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.
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You only know how sick you were once you start to feel better
Going through a treatment approach for Hashimoto’s, based on Functional Medicine principles, I realized that I had a 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.
This is the only reason why I am writing this – so that you don’t have to go through what I went through figuring all of this out while seeing doctors who had no clue this method exists!
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… way better!
I hope my story inspires, motivates and guides you, to live a life again with vibrant health. My deepest wish is, that this story moves you to take action.
When you are inspired or moved by what you read here, feel free sign up on top of the page to free webinars with Hashimoto’s experts from around the whole globe.
And this is me today participating in life again… 🙂 Before I was mostly at home, in bed or watching Netflix shows to distract myself when being unwell. I am sure you can relate!
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 with the motivation to broaden my education in medicine.
I admired functional medicine for its clear clinical explanations about addressing the root problems of disease and using a personalized lifestyle medicine approach.
Functional medicine aims to support people in recovering their health mainly through lifestyle interventions and clinical interventions, which address the root causes of disease.
During my clinical practice at this time, as a traditional Chinese medicine Practitioner and licensed acupuncturist, I advised my patients to get some specific blood work done.
My goal was 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 in improving their overall health. The results spoke for themselves and I was hooked.
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 my University studies in Sydney, Australia.
My friend had recently relocated from Australia to the US and had completed a lot of further clinical education in the area of blood chemistry analysis and functional medicine 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 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. This is what I got…
My expectations and what was on the paper did not match up at all: Objective science was in my face.
I had a cholesterol reading of a 60-year-old, my TSH reading was through the roof with about over 9 and my thyroid antibodies were sky high (you can’t see them above).
Coming out of Denial: Seeing the way things are
Receiving my diagnosis challenged me deeply to the core, psychologically, mentally and emotionally – I am sure you can relate.
Being chronically sick did not match up with my persona of being a healthy Healthcare Practitioner in the wellness industry.
Basically, it made me feel like a failure and a fraud in regards to living up to my role as a healthcare practitioner.
In fact, it was time for me to come out of denial, that I have not been feeling 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 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 away from my family.
I actually experienced psychological grief from missing my family in Europe, and there were some unexplainable ups and downs psychologically already for a while that I could not explain.
At this time, I mostly related these symptoms purely to my family relations, and because of it even did some family therapy.
When I started to look into the connected psychological symptoms related to Hashimoto’s and Hypothyroid all of a sudden I saw all these experiences in a different context.
It wasn’t all psychological – there were physiological processes at work on a deeper level! The lightbulb went on…
Adopting 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 – most importantly, how I could tackle this health challenge in the most skillful way. I was not willing to loose my whole quality life due to an autoimmune disease.
No way. 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 through love
My love to my wife was a source of strength to discover whatever I needed to find out so as to overcome my symptoms. I decided to investigate different approaches to get myself better.
Following, I talked to medical practitioners in my family and close friendship circles. I went online and got in touch with many different medical specialists and read their material online.
Being a self motivate learner I started to become 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…
Casting Pearls before Swine…
I proudly gathered all my research and took it to the GP, who had ordered the labs for me before and gave me my Hashimoto’s diagnosis.
With me I had a stack of information from functional medicine docs, integrative medicine specialists and PhD researchers.
The doctor was only interested though in the treatment that he had prescribed according to the differential diagnosis which he made. No outer input was accepted.
No more testing was necessary according to the GP and that was the end of it. Lazy medicine at it’s best…
I had hoped that he would be more open to what I had discovered but there was no sign of it. I was floored. Without his help I felt powerless…
When I went to the GP I wanted a partner to help me in my journey to recovery, but there was only an authority without any interest in a partnership.
So, I fired my GP on the spot, right there 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 realized that the diagnosis could potentially be a gift.
It could be an opportunity 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 of functional medicine education.
He passed on further diagnostics skills that I needed to read my labs properly and he initially explained to me a more comprehensive approach to treating 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 and starting to heal
Luckily one connection came up through a close friend in regards to a GP who was interstate that had a very good reputation.
She was known for her effective gut healing approaches, heavy metal detoxification protocols and successfully treating hypothyroid patients.
I scheduled an appointment and went to her clinic a few weeks later. I felt hopeful and positive for the first time in a long time.
When I sat in front of her in the first consult her compassion 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 to the best of our ability a treatment protocol that was covering many areas of the research that I had previously done.
It was truly teamwork in which the GP and I, as the patient, genuinely worked together in unison.
Personally, it was the first experience of a true patient-centric care approach for me, which in fact, was a deep healing experience in itself.
It turned out, my own healing journey was to become an intense initiation into the world of functional medicine, biochemistry, 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 21st century Doctor – “The Healer Leader”
While studying and reading I realized that the most authentic doctors, healers, and scientists in the functional medicine space were the ones who went through their own healing journeys.
Because they lived this approach of medicine in their daily life they spoke, wrote and taught from their own experience: their own path turned them into what I call “Healer Leaders”.
