substances, and immune stressors.

She ends “Thyroid Disease Revealed” by stressing that the drive to heal must come from you. No one, except another thyroid patient, will know exactly what you’re going through. Your loved ones may not want to or know how to support you. So, you have to take the reins yourself.

The Thyroid Secret Documentary is Live!

The Thyroid Secret I have been watching The Thyroid Secret documentary by Dr. Izabella Wentz. She has gathered many experts to discuss the many thyroid disorders and diseases, symptoms, patient struggles, and treatments. She opens up about her own experience, from being undiagnosed for over 10 years to her frustrating attempts to develop treatments and go back into remission. Many of you, and myself included, can certainly relate to her experiences.

She discusses how conventional medicine seems to know so very little about thyroid disorders. In addition, conventional treatments focus on just treating the symptoms rather than identifying and treating the root cause. Without treating the root cause, patients have a rough road trying to get back into remission.

The Thyroid Secret Documentary

The Thyroid Secret is in 9 parts, each part focusing on a different aspect of thyroid disease.

Thyroid Disease Revealed – Dr. Wentz discusses her own personal experience with Hashimoto’s and talks to other thyroid patients.  She discusses what these diseases are with several experts and reveals how they affect the body.

The Thyroid Misinformation and Misdiagnosis Machine – Dr. Wentz discusses myths and mystery surrounding Hashimoto’s, Graves’, and other thyroid disorders. She fills in the missing pieces of what your doctors rarely tell you about these diseases (mainly because they don’t know!).

Unknown Thyroid Therapies – Conventional medicine relies on thyroid hormone replacement and sometimes destructive, thyroid killing “treatments”. Dr. Wentz discusses other little known treatments to reduce inflammation, support your thyroid, and get you into remission.

The Truth About Toxins – We come in contact with toxins every day. This episode discusses how a toxic environment can affect our thyroid gland.

Healing Thyroid Disease With Food – Food can exacerbate your inflammation or help heal it. Learn how you can use food to help heal your thyroid disease.

The Stress Sickness – Learn how stress can keep you ill and how your adrenals factor in to your thyroid disease.

Motherhood Interrupted – Thyroid disease can often cause infertility or problems with pregnancy. This episode discusses hope for women with thyroid disease who want children.

Healing From Within – Learn how to discover the trigger to your thyroid disease and reverse the disease.

The Thyroid Success Stories – Dr. Wentz presents several patients who have successfully reclaimed their health.

 

 

 

No Excuses – My Hashimoto’s Diary

No Excuses - My Hashimoto's Diary I know last night that I said I have limitations. I have since given myself an attitude adjustment. I don’t have limitations. I have temporary setbacks. If I don’t strive to get better, Hashimoto’s is an “excuse” and I can and will use it to convince myself that there’s nothing I can do. I will end up giving myself limitations that I truly don’t have. I would rather think of it as a “reason” why I’m experiencing this temporary setback and use that as motivation to prove I don’t have limitations and that I can overcome anything I set my mind to.

I used to be an athlete. I used to be in great shape and work out 1-3 hours a day. Those days are long gone. I will likely never have that level of energy or fitness again… but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try. That doesn’t mean that I can’t reach a level of energy or fitness that is satisfying to me.

There are answers for each and every one of you dealing with the ravages of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. The key is to never give up looking for them. If I had, I would have never discovered Dr. Izabella Wentz’s book “Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause”. I immediately asked my doctor if it was ok if I started taking selenium after reading about it in that book and it has changed my life. Selenium has also helped my mother and sisters, who also suffer from Hashimoto’s. But selenium hasn’t solved everything, so I need to keep looking for the next answer and the next to unlock this mystery of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis that so few doctors seem to know about.

So, from now on, no excuses. Hashimoto’s takes its toll physically, mentally, and emotionally. When I get knocked down, I can’t promise I won’t get depressed or be a little self-pitying, after all, mental and emotional symptoms go hand in hand with Hashimoto’s. But, I’m going to promise myself I won’t stay down for long. I will get right back up and re-focus myself on unraveling the mysteries of Hashimoto’s and finding the answers that work for me. I hope you will do the same.

The Hashimoto’s Rollercoaster

Hashimoto's Rollercoaster It’s been a while since I last posted. That’s mostly because I’ve been on the Hashimoto’s rollercoaster. I went from doing awesome health-wise, losing weight, and making steady progress toward my health goals, to getting knocked on my ass and steadily losing ground. It happened around November of last year. Stress from work got to be too much and it started affecting my thyroid. I got sick. My TSH levels rose. The fatigue and brain fog rolled in. I had my doc adjust my meds, but almost two and a half months later, I’m still struggling to get my TSH back into the “sweet spot”, which for me tends to be between 1 and 2. My TSH is still above 4.

When you get knocked down by Hashimoto’s, it’s hard to get back up. It’s even harder if you can’t take time off from work or remove the stressors that caused your Hashimoto’s rollercoaster in the first place. The only thing you want to do is sleep. Having to go to work every day can feel like torture. That is when you have to work harder than ever before. You have to work on recovering your health. I want to feel better and I want to get back to the good health I enjoyed last year. I want to lose the 5 pounds I’ve gained since my TSH went higher than normal.

It’s tough to be reminded that I have an illness which causes me to have limitations and I don’t like it one bit. Hashimoto’s is not only physically exhausting, but emotionally exhausting as well. It causes me to worry, occasionally have panic attacks, and prevents me from thinking clearly and logically. I don’t ever want to end up here again. That’s why I’ve been reading more about Hashimoto’s, doing my own research, and watching Dr. Izabella Wentz’s new video series “The Thyroid Secret”. I want to get off the Hashimoto’s Rollercoaster and smooth out my path to healthy living.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be blogging about “The Thyroid Secret”. I’ll also be renewing my commitment to take charge of my health and get my Hashimoto’s back under control. As part of this process, I am adding content to this website, including forums. In the forums, you can discuss your struggles, share your stories, and get advice from others going through the same things as you are.