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NAET Treatments and Hashimoto’s: The First Treatment – Brain Body Balance

NAET Treatments and Hashimoto’s: The First Treatment – Brain Body Balance

In my previous post about acupuncture and Hashi’s, I wrote about the fact that I began “specialized” treatments for food sensitivities and allergies in September. In this post, I want to talk about this form of treatment and describe my first visit to my NAET practitioner.

What is NAET? It stands for Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques.  According to the NAET website, these treatments were discovered by Dr. Devi S. Nambudripad in November of 1983. The treatments are a combination of acupuncture, kinesiology (muscle testing), energy work, chiropractic work and nutritional and supplementation guidance. The treatments adhere to a particular schedule, clearing one allergen or sensitivity at a time, although the schedule is often amended based on what particular issues an individual might be facing. The explanation behind the procedure is that the treatment causes the substance for which you are being treated to circulate throughout your body while you are actually avoiding taking in that substance for a period of time. This allows your body to become reacquainted with the substance and to remember how to process it correctly.

For instance, if you are being treated for vitamin C, then your practitioner will determine how long you will need to avoid all contact with vitamin C after the treatment. This includes not only ingesting vitamin C, but touching it as well. After your avoidance period is over, your body will be absorbing vitamin C better than it was before the treatment because it has “relearned” how to process vitamin C correctly.

The official protocol for NAET states that substances should be avoided for 25 hours; however, my practitioner has found that, if she tests and asks the body how long it needs to clear a particular substance, and follows that advice, then her clients are much more apt to clear everything successfully. My “magic number” to date has been 50 hours. I wish it were 25 because, depending on what you’re trying to avoid, 50 hours can be a mighty long time. It is becoming easier with each treatment, though.

The First Treatment

My first visit was booked for 2 hours, but it actually lasted for 2 1/2 hours. I find that my practitioner is very generous with her time, unless I come on a day when she has a really full schedule.

Most of the first visit was spent discussing my lengthy and complicated medical history. I realized a long time ago that I needed to just create a document with my medical history on it so that when I start with any new practitioner, I can just hand them the page or refer to it myself when answering questions on their intake forms.

We talked at length about all of my issues, most of which she was pretty familiar with since she’s been doing this for a long time. I found her very easy to talk with, which is important for me if I know I’m going to be working with someone long term.

After the intake process, we went into her acupuncture room and she had me lie down on the table. She did some muscle testing to see where my “base” was, so she would have something on which to reference my reactions later.

What is muscle testing, you ask? 

If you do a search for muscle testing, you will find a lot of varied opinions about this technique, but I have found it to be very helpful to me. People out there can say it’s quackery all they want, it has worked for me and continues to work for me. So, you need to stand back and keep an open mind if you’ve never experienced it before.

Conventional medical people always like to say “there are no studies supporting this”, but we have to include patient reports in any treatment modality we investigate and, until people are willing to start investing money in studies for alternative treatments, we won’t have any studies to support those treatments.

The first time I encountered this technique was with a naturopath I was seeing some years ago. She used muscle testing to determine various weaknesses in my body and also to determine which supplements would be best for me. The theory behind the testing is that the inherent strength in your muscles is connected to quality of function in your inner organs, therefore, if you have a weak liver, for instance, and you test for that via the muscles, the muscles will also present with weakness.

Typically, you stand or lie down and hold up one arm, resisting against a push on that arm by the practitioner. If the practitioner touches a part of the body that corresponds with a weak organ, you will not be able to push against the force any longer and your arm will fall. I went into my first experience with this not having any idea what to expect, so I wasn’t “preconditioned” in any way, and I was amazed at how it worked. There is no way that you can force your arm to stay up in these situations – the strength just isn’t there.

My chiropractor uses muscle testing at every session to determine where my muscles are weak so that he can decide what kinds of adjustments to make. As soon as the adjustments are made, my strength comes back in that arm. It has worked beautifully for all the years that I have continued to see him.

So, back to my first NAET treatment.

Once she had her reference base from the initial testing, she tested me for the substance that I was to be treated for that day. The first NAET treatment is always something called “Brain Body Balance Formula”. I have no idea what it’s comprised of, but its purpose is to begin to balance the body in preparation for the second treatment.

