Thyroid Awareness. This month is so personal and precious to me. I am a thyroid cancer survivor and I have seen in my life first hand just how many people are affected by a thyroid disease. To be able to be in a position to shed some light on this topic is precious to me because I know so many are out there walking around feeling horrible and they have no idea their thyroid might be compromised.
I want this article to be full of hope for those battling a thyroid disease, so I am going to use this space today to give you tips on what to do if you are struggling.
The American Thyroid Association tells us that 12+% of the American population will have a thyroid condition at some point in their life. That 20 million Americans today are dealing with some form of thyroid disease. They say that 60% of those people are not even aware of their condition and that women are up to 8X more likely than men to develop thyroid problems. (As I always say- Not fair!) What’s tough is most thyroid issues are lifelong conditions and it’s something that must be forever managed.
But if you are struggling, there is hope. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I had made a decision to forego conventional treatment (i.e. surgery and radiation) and beat this cancer using a holistic, alternative treatment approach based on using the mind, spirit, and body to heal.
Along the way I have made significant changes in my life, learned a great deal, and began focusing on ways I can help others.
I believe these holistic tips will help you if you suffer from Thyroid Disease.
What to do if you’re struggling with a thyroid condition
1. Consistently get your thyroid hormones checked
It’s hard to believe that this tiny, tiny gland is capable of so much. It takes care of so many important functions in our bodies. It regulates your body’s metabolism as well as growth and development. There are multiple markers you are going to want to look at. I’ll go through them as we talk about their function, T-everything is something you need to be testing for!
The thyroid makes three different types of hormones: thyroxine, or T4, and triiodothyronine, or T3, and calcitonin. T3 and T4 are responsible for metabolic rate. Calcitonin is involved in calcium and bone metabolism.
There is also Reverse T3, which naturopath Nikki Cleuth says “Reverse T3 is a natural by-product of thyroid hormone production and an important regulatory mechanism in the body. That said, in some situations, reverse T3 production can increase relative to T3 levels, and this can cause problems. It has been theorized that reverse T3 and T3 are natural antagonists of each other, meaning they compete at a cellular level for receptor sites on cells.”
The thyroid itself doesn’t simply release T3 and T4 to regulate metabolism. Instead, it relies on the pituitary gland to send a signal. When T3 or T4 levels are low, the pituitary will release Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, or TSH, which will then trigger the thyroid to release more hormones. In many cases, TSH levels are used as a benchmark for overall thyroid health.
If you are not feeling well- you should be getting these checked every 3 months after making life adjustments (such as dietary changes, medication changes, etc) and once you feel great and are maintaining, switch it up to once every 6 months. Of course, always discuss with your medical provider what is the best approach for your specific situation.
2. Eat foods that are high in iodine
People who have low iodine in their bodies are more susceptible to thyroid issues. People who don’t get enough iodine in their diet run the risk of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. This is very important to note!
Unfortunately, many iodine foods are of animal variety. This is tough if you are plant-based like me. I definitely recommend taking an iodine supplement.
Plants that are high in iodine are kale, green beans, whole grains, watercress and potatoes… but make sure you keep the skin on and get them organic! I don’t know why so many people peel the skin- often that’s the best part!
Unless you are undergoing radioactive iodine OR you have a goiter… iodine is your best friend.
3. Lean on plants for healing
I am not one to bash animal products. I believe they have a place. However, with total body healing and especially for anyone with thyroid cancer, I believe a rich plant-based diet will help you out.
The problem with processed meat is that manufacturers add nitrates and nitrites, a food additive used to stop the growth of bacteria and added to enhance the flavor and color of foods. These are usually added to beef, poultry, fish, deli meat, ham, bacon, sausages, hot dogs, etc. These compounds also give processed meats their pink color. Both nitrates and nitrites can form nitrosamines in the body, which can increase your risk of developing cancer.
Fruits and Vegetables have essential nutrients that you cannot get from other foods. The vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants in plants help keep your cells healthy and your body in balance so that your immune system can function at its best. We know that with thyroid conditions- keeping the immune system STRONG is a MUST.
There is much research that suggests that following a plant-based diet can boost your immunity, lower inflammation, help you fight free radicals, and reduce cancer risk.
If your thyroid is inflamed- eat anti-inflammatory foods like fruits and veggies. Try it for just a few weeks and you will notice a difference!
4. Consider purchasing infrared sauna sessions from a local spa
Sweating = excreting toxins. I do this 3-4X a week.
