Hashimoto disease | autoimmuniy | remission
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My Hashimoto’s Remission and Learnings

In this post, I am telling about my Hashimoto’s (autoimmunity) remission journey and sharing my learnings with you that can inspire you to take action.

My personal success story will explain why I am such a tireless advocate of conscious eating, taking supplements, and resolving psychological root causes of chronic diseases.

A Bolt from the Blue Sky

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From my childhood, I had good health. From the age of about ten till my late twenties I didn’t go to the doctors and didn’t take any medicines. Moreover, I was and am a person avoiding any drugs when possible.

In 2007, in my early thirties, I went for a medical check-up after I had my first daughter.

The doctor was very thorough and did an extensive blood check. After that, she announced that I have an autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Also, she explained that I have to take thyroid hormone meds for the rest of my life.

Just imagine how shocked I was! I never went to that doctor again being angry about her verdict.

What is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

But as I learned later, this doctor actually did a brilliant job. It is because Hashimoto’s is very difficult to diagnose and often doctors do not perform a specific test.

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease of the thyroid gland. Meaning that my immune system was attacking and destroying my thyroid causing a lack of thyroid hormones, or hypothyroidism.

The proof of Hashimoto thyroiditis is the presence of specific thyroid antibodies in blood above the norm of 34 IU/ml. I had about 640 IU/ml when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s.

Thyroid | Hypothyroidism | hashimoto's thyroiditis | autoimmunity | hypnotherapy | new empowered you | olga willemsen

Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease

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Hashimoto’s thyroiditis does not have any symptoms in the thyroid gland itself.

Instead, it can show up as multiple non-specific symptoms because the thyroid hormones, Thyroxine regulate the metabolism rate in our body.

Hashimoto hypothyroidism develops over years. As it progresses, one or more of the following symptoms can manifest:

  • Poor appetite, gut mobility, and uptake of nutrients from food
  • a slowed heart rate
  • fatigue
  • weight gain
  • intolerance for cold
  • dry skin; dry, thinning hair
  • heavy or irregular menstrual periods and problems becoming pregnant
  • brain fog and memory problems
  • depression
  • joint and muscle pain
  • constipation

Conventional medicine claims that Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is incurable. The only way to deal with it is to replace the missing thyroid hormones with medication.

Over 10 years of trials

Well, I decided not to believe this claim and started searching for solutions.

The first solution I found pretty soon. It was selenium – an element that is used by our immune system. Read more about Selenium supplementation below.

Food Sensitivities

Later I discovered food sensitivities and the ways to test them. I purchased an IgG antibodies test, FoodDetectivetm, and did it at home.

Meanwhile, there are more tests available on the market and labs performing IgG antibodies tests. You can consult your doctor about different possibilities.

This test showed me that I need to exclude grains (wheat and rye) and milk products from my diet.

Consuming products that you are sensitive to affects your digestion and health in general.

Gluten sensitivity (wheat, rye) specifically is meanwhile known to be closely related to autoimmune diseases.

Food sensitivity test | hashimoto's remission and learnings | wellbeing blog

Every day we live and every meal we eat we influence the great microbial organ inside us – for better or for worse.

Giulia Enders, author of Gut

“Gut” is the bestselling book of Giulia Enders that taught me much about the central role of the gut for the whole body and mind.

“Gut” was described by The Guardian as the book celebrating the digestive tract. It can teach you a science-based story of your gut in a charming way with a good portion of humor.

Eliminating grains and milk products helped me to restore my gut health. I didn’t even realize back then that the symptoms that accompanied me for years were typical manifestations of the leaky gut syndrome. But they disappeared soon after adjusting my nutrition.

Read more about different food sensitivity testing methods here.

Izabella Wentz | hashimoto's remission and learnings | wellbeing blog

Experts

Later I discovered the book by Izabella Wentz, called thyroid pharmacist.

Izabella Wentz suffered from several severe symptoms for years before she was finally diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. She has been doing profound scientific literature research about the thyroid and its autoimmunity.

Izabella Wentz is the author of several bestselling books and programs which helped thousands of people to deal with Hashimoto’s disease and even go into remission.

I learned and applied much from Izalebella’s books for example about the role of iodine, soy products in triggering thyroid autoimmunity, and useful supplements.

Uncontrolled Consumption of Iodine

Iodine is an important constituent of thyroid hormones. But iodine excess is toxic to cells and especially the thyroid gland. As you know Iodine is a scarce element in soils and therefore added to foods.

Iodine is added to salt and therefore can be found in many of our products – bread, pasta, cheese, etc. Unfortunately, this led to uncontrolled excessive consumption of iodine.

Many products naturally contain iodine. Seaweeds like kelp contain large amounts of iodine.