When she tested me for this, of course, I was weak. To date, every time she has tested me for a substance prior to the actual treatment, I have been weak. But, this doesn’t surprise me, given how many allergies and sensitivities I have.

After this, she had me turn over on the table and she performed a kind of spinal massage, beginning at my neck and going all the way down to the tailbone. While she was doing this, I was instructed to do different kinds of breathing, like holding my breath, exhaling and holding, breathing rapidly, and breathing normally. She went through these cycles a number of times and then did energy work where she placed her hands on my back for about 5 minutes or so. I have found that this “massage” and energy work always relaxes me.

Acupuncture followed the energy work. She only used about 10-12 points, but, make no mistake, it was still very powerful. She inserted the needles and then gave me time to rest.

At the end of the treatment, she tested me again for the substance for which I was being treated and I was much stronger than during the previous testing. Thankfully, for this first treatment, I did not have to avoid anything, so she didn’t have to test to see how long my avoidance period would be.

It became clear to me within a couple of days that I needed to cut back on my adrenal supplements completely. I have been off of them ever since.

To understand how amazing this is, is to understand that I have not been able to be without those supplements for years and years. I was stunned. I am still on my hydrocortisone, but the long term plan for these treatments is that I will eventually go off of that too.

I will be writing about all of my NAET treatments here, but I have had enough of them by this point in time to tell you that some pretty amazing things have been happening and, for the first time in a long time, I have real hope that I can get well. It’s an incredible feeling.

More soon.

To getting well,

Vanessa

Vanessa Gunter, D.M.A., M.A.

 

 

Acupuncture and Hashimoto’s!!

Acupuncture and Hashimoto’s!!

You may have noticed that there are two exclamation points after the title of this post. This is because my own personal experience with using acupuncture to address symptoms of Hashi’s has been incredible. In fact, I recently began a series of specialized acupuncture treatments aimed at clearing the body of food sensitivities and allergies and, after only three treatments, I am already feeling significant changes.

Before I go into that, I just want to talk about the general benefits of acupuncture for someone dealing with Hashi’s.

I have found that acupuncture, more than anything else I have tried, has significantly reduced my levels of anxiety and depression.

Now, I’m trained as a psychotherapist, so I am very familiar with the “party line” when it comes to trying to deal with these two very common, but often implacable issues. Literally everyone I saw during the time I was practicing therapy was struggling with both anxiety and depression. Typically, what is offered to clients is a combination of therapeutic approaches and medication. Talk therapy can actually be quite helpful, but if someone is dealing with some level of chronic illness, chances are that these symptoms are being generated by an imbalance in the body.

You see, these two conditions are often thought of as “emotional” disorders. Well, they are, but we tend to divorce things associated with the mind and the emotions from what’s going on in the rest of the body when what goes on in the body directly affects your emotions! This is because conditions like depression and anxiety are a result of your body’s biochemistry being out of balance.

Because of the way the immune system is affected by Hashimoto’s, I would be willing to say that probably 99% of people who have this condition are also struggling with anxiety and depression. This is because of the involvement of the endocrine system, specifically the thyroid and adrenal glands. The endocrine system is in charge of keeping your hormones in balance and your hormones control your emotions. So, when this system cannot maintain the balance it needs, you get all kinds of “emotional” symptoms, like anxiety, depression, huge mood swings, and an inability to regulate your emotions.

I will be talking about these things in greater detail in coming posts. For now, just remember that your emotions are a result of your biochemistry.

Now, back to the acupuncture. If you’ve never had acupuncture before or don’t know much about it, it’s actually quite fascinating. This ancient art uses the “meridians” or energy channels of your body to bring the body back into balance. It is literally working with the body’s electrical energy to re-establish or awaken connections that may have gone dormant for some reason.

I found a quote from an article in Acupuncture Today entitled A Simple, Easy-to-Understand Explanation of Acupuncture by John Amaro, LAc, DC, Dipl. Ac.(NCCAOM), Dipl.Med.Ac.(IAMA) which explains it this way:

“Acupuncture deals with homeostasis, which is the body’s ability to maintain balance. The patient who is out of balance electromagnetically becomes ill and expresses specific symptoms.”

I’m not a fan of needles, so it took me way too long to consider using acupuncture for my Hashi’s. I’m hoping you will take advantage of it earlier than I did. This is easier to do than it used to be because many insurance companies are now paying for acupuncture.

I searched for a good practitioner and managed to find one who also had Hashi’s! What a gift. It was amazing to be able to talk with her about what I was experiencing and have her actually “get it”! She said during our first conversation that she felt like she was talking to herself when I was telling her about my symptoms.

I did some research before going to my first session and found most people talking about a high level of benefit and no pain from the needles. Well, I did experience pain – but, it wasn’t unbearable and it only occurred for a second while inserting the needle. It also didn’t happen with every needle. After a few sessions, I didn’t care anymore, because I was feeling so much better emotionally that whatever small level of pain I experienced was totally worth it.

My initial sessions involved a lot of needles in my ears – apparently there are a whole lot of acupuncture points in the ears. My practitioner was focusing on decreasing anxiety and depression, increasing energy levels and improving digestion.

After 4 or 5 sessions, I was able to decrease my adrenal supplements by half.

I also noticed that my energy was better for much of the week, as compared to only a couple of days out of each week prior to beginning treatments. My digestion also felt stronger – I felt like I was handling histamine a little better, which is a huge issue for me. I eventually got to the point where I could go for 10 days without a treatment and still remain relaxed and with good energy.

After about 15 sessions, my acupuncturist recommended that I see someone qualified to do N.A.E.T. acupuncture. She had gone through these treatments herself and credited them with healing her to the point where she could eat many foods to which she had become overly sensitive, maintain consistent energy levels and go back to work again.

So this is where I am now. I started these specialized treatments about a month ago and, as I stated at the beginning of this post, I really feel that they are making me stronger. I am continuing to reduce certain supplements with every treatment, and this is something I’ve really not been able to do since I was diagnosed decades ago.

I’ve decided to dedicate a series of posts to N.A.E.T. acupuncture – sort of a journaling experience, if you will – so you can be a part of this as I do it. Click here to get started with the first post.

In healing,

Vanessa

Vanessa Gunter, D.M.A., M.A.

 

 

Hashimoto’s and Chronic Pain

Hashimoto’s and Chronic Pain

I never knew until a few years ago that my muscle pain was a part of my Hashimoto’s. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I spent most of my life playing flute professionally and I had been told that the pain I was having in my neck and shoulders was simply repetitive stress injuries from playing and practicing 8 hours a day for 35+ years. This made some sense to me, as I had always struggled with physical tension as a player and had never really found a satisfactory way to remain relaxed while playing. I tried beta blockers, and they worked great, but for a person with already low blood pressure, it was not wise for me to use them regularly.

I found out about the connection between my pain and Hashi’s quite by accident. The functional medicine doctor I was seeing at the time prescribed low dose naltrexone for me.

All he said as he was prescribing it was:

“Now we are going to deal with your Hashimoto’s.”

What??  What do you mean “deal” with it? I didn’t realize there was a way to “fix” this!  

He explained that this medication was an immune system modulator and that I could find out more at www.lowdosenaltrexone.com.

Upon arriving home from that appointment, I immediately went to the site and found out that this medication actually supports the body in doing what it should be doing naturally: supplying endorphins to the system through the blood in order to assist with immune system functions. You see, it seems that a common denominator in autoimmune conditions is a low supply of endorphins. This medication blocks the opioid receptors for a number of hours after you take it, which causes more endorphins to be released into the bloodstream, thereby giving the body more immune support.

When I first started taking it, I slept better than I had in decades. The first two weeks were filled with glorious, deep sleep. Then that deteriorated a bit, which is common with this medication. But, as you continue to take it and find your best personal dose, your sleep once again becomes quite good. This takes some patience and willingness to experiment with your dose for a while.

After those first two weeks, I noticed that my muscles were not bothering me as much as they had been…and this continued to get better with time.

