A couple of months ago I had coffee with a friend and our usual light, happy conversations were accompanied by a dark cloud that seemed to linger over her head. “What is wrong, ” I asked her. She seemed very tired, exhausted and stressed. I know that she always put a lot of pressure on herself to accomplish a lot, very fast and very well.
She told me that initially, she started to feel weird because pressuring herself and rushing around simply stopped working so well; she simply could not fulfill requests quickly and sufficiently enough anymore. She felt sluggish, tired and to some extend strangely separated from her mind. I told her that I felt like this a couple of months ago, too. I had so much stress and things I worried about that it became difficult to organize my thoughts. The mind is so powerful.
She started seeing doctors and added a growing list of symptoms to her chart every time she saw him. Anxiety, infections, insomnia, food allergies, food intolerance, eczema and weird acne, weight gain followed by weight loss and crazy mood swings. The worst for her was low energy since she could not perform at her job anymore. The initial idea was to take medical leave to focus on herself to rest and heal. However, more symptoms seemed to accumulate while others could even be traced way back to her childhood such as lack of self-confidence, self-love and this feeling that she could never really live herself or be free. She however always tried to convince herself that those symptoms were just byproducts of regular life and that stress at work does that to a person so one has to deal with it. [One of my professors/doctors at school told me that autoimmune diseases are somewhat directly or indirectly connected to a lack of self-love and self-confidence]
My friend has seen several doctors over a couple of months but after seeing a naturopathic doctor she was finally diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I learned in my course at school that autoimmune diseases are conditions wherein the body attacks its own healthy cells. In the case of Hashimoto’s, the body built up antibodies against the thyroid gland. The what? The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck that secretes hormones, regulates a person’s reaction to stress, growth, cognizance of satiety and hunger, muscle control, sleep quality and so much more. Hormones are so interesting! When something is wrong with the thyroid it disrupts many bodily functions and can cause a plethora of other disconnecting symptoms, since everything is always connected.
She told me that after seeing a naturopathic doctor and felt so much better. “The conventional doctors I have seen previously just did not care about where this disease (“dis-ease”) came from initially but rather prescribed medication pretty quickly”, she said. My friend is on medication (that she hopes she may be able to stop taking at some point again) but she also changed her lifestyle, meditates, cut out anti-inflammatory foods like gluten and dairy while adding others such as seafood, kelp, dulse or fish oil. Add the herbs curcumin mixed with black pepper to your diet. More plant-based fats. Rainbow-colored vegetables. Anything that improves digestion will reduce inflammation in the body. Probiotics, for example, or enzymes (“Wobenzym”). She added that working with a therapist on building her self-confidence and yoga is so helpful and important to her, too. Additionally, she avoids purchasing all synthetic “beauty products” that she was using for so many years after she read an article that those ingredients may cause Hashimoto’s as well. Switching to natural products is not that bad. Check out my blog under the category “beauty & food for inspiration.
I do not know my path on my holistic nutritionist journey and what to do with all this new knowledge I accumulated since January when I signed up to study at The Institute of Holistic Nutrition. It is definitely a great alternative to conventional medicine (I do not label conventional medicine as bad, however. It is good and necessary in many ways!) and was so helpful for me and my son already. It is just good to know that there are alternatives out there. They may be more expensive but it is wise to seek out for doctors who listen, understand and even order several comprehensive tests and blood work that needs to be done and maybe reveal significant deficiencies in for example minerals and vitamins (lack of iodine would be one if you are interested!) that are a direct cause for Hashimoto’s.
Initially, my friend’s doctor handed her a prescription for antidepressants with unlimited refill and sent her home. This reminded me of my own story when I had this insane pain in my right upper quadrant (liver/gallbladder area) and I actually had three gallstones but the doctor sent me home with over-the-counter heartburn medication. In my case, I had this feeling that my doctor doubted the validity of my symptoms while arching a suspicious brow thinking I may want to skip class at university. It is important to do research without getting lost in the world wide web and believing everything Dr. Google says. However, in my opinion, it is worthwhile to additionally continue a somewhat independent research and seek alternatives even though there are really good doctors out there who will advocate for patients who advocate for themselves. After all, health is the most important assets we have.