Treating Hashimoto’s with a Functional Medicine Approach: In this article, I will share some of my insights, experiences and opinions about using a functional medicine approach for treating Hashimoto´s over a 3 year period.
My Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Functional Medicine Treatment Story
In July 2012 I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I was shocked, scared and surprised all at the same time. What I have learned from this journey is that everything is possible. And this I learned especially – it is possible to get better.
I Hope that my story inspires you to take action and maybe even commit yourself to a personalized lifestyle medicine based treatment approach. When you are inspired and moved by what you read here please sign up in the bar on top of the page to join me in weekly free webinars about treating Hashimoto’s with a functional medicine approach.
This is me today…
How I learned about the Functional Medicine Treatment approach for Hashimoto’s
A year before my Hashimoto´s diagnosis I decided to investigate and study functional medicine on a deeper level. I admired functional medicine for its clear clinical explanations about addressing the root problems of disease and using a personalised lifestyle medicine approach to support people in healing naturally.
During my clinical practice at this time I advised some of my patients to get some specific blood work done to check on their major inflammatory markers, vitamin D status and some other basic biochemistry markers. Covering these basic tests helped some of them tremendously to improve their overall health.
How I ended with my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Diagnosis
Due to my growing interest in functional medicine diagnostics, I had been in an insightful email exchange with a dear friend from University who recently had relocated from Australia to the US.
My friend had been a mentor of mine already back at University and recently had done a lot of further clinical education in the area of blood chemistry analysis and functional medicine diagnostics in California.
He advised me to get a full functional medicine based blood panel done with many lab markers that he learned about from Dr. Datis Kharrazian, a functional medicine specialist on Hashimoto´s. Being curious and always open to be my own experiment I did it.
I enlisted a local GP to get the panel done with the justification of getting my yearly complete health checkup. When it came back I was in for a big surprise.
My expectations and what was on the paper did not match up at all. I had a cholesterol reading of a 60-year-old, my TSH reading was through the roof with about 16 and my thyroid antibodies were sky high.
Coming out of Denial: Seeing the way things are
Receiving my diagnosis challenged me to the core psychologically. Being chronically sick did not match up with my own created persona of being a healthy Healthcare Practitioner. It made me feel like a failure and a fraud in regards to living up to my role as a healthcare practitioner.
Actually, it was a time for me to come out of denial that I have not been feeling very well, already for years. I was overworked from building up my very own integrative Chinese medicine clinic in Canberra. At times My daily lifestyle choices did not really match up at times with the recommendations I made to my own patients. And of course, It has been hugely stressful to pull off my own business in another country on my own.
As well I experienced some psychological grief from missing my family in Europe and there were some unexplainable ups and downs psychologically that I could not explain. I always related these symptoms purely to my family relations and even did some family therapy.
When I started to look into the connected psychological symptoms related to Hashimoto’s all of a sudden I saw all these experiences in a different context.
The right mindset: “You win or you learn.”
Needless to say, I got very motivated being close to obsession to figure out why I had become so sick over time and how I could tackle this health challenge in the most skilful way.
I was not willing to loose my whole quality life due to an autoimmune disease. It just was not an option. Luckily while building up my business I learned how to direct my mind in a solution orientated way.
I had developed and adopted the mindset of “You win or you learn”.
Finding the motivation to fight
My love to my wife was a source of incredible strength to to learn whatever I needed to succeed in overcoming my disease. I decided to learn everything I could to get myself better.
I talked to medical practitioners in my family and close friendship circles. I went online and got in touch with many different medical specialists, read their material of which a lot is online these days due to the blessing of the internet.
I started becoming highly educated on Hashimoto’s – which in fact made it more and more difficult to find a doctor that I was willing to work with me. The only relationship I´d accept was a partnership based on sharing, learning and trust…
Throwing Pearls to Swine
Proudly I gathered all my research and I took it to the GP who ordered my labs and gave me my diagnosis. I had a stack of information from functional medicine doctor’s, integrative medicine specialists and PhD researchers.
The doctor was only interested though in the treatment that was prescribed according to the differential diagnosis that he made. No more testing was necessary according to the GP and that was the end of it. I had hoped that he would be more open to what I had discovered but there was no sign of it.
I wanted a partner to help me in my journey to recovery but there was only an authority without interest in a partnership. So I fired my GP and happily moved on…
Treating Hashimoto’s with a Functional Medicine approach: my way forward
At this time I had already accepted my Hashimoto’s diagnosis and I realised that the diagnosis could potentially be a great gift to get me deeply into the trenches of applying functional medicine principles in my own life.