A free Iodine Inventory app can help you to keep track of the amount of iodine in the everyday diet that you are consuming.

With the Iodine Inventory, you can check if you are still in the safe zone.

Iodine excess | Hashimoto thyroiditis | Thyroid autoimmunity | new empoweerd you | olga willemsen | hypnotherapy

Moreover, if you live near a coast you absorb iodine literally from there. Seaweeds accumulate and excrete iodine into the air. The amount of iodine in the air is proportional to the amount of seaweeds in the area.

Izabella Wentz brings attention to the scientific evidence that uncontrolled intake of iodine is one of the important triggers of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and led to an epidemic of Hashimoto’s disease.

I banned iodine salt from my kitchen several years ago and use sea salt instead.

Supplements for Hashimoto’s

Firstly, I am a great believer that our food must be rich and provide us with all the macro and micronutrients that our body needs. At the beginning of my healing journey, I was convinced that I eat healthily and that my food contains everything my body needs.

But later I have been changing and adjusting my diet. And I changed my opinion about supplements radically. Now, I do believe that we need supplements for optimal health, well-being, and longevity.

From Wentz’s books, I learned and tried out different supplements. I believe that some of the supplements were especially useful for me – namely, selenium, vitamin D, curcumin (turmeric extract), as well as Potentilla alba.

Check this post about the source of scientifically-based information about supplements.

Selenium

Selenium was the first supplement that I started taking.

It was observed that Hashimoto’s patients often have Selenium deficiency. And it is selenium deficiency in combination with the iodine excess that can trigger the autoimmune reaction against the thyroid.

Selenium taken along with the L-thyroxine medication was able to lower the thyroid antibodies’ levels from 640 IU (international units) to the stable 200 IU (the norm is <35 IU/ml).

The therapeutic dose of selenium is not related to the recommended daily intake but is higher. I was taking 200 mcg (364% of the daily recommended dose).

The form of selenium is important – selenium methionine, an organic compound, is the active and useful form of selenium.

To achieve a decrease in antibodies, selenium needs to be taken for several months. I had been taking Selenium daily for several years.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a very important vitamin to supplement in winter times. Its deficiency directly correlates with the incidents of autoimmune diseases and certain cancers.

Hashimoto’s patients have typically low blood levels of vitamin D. And it was only when I started taking high doses of vitamin D that the blood levels finally reached the norm.

Curcumin

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Curcumin has several beneficial properties that help Hashimoto’s (autoimmune disease) patients. It is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, that also reduces symptoms of depression.

Turmeric has weaker therapeutic properties compared to extract curcumin. Though the substance is very potent it is poorly retained in the body, being excreted very fast.

It is important to take a formulation that is retained in the body longer. I’ve been using a liposomal formulation offering significantly higher efficiency.

Interest in supplements grows constantly. They have been researched continuously. The newest proven information can help you to make the right choices of supplements.

Potentilla аlba

Even if autoimmune inflammation is reduced the thyroid function does not get restored by default.
The thyroid gets damaged by the autoimmune attack. This is recognizable in typical for Hashimoto’s grainy structure on ultrasound pictures.
Potentilla Alba has been successfully used in Russia to balance thyroid function. It is used both in hyper- and hypothyroidism.

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I took Potentilla Alba supplements several times for a period of two months. This allowed me to restore thyroid function and reduce the L-Tyroksin dose from 100 to 75 micrograms even before achieving remission.

Here you can find a research summary on Potentilla Alba usage to improve thyroid function.
I’ve used both Endocrinol from the Russian company Evalar and Endonorm. The first is not available, but the second is available for shipping abroad. You can read more about the importance of this supplement for my remission in a newer post.

Allies

When I started trying out different interventions from the Wentz protocol I needed to evaluate how they help. For that, I actually needed to directly measure the thyroid antibodies in my blood.

I asked my family doctor to perform blood tests. At that time I already lived in the Netherlands. The doctor was convinced that Hashimoto’s is an incurable disease. Moreover, the Dutch medical system is known as economical. The answer to my requests to measure antibodies repeatedly was a plain “No”.

I found a different specialist who was open to collaborating with me and responding to my needs and requests. Such doctors are still rather an exception but it is worth finding one.

Where to find such an ally

The website of Izabella Wentz runs a database with a list of medical practitioners recommended by patients. Those doctors:

  • listen carefully to the patients and pay attention to their symptoms
  • order a comprehensive thyroid tests panel (free T3, free T4, reverse T3, thyroid antibodies, and TSH) and thyroid-related tests (like vitamin D and iron tests for deficiencies)
  • are willing to prescribe different types of thyroid hormone medications
  • apply the integrative approach, for example, treat nutritional imbalances, leaky gut, and other related conditions

You can even add your doctor to this database if he or she treats you accordingly to the above requirements.

Hashimoