Before we get started, I just want to extend a huge heartfelt thank you to all of those who took the time to read my fertility journey, who shared it in their feeds, who reached out to me to share their stories as well- thank you so much. I am truly inspired and I am SO glad I finally got that story out there!
If there is one thing that I learn about speaking my truth is that it takes the sting out of the pain. Saying "I experienced infertility" feels so much better, and not just because I am with a child now, but because I KNOW I am not alone. The same goes for this next topic. I shared late last year that I had been battling Hashimotos disease and at the time, it was totally out of control. I just had to put it out there because I had been really struggling both personally and professionally and I needed to be honest with where I was at. The result of me sharing this was a huge outpour, again, from women sharing with me that they too, have Hashimoto's and what advice I had for them. At the time, I had none...yet. I was about to embark on a journey of healing, but here I am, out on the other side (mostly!) and have learnt so much from the experience.
But first, what is Hashimoto's? Also called Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Hashimoto's is an autoimmune disease, a disorder in which the immune system turns against the body's own tissues. In people with Hashimoto's, the immune system attacks the thyroid. This can lead to hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid does not make enough hormones for the body's needs. This disease is unfortunately critically underdiagnosed and most patients are not able to access the right practitioners who will check the blood work to confirm the diagnosis. Because of the wide array of symptoms, patients are usually treated for hypothyroidism alone, or for depression and anxiety. Even still, it is approximated that about 14 million people are currently diagnosed with Hashimotos in the USA alone. I will add a very important bit here- Hashimoto's patients are generally women (about 80%- that's 11.2 million women living with this disease today) and according to my guru, Aviva Romm, this is a epidemic and a women's rights issue.
When I went back to all my old paper work to write this message with clarity, I realized its been a year, literally to the day that I have been diagnosed. What a crazy year it has been. If you read my fertility journey, then you remember me saying how we discovered I had this disease when we were trying for a baby. After several months of trying (and a whole friggen year of preparing my body-- another article on that later!) while experiencing extreme fatigue, depression, anxiety, weight gain, hair loss, and body pain. I decided to take the first step into healing, and I want to share these things with you here. So whether you are newly diagnosed, are diagnosed with hypothyroid, are suspicious that you may have hashi's, or you're just curious- here is a great place to start.
1. Find yourself a well versed, patient centered care provider. For me, this was critical step number one in my healing with hashimotos- so even if you suspect that you have hashimotos, find yourself a well versed, patient centered care provider who will actually do the blood work and will take you seriously. (Super important to have your TSH, T3, T4, ANTI-TPO + TRAB evaluated). If you are in Alberta, my first recommendation would be to make an appointment with Susan Prendergast, a Nurse Practitioner who specializes in women's health and female hormones. Not only is Susan extremely well versed with thyroid health conditions, she has prescribing rights, has midwifery background, and is overall an amazing woman who genuinely cares for her patients.) My second recommendation would be to Dr. Cynthia Hnatko (ND). Both these women cared for me during my early diagnosis and I would NOT have had it any other way! Cynthia is amazing at working with patients using nutrition, supplementation and herbs to support thyroid health.
2. Get to Chapters, or get these two books primed to your door. Hashimoto's Protocol by Izabella Wentz
and The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution by Aviva Romm.
Im not kidding when I say that I have actually considered naming my child after these women- the information provided is priceless in understanding your condition and how it is affected by SO many factors in your life.
4. Take a good look at your food. One of the biggest root causes of most (and I'd personally go as far to say, all) auto-immune conditions stem back to the diet. It's no secret that in our prepackaged, fast food convenience, processed and toxic food culture can cause dis-ease in the body. We all know that- but even common foods such as dairy, gluten and soy for example, can be highly reactive by our bodies. The result of this reaction causes inflammation in the gut and all over the body. I highly recommend that if you have been diagnosed with any auto-immune condition to shift your nutrition into a the Auto-Immune Paleo (AIP) diet. This diet focuses on free range, organic meats, fish, fruits and vegetables (and lots of coconut!). It does remove most reactive foods such as gluten, dairy, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes as well as grains. I know you're probably thinking- well WTF do I eat? Dont worry- its easier than it sounds and pinterest is your friend.
3.Heal your gut. I know, I know, I talk about this alot. Gut health is absolutely crucial for optimal health, and for hormonal health, too- so many of your hormones are actually made here! What I discovered from these books above is that thyroid imbalance stems back to Leaky Gut Syndrome, a condition where your gut lining becomes permeable enough for indigested proteins, bacteria and even toxins to recirculate into your blood stream, causing inflammation throughout your body. In addition to the dietary recommendations made above, which are absolutely necessary for recovery, your best friends are bone broth, glutamine, collagen and digestive enzymes.
4.Heal your life. I found this qoute while I was going through my own journey that says "If you require healing, then let yourself fall ill." I literally started balling my face off as soon as I read it, because it totally hit home. As someone who always preaches to her clients to practice self care, for years, my own self care game was for shit. If my eyes were open, I was working. If my eyes were closed, I was dreaming about all the things I had to get done. I made my middle name "hustle" and even though it brought with it success, it also brought on this disease. I kept saying that I would take time out on the daily, even 15 minutes to meditate. I did not. I did not join that yoga community. I did not go to bed early. I did not cut out those toxic relationships. I did not learn to say "no". Instead, I kept saying "I will, later!" and that day basically never came until this all hit like a brick wall. And you know, sometimes you just have to hit that brick wall to know how much your health is truly worth. So, now that you are doing all that you can physically, its time to look at what other toxicity might be causing inflammation...in your life. In other words, learn to chill the fuck out. Join that meditation class. Go on that retreat. Take that bath. Break up with that friend that brings you nothing but stress and drama. Basically, just learn how to modulate your stress in effective ways that work for you.
5. CBD + Nettle tea have your back. Two powerhouse herbal allies that were a game changer for me in my journey- I used my very own line of organic hemp CBD oils and drank tea like water (literally). You'll always hear me say, when in doubt, nettle it out- and this is why nettle is in almost every single Elle tea.
Nettle, in the same category as a leafy green, is a super nutrient dense, mineral rich, supportive herb that does it all. It has a earthy flavor, but when combined with other herbs, such as those in my herbal teas- magic happens. If you are dealing with auto-immune, I highly recommend my Berry Healthy, Harmonizing, Earthside Chai, Well Belly and Calming teas to be in your regular routine. I would make a big mason jar full and keep them in the fridge, or fill up my french press and drink 1-3 presses daily. .
Anyways loves- I am feeling an IMMENSE relief getting some of this information out there. As I head into my third trimester, I am no longer taking new clients to work with one on one - as bittersweet as it is- please know that you are in good hands with the recommendations made above and I will still be here with my healing potions and remedies to help you in feeling nourished, sacred, and healed! Please feel free to reach out to me should you have any questions or other suggestions- I've been there and Id love to be a helping hand along your journey.