Four years passed since my lab results showed for the first time that Hashimoto’s disease is in remission.
It is a reason to celebrate and share my experience with anyone who has Hashimoto’s or any other autoimmune diagnosis!
I’ve shared already the interventions I took to achieve the remission. In this post, I share how I’ve been sustaining the state of remission avoiding flare-ups.
Being in Remission
Autoimmune diseases are held incurable in general. Moreover, the late forties are known for hormonal changes in women and exacerbated symptoms of autoimmunity. So, I am excited every time about receiving my lab results.
But for the four past years, the thyroid antibody results stayed in the norm.
Dr. Wahls Protocol
Dr. Terry Wahls is one of the personalities I admire and have received important knowledge from.
I’ve been following her protocol for a couple of years and was able to significantly reduce this way the number of supplements that I take for health support.
Dr. Terry Wahls’ Story
Dr. Terry Wahls was diagnosed some years ago with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease attacking the nervous system. It turned out to be an aggressive form of the disease and within a few years, her physical condition declined rapidly despite the most modern treatments and medicines that were available to her.
Wahls studied functional medicine and tried to help herself by taking supplements that were supposed to support a healthy metabolism. This somewhat slowed down the decline but didn’t reverse it. Ar some point, she became so weak that was not able even to sit upright and had to use a decline chair.
In the next step, Dr. Wahls put together a specific protocol. This protocol was supposed to provide her weakened metabolic system with all the necessary components from her food.
As soon as she started to eat according to this protocol, she started recovering fast. Within a few weeks, she was able to sit, get up, and even walk. After a few months, she had her first bike ride.
Dr. Wahls was able to return to her medical research, leading a therapeutic lifestyle changes clinic in Iowa, US. She treats patients with chronic and autoimmune diseases and teaches them simple yet life-saving lifestyle interventions.
The Wahls protocol helps to reduce (autoimmune) inflammation, raise your energy levels, and sustain mental health.
The main principle of the protocol is to cover the needs of your body for nutrients as far as possible with nutritious foods. With such food, you receive not only certain beneficial compounds that your immune system needs to quench the autoimmunity but a strong cocktail of other beneficial nutrients.
And you can do so easily by consuming high-quality protein sources and a wide variety of vegetables and fruits.
Dr. Wahls advises eating omega-3-rich fish, and organ meats like liver because they are rich not only in protein but also in other valuable biologically active compounds useful for your body.
Seeds and nuts are also excellent sources of proteins as well as healthy fats. Protein supplements like collagen, whey, or vegetarian versions can be another option.
Vegetables and fruits
Wahls protocol includes eating three groups of vegetables and fruits with each meal that you take.
The first group is leafy greens. The greener the leaves are the more minerals and vitamins they contain, and the more useful they are. The richest green leaves are the power food kale. Spinach or beetroot leaves are also a great choice. There is hardly any use for your body from iceberg salad which mostly contains water.
The second group is colorful vegetables and fruits which are rich in anthocyans, which play an important role of antioxidants, protecting cells from oxidative damage. They are also rich in various vitamins and minerals.
Products containing anthocyans are, for example, paprika, beetroot, tomato, and squash but also berries like blueberries, raspberries, cherries, cranberries, and so on.
The third group is sulfur-containing vegetables. Sulfur is important for our immune system. Products containing sulfur are “smelly”. The more sulfur they contain the stronger the smell. These are all sorts of cabbages, onions, garlic, radishes, asparagus, and also mushrooms.
The stronger the smell the less of the product you need to eat. For example, in order to cover the need of your body for sulfur, you would eat three cups of cabbage a day, but far less onion or garlic.
Dr. Wahls encourages us to eat seaweeds. They are rich in iodine which is rare in soils and thus in products grown on soils.
Fats are the building blocks of every cell. The outer and inner membranes of each cell a built from fats including protein elements. Especially nerve tissue is rich in fat. Therefore it is exceptionally important to provide your body with healthy fats.
The sources of healthy fats are fatty fish (salmon, herring, sardines), seeds, nuts, olives, and oils made of those.
Probiotics are essential for our gut health but also psychological health and our immune system as our microbiome is a part of our immune system.
The easiest, most efficient to boost your microbiome is by eating traditional fermented veggies. Eating just a spoon-large portion daily will do a great job.
That’s right, the Wahls protocol restricts the intake of carbs. Dr. Wahls finds it beneficial for her to eat Paleo way most of the year.
I found it beneficial for my health to give up not only gluten-containing grains but also to minimize the intake of carb-rich rice and potatoes. Instead, I cook weekly quinoa and buckwheat. They are not considered grains but seeds and contain a high amount of protein compared to grains, as well as dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Knowing your sensitivities is crucial.