Now, I will admit that I have never gotten to the point where I am completely pain free. I believe that part of the reason for this is that I have never really given myself a chance to rest until recently. I have always been a fairly driven, competitive individual with really high standards. These characteristics have not served me well in dealing with Hashi’s because it has been extremely hard for me to slow down and take care of myself. I have always wanted to be out there in the professional world accomplishing something.

Well, my last episode of muscle spasms/knots forced me to stop completely and re-evaluate. So now, I am resting and simply working at giving my body what it needs to get better.

Moral of the story: Stress is THE enemy.

When you have Hashi’s, pretty much all of your systems are compromised and struggling, especially if you are dealing with gut problems. For me, this struggle has been most obviously expressed in chronic muscle pain. For you, it may be joint pain. Both are common in this condition. Stress exacerbates everything about Hashi’s, so it is important to do everything in your power to lessen any stress that you have in your life, because it will make your condition worse. I’ll be writing more on this in another post.

I have used all of the following to help with alleviating the pain:

  • Magnesium lotion or oil, whatever works best for you
  • Magnesium supplements in an absorbable form – citrate, malate, taurate
  • CoQ10
  • Epsom salts baths – every evening
  • Massage therapy – if you cannot afford this, some people use therapy balls and Theracanes for self-massage. But, I have found the cost of massage to be worth every penny. It may take time to find just the right massage therapist because everyone prefers something different when it comes to this. Be sure to seek out a licensed professional.
  • Chiropractic care – I have also found this to be indispensable. When my muscles decide to tighten up and go into spasm, then my bones are pulled out of alignment, which causes even more problems. I have a great chiropractor, but you have to be careful in seeking out this care, because a less-than-stellar practitioner can cause you even more problems. Even personal references didn’t work out all that well for me in a couple of instances because, once again, what’s great for one person may not work so well for the next. There is a good article on how to find good chiropractic care here.
  • Acupuncture – I cannot say enough about the benefits of acupuncture in relation to Hashi’s. I will be writing a separate post on this. It has been a tremendous help in reducing my anxiety which plays directly into muscle tension. Acupuncture can also be used to directly decrease pain, increase flexibility in muscle and joints and even address allergies and food sensitivities. Some insurances are paying for acupuncture now, so I would definitely recommend checking into this. Be sure to seek out a licensed practitioner. I was lucky enough to find one who also had Hashi’s, so she completely “got it” when I talked with her about my issues.
  • Anti-inflammatory supplements – turmeric, fish oil, borage oil, vitamin C, quercetin, mangosteen, just to name a few. Check out my supplements post for more info on this.
  • Anti-inflammatory foods – diet is a huge issue with Hashi’s. It’s important to say here that eating as many anti-inflammatory foods as possible will definitely help you heal. Think greens, lots of greens, low-glycemic fruits and veggies (no nightshades) that have lots of antioxidants. For a detailed discussion of this kind of eating, click here.

Hope you’re finding this information  helpful…

In health,

Vanessa

Vanessa Gunter, D.M.A., M.A.

Supplements Which May Be Helpful With Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Supplements Which May Be Helpful With Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Please remember, these choices are very personal and I am listing mine simply to show you what has worked for me, not as medical advice.

I’ll be honest with you: I am on a truckload of supplements. Why? Because I was not able to find knowledgeable practitioners in time to avoid a long list of food allergies, which led me to a place where I was on a ridiculously restricted diet. This meant that the only way I could really get the vitamins and minerals I needed was through supplements because I would react to practically every kind of food that went into my mouth.

I am still struggling with this situation, but it is slowly getting better, thank goodness. But I will tell you that patience is key to this process. I have to keep telling myself that I didn’t get this way overnight and I am not going to get “well” overnight, either.

I talk more about diet and food allergies in this post. Here I just want to provide you with a list of what I’m currently taking and why, in order to give you an idea of where you might want to start your own research regarding your own supplements.

Please remember: this is not medical advice, only my own experience. You should consult with a knowledgeable practitioner as you go through this journey. I am listing the brands I use only as reference. I am not being compensated for this information.

I’m going to divide my supplements into categories according to what each is trying to address so that I can discuss each in a more coherent way. I am continuing to try new and different things, so I will try to keep this information updated as I make changes to my regimen.

