My Adrenals are Sick

Not sure how I'm still standing, since no cortisol can mean death, but thank God for the body's reserve system of adrenaline AKA Epinephrine. Our hormones are extremely sensitive and a slight imbalance can wreck havoc on every organ and system. The body may try to overcompensate by using the 'fight or flight' hormone. Cortisol is mandatory for survival. If you have thyroid disease, please check your adrenal hormones and neurotransmitters too. The thyroid and adrenals work together. Low DHEA is also a sign of adrenal problems. Mine has been low for years. Someone my age should have thriving DHEA. If you have low DHEA, that is a red flag that your adrenals are struggling and may need additional support, such as supplements and lifestyle or diet modifications. 
The worst of my own problems began after having a tremendously stressful career for over 10 years. I've always been a health nut, but I still wasn't exactly treating my adrenals with kindness. I've been trying to 'heal' my adrenals now for a few years, but these latest results hint to more of a permanent cause, such as destruction of the glands. I'm going to the Cleveland Clinic on Feb. 14 to see an Endocrinologist, who specializes in Addison's and other adrenal disorders. 

Sometimes I blame myself for the demise of my own health. I don't know if I caused it. It is true that I have multiple autoimmune diseases and scientists aren't exactly sure what triggers the expression of these genes, but stress is a common one that's thrown around, as are environmental and other risk factors. 
If only I had stopped and smelled the roses more, would I still be so sick? Instead, I was more concerned with 'climbing the corporate ladder.' 

Take some time today to love your adrenals.

January is Thyroid Disease Awareness Month

January marks another annual Thyroid Awareness Month. 
I'm going to be posting short bits of information periodically this month about thyroid disease. If you're just researching thyroid disease because you suspect that you or a loved one may have it, I can't recommend the Stop the Thyroid Maddness website enough. It's a place to get quality and in-depth information about the disease, treatment options, how to find a good thyroid doctor, read about patient experience, and so much more information. that you doctor will likely not share with you. 
And now for today's short post-

*Hashimoto's is likely the cause of YOUR hypothyroid.*

Studies show that 90% of people with hypothyroidism are producing antibodies against their thyroids. When these antibodies are present, the diagnosis is Hashimoto's. Hashimoto's is the autoimmune disease that causes the thyroid to become permanently hypo. The disease takes years to fully develop and 'kill' the thyroid. Many undiagnosed patients die of heart disease as a result. 
Hashimoto's causes swings of hyper and hypo thyroid. These swings may be interpreted by doctors and loved ones as 'bipolar' and many patients receive this unfortunately incorrect diagnosis. Stop the Thyroid Madness reported: 
"Several patients have reported being diagnosed with bipolar, only to later discover it was actually the swings between hyper- and hypo- from the attack that was causing their mood swings. Or as on Australian gal called it, the “Yeeha” of her swing." (Stop the Thyroid Madness )
If you suspect a thyroid problem or have some of the symptoms, and your doctor said your thyroid is 'normal', I highly recommend reading through the STTM website and thoroughly educating yourself to prepare for your doctors appointment because we've seen and heard it all too much- the law of large numbers says that you're likely to receive incorrect medical advice regarding thyroid disease from a doctor. Education is an important tool in this disease because it can be the difference in getting properly tested and properly treated. 

Dr. Chris Kresser points out, "You can think of the thyroid as the central gear in a sophisticated engine. If that gear breaks, the entire engine goes down with it."
Almost all doctors know that hypothyroidism is actually the cause of an autoimmune disease, however most patient are unaware and are not educated about their condition. The reason doctors don’t tell their patients that they have an autoimmune disease is because it doesn’t affect their 'treatment' pla, however autoimmune diseases are often complex and require lifestyle and dietary changes forever to maximize health benefits or to just 'feel normal.' A simple 'pill a day' does not merely solve the long list of problems for a thyroid patient. If you're currently being treated for hypothyroid and still have uncontrolled symptoms, please visit the Stop the Thyroid Madness website. 
If you've been diagnosed as having a 'hypothyroid', you most likely have Hashimoto's. 
Dr. Kessler said this important statement, "Hashimoto’s often manifests as a “polyendocrine autoimmune pattern”. This means that in addition to having antibodies to thyroid tissue, it’s not uncommon for Hashimoto’s patients to have antibodies to other tissues or enzymes as well. The most common are transglutaminase (Celiac disease), the cerebellum (neurological disorders), intrinsic factor (pernicious anemia), glutamic acid decarboxylase (anxiety/panic attacks and late onset type 1 diabetes)." 

The next time you go to the doctor for a check up, ask for the full thyroid panel, not just the TSH test because the TSH test is actually a pituitary hormone and it can take many years for the TSH to be out of the standard lab range. 
Ask for the following thyroid blood tests-
Anti-TPO (antithyroid peroxidase) antibodies
In addition, iron levels, vitamin D, B12, cortisol, and other levels may be compromised in thyroid patients. 

See a complete list of recommended labwork and helpful information at Stop the Thyroid Madness here- Labwork

Follow Dr. Chris Kessler's articles and blog posts on managing thyroid disease and other health conditions-

Special thanks to the people at Thyroid Change for the photo banner. Please visit their website to learn more about their mission and goals to bring together doctors, patients, and healthcare experts. 

23 And Me Test- A Tool for Thyroid Patients

I'm a member of several thyroid groups on Facebook and I've learned a great deal from those, who are further along in the healing process. At the beginning of the year, I learned about a revolutionary tool that many thyroid and other chronically ill patients were using to assess their health risks, and some of them also used it to virtually rule out questionable diseases. So, did you know that a simple and inexpensive DNA test can provide you with a list of literally thousands of genes and genetic mutations that you carry? If someone told you that they could create a wellness plan for you, using your genes, would your be interested? Are you interested in learning if you carry the BRCA genetic mutations, a common cause of breast cancer? Does your family have a history autoimmune diseases or Alzheimer's disease? Are you trying to plan a family and worry about passing inherited conditions or genes to your future children? Do you want to know what other diseases you're at risk for developing in your life time? Do you know what your ancestry make-up is? If any of these questions arouse your interest, 23 And Me may be a test that can give you a multitude of returns on your investment.