The gift of all healer leaders is that they have the capacity to authentically connect with empathy and thus inspire change, bring hope and change.
Self-empowered healer leaders are using the internet on a massive scale to contribute to a bigger vision of medicine in the 21st century.
On my own 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 past president of the Functional Medicine Institute in the US.
Dr. Hyman used his own healing story of successfully applying functional medicine to expose more and more people to the healing power of this emerging disruptive medical technology.
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.
The “6 steps to Remission Report” draws a lot of inspiration from his work.
The creator of the Hacking Hashimoto´s Program Dr. Izabella Wentz
Dr. Izabella Wentz, from the ThyroidPharmacist.com, is another healer leader of whom I had the pleasure and honor of developing a friendship in Amsterdam, already back in 2012.
Izabella provided me with an abundance of actionable information, inspiration and motivation to do my own research and biohacking experiments on a more focused level.
Her book “Hashimoto´s: Finding the Root Cause” was a constant resource on my recovery journey.
Her leadership in regards to getting the right information to the right people has been a big inspiration for myself to find my own voice and give back to the public.
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 continue.
Based on her work I started to execute a nutritional therapy personalized to my own genetic blueprint.
Methylation cycle science, detoxification, and nutrigenomics are some of the most exciting topics in the practice of functional medicine.
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 in the area of personalized medicine.
Uncovering the Root Causes: Becoming a “holistic” doctor
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:
Hashimoto´s Thyroiditis is a disease condition that is influenced by many factors
Opposed to an allopathic approach to treating Hashimoto´s, the functional medicine approach is multifactorial.
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. It’s about the whole body working together as a system. Hence functional medicine is a systems medicine approach.
Deciphering the Functional Medicine Matrix
Your body is an intricate body system, consisting of the following systems:
- Digestive and the assimilation system,
- methylation and thiol chemistry,
- the defense 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.
Functional medicine treatment of Hashimoto’s will address all of these systems in a systematic fashion.
This is the very matrix out of which healthy cellular energy is formed in your body.
6 Major Root Causes for declining Thyroid Health in Western Societies
In my opinion, these 6 Root causes are the “big why” that explains a global thyroid disease epidemic.
The more energy you will put into removing these 6 root causes then better you will feel.
- Nutrient deficient Diets, industrial foods and a lack of self-nurturing skills
- Extreme hormone dysregulation due to inflammation, excess stress and toxin exposure
- High immune system stress due to undiagnosed bacterial, viral and fungal infections
- Chronically inflamed digestive systems leading to leaky and gut permeability
- Overburdened toxic livers due to external and internal toxins
- An overall breakdown of cellular energy and organ function due to the former 5 reasons
Investigating my own list of imbalances
After deeply investigating my own root causes over the last 4 years, here is a list of some of the imbalances that I was able to get experience with and gain an insight into.
All of these imbalances were a contributing part of a complex matrix of interactions in my body manifesting as the perfect storm, appearing as auto-immune Hashimoto´s Thyroid Disease.
In this sense Hashimoto’s does not really exist, it is just a set of many root causes coming together manifesting a disease picture.
- Gluten sensitivity
- Various food intolerances
- B12 Intrinsic factor deficiency
- Leaky Gut
Bacterial and Fungal Infections:
- Candida Albicans
- Heliobacter Pylori
- Athlete´s foot
- Dormant Streptococcus Aureus
- Chronic Sinusitis
- 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
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
Mastering core Functional Medicine Skills in your daily Life
Through implementing my treatment regimen with critical analysis, discipline and focused attention, my approach of applying functional medicine was bringing results.
The former 6 steps involved learning about and implementing many different new skillsets.
In my own daily life I started to master cooking and shopping, successfully researching the appropriate supplements for my situation and getting access to the right lab tests.
What you need to know as well is this: these 6 steps are not always being used in a linear fashion. Of course, it makes sense to optimize your gut health before you detox the body.
As well, when you drop gluten in you daily nutrition, gut inflammation will go down, and sleeping and relaxing more will of course lower your stress hormones.
It´s all inter-related… and that’s a whole new way of medical thinking.
The work of Dr. Jeffrey Bland
A huge credit to my healing 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 personalized lifestyle medicine through the via method Functional Medicine will disrupt how medicine will be practiced in the 21st century.
He is the mastermind behind a 21st-century medical revolution.
Dr. Bland is the grandfather of functional medicine upon whose shoulders many other medical giants are standing on today.
And again 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 help people suffering from Hashimoto’s
The common allopathic medical approach alone that only gives synthetic hormones in the case of Hashimoto´s Thyroiditis will not address deeper drivers underlying it.
It might even create the opportunity for other Autoimmune conditions to appear.
Thorough functional pathology testing, critical analysis, and a strategic personalized 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. As well I created a page full of useful Hashimoto’s Patient Resources for you.
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.