Changing the lifestyle does heal an autoimmune disease, but sends it into remission. It quenches the fire of the inflammation but certain foods can reignite it.
Dr. Terry Wahls is sensitive to peppers. Eating peppers cause a flair-up of the MS symptoms, so she excluded them from her diet.
Gluten and milk intolerances are very common and can cause serious digestion problems. I was able to heal from leaky gut syndrome by avoiding milk products and gluten.
Read my blog post about food intolerance tests here.
The principle of intermittent fasting is giving a break to your digestive system so that your body can efficiently digest, clean up, repair, heal itself, and rest. At the same time, it does not restrict the calory intake and therefore does not exhaust your body. This makes it easier to follow an intermittent fasting protocol for a long period of time making it rather a lifestyle. It is definitely important though to carefully choose what you eat (as explained above).
Time-restricted eating (TRE) is natural to humans from the evolutionary point of you in contrast to continuous eating which is possible and widely spread nowadays. It brings multiple health benefits including weight loss, cardiovascular health, reduced insulin resistance, and reduced inflammation.
There are different ways to restrict your eating time window. Dr. Terry Wahls eats twice a day – in the morning and in the evening. I prefer to delay my breakfast till noon, and have a rather early dinner and snacks between those two meals.
In the previous post on my remission, I wrote about the importance of supplements. I continue taking daily fish oil and vitamin D (except for summertime when I prefer to tank sunshine).
I still take but less regularly Selenium, Zink, Curcumin, and vitamin C supplements. These supplements are important for the immune system and offer increased natural protection against Covid.
When I look back at the time of remission I see two periods when the thyroid antibody levels dropped and when I was taking Potentilla alba supplements. This medicinal plant is well known and studied in eastern Europe but little known in western Europe (see here a review article).
The first time I achieved remission, the levels of thyroid antibodies decreased from about 200 IU/ml to normal levels. Back then I took repeatedly Endocrinol from the Russian company Evalar for periods of two months with breaks of several months in between. The breaks are needed so that the body does not get used to the intake of the plant supplement which would otherwise reduce its healing effect.
Then there was a period when I stopped taking it. During that break, the antibody levels grew slowly and almost reached the norm border (32 IU, whereas 34 IU is the upper norm border).
Then I decided to try out a new thyroid supplement containing Potentilla alba – the Endonorm supplement also developed and produced in Russia. After a two-month course, the level of thyroid antibodies fell down again to a mere 12 IU.
So, it seems that having healthy digestion and continuously consuming nutritious food, Potentilla alba supplements helped me to restore and sustain my immune health.
ENDONORM® is a purely plant-derived supplement that contains:
- White cinquefoil (Potentilla alba) roots and rootstocks extract — 200 mg;
- Beggars-ticks herb extract — 80 mg;
- Liquorice roots extract — 50 mg;
- Brown algae (devil’s apron) thalluses extract — 70 mg.
White cinquefoil (Potentilla alba L.) affects the production of the thyrotropic hormone in the anterior pituitary, normalizes the morphological structure of thyroid tissue, and returns the thyroid to the normal, euthyroid state.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra L.) normalizes functions of the adrenals, immune and reproductive systems, and restores hormonal balance in the human body.
Beggars-ticks (Bidens tripartita L.) exhibit immunomodulating activity and allow achievement of the maximum therapeutic effect in patients with diffuse toxic goiter or autoimmune thyroiditis.
Laminaria (Laminaria saccharina L.) can normalize thyroid tissue biochemistry thanks to the presence of iodine-tyrosine derivatives and its broad spectrum of macro-and micronutrients.
Iron deficiency, a typical Hashimoto’s symptom had been accompanying me for decades. It did not help that I was a vegetarian for decades. And taking iron medicines was a pain since their disrupted even more my already weak digestion, caused bloating and diarrhea, and made me feel exhausted.
I had to change my eating habits. For several months I ate weekly liver. This finally helped to raise the iron levels in the blood. But later I saw that regular cooking on a cast-iron pan helps me to sustain effectively the blood iron levels. This allows me to stick to vegetarian food which I prefer.
Mental health requires special attention and regular efforts invested into sustaining or regaining it.
I’ve been continuously learning and practicing on myself hypnosis and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) practices. Also, I followed a powerful Heart Core Leadership program in 2021. This allows me to deal with challenges, create positive moods and strive for more in my life.
Physical fitness is one of the major aspects of health. With the age, physical fitness ensures healthy aging and longevity.