23 And Me is a $99 DNA test that will analyze your genetics and provide you with comprehensive health risk profile and ancestry information. The company has been around since 2007 and was co-founded by Anne Wojcicki, who is the wife of Sergey Brin, the Co-Founder of Google. This fashion-forward test looks for some 960,000 SNP's, which stand for Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism. SNP's are essentially copying errors from the creation of cells. 23 And Me compares SNP's to that of typos. 23 And Me notes, "These typos lead to variations in the DNA sequence at particular locations, called single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs (pronounced "snips")." So, for the purpose of this post, just know that SNP's are a result of the DNA that you inherit from your parents. Since no two people are alike, SNP's vary from person to person. This subject can be overwhelming at first and extremely confusing to learn about at first, so I'm going to keep my relation of information to a level that's basic enough to get my point across to you. I believe that this test is the wave of the future in the medical world and can be paramount in how people go about their health and wellness goals. CBS News actually just aired a piece on 23 And Me. Check it out HERE.

So, why should thyroid patients get the test? For starters, autoimmune patients are more susceptible to developing other autoimmune diseases. We are also more likely to carry a genetic mutation called MTHFR, which is linked to everything from miscarriages to Alzheimer's. Thyroid disease is notorious for contributing and even being a definitive cause of heart disease. I believe that my great grandma's death was ultimately caused by mistreated thyroid disease. She died of a massive heart attack in her mid 50's. She developed heart disease and had a thyroid condition. If you look at the cause of deaths among your family members, pay attention to patterns, such as heart disease and cancers, and be aware of any autoimmune diseases that run in your family. If you have Hashimoto's, an autoimmune disease, and your sister, cousin, aunt, etc. has Rheumatoid Athritis, know that those two diseases, as well as other autoimmune conditions can actually be linked together by a single gene.

Here is one screenshot showing some diseases that I am personally at an 'elevated risk' for developing, meaning they are my highest risk conditions:

As you can see, the 'Your Risk' category lists percentages, and compare them to the 'Avg. Risk.' Each of these diseases have detailed descriptions and explanations, which the user can read upon clicking on the diseases. This DNA test provided me with results for some 400 diseases, and provided me with detailed data, proof, and descriptions on each one. The program also provides a 'raw data' section, which is essentially a very large list of SNP's and allows a more seasoned user to utilize for research purposes.

I mentioned that my great grandma died of heart disease in her 50's. In fact, she died of none other than coronary heart disease. Many of my relatives on her side of my family have had heart surgery and attacks all before the age of 60. In addition, my grandpa on my dad's side died of lung cancer in his 50's, as did several of his family members. Of course, lifestyle plays a huge role in many diseases. Even though lung cancer is a common cause if death, genetics still play a roll in the likelihood that you'll fall victim to it. My grandpa developed mesothelioma, due to his work environment, but he probably carried a gene that made him more susceptible and sensitive to lung cancer. Aaron's grandpa smoked from a very young age and smoked 'cowboy killers' until he died virtually of old age. 
23 And Me did not ask me for information about my family history in order to process my results. When I first saw the results, I was admittedly somewhat humbled and shocked at the results, but I was blown away by the fact that my top two disease risks were the very cause of deaths for much of my family members.
See the autoimmune diseases listed? One major take-away from this test was that I carry the quite rare genes for celiac disease, which my doctor used to confirm my diagnosis. It's common for celiacs to test negative on the antibodies test and even the biopsy because the damage is not always deep enough to reveal the disease during lab testing. It is common knowledge in the integrative and alternative medical worlds that celiac and gluten sensitivity are linked to Hashimoto's and other autoimmune diseases. My elevated risks were largely autoimmune related, which is not a surprise, considering my current state.
Two results were locked upon logging in to the program; Alzheimer's and the BRCA gene. Most of us now know that the BRCA gene is a major cause of breast cancer. You may have heard about Angelina Jolie's recent decision to undergo a double mastectomy because she tested positive for the BRCA gene, which ultimately killed both her mother and aunt. After I agreed to open the more sensitive material, I was relieved to learn that I tested negative for both the Alzheimer's gene and BRCA. This doesn't mean that I will  never get breast cancer because there are multiple types, but the absence of the gene greatly reduces my chance of developing it during my lifetime. I did test positive for multiple MTHFR mutations, which I wholeheartedly believe is what contributed to many of the pregnancy complication and health problems on my mom's side, which is where I inherited these mutations.

So, what were some ot my other takeaways from the 23 And Me testing? Aside from knowing where I stand with additional autoimmune diseases that I'm more likely to get due to my current health state, I'm very aware of what my risks are for common causes of death, and I'm taking supplements that will hopefully mitigate my chances of developing the conditions and diseases that I'm at risk of developing, and I have a huge piece of mind that I do not carry many inherited genes, which I could pass along to my offspring. In the future, Aaron's going to complete the test, so we will know detailed information about how our genes can effect our future children, should we have any.

In regards to the inherited conditions, I learned that the only one that I carry is a Hemochromatosis gene, which I'm not likely to develop, but I could pass it along to my future child. Here is a short list of some serious inherited conditions that 23 And me tests for:
Sickle Cell Anemia
Cystic Fibrosis
Tay Sachs Disease
Factor XI Deficiency
TTR-Related Cardiac AmyloidosisGaucher Disease
Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy
Familial Dysautonomia
Zellweger Syndrome Spectrum
Canavan Disease
Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease
Glycogen Storage Disease Type 1a & Type 1b

23 And Me will also provide you with a list of your genetic traits, from estimating your eye color to the type of earwax (there are two types) that you have, if you're likely to be tolerant to lactose (which I am), etc. A few things that I learned and found interesting from this section included that I am sensitive to caffeine, I likely have red hair (humours because I was a red head until my early 20's, when my hair turned dirty blonde), I have typical odds of going in to early menopause, I carry a gene that was found in individuals with higher reading scores {so, you can call me a genius now...kidding}, I'm not likely to thrive on a Mediterranean style diet versus a typical diet, I don't carry the alcohol flush reaction gene (meaning I'm not sensitive to alcohol, which is known to cause flushing of the skin), and I carry a gene that was discovered in many world-class athletes and Olympians.