General Support

  • Multivitamin: I use a heavy-duty multivitamin called Ultra Preventive III by Douglas Laboratories because of my restricted diet and inability to absorb my food very well. I feel like my ability to absorb nutrients is improving, as I have been able to reduce my dose of this supplement recently. This multi has a broad range of vitamins and minerals in it that are ideal for people struggling with gut problems. Whatever multi you decide to use, be sure that it is a comprehensive one.
  • Vitamin D: it seems that people with Hashi’s very often have a deficiency in vitamin D. For me, this has been a result of my gut problems and also my inability to get outside much and exercise as a result of my muscle issues. I take 5000 IU daily and I use the Jarrow brand.
  • Fish oil: fish oil is great for a lot of things as it is a good source of Omega 3. Apparently the tendency in America is to get too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega 3, since many processed and fast foods use Omega 6 oils. Fish oil can help with anxiety, depression, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, hair growth and gut health, just to name a few. I use wild salmon oil (Natural Factors brand). For a detailed discussion of the benefits of fish oil, click here.
  • Evening Primrose oil: I began taking this to help with hair loss and it has definitely made a difference. This oil has a reputation for aiding in balancing hormones in women, helping with fertility, hair loss, skin health and even rheumatoid arthritis. I use Barleans brand. For more info on this oil, click here.
  • Borage oil: this oil has more GLA than Evening Primrose and so may help more with inflammation and issues connected to healing, which is why I added it to my regimen. There are also people online who swear by it for hair loss. I use Barleans brand. For more info, click here.
  • Monolaurin: my doctor put me on this supplement after he took me off of iodine and I was getting sick all of the time. It is really great for boosting the immune system. I immediately felt better after I started taking it. Since then, I’ve resumed my iodine supplement (you can read more about this below), but decided to keep taking this until my system has had a chance to heal more. I use the Ecological Formulas brand. For more info on monolaurin and its precursor, lauric acid, click here.
  • Ultra Benfotiamine: this is a form of thiamine and apparently, Hashi’s people are usually deficient in thiamine. I discovered this wonderful supplement as a result of Dr. Isabella Wentz at thyroidpharmacist.com. It has made a lot of difference in my energy levels. Be sure to read her information on this supplement here. I use the Douglas Laboratories brand.
  • Calcium Lactate: I am lactose intolerant, so getting calcium into my diet can be a challenge. I began this supplement via a naturopath that I was seeing some years ago and, while I thought it would be beneficial to my bones, the biggest change I noticed was in my thinking. I was able to think much faster and clearer once I started taking this. It makes sense, because calcium is one of the electrolytes that your body needs in order to pass messages from the brain to the body and back again. I use the Standard Process brand. You can read more about calcium and the brain here.
  • 5-MTHF: this supplement is necessary for people who have a problem with methylation, which is a process involved in protein synthesis, detoxification, formation of transmitters, and hormone regulation, among other things. People with Hashi’s often have issues with methylation, either as a result of a genetic mutation, leaky gut, lousy diet, or exposure to environmental toxins. You can get tested for gene mutations to find out if you’re at risk. I was tested several years ago, there was a mutation, and my doctor immediately put me on this supplement. I take Metabolic Maintenance brand. This whole methylation thing is very involved, but there’s a good explanation here.