There are many wonderful ways to keep you fit. I love walks and yoga. These exercises keep my body flexible and strong.
How long does one take selenium?
Studies show that the first improvements, a decrease in antibodies, are noticeable after three months of selenium supplementation. Further improvement is shown after 6 and 12 months of supplementation.
I have not found any longer studies.
It must be taken into account that selenium is an extremely important element for the immune system, but rare and not enough in food. So, selenium deficiency is considered one of the important factors leading to Hashimoto’s. At the same time, excessive iodine neutralizes selenium enzymes and exacerbates selenium deficiency and predisposition to Hashimoto’s.
On the other hand, selenium doses of 200 mcg and above can lead to serious side effects in long-term use, such as non-melanoma skin cancer and diabetes.
I had been taking 200 micrograms of selenium methionine daily for many years. During the first year, antibodies dropped from 640 IU to about 200 IU, and became stable. Further improvement came later from other measures. I didn’t experience any side effects over the years that I took selenium methionine.
It is best to find a specialist who will select for you an individual plan of selenium supplementation.
What is the psychosomatic reason for thyroid diseases in particular hypothyroidism?
Everyone will have their own psychological root cause. I write about a common reason in my previous blog post here.
Hypothyroidism is more common in women and it has been observed that the psycho-somatic reason for hypothyroidism is often an insecure family environment during childhood. Hypothyroidism slows down the entire metabolism, causing fatigue and weakness. This state helps maintain the freeze reaction of the three fight-flight-freeze responses to danger.
How many tablets of Endonorm did you take?
I took Endorm according to the recommendation in the leaflet – one capsule twice a day.
I have been keeping Hashimoto’s in the state of remission for already four years following such a lifestyle:
- following the Wahls’ protocol of consuming low-carb nutritious food, applying intermittent fasting
- taking care of my mental health with the help of hypnosis and NLP
- taking care of my physical health with regular walks and yoga practice
- taking supplements with the Potentilla alba being crucial for thyroid health.
I believe that each of the mentioned aspects played a significant role in staying in remission without experiencing flare-ups.
Please consult your doctor before taking any interventions mentioned in this post.
- Sammaritano LR. Menopause in patients with autoimmune diseases. Autoimmun Rev. 2012 May;11(6-7):A430-6. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2011.11.006. Epub 2011 Nov 18. PMID: 22120060.
- The Wahls Protocol® How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine
by Terry Wahls M.D., Eve Adamson, ISBN-10 9781583335543
- Adafer R, Messaadi W, Meddahi M, Patey A, Haderbache A, Bayen S, Messaadi N. Food Timing, Circadian Rhythm and Chrononutrition: A Systematic Review of Time-Restricted Eating’s Effects on Human Health. Nutrients. 2020 Dec 8;12(12):3770. doi: 10.3390/nu12123770. PMID: 33302500; PMCID: PMC7763532.
- Augustynowicz D, Podolak M, Latté KP, Tomczyk M. New Perspectives for the Use of Potentilla alba Rhizomes to Treat Thyroid Gland Impairments. Planta Med. 2021 Oct 29. doi: 10.1055/a-1663-6461. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34715695.
- Gorini F, Sabatino L, Pingitore A, Vassalle C. Selenium: An Element of Life Essential for Thyroid Function. Molecules. 2021 Nov 23;26(23):7084. doi: 10.3390/molecules26237084. PMID: 34885664; PMCID: PMC8658851.
- Kachouei A, Rezvanian H, Amini M, Aminorroaya A, Moradi E. The Effect of Levothyroxine and Selenium versus Levothyroxine Alone on Reducing the Level of Anti-thyroid Peroxidase Antibody in Autoimmune Hypothyroid Patients. Adv Biomed Res. 2018 Jan 22;7:1. doi: 10.4103/2277-9175.223735. PMID: 29456972; PMCID: PMC5812089.
- Wichman J, Winther KH, Bonnema SJ, Hegedüs L. Selenium Supplementation Significantly Reduces Thyroid Autoantibody Levels in Patients with Chronic Autoimmune Thyroiditis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Thyroid. 2016 Dec;26(12):1681-1692. doi: 10.1089/thy.2016.0256. Epub 2016 Nov 2. PMID: 27702392.
- Hahn J, Cook NR, Alexander EK, Friedman S, Walter J, Bubes V, Kotler G, Lee IM, Manson JE, Costenbader KH. Vitamin D and marine omega 3 fatty acid supplementation and incident autoimmune disease: VITAL randomized controlled trial. BMJ. 2022 Jan 26;376:e066452. doi: 10.1136/bmj-2021-066452. PMID: 35082139; PMCID: PMC8791065.