The test also looked for genetic variances that are associated with various drug reactions. This is a powerful tool and one reason why I gave Aaron my login and password to access to the results. If I were ever to be hospitalized, the list of drugs that I'm sensitive too or may not have success with may be beneficial for doctors. Warfarin is a common blood thinner that is prescribed to about 2 million people per year, and I carry a gene variance that makes me likely to have a typical response to the drug, however, some people carry a gene that 23 And Me notes may have, "Substantially increased warfarin sensitivity." And it "May require greatly decreased warfarin dose." I do have lower odds of having a positive outcome to the use of Metformin, which is a drug commonly given to diabetics.

The ancestry side of 23 And Me is also included in the test, and is really just an added bonus. I've read some amazing stories of adoptees, who found their blood relatives using the tool and other similar stories.
There's so many benefits to the 23 And Me test. For me, it's largely a tool that I'm using as part of an overall wellness plan. Think of your exercise and diet plan.  What if you're concentrating more on avoiding a heart attack because it's the number one killer in America, but you're at high risk for developing pancreatic cancer like me? I am now taking pancreatic enzymes and ensure that my diet consists of foods, such as garlic, spinach, and sweet potatoes, which are all good for the pancreas. Since pancreatic cancer usually doesn't cause noticeable symptoms until it's in the progressive stages, it's a very good idea for me to get periodic screening for this cancer during my lifetime.

With the mapping of the Human Genome Project , we now have the power to obtain information about our own genetics and take action to improve our overall chances of longevity, and gain understanding of what we may pass on to our future generations. Of course, we will never be able to predict or control everything, but we already strive to better ourselves everyday in many areas of our lives, why not use breakthroughs in science to take measures to change what we can, manage what we can't change, and reestablish goals for our overall health?

I'm interested to know your opinion about genetic testing. Is this something that your interested in having done?

For more information about 23 And Me and to learn more about how it works- About 23 And Me

A few personal success stories-
23 And Me Helps Man find Family
23 And Me And Planning for a Healthy Future Together
Empowering Your Health with 23 And Me

Symptoms and Related Conditions Common in Thyroid Disease - It's Not Only About Weight Gain and Depression!

Thanks to Oprah (who I'm  usually a HUGE fan of, but she didn't help the stigma) and people like Dr. Oz, society contributes thyroid disease largely to weight gain and depression, which is actually just one out of the dozens (probably about a hundred) of symptoms that one can experience, and it manifests itself differently in the individual.  In fact, my own mom questioned me when I told her that I suspected that I had thyroid disease. "But people normally gain weight with it," she said.  I didn't blame her for asking that question because that's probably what she had heard about the disease, even dealing it with it herself, weight-gain was the only symptom that stood out to her, because she actually gained over 80 pounds with Grave's disease. Weight gain is also possible with Grave's. Don't ever assume that your symptoms are the same as someone else's. One of my thyroid friends has completely different symptoms than her sister. There's so much more to this disease than weight gain, but I'll briefly discuss some of my own struggles with my weight and metabolism.

I am not usually very open about my own weight struggles because frankly, I'm not overweight and don't want to sound like another one of those girls who ask, "Do I look fat in these jeans?!?" I've always been petite. My mom's side of the family was blessed with curves and breasts, and my dad's side was blessed with fast metabolisms and long, lean, frames. I was much curvier in my early teenage years. In fact, I hit puberty before what seemed like anyone else did in my entire fourth grade class (yes, FOURTH grade). In middle school, my bra size was a 34 C. I was so self conscious about it that I begged my mom to buy me 'minimizer' bras. And, I never left the house without one on for several years. At around the age of 14, I lost all of what I call 'puberty fat' and evened out in my weight. I've stayed about the same physical size for the most part, give or take about 10-15 pounds that I had for a few years during my mid-twenties, which was likely due to undiagnosed Hashimoto's.
 I assure you that I do battle my own weight demons and deal with unsightly cellulite, which I did not have until my late 20's. The puffiness and bloating are daunting at times, especially when they're inconsistent.  I feel like I need to have two different sizes of clothes in my closet. Unlike so many other women, I have not gained a significant amount of weight, though my metabolism has made it's mark on my body, both internally and externally. Aaron thinks I'm crazy and I am not about to prove him wrong by revealing my troublesome spots to him in the brightest of sunlight (yes, I am self conscious about it!), so take my word when I tell you that I have the creepy bumpy, dents just sitting on places that I KNOW should never have cellulite, especially for someone who eats a perfect diet and exercises to her physical limit.  I've lost a lot of muscle in the last few years, and my body has morphed in to something that I'm not accustomed to seeing on my body. There's a difference between weight gain and fat cell accumulation. Some people are more genetically predisposed to gaining fat, which causes an increase in clothing size, and some of us have more fat accumulation in the form of cellulite. I'm currently the latter. I no longer make appearances in swimsuits! My body no longer depicts a healthy and lean look or feel. I may fluctuate about 5-10 pounds on a given day. It all begins when I eat (of course). Sometimes I feel like this disease makes me retain the Pacific ocean. Water retention is common in thyroid disease and it contributes to inconsistent numbers on the scale.  It's upsetting. I blame most of it on poor absorption and leaky gut, which I've been trying to heal for over a year now.
I guess you could call me a health nut and I strive to stay in shape. I majored in dietetics in college, though decided it was not the best route for me, mainly because of the restricted ability that I'd have in practicing Eastern and alternative theories. So, I switched to business, but my heart was always in the world of health and nutrition. Ironic, that I got sick, huh? It just goes to show how much our genetics play a roll in our lives.
I do not accept the typical aging excuse that doctors are so quick to give women, who complain about the sudden and unexpected body changes, especially when they exercise more than they did in their younger years. Lots of women (who either don't have thyroid disease or it is properly managed) work hard to stay fit well over the age of 30, and they are quite successful at it.  But, just because you haven't gained 20+ pounds doesn't mean that you don't have a thyroid problem.
So, we undoubtedly know that weight gain is a symptom of thyroid disease. Let's look at some other hallmark and even surprising symptoms of thyroid disease. Keep in mind that everyone will have their own signature symptoms, meaning that you may have a select few of the symptoms daily, and never experience any others, or you may have every last one, but the thing with autoimmune diseases is that there's always a roller coaster involved. Try 'journaling' your symptoms and pay attention to any patterns, such as time of the month, if they're waxing and waning (as this disease is know to do), or if they coincide with certain foods that you're eating.
Remember, Hashimoto's can cause periods of both hypo and hyper-thyroid episodes. Some symptoms sound contradictory, but you can experience symptoms from both sides of the spectrum, depending on whether or not you're hyper or hypo at the time.