Digestion

  • Probiotics: these are critical for anyone with gut issues. I had to try quite a few before I found one that seemed to work for me. I wasn’t able to tolerate prebiotics very well and a lot of these supplements have inulin which is a definite no-no for me. So, if your body doesn’t like what you’re taking, be sure you don’t force the issue. I use Probacto probiotics and I feel like this product has really worked well for me. It is an “anti-Candida” probiotic, but you don’t necessarily have to be diagnosed with Candida to use it and get benefits from the way it works.
  • Digestive Enzymes: I take these with all meals and snacks. They break down your food and make it possible for your intestines to absorb nutrients. Some people are deficient in these enzymes from birth, others develop deficiencies due to bad dietary habits. There is some evidence that individuals who were not breast fed are deficient in enzymes because mother’s milk acts to provide the infant with numerous enzymes after birth. Go here to find out more. I use Pancremax by Karuna for meals and Prozymes by GIProHealth for snacks. Why two different kinds, you ask? Because the Karuna is pretty expensive and I know the Prozymes are also safe for me, but a little cheaper.
  • Hydrochloric acid: most people with Hashi’s have low stomach acid, which means your food will not be broken down or digested properly. It’s important to supplement with Betaine Hydrochloride with Pepsin for optimum results, so be sure whatever supplement you choose has both. My doctor advised me to start with a small dose and gradually increase until I felt some stomach discomfort, then decrease the dose slightly from there. I used to use a Standard Process supplement for this that I liked very much, but then it became ridiculously expensive, so now I’m using Hydrozyme by Biotics Research Corporation.
  • L- Glutamine: this is an amino acid which supports the intestinal lining and may help with repairing a leaky gut. I use Jarrow brand.
  • Ginger tea: this has been a lifesaver for me. No more Pepto-Bismol for stomach aches. I go straight for the ginger tea and I keep drinking it until my tummy feels better. I also drink it after every meal because it helps so much with digestion. Warning: it will make you feel warm and, if you’re like me and you’re dealing with hot flashes, it will make them worse, but only for a little while. The digestive support is worth the extra heat to me. I always try to drink organic, plain ginger tea when possible, although sometimes I splurge and have a cup of lemon-ginger tea instead.

Thyroid/Adrenal Support

  • Adrenal cortex: this supplement supports the adrenal glands and supplies the body with extra energy and mental clarity. I use Pure Encapsulations brand.
  • Coconut oil: this supports the thyroid, brain function and contains a lot of caprylic acid, which is great at fighting fungus in the system. I use Health Support brand.
  • Vitamin C: I have been off of fruit for a long, long time because my body just cannot process any form of sugar properly. I am still trying to sort out this problem, but in the meantime, it has been necessary to supplement with lots of vitamin C. The adrenals must have vitamin C in order to function properly and anyone with an adrenal deficiency will need to take lots of it in order to help those tiny organs do their jobs. I use the American Health brand with bioflavonoids. I have noticed I feel much better on this brand than others and this supplement comes in tablet, capsule and vegetarian formulas.
  • Selenium: many people with thyroid problems are deficient in selenium and, if you are taking in any iodine at all, you need to balance it out with selenium in order to keep your antibodies from going up. I have tried plain selenium in the past, but I find that Life Extension Super Selenium makes me feel better. You need to be sure you are getting 200 mcg daily.
  • Iodine: this is a highly controversial area when it comes to Hashimoto’s. Suffice it to say that there are people out there who will tell you not to take in any iodine at all if you have Hashi’s, not even in your food. I can tell you I tried this and I felt like total crap. My allergies became much worse and I just felt generally bad. If you know anything about iodine at all, then you know that it cleans your blood and that your thyroid gland has to have it to function properly, so I am at odds with anyone who says you shouldn’t have any at all. There are studies out there that show that iodine can be taken successfully by people with Hashi’s as long as adequate selenium is taken with it. I am currently taking 1/2 of a 12.5 mg tablet of Iodoral. I have found that, if I take more, depression sets in, and, if I take less, my allergies flare up badly. There are other brands of iodine out there, such as New Iodine and Lugol’s, which people use with great success. If you have never taken iodine before, be sure to do so with a doctor’s supervision and begin at very low doses and work your way up to what seems best for you.
  • B12: this powerful little vitamin is crucial for adrenal, muscle and brain health. Symptoms of a deficiency can include chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety,  and muscle aches and pains, to name only a few. I’m currently using sublinqual drops by Pure Encapsulations. The jury is still out on this as I have only just started using it, so I may be updating this choice in the future. For more info on B12, click here.

