At 37, after suffering two unexplained ectopic pregnancies, weight gain and extreme exhaustion I discovered I have Hashimoto's disease, an inflammatory auto-immune disease (AID). My family history is ripe with all kinds of AID from Parkinson's to Type I diabetes. Although I take a daily dose of medicine in order to regulate my thyroid gland, the gland itself is not the root of my problem. Rather, my body suffers from inflammation that triggers it to attack my thyroid gland as a way of protecting itself, since my immune system thinks this gland is an invader. This declared foreigner, my poor little thyroid gland that sits in the center of my neck and forms a beautiful butterfly shape, isn't able to do its job of creating enough thyroxine to keep my hormones balanced and my body functioning properly.
The CDC estimates 14-22 million Americans suffer from AI diseases while the American Autoimmune Disease Association puts the number closer to 50 million, with more than 75 percent of those cases occurring in women. Just to put this in perspective, according to the CDC, about 8.5 million Americans Adults suffer from cancer and 26 million from heart disease. Currently, over 80 AI diseases have been identified, including Hashimoto's, Crohn's, Type I diabetes, MS, and lupus, to name just a few.
Doctors tell me to take my medicine daily and to reduce my stress and keep my inflammation low to help control this disease. The first time I heard this advice I smiled, shook my head enthusiastically and said, "okay." But as I walked out of the office after my initial diagnosis, I was devastated, realizing I was on my own in dealing with this, and was unsure exactly how to proceed. After countless doctors visits, researching diligently and experimenting on myself with alternative therapies, yoga, diet and lifestyle changes, I have developed a daily program that is helping me heal. When I was diagnosed in 2009, my inflammatory antibody count was close to 1,000, and today it is under 20 thanks to this SEAMLYS approach.
1. SUPPLEMENT: Take a daily dose of desiccated pig thyroid, pro-biotic, iron, vitamin D and flax oil or fish oil, calcium/magnesium blend, selenium and triphala. Re-evaluate these supplements with my doctor every few months and changes doses depending on the season.
2. EAT: Healthy proteins including fish, nuts and legumes. Fruit, vegetables and healthy carbs like rice, oatmeal and quinoa. Fats like flax oil, coconut oil, olive oil and grass-fed cows' butter.
3. AVOID: Gluten, soy, sugar, low-fat dairy products, alcohol and caffeine, and processed foods. All of these substances aggravate my stomach and add to the inflammation in my joints and phlegm in my body. I do enjoy an occasional glass of wine or two, and I treat myself to a "bulletproof coffee" some days too.
4. MINDFULNESS: Meditate daily for 10-30 minutes. I focus on my breath and try to be still so that I can feel and hear any signals my body and mind are sending me. During this daily practice I may discover something that is upsetting me or exciting me. I try to pinpoint these feelings and bring them to the surface so that I can better identify stressors.
5. LOVE: Physical touch, hugs and playfulness and sex. This helps me feel secure and loved. It is crucial for me to connect with my husband, my child and my friends daily.
6. YOGA: This sweaty yoga practice is key at keeping my inflammation low. I do a set series of postures with focused breathing every morning. This oxygenates my blood, increases circulation to my thyroid gland, other organs and muscles tissue. Because being cold often is one of the side effects of Hashimoto's, this yoga practice helps me regulate my temperature and I stay warmer longer.
7. SLEEP: There is never enough time in the day for me to accomplish everything I would like to. I force myself to be in my bed by 10pm and asleep by 11pm, if not before. This insures that I get at least 8 hours of sleep daily, something my body needs in order to recover from all of the tasks I ask it to accomplish each day.
As I continue to feel better I am working on decreasing the amount of medication I need. Soon I hope to be off the medication completely, and on the road to AID free!