Some Commonly Reported Symptoms of Thyroid Disease (Hashimoto's and Grave's- though there are many more symptoms!) 
Unusual and consistent fatigue (despite adequate sleep), sleepiness, falling asleep easily
Feeling unusually cold or hot, cold or clammy skin
Night Sweats
Swelling & puffiness- face, around the eyes, legs, etc.
Hair Loss and/or it's dry, coarse, or brittle,
Increased speed of hair and nail growth
Brain Fog, forgetfulness, memory loss, poor concentration, slowed thinking
Moodiness, emotional disturbances, crying easily, aggressiveness, irritability
Constipation and/or periods of diarrhea
Hoarseness, throat feels full, choking sensation
Plantar Fasciitis and painful feet
Dry, scaly, flaky, itchy skin, acne, and other skin conditions
Brittle, thin nails, ridges
Low blood pressure and high blood pressure
Rapid pulse or slowed pulse
Exercise Intolerance
Low libido
Poor vision, blurred vision, double vision, dry eyes
Hairloss of the eyebrows- particularly of the outer parts of the brows
Muscle cramps or joint pain
Sudden weight gain or weight loss
Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, mania, and other mental health changes
Painful, inconsistent, heavy periods,
Dizziness or vertigo
Shortness of breath
Heart palpitations, Angina
Presence of goiter (NOT always present, as in my case)
Sensitivity to sounds
Sinus infections and/or an overall pressure in the sinuses
Food allergies, bloating, sensitivity to foods, alcohol intolerance

Some Conditions that Are Common with Thyroid Disease:
Diabetes (Type I and II) and Metabolic Syndrome
High cholesterol (low cholesterol can occur too)
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (my mom actually had this)
Anemia (Iron deficiency)
Hemochromatosis (Excessive Iron)
Addison's Disease
Cushing's Disease
Adrenal Fatigue
Fibromyalgia (some experts believe this condition is directly related to thyroid disease)
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)
Celiac Disease
Gluten Intolerance
Other Autoimmune diseases are commonly found in thyroid patients, including Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc.
Gallbladder disease
Post Partum Depression
Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP)

In regards to the last condition, MVP, I was recently diagnosed with this heart condition. I will be discussing more about MVP in a future post.
Since thyroid disease is typically caused by a malfunctioning immune system, it often leaves patients more susceptible to contracting colds, viruses, and parasites. This was only the case for me when I worked in an office environment. I've rarely had colds in my lifetime, knock on wood. If you have Hashimoto's or Grave's disease, please don't take your doctor's advice if they tell you that you can safely receive a flu vaccination. A lot of thyroid experts recommend that patients do their own research on the controversy surrounding whether or not autoimmune patients should get vaccines, especially if they don't fall in to the 'high-risk' category. I personally decline flu shots.


“Regaining health is more difficult an objective then becoming ill. Becoming ill is a random act of ignorance and regaining health is an intentional effort in frustration.” 
― Richard Diaz