Muscle Health

  • Magnesium malate: in general, I find that I need pretty high doses of magnesium in order to keep my muscles from knotting up and going into spasm. I take two kinds: magnesium malate by Designs for Health and magnesium citrate/malate by Pure Encapsulations. Altogether, I am taking between 1200 and 1500 mg a day. I have found that magnesium malate works best for me, but this is a personal thing. I cannot eat any fruit at the moment, so I am not getting any malic acid from much of anywhere and your muscles need this to function properly. I have found, however, that if I take too much of the magnesium malate by Designs for Health, or if I take just plain malic acid, that I get a headache. So, I am constantly working with how I combine these two magnesium supplements. There are other forms of magnesium out there. It’s important to get one that the body can absorb easily. I started with magnesium citrate years ago in order to help with constipation. My functional medicine doctor put me on magnesium malate in order to help with my muscle problems. Since then, I have just been tweaking the doses as needed.
  • CoQ10: this supplement is widely known to help with muscle health. I use the Jarrow brand, 200 mg.
  • Epsom salts baths: every evening, I soak in a bath of epsom salts. I use this time to do some self massage on my neck, shoulders and arms, and anywhere else that might be giving me trouble. I find this really helps my muscle tissue stay more flexible and it also helps me sleep better.
  • Magnesium lotion: I have just started using this, but I can already tell it’s helping. I recently had a bout with my left hip flexor muscles and found that my usual supplements were not enough to ease the pain. I had tried magnesium oil in the past and didn’t really get much relief from it, but the lotion I’m currently using is definitely making a difference. I put it on at night before sleeping. It not only helps with muscle pain and knots, but it helps with sleep as well. If I’m having extra muscle issues, then I also use it during the day. I’m using Life Flo Health Products brand.

Histamine Intolerance/General Inflammation

  • Turmeric: this is a wonderful anti-inflammatory and has also been connected with brain health. I put in almost everything I eat, in addition to taking it as a supplement. I take the Organic India brand.
  • Antronex: this supplement is by Standard Process and I have found it to be very helpful with sinus conditions associated with histamine problems. It is made from bovine liver extract which helps to cleanse the blood. You can see a detailed description of this supplement here.
  • Quercetin: this is a wonderful anti-histamine antioxidant with many talents. It occurs naturally in several types of foods. I use the Jarrow brand. To find out more, you can go here.
  • Mangosteen: this is actually a tropical fruit, popular in Southeast Asian regions. It’s known for its anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory properties and is being studied for its anti-cancer properties. I use the Source Naturals brand

So that’s it for my list for now. I hoping this list will become shorter very soon. As I change things, I will update you.

May we all find healing,

Vanessa

Vanessa Gunter, D.M.A., M.A.

 

Addressing Hashimoto’s Symptoms – Where to Start?

Addressing Hashimoto’s Symptoms – Where to Start?

Depending on how long you’ve been dealing with Hashimoto’s disease, you may have only a few symptoms or everything that was on the list in my earlier post. Obviously, it’s easier to manage if you have only a few, but it’s really important that those first symptoms are managed properly, so that your condition doesn’t worsen.

In my case, as I mentioned before, symptoms were ignored for literally decades until, finally, a thyroid antibody test (which no one had ever thought to do prior to that time) returned a positive result. People are now starting to talk about the fact that by the time you are actually diagnosed with this condition, it may have been around for a very long time and you may already be in a pretty severe stage of the disease.

Thyroid Meds

When you’re diagnosed with this condition, you are diagnosed as being hypothyroid (underactive thyroid). Conventional doctors will inevitably prescribe medications such as Synthroid or its generic equivalent Levothyroxin. Unfortunately, this approach simply attempts to support the thyroid gland without addressing any component of the autoimmune problem. This is why we all get sicker over time. For more on this issue and some alternatives, click here.

Digestive Issues

Digestion is a huge issue with a lot of people who have Hashi’s. Many of us have never had good digestion for whatever reason and some of us have created a hostile digestive environment through bad eating habits. In either case, the end result is usually leaky gut. There is still skepticism about this condition among many conventional doctors, but I am definitely a believer. Given my own struggles with digestive issues my entire life, I now firmly believe that this was the shaky foundation that helped to set me on a path to Hashimoto’s. Simply put, leaky gut allows food particles that would normally stay in your digestive tract to escape into your blood stream. This not only causes problems with nutrient absorption, but it causes your body to become sensitive to a wide variety of foods, since it is no longer being protected by the usual barrier between your gut and your bloodstream. This results in becoming allergic to a long list of foods and not being able to absorb nutrients from food, so you literally become malnourished. At my lowest point, my hair was falling out, I had become very thin, and my muscles were basically just hanging off of my bones because I was on a horribly restricted diet and I was absorbing very few nutrients from my food. For a detailed discussion of leaky gut, you can go here.

