Most medical sources tell me that I can’t “heal” my thyroid. I hope they’re wrong! Here’s how I’m going to try healing my thyroid naturally.
Blame it on fluoride, the typical American diet, or the increased use of hormones in commercial meats – whatever the cause, a large percentage of Americans are suffering from thyroid issues.
I was fortunate enough, when my thyroid suddenly went from slightly under-active to basically dead, to have a good naturopath to talk to. Not everyone is so fortunate, and some people find themselves on a rollercoaster of trying to figure out the correct dosage of synthetic hormones for *years.* Moreover, since synthetic hormones don’t encourage the thyroid to heal – or even to keep doing anything, since the thalamic region realizes there are enough hormones in the body, so the thyroid doesn’t need to make any more – pretty much everyone who starts on synthetic thyroid hormones is told they’ll need to continue taking them for the rest of their lives.
I dodged the synthetic hormone bullet (read about my experience and emergency treatment here), but while my naturopath was confident that I’d eventually only need a teensy little bit of thyroid supplementation, she still expected that I’d always need something – some kind of treatment – for the rest of my life.
The very idea bugs me. I hate thinking I *have* to be “sick” forever. If my thyroid used to work, but stopped because it got sick, there *has* to be a way to heal it so that it can function again – right?
I scoured the interwebs looking for hope, and came up with a lot of conflicting information – one website said don’t eat kale or broccoli and avoid anything with iodine, another said eat as much kale and broccoli as you can and take an iodine supplement. It very quickly became apparent that there are two very different schools of thought on this – but, generally, the consensus from both sides was that when your thyroid stops working, it never really starts again.
I chose not to accept this, and kept looking.
I finally came upon a few websites (pretty far down the Google search list, too) that said it was possible. Even a quick perusal showed most of these websites to be the brainchilds (brainchildren?) of a collection of pretty extreme foodies – the kind of all-organic, non-GMO, Monsanto-is-the-devil, never-trust-the-USDA, the-medical-establishment-is-purposefully-keeping-you-sick, vaccines-are-trying-to-sterilize-you people that I sympathize with (and even agree with on many things), but don’t usually associate myself with. I don’t generally find the angry, ranting-type pages to be very good PR for a real food diet, if you know what I mean. The aggression can be more alienating than evangelistic.
Amidst the somewhat off-putting jargon, I found some nuggets of sound logic and reasoning. I was able to form a plan from their ideas – one I *hope* will get me healthier!
For one year, I’m going to try a fairly strict lifestyle. Honestly, because I’ve already been heading towards a “real food” lifestyle, I don’t have as many changes to make as some people will – but some of my biggest vices have to go bye-bye (for now, anyway).
Here’s my plan so far:
1. Only Organic Meats. In women, thyroid problems have been linked to the artificial growth hormones being used in commercial meats; so it’s organic meat, or no meat, from now on (not a problem – I feel better eating a wild deer I know lived a free life before a quick, humane death than I felt eating those poor, tortured creatures anyway).
2. Drastically reduce, or eliminate, my dairy intake. I was on this road already, thanks to Baby A’s colic.
3. Increase my Fiber Intake. No problem. There’s a ton of fiber in my deep-dish cookie pie; I can just omit the chocolate chips and add in chopped dates instead!
4. Eliminate soy. Again, no problem. I’d pretty much been doing that anyway. I just have to be *extra* vigilant now in my label-reading!
5. Regular Exercise. Exercise naturally helps regulate hormones. It’s good for everyone – but if you’ve got thyroid issues, it’s especially good for you! Again, this was on my things-I’d-been-meaning-to-do-anyway list.
6. Eliminate Sources of Fluoride. This one was interesting. I didn’t think I *had* any sources of fluoride in my diet, for one thing – but guess who still uses a non-stick skillet? Guilty! Apparently, every time you use a non-stick skillet, you’re getting a little fluoride leaching into your food. I didn’t know there was any issue with fluoride (I remember being made to swish it on my teeth in elementary school – they’d give us all these bubblegum-flavored packs of a pink liquid and tell us to “swich, but not swallow.” I swallowed a little. Evidently, fluoride might be the reason I have this problem to begin with. Oops!). Other sources of fluoride can be toothpastes; but I make my own homemade whitening toothpaste. The worst, though, is…soda. Oh, diet soda. I love it, but it does NOT love me back!
7. Eat an “Alkaline” Diet. I’d heard before about “alkaline and acidic foods,” and “balancing my internal pH” and all that before, but here’s a confession: I never knew what it meant. I had to look up a huge list of alkaline and acid foods (it’s a surprising list. And disappointing in a lot of ways), and write down what I can and cannot eat now. Sodas and artificial sweeteners, coffee and chocolate were all high-acid foods which I need to avoid now. All things I love, all things I knew probably weren’t helping me get better…but peanuts were a shock. And lemons and limes? Those are “very alkaline.” Shocker!
8. Source Some Substitutes. This is related to the alkaline thing, but it’s also something I’ve been meaning to do (seeing a trend? Maybe if I’d just *done* these things, I wouldn’t be in this mess!). Raw honey is more alkaline than processed honey; goat’s milk and cheese is alkaline, while cow products are acid. Organic chicken is alkaline (and free range chickens are higher in all kinds of nutrients). I really need to either suck it up and source this stuff – or go even further into my future plans, and buy the sources – an actual nanny goat, a beehive, and some chickens! The hubby tells me he could make me a nice, safe chicken tractor (they’d still be free range – it would just keep them from running onto the highway by our house, or being eaten by possums) in a day – we’ll see!
9. Do the Iodine Test. I’d never heard of this before – the “Iodine test” means rubbing a silver-dollar sized dot of iodine onto your stomach. If it’s absorbed into your skin after 12 hours, you were low on iodine. Apparently, iodine is a really common deficiency, and can be related to thyroid problems! (You’re supposed to repeat the test until the spot doesn’t absorb – apparently, iodine is one of the few things your body will stop absorbing once it has enough! Weird!)
10. Thyroid-supporting Supplements. This might seem ironic, since my goal is to *stop* taking stuff eventually, but my goal is to *heal.* I don’t mind taking a bunch of stuff now if it means I get to live a normal life later (instead of feeling like death if I forget a dose, like I do now). So, to support the ol’ thyroid as it heals, I’ll be taking chlorophyll, zinc, magnesium, selenium, red marine algae, L-Arginine, and L-Tyrosine. (I need to hunt these things down – I don’t have them yet). When possible, I want to “take” my supplements in a whole-food way. Did you know eating two brazil nuts is the equivalent of taking one selenium supplement? I’m going to get me some brazil nuts! And for the magnesium, I’ll be making this great recipe for magnesium lotion!
Some things will probably re-enter my life after the year is up. For example, coffee and chocolate. I’m not going to live without them forever. Seriously. I have no intention of even trying. But sodas? Artificial sweeteners? Teflon pans? I’ve been meaning to kick those bad habits to the curb anyway.
I have no guarantee that this will work at all – but I’m hopeful! I’ll be posting updates whenever I have any changes to report. Here’s hoping for a life-changing year!