A Second Diagnosis

Remember me?
Yes, I became one of those people, who all but abandoned their blog for a few months. Can I ever be forgiven? Please, let me explain.
First, let me start off by saying that I mean no disrespect by not replying to any of your comments. The blog template that I'm currently using has had a bug in it, and I'm unable to reply to comments. So, I'm in the process of redesigning the blog, as well as the format . It's sort of a longer process because I'm still having 'good days' and 'bad days.' Plus, we've recently made a big leap and have moved away from Ohio, but I'll save that post for another day.
After my last post, things got a bit more complicated for me.  The longer I took the Nature-Throid, the more intense my hypo symptoms got, but I also began experiencing hyper symptoms, such as unnecessary sweating, anxiety, heart palps (and I never had heart issues before), irritability, jittery, etc. Still, I was feeling immense fatigue, hair loss, bloating, puffiness, and many other hypo symptoms all simultaneously with the hyper symptoms. I knew something was egging the aggressive hyper symptoms. Once again, the educated girl in me prevailed over the sick girl. I had a hunch, and I followed it. Thank-God I still have my brain, despite the fog. I contacted my doctor and told him that I thought that I was possibly dealing with the Graves antibodies too. I know what you're thinking- you can have both Hashimoto's and Graves disease? Unfortunately, the answer is yes, though it's uncommon. And the results in my case, were positive. I tested positive for the TSI (Thyroid-Stimulating Immunoglobulin) antibodies. So, I have antibodies attacking my thyroid in two ways. This posed a new challenge for us, and frankly, a newer identity to my overall condition. The roller coaster of symptoms that I was experiencing was indeed one crazy ride, but I was relieved to hear that there was a clinical explanation for my roller coaster ride.  
One night, Aaron and I were listening to blog talk radio (a great source of information and supportive, thyroid experts and doctors- ), and we decided to call in to the show and ask for insight to why my antibodies had increased so drastically upon taking natural dessicated thyroid medications. One of the doctors agreed that there was probably a malfunction with my immune system (no surprise), which was causing my body to also attack the thyroid medication because it couldn't tell the difference between the replacement hormones and my own. This scenario was another uncommon one, and although rare, they suggested that I try a synthetic replacement. The next day, I contacted Dr. Maxwell and he agreed with the other doctor's theory, so I started taking a newer synthetic, which is a Levothyroxine (T4-ONLY) called Tirosint This pill is hypoallergenic and does not contain any fillers or binders. It's also the only thyroid medication that comes in a gelcap that's easier to absorb than the other forms. Genius! You would think that someone would have thought of making gel caps before, since most of us with thyroid disease have digestive woes. In addition to the Tirosint, he added Cytomel, which is a synthetic T3 hormone replacement. 
After a few weeks on the new medications, I noticed that my fatigue had drastically subsided and my brain fog had lifted, but I was still dealing with a lot of hyper symptoms, including heart palps, a rapid pulse, angina (chest pain), particularly severe bloating, and confusion. Symptoms involving the heart are among the scariest I've personally experienced because the first thing that comes to my mind is heart attack. In fact, one night when I was experiencing heart palps and chest pain, my left arm started getting numb and tingly, and I felt a pressure in my jaw. I was also dealing with dizziness upon standing, and my pulse was drastically increasing upon standing. This is known as Orthostatic Hypotension. There are several causes of it, but adrenal fatigue and insufficiency is a common cause of it. Dr. Lam, a leading expert on the adrenals, discuses the link between adrenal fatigue and the heart HERE. After several hours of dealing with these scary symptoms, Aaron and I decided to go to the hospital and get it checked out. Although we had multiple bad experiences with the emergency room, we thought that this time would be different because I clearly had an issue with my heart. So we thought. The time that we spent there was another waste of precious life space. Not only did they dismiss my symptoms, they first failed to run proper tests, until I insisted that they check my electrolytes and thyroid numbers to ensure that I was not dealing with a condition associated with hyperthyroid called a Thyroid Storm. This dangerous complication of Graves disease involves symptoms such as a high heart rate, dehydration, sudden heart failure, confusion, confusion/disorientation, etc. The emergency room staff was quick to point out that "You do know that Hashimoto's and Grave's disease are two different diseases, right." In the state I was in that night, I felt like screaming at them, but I politely replied, "yes, I know the difference, and I have both. You do know that it is possible to have both conditions, right?" Readers, please do your best never to end up at Bethesda North Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. Anyway, when the test results came back, they vaguely mentioned that my electrolytes were low, I had dehydration, and literally discharged me without treatment. In truth, it wasn't feasible for me to have dealt with either problem because I actually drank multiple bottles of electrolyte water that evening alone, and had ate multiple healthy meals throughout the day. Now, I was not in the 'right mind' during this time and could not advocate for myself like I can when I'm healthier, so I didn't not argue my case for electrolyte treatment. And bless Aaron, but he's not one to speak up or argue with hospital employees, though I think he's learned to do so going forward. This wasn't the first that I had symptoms that warranted a trip to the emergency room, and ended up being low electrolytes. Never meds with low electrolytes. When they become low enough, they can cause the heart to work harder and also interfere with other electrolytes and minerals. 

So, what's one cause of unnecessary, chronically low electrolytes, despite proper intake of them? Answer- adrenal issues. Of course, modern medicine hasn't a clue how to diagnose or treat adrenal issues, including adrenal fatigue. 
When we left the hospital, my symptoms were actually worse than before I went in, and that's due to the fact that this hospital did absolutely nothing to treat my low electrolytes. Both sodium and potassium levels have a very short range and even a small decrease of either can be dangerous to the heart. Unable to find a better solution at 3:00 AM, we bought some organic, Non-GMO potato chips (only three ingredients too) at the grocery store and I ate almost half the bag. About an hour later, my symptoms drastically subsided. From that point on, we always made sure that our house was stocked with Kettle Brand potato chips. Potatoes have a large amount of potassium without all the sugar that are in bananas. I also began putting pink Himalayan sea salt on my food. I'd never salted my food much before mainly because I didn't want to endure the health problems associated with too much salt. Most Americans get too much salt and have higher potassium, which can contribute to high blood pressure. So, low electrolytes are uncommon for the majority of the population. 

Now days, I drink adrenal cocktails, which are made with orange juice. If you think that you're suffering from symptoms of adrenal fatigue, taking thyroid medication, and are not dealing with HIGH sodium levels (healthy adrenals are important for thyroid health and vice-versa), try the following recipe 1-2 times/day:

  • 4 Oz. of Orange Juice – fresh squeezed is best, but not essential (the Vit-C helps the liver process the electrolytes for adequate absorption)
  • 1/4 tsp of Cream of Tartar (for potassium)
  • 1/4 tsp of fresh ground Himalayan Sea Salt (great source of sodium)
In the next few posts, I'm going to discuss the most recent changes to my health and treatment plan. I can't believe It's been over a year since my diagnosis. I feel like it was yesterday. 
Are you dealing with heart symptoms or complications of thyroid disease? Heart disease also runs on both sides of my mom's side of the family, and two of my uncles have both recently had heart procedures. I'll fill you all in on my 23 And Me Results soon too. Until then, be kind to your butterflies. 


"A hospital is no place to be sick."-Samual Goldwyn 

New Supplement Regimen

The roll of diet and nutrition are both extremely important in the quest to manage Hashimoto's disease. Most medical students spend about 23.9 hours total on nutrition during the course of their college career, and most of those hours are obtained outside of a dedicated nutrition course. So, the odds are against patients with chronic diseases, unless they seek help from a certified a nutritionist, dietitian, or conduct research on their own. Going gluten free is the first step in addressing autoimmune diseases. We also must ensure that we are obtaining a sufficient supply of vitamins and minerals. 