As if this weren’t enough, many people also struggle with Candida, SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) and/or parasites. Any of these can cause brain fog and fatigue, along with digestive issues. You can find more info and resources on this topic here.

All this leads to the question: What can I eat?  I used to joke some years ago, when I was gradually eliminating first one food and then another and another and another, that by the time I was 60, I would be subsisting only on saltines and water. Well, that turned out not to be true, because I can’t even eat saltines!!  All joking aside, this is a serious issue, given the above-mentioned problems with malabsorption and malnutrition. For my take on this, go here.

Supplements become a primary concern for those of us struggling with this condition, usually because of malabsorption problems in the gut which can ultimately lead to malnutrition. However, you need to be very careful about the quality of the supplements you use and the extra ingredients that may be included. Sometimes these can worsen your condition, especially if you have multiple allergies and sensitivities. I have a post detailing the supplements and medications I use here. Please remember, these choices are very personal and I am listing mine simply to show you what has worked for me, not as medical advice.

Sleep…or the lack thereof

Most people with Hashimoto’s will deal with insomnia at some point. This can present in several ways. Sometimes people have difficulty falling asleep, sometimes it’s hard to stay asleep, and sometimes it can be both. Issues with falling asleep very often point to a badly regulated thyroid gland and issues with staying asleep can be related to adrenal, kidney, or liver issues. When you have both of these, then trying to get any decent sleep at all becomes a real challenge. Food sensitivities also play into this because if you’re eating foods that your body is having difficulty processing, then your body is probably going to wake you up in the middle of the night to let you know it is not happy. You can find an in-depth discussion of this problem here.

Chronic Pain (and Attempting to Exercise)

I didn’t know this until well after I was diagnosed, but chronic muscle and joint pain is also a common symptom of Hashimoto’s. For me, this presented as knots and spasms in my muscles which were incredibly painful, so much so that I have had to walk away from several jobs as a result. For now, my pain is pretty manageable, but I have found that removing stress is critical to keeping the pain at bay, along with taking copious amounts of magnesium and getting a prescription for low dose naltrexone (LDN). Read more about this here.

One of the most frustrating things for me about the muscle pain has been the inability to do much physical exercise. There are people out there who will advise certain things about Hashi’s and exercise, but the bottom line is, you can only do what you can do. So don’t push yourself to do exercises that are going to worsen your condition, regardless of what anyone says. I talk more about this here.

Brain Fog

Another common complaint among Hashi’s people is brain fog. If you’ve experienced this, you know. You can’t concentrate, you forget easily, you really feel like you can’t do anything but just sit in front of the TV, and, even then,  you can’t concentrate on what you’re watching. It’s a horrible feeling and it’s scary, especially with increases in diagnosed cases of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. There seems to be a very strong connection between brain health and thyroid function, as well as a healthy gut. You can learn more about this here and here.

Depression and Anxiety

And lastly, I have to mention the emotional toll this condition takes on everyone who has it, because it is a large one. Depression and anxiety are common not only because you are constantly battling the various facets of this disease, but also because they are a physical part of this condition. Hashimoto’s screws mightily with your hormones and your hormones have a fundamental part to play in endocrine health, which regulates your emotions. So, it’s important to remember that these are symptoms, not some personal failing because you “can’t handle” your condition.

As I mentioned before, I have walked away from numerous jobs due to my Hashi’s and when/if you have to do this, it can bring all sorts of questions to your mind: What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I work like a normal person? Will I ever have a normal life again? How will I live? and the biggie, especially if you’ve been doing work you identify heavily with: Who am I now? Am I this disease? 

On top of this, you will inevitably encounter people who won’t believe you are struggling as much as you are because “you look fine”. This can be infuriating and hurtful, but just expect it, because it will happen. I will be devoting considerable resources to a discussion surrounding the psychology of Hashi’s.

So, this gives us a start at identifying core features of Hashimoto’s and a few resources with which to begin the journey of educating ourselves about this condition. More soon.

Best,

Vanessa

Vanessa Gunter, D.M.A., M.A.