Due to my dear friend in the US I got exposed to his deeper level to functional medicine education, he passed on further diagnostics skills that I needed to read my labs and he initially explained to me a more comprehensive nutritional approach to healing Hashimoto´s.
Basically, I was hooked. I knew this was my journey and path forward. Still, I needed a doctor to work on my team to help me succeed.
Meeting my integrative GP
Luckily one connection came up through a close friend in regards to a GP who was interstate that had a very good reputation in the area of gut health protocols, heavy metal detoxification protocols and an interest in hormone treatment.
I scheduled an appointment and when I sat in front of her in the first consult her heartfulness and genuine care deeply touched me and the tears came pouring down. I knew that I was in good hands and I opened up.
We started to closely work together as a team so as to identify the antecedents, triggers and mediators involved in creating my current state of health. There was a lot to cover and we went over my whole life.
Together we crafted a treatment protocol that was about to cover all the aspects of the research that I had previously done.
It was truly teamwork in which the GP and patient work together in unison – true patient-centric care (as opposed to disease-centric care).
My initiation into becoming a Functional Medicine Practitioner for Hashimoto’s
It turned out that my own healing journey was to become an intense initiation into the world of functional medicine, nutrigenomics and food as medicine.
I was about to embark on a journey in which I had to actively take the medicine I always had been inspired to prescribe. I had to learn to walk my talk and become a healer leader.
The new breed of doctor of the 21st century: “The Healer Leader”
While studying and reading I realised that the most authentic doctors, healers and scientists were the one´s who went through their own healing journeys. And because they lived this approach of medicine in their daily life they developed into experienced healer leaders.
The gift of all healer leaders is that they have the capacity to authentically connect with empathy thus inspire change on a massive scale according to a big vision for the future. On my healing journey of Hashimoto´s, there were 3 Healer Leaders that inspired me a lot.
Dr. Mark Hyman and the Functional Medicine Revolution
First of all I´d like to mention Dr. Mark Hyman MD who is the current president of the Functional Medicine Institute in the US. Dr. Hyman used his own healing story of applying functional medicine to expose more and more people to the healing power of functional medicine.
His published books and research papers on brain health, thyroid dysfunction and metabolic health gave me a thorough exposure to the most cutting-edge functional medicine approaches as of today.
The creator of the Hacking Hashimoto´s Program Dr. Izabella Wentz
Dr. Izabella Wentz, the Thyroid Pharmacist, of whom I had the pleasure of developing a friendship with in Amsterdam in 2012, was another healer leader that provided me with an abundance of actionable information, inspiration and motivation to do my own research and biohacking experiments.
Her book “Hashimoto´s: Finding the Root Cause” was a constant resource on my recovery journey. Her commitment to get the right information to the right people has been a big inspiration to get my own voice out into the internet.
Methylation Cycle Science and Nutrigenomics with Dr. Amy Yasko
The third healer leader I´d like to mention is Dr. Amy Yasko. Dr. Yasko has been a healer leader in the area of nutrigenomics and methylation circle research.
After I identified that I had some genetic variants in my genome that would complicate my Hashimoto’s treatment her work provided me with clear action steps to execute a nutritional therapy personalised to my own genetic blueprint.
Methylation cycle science, detoxification and nutrigenomics are some of the most exciting topics in the practice of functional medicine and a lot of the science behind this is evolving at such a fast pace that we will see huge breakthroughs in the next 10-20 years with this.
Becoming a holistic doctor: Uncovering my own list of Root Causes
It took me 4 Years of concentrated effort to uncover and treat my own root causes for Hashimoto’s auto-immune disease.
I got really inspired to approach my own treatment based on this quote by Dr. Mark Hyman: “Because I help people to overcome a whole list of problems with their health I am called a holistic doctor.”
Hashimoto´s Thyroiditis is a disease condition that is influenced by many factors
As opposed to an allopathic approach to treating Hashimoto´s a functional medicine approach is multi factorial.
When you start to look at the causative factors for your chronic disease you will understand that different body systems are contributing synergistically to disease. So it is not just about the Thyroid Gland.