I haven't been taking many supplements lately because I've been juicing a few times every week. Apparently, juicing alone has not been enough to increase my vitamin levels and it shows in my blood work. It's possible that I'm not absorbing many of the nutrients, likely due to my chronic digestive problems. I've also had notoriously low vitamin D, which is very common in people with thyroid problems. I've been taking 5000 mg. of vitamin D for a few months. I just had it retested and it was 34 ng/ml, which was low-normal on the general lab range, but it needs to be at least 55 ng/ml, which is the minimum on the functional range (I explain more in this Post ). My magnesium was low even on standard lab ranges, and I've been taking 250 mg. per day for about a month. As a result of my lower than expected vitamin levels, and the recent increase in my Anti-TPO antibodies, I've decided to focus on addressing my actual immune system's decision to go haywire, as well as my stubborn digestive problems. The later likely arises from my random bouts with a sluggish gallbladder that I refuse to give up on because despite popular belief, we actually do need our gallbladders. I don't have any stones either. 

So, I just received a shipment of goodies (oh how I wish they were shoes) from Vitacost, and I'm armed and ready to see what kind of a difference I can make on my own. 

This all started with a book. I'm currently in the process of reading Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? When My Lab Tests Are Normal, by Dr. Datis Kharrazian, who is known as an expert on Hashimoto's, other autoimmune diseases, and neurological disorders. So far, this doc has had my undivided attention. Dr. Kharrazian treats his patients not only from a functional perspective, but he looks at Hashimoto's as a disease of the immune system, rather than a thyroid disease. He believes that most cases of thyroid disease can be reversed and claims that many of his patients have gone on to have healthy thyroids without desiccated thyroid or synthetic thyroid replacement. He is quite forthcoming in the book because he provides an extensive outline as to how he manages the disease in his patients. He treats the root of the problem. He offers thorough details about everything from thyroid hormones, to T-helper cells, to how insulin and gluten work inside the body of a person with Hashimoto's. The only complaint that I have thus far, is that many of his treatment options and recommendations, such as non-traditional testing can be rather costly (though important)  and not covered by insurance, yet he still provided a feasibly affordable plan for treating and basically reversing the immune system response by identifying what part of the system has gone awry. The doc basically laid out a how-to kick Hashimoto's rear end in a step-by-step process.
In chapter three of the book, Dr. Kharrazian discusses how the immune system is in in control of the Hashimoto's crazy train. He explains the two types of scenarios that occur during the autoimmune attack. My goal is to give you the high-level overview of his approach to hamper the immune system, using compounded supplements. I definitely recommend this book to all thyroid patients, especially if their goal is to save their thyroid and get off the medication, though not all people will be able to stop taking thyroid replacement.

The immune system comprises of two unique sides that fight diseases and foreigners. Think of one being the right side and one being the left side of a see-saw. When one side goes up, the other goes down. One part is the T-helper one (TH-1) side and the other is the T-helper two (TH-2). One medical theory about how autoimmune conditions occur is that one side of the immune system becomes dominant over the other side, which is caused by a few different situations in the body. Dr. Kharrazian focuses on stimulating the side that is not the one that running the show, which will dampen the side that is overactive. He does this with various compounds, such as Echinacea to dull the TH-1 side, and Green Tea Extract to dull the TH-2 side. Here's the kicker; the only way to precisely find out which side is dominant is to conduct a blood test that can be expensive and only a few companies offer it (here's one-TH-1 TH2 Test ). The thing about this theory that makes me 90% confident that I'm TH-1 dominant is that Dr. Kharrazian noted in his book that an estimated 90% of his patients are TH-1 dominant. 

I've decided to start taking some the supplements that are supposed to dampen the TH-1 dominance.  I am obviously quite aware that my frugal attempt is not the same as paying a doctor the thousands of dollars that the doctor's entire system may cost, but I ordered high-quality supplements from a very reputable store, that guarantees the potency of their products. I spent about $100 on the supplements. If I'm actually TH-2 dominant, I'll know within due time because taking the compounds that stimulate the wrong one will exacerbate my symptoms. Caffeine is also on the list that hampers the TH-1 dominance, so I've been drinking more coffee and black tea. Of course, caffeine can cause jitters and other typical symptoms. If the supplements worsen my symptoms, it's possible that I'm TH-2 dominant. Here's what I have to look forward to ingesting daily. These will make up my supplement cocktail for the next few months-

These are the supplements that I'll be taking that are based on Dr. Kharrazian's recommendation for TH-1 dominance (the goal is to stimulate the TH-2 side). Please note that he did not provide the exact dosages in his book, likely because it varies among patients:

To Stimulate the TH-1:
White Willow Bark-800 mg. 
Resveratrol Green Tea & Grape Extract. He listed both Resveratrol and Geen Tea Extract, and I found one supplement that contain both items. 
Pycnogenol/Pine Bark Extract- 100 mg.

The additional compounds that he recommends are Caffeine and Lycopene. I will be consuming caffeine daily. Lycopene can be found in tomatoes, so I choose not to take the supplement 

Additional supplements that I have just started taking:
Emulsified Vitamin D with Vitamin K2- I am trying the emulsified version because I suspect that my digestive problems were causing poor absorption of the pill form. It is crucial that we also get enough Vitamin K2 and it is required for proper synthesis of Vitamin D.

Liquid Multi-Vitamin- I am also taking a multi-vitamin via liquid form because of my poor absorption and due to my problems in digesting fats.

Chelated Magnesium, 250 mg.- My magnesium level recently tested in the low range, despite that fact that I had been consuming 250 mg. daily via supplementation.  I've also been getting an adequate supply in my diet. Chelated Magnesium is supposedly easier to digest, thus improving absorption rates.

Milk Thistle, 600 mg.- You may already know that studies have shown that Milk Thistle is a liver and gallbladder aid. I will be taking 3600 mg. daily. The suggested amount listed on the bottle is three pills, twice daily.

Fiber Supplement: I try to consume enough fiber through my diet, however I currently take a supplement. Some experts suggest ingesting fiber supplements in the morning. 

Probiotics: I now consume a minute amount of dairy because I may be allergic to the lecithin in it.  I currently take a non-dairy chewable tablet three times per day.

Omega-3-120 mg. Omega is an essential fatty acid and plays an important role in reducing inflammation. 