In my healing journey, I have heard many doctors, healers, say you must detox if you have a thyroid disease and one of the most effective ways to accomplish this is at a cellular level is through “Infrared Sauna” therapy.
Sauna sessions are not just great for excreting toxins, they also help you get you into parasympathetic mode, which is healing for the body. It is horrible for the thyroid to live in a body that is constantly in fight or flight- giving yourself time to relax is one of the best things you can do!
When you undergo Infrared Sauna Therapy, the sauna’s heat penetrates deep into your body. As your temperature goes up, your body releases that heat through sweat. Sweating, of course, is one of the ways that you rid your body of toxins. By creating very high body temperatures for relatively short periods of time, Infrared Sauna Therapy therefore accelerates this toxin release. And when you have cancer, you need to release toxins in order to heal.
5. Start consuming powerful thyroid healing herbs
High praise over here for herbs for medicine! Or, medicinal herbs if you will. As many who heal with herbs believe, it is all about treating the root cause, and when it comes to thyroid diseases… There are always root causes lurking that need to be addressed.
One of the easiest things you can do is incorporate healing teas into your routine. Picture this, you wake up, you steep some tea. You do this every day and you benefit! Here are three of my favorites (for a bigger list, check here):
Chamomile tea- has been linked as being able to help decrease benign and malignant thyroid disease. There was one study I found incredibly interesting. It was published in 2015 and it stated that intaking 2-6 cups of chamomile (and similar teas like sage) per week was associated with a reduction in risk for thyroid disease. (Source)
Ginger- oh what powerhouse ginger is! It is such a warming spice. And while ginger is a popular flavor- actually drinking or eating it with intention and regularly is what is going to help support your thyroid gland! It does this because the active within ginger has anti-inflammatory properties to it. These can help keep thyroid hormones in check and really helps protect those who also have Hashimotos. (Source)
Bladderwrack- Technically Bladderwrack is a brown seaweed but many herbalists recognize it and will include it into their herbal tinctures. Bladderwrack is usually best for goiters and hypothyroid. Yes, even WebMD says it! It’s also a great source of iodine, which is NEEDED for massive thyroid support! It has been shown to especially help with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's.
6. Get proper rest and lower stress
You NEED sleep. Nothing is as healing as sleeping. Sleep is when your body regenerates. It is when your brain can rest. It is when your body can repair. It is the most healing part of your day and to ignore it or not give it much emphasis would be a shame.
If you are sleep deprived, your body will start to go haywire. Trust me, your thyroid is not going to like it! Your immune system will start to go down, and your mood will suffer. Sleep should be so enjoyable anyway! I love when people tell me I should get more sleep. 😉
Sleep is important for detoxing and regenerating new cells as well! With a thyroid condition, you need to think about your body on a cellular level. (Source) When I say get your sleep, It is not necessarily how long you sleep for ( I prefer 8 hours) but how well you sleep. The quality of your sleep.
-Make sure you are in a room with little to no artificial light.
-Make sure you don’t consume caffeine too late.
-Journal your thoughts before bed so you don’t lay in bed with an anxious mind
-Pray before bed
-Make sure your bed and pillow are supportive
-Sleep in a cool room
7. Keep your walk with Jesus strong and do not be fearful!
Thyroid disease can be a terribly scary thing. Healing can seem like the biggest hurdle.
But we can do all things with Jesus on our side. I want you to remember this. With God the impossible is POSSIBLE!
I used to believe I didn’t deserve the compassion of God because I thought I had to earn it. I knew I had failed Him many times but it wasn’t until I became a Christian that I learned His heart for you and me. Finally, I understood! Although we don’t deserve it, we don’t need to earn it because it is a beautiful GIFT and with it comes forgiveness, salvation, and healing. When Jesus died for you and me he paid the price for our salvation and “HEALING” for us to access it.
Genuinely SEEK OUT this healing. Of course, He wants you healed, but things happen on HIS time and a strong foundation of faith on our part is needed.
Prayer also is a form of meditation, which helps keep us in a parasympathetic state. So even if you feel you don’t have strong faith, it is ok because God is not depending on our faith to intercede for us in our lives. Although He is pleased to see us act in faith, it is not up to us for Him to act in goodness as it is His nature to prosper us and give us love, peace, and healing. Walking in faith will change your life and certainly your mindset, even your body as you give it healing time!
All of these things together can help you if you suffer from a thyroid condition. Please use my blog as a resource for healing and motivation and know that I am always here for you. Sending you much love and healing prayers always!