Deciphering the Functional Medicine Matrix
This intricate matrix consists of the digestive system, the assimilation system, methylation and thiol chemistry, the defence and repair system of the body including the inflammatory process, the communication system including hormone function, the biotransformation system covering detoxification and finally the mitochondrial cellular energy system.
Investigating my own list of imbalances
After deeply investigating my own root causes over the last 4 years here is the list of imbalances that I was able to deal with and gain insight into treating with a functional medicine approach.
All of these imbalances were a contributing part of a complex matrix of interactions in the body manifesting as the perfect storm appearing as auto-immune Hashimoto´s Thyroid Disease.
- Gluten sensitivity
- Various food intolerances
- B12 Intrinsic factor deficiency
- Leaky Gut
Bacterial and Fungal Infections:
- Heliobacter Pylori
- Athlete´s foot
- Dormant Streptococcus Aureus
- Low Testosterone
- Elevated Estrogen due to COMT SNP
- Adrenal Fatigue
- COMT SNP
- Insulin resistance
- Elevated cholesterol
- Elevated homocysteine
- Weak Methylation
- Dysfunctional Phase 1 and 2 detox pathways of the liver
- Glutathione deficiency due to methylation issues
- Fatty Liver
- Arsenic poisoning
- Elevated Mercury
- Elevated Lead
- Decreased estrogen detoxification due to COMT SNP
- Serotonin deficiency
- Dopamine deficiency
- GABA/Glutamate balance
Mastering the core Functional Medicine Skills
I then implemented a treatment regimen with critical analysis, discipline and focused determination using a functional medicine focused approach.
These 6 steps involved learning and implementing many different skills that I needed to apply in my own life ranging from cooking and shopping to searching the best supplements to getting the right tests from doctors.
These 6 steps are not always being used in a linear fashion. Of course, it makes sense to optimise your diet before you detox the body. As well when you drop gluten in you diet your inflammation will go down and sleeping and relaxing more will lower your stress hormones. It´s all inter-related…
Treating Hashimoto’s with a Functional Medicine approach in 6 Steps
- Following a nutrigenomic dietary approach targeting optimised nutritional status
- Regulating pancreatic, adrenal , thyroid and sex hormones through lifestyle choices
- Overcoming infections through targeted therapy and immune balancing nutrition
- Healing leaky gut through the 4 R program: remove, replace, reinoculate and repair
- Inducing tissue detoxification via sulfation, methylation and glucuronidation pathways
- Supporting mitochondrial energy production through nutritional and lifestyle support
You only know how sick you were once you start to feel better
Going through the 6 steps of healing my Hashimoto’s I realised that I had chronic health issue my whole life long.
I understood that You never really know how bad you have been feeling until you experience a better state of health and a higher level of functioning.
The work of Dr. Jeffrey Bland
A huge credit to my recovery goes to the incredible pioneering work of Dr. Jeffrey Bland PhD, the founder of the Functional Medicine Institute.
Dr. Blands contribution to the practice of truly personalised lifestyle medicine delivered via Functional Medicine will greatly disrupt how medicine will be practised in the 21st century.
Healer Leaders standing on the shoulders of a medical research giant
Dr. Bland is a true Healer Leader and I am very grateful for all his work being very accessible online. He is the grandfather of functional medicine upon which shoulders many other medical giants are standing on today.
As well I´d like to mention again Dr. Mark Hyman here, Dr. Datis Kharrazian and Dr. Izabella Wentz. All of them have deeply impacted the way I am looking at health and disease in the 21st century.
20th Century Medicine needs an update to truly heal people
The common allopathic medical approach alone that only gives synthetic hormones in the case of Hashimoto´s Thyroiditis will not address the deeper drivers underlying it. It might even create the opportunity for other Autoimmune conditions to appear.
I could witness this with my sister who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis a few years after her Hashimoto´s Diagnosis.
Thorough functional pathology testing, critical analysis and a strategic personalised lifestyle medicine approach deep healing and disease progression prevention is possible.
A functional medicine resource on Hashimoto’s treatment
I want to give people hope that it is possible to manage this serious and debilitating condition. The link to a PDF at the end of this article will prove to be useful to anyone who would like to know more about functional medicine treatment for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
If you happen to get treated already for this condition just download the document and share it with your treating physician.
I invite you to a Free Hashimoto’s Healing Skype call
I am committed to helping more people with this challenging health condition and through every interaction, I am learning more myself. So I´d like to I encourage you to reach out to schedule your free Hashimoto´s Healing call with me over skype.