Digestive Aids:
Due to my sluggish gallbladder, I have been taking 500 mg. of Ox Bile after each mean, as well as Betaine HCI (hydrochloric acid), and digestive enzymes. Based on my research, people without gallbladders should take digestive aids and Ox Bile for the rest of their lives. Low hydrochloric acid is common in thyroid patients. Symptoms of low stomach acid are similar to that of too much of it. If you were to drink apple cider vinegar mixed with water and you felt better, it's a good sign that you'd benefit from taking a Betaine HCI supplement. 

Many doctors and thyroid experts recommend taking both Zinc and Selenium. In fact, I've read a few blogs that are centered on healing Hashimoto's with a supplement regimen, which includes both. I currently own bottles of each supplement, however it is easy to overdose on both because they are metals, and I definitely noticed a metal taste in my mouth after I began taking both products.  It is actually best to obtain selenium through the diet. Brazil nuts are an excellent source of selenium. As recommended by a recent conversation that I had with a thyroid expert, I started eating one Brazil nut per day. Other sources of selenium, include eggs, sunflower seeds, tuna, salmon, shellfish, poultry, etc. Sources of zinc also include some nuts and seeds, oysters, beef (I recommend grass fed), etc. 

One can determine which vitamins and minerals they should take simply by having those levels check via blood tests.  If you are considering adopting a supplement plan, I recommend purchasing them from a reputable supplier, such as Vitacost because they carry more brands that ensure potency of their products. 

I'm just hoping to see a decrease in my antibodies. Wish me luck. 

"A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools."
-Spanish Proverb

Expect the Unexpected with Hashimoto's

Did you know that more than 27 million Americans have a thyroid condition and about half of those people don't even know it?

It's National Thyroid Awareness month. I've been sharing facts and information with my friends and family via Facebook. I am amazed at how many personal messages I receive from women, all of who are struggling with what they feel are thyroid problems. A few of my friends have shared their personal experiences with me and those stories make me want to help people even more. If my efforts can lead even one woman to answers, then battling this disease is worth it.

Now, for an update; I finally completed about 90% of my candida supplements. And the verdict? It's not good news.  However, I have not retested my candida levels, so I can't truthfully say that it's bad news either. I understand that candida overgrowth is quite common in Hashimoto's likely due to poor digestive health, which is another commonality with the disease. So, while I can't detest the treatment, I don't have any clinical evidence or test results to share with anyone either. In the end, I can't report that I saw any effects from the candida supplements. My bloating decided to creep its dreary head again and my gallbladder has seemingly returned to its abnormal ways. I'd say that the Armour worked decently for about a month, but it also never addressed my fatigue. Even when I felt half-way decent, I still had the lagging fatigue and typical hypo symptoms.

Dr. Maxwell switched me from the Armour to Nature-Throid mainly because my hypo symptoms returned. Keep in mind that one should not compare their reactions to Armour with mine. There are several desiccated thyroid replacements (AKA natural thyroid) that are on the market today. Although they are all similar in that they contain a T4/T3 ratio, the fillers vary among brands, therefore it's not uncommon for patients to change brands. It can come down to personal preference too. I know several patients, all of who have the best 'luck' with Armour. With that in mind, my personal experiences with Armour was not what I had hoped, which was partially due to the massive hair loss that I incurred even after being on it for two months. The medicine also made me have spells of unusual fatigue where I would randomly fall asleep. Of course I suffer from extreme fatigue with this disease already, but it's not the kind that prompts me to fall asleep while sitting upright in a chair. It's the type of fatigue that someone likely obtains when they're suffering from the flu, or when they are malnourished. Armour's formula contains cellulose and some people report that it causes poor absorption of the hormone. After Armour reformulated the drug to contain cellulose, many long-term Armour supporters reported the return of hypo symptoms. Some patients chew up the pills, which basically unbinds the cellulose enough to change the way the digestive system absorbs it. Chewing the pills didn't work for me and they were quite chalky, thus often got stuck in my teeth. Since switching to Nature-Throid, my hair loss has decreased and I haven't had any sudden desires to fall asleep. However, let me strongly point out that I have yet to reap major benefits from taking thyroid replacement. In fact, I have recently had some unusually tougher days.

One major expectation that I held on to until recently was that my antibodies would decrease because I cut out gluten, a major thyroid aggressor, and have been taking thyroid replacement for months. I was wrong about that one. I just had my Anti-TPO level checked and it was out of the lab's range. They increased to >1300. As soon as I learned of the increase, I couldn't help but blame it on the reason for me not feeling much better, if at all. I quickly tweeted to thyroid expert and advocate, Mary Shomon, and she replied wondering if I have a pork allergy because, "Some practitioners also have concerns that some Hashi's patients may have autoimmune response to antigens in NDT (meaning Natural Dessicated Thyroid)." Of course, I haven't had any allergy testing completed yet due to the cost of such tests, but I highly recommend it because it is not uncommon for patients with Hashimoto's to have food allergies. In fact, some experts believe that food allergies can onset the disease. She did go on to explain that the antigen theory is somewhat controversial.

The good news in my lab results is that I don't appear to be having a converting issue. Converting of T4 occurs in the liver, and it's conversion process to T3 (immediately available 'energy' for the cells) can be challenging in some patient's body's. Both my T3 and T4 are in a functional range, and they were previously not in functional ranges, so that's a positive result.  My TSH was 0.04, which is obviously hyper. Ironically, I don't typically have hyper symptoms, unless I go out in public, where my adrenal glands start performing better and my legs tend to shake, and I get symptoms of anxiety.  I can understand better now how panic and anxiety 'disorders' can actually be the thyroid gland's own work. I've tried explaining this to my cousin because she suffers from anxiety and is currently taking a medication to alleviate her symptoms.  Hyper-thyroid is not always Grave's disease. Hashi's is all about causing periods of hyper and hypo-thyroid.

I was also gravely disappointed in my vitamin D and magnesium levels. My vitamin D was low again, despite taking 5000 mg. of VD3. Vitamin D is a nutrient that is commonly low in most Americans.  Actually, people may be surprised to learn that the vitamin is actually a steroid hormone. Modern diets are already lacking VD, and doctors report seeing severe deficiencies even in people, who live in primarily sunny climates. According to expert doctors, it is crucial for Hashimoto's patients to keep their level in a functional range (not what your doctor's generic ranges are) of 55-80 (my doctor's lab's range was 30-80). I also take 250 mg. of magnesium daily and my level was quite low. One somewhat surprising contribution to low VD levels is gut inflammation. Bingo. I have my own set of digestive problems, so I am confident that is part of my absorption dilemma. I also have had a suspicion that much of my fatigue is due to poor absorption of nutrients because of my digestive troubles, and seeing the new results only confirmed it. Still, there are other theories that genetics play a role in vitamin D deficiencies. So, in light of the new lab results, I have decided to order an emulsified vitamin D supplement. I'm going to take the emulsified version for a few months before retesting my level again.

Here's a great article by Mary Shomon about the importance of vitamin D for thyroid patients: Why is Vitamin D So Important to Thyroid Patients?

I'm glad that I decided to test my magnesium level because I had not tested it before and I have had several symptoms and clues that it has been lower than desired. I don't know how common it is for magnesium levels to be low in Hashi's patients either. I do know that magnesium deficiencies can be the cause of muscle spasms and many neurological symptoms. Multiple Sclerosis is also linked to low magnesium levels. I've had MS-type symptoms for years now, therefore I just got a brain MRI scan completed, and am awaiting the results of it. I truly believe that it will come back normal, but it's an ugly disease that we must rule out.

Finally, the older I get, the more of a planner I become. The topic of planning and an illness don't exactly compliment each other.  After I finally figured out what I thought was the very condition plaguing me, I thought that all I had to do was find an appropriate doctor, obtain natural thyroid replacement, and then my body would return back to normal. I was so confident that my health would return back to normal quickly, that I started filling my calendar with 'things to-do.' Unfortunately, Hashimoto's doesn't typically disappear, nor is there a magic pill that will revert my health. I have started to research how the immune system itself plays a role in the disease. I have learned that Hashimoto's is more about immune system dysfunction than it is about the thyroid.  I'm going to continue researching how the immune system can be reversed. Since Hashimoto's is an autoimmune disease, I have a hunch that my own immune system is currently at war with my body. I hope to learn some valuable information on the topic to share with readers soon. :)

"Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."  ~World Health Organization, 1948

One of Our Christmas Photos-2012

A Bit of a Disclaimer

I tend to be a realist in life. I don't see a glass of water as half full or half empty. I just see a glass of water. With that in mind, please note that I will never sprinkle glitter on my experiences with this disease. I want to give sufferers of the disease hope, but I'll only offer it in real values. I'm here to give readers an up close and personal look in to my own life with Hashimoto's. My blog is not about how you can heal yourself by doing (insert miracle cure here). Love it or hate it, I'm dedicated to being wholly honest and forthcoming about my symptoms, treatments, reservations, anxieties, etc., and I won't censor my struggles in posts, even if they require me to be utterly vulnerable. I am not going to point out anyone in particular, but I've came across many forums and blogs that are dedicated to fluffing up thyroid problems and the ease in treating Hashimoto's. I will not claim that what works for me will or should be what works for others, though I may suggest things from time to time. Diseases and illnesses always affect patients differently, despite there being standard symptoms, so please know that I'm not surprised if your own struggle is drastically different from mine. I will never compare myself to other women, who have thyroid problems because we all have different scales that we live on, and who am I to say that I am in their shoes? I don't know what it's like to have children and struggle to raise them, hold down a job, and deal with this disease all at once. Believe me, I have nothing but respect and support to give those women. I do, however know what it's like to work 12 hour days and juggle being sick with a marriage, illness, and accomplishing important goals in life. I also know just how often women get this disease postpartum and that I already have it prior to pregnancy. No, the disease hasn't caused me to gain much weight, but I do have my own sufferings with my body and metabolism. I've lost much muscle and have cellulite in places that I know are caused from Hashi's. I also have a hard time digesting fat due to my gallbladder problem, so I haven't gained or lost more than a few pounds.  The bloating is enough to cause me to carry what is an unusual pot belly on my frame, however it may not be noticeable to anyone, who doesn't known me well. 
I have exercised virtually my entire life. I'm a former vegetarian and I studied dietetics in college. My goal was to help both people with weight-loss goals, and people trying to manage conditions or diseases. I've worked in gyms and weight-loss institutions. I guess I fit in to the category as a 'petite' girl, however I do not come from a particularly petite family. I even have very small hands and ears, but I was an early bloomer and I can remember wearing a bra well before my friends, which I hated at the time. I've seen multiple women, including my own mother struggle to lose and maintain their weight. At a young age, I made a pact with myself to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Also, I haven't been through childbirth, so who's to say that I will be able to lose the 'baby weight' or that I won't gain more weight? So, despite the absence of my battles to lose more than about 10-15 pounds at one time, I am not a naturally skinny woman. My genetics and my family history tell me otherwise.  

If a treatment doesn't work for me, it doesn't necessarily mean that it won't work for you either, and the same thought applies if something works for me, then it's possible that it won't work for you. We may have completely different symptoms, or you may find yourself in my posts. I started this blog not just to share the trials and tribulations of my story, but to also share information with women that their healthcare professionals may not mention or know to share with patients for whatever reason.
Also, whether I try synthetic or natural thyroid replacement, supplements, bio-feedback therapies, etc., I'm not here to jump on a bandwagon of specific treatment options. I will never claim to be an expert on any topic at hand either.  

My overall goal is to offer readers my own tale of the disease, combined with my personal opinions, and concepts or ideas that I developed from an abundant amount of medical research. My hope is that readers find comfort and support in knowing that what they have is possibly more tangible than recognized by their doctors, that someone else is listening and understands the complexity of thyroid imbalances from a functional perspective, and I hope that I inspire people to never settle for being told that they have no options in properly managing Hashimoto's. :)

“A further sign of health is that we don't become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it's time to stop struggling and look directly at what's threatening us. ” 
― Pema ChödrönThe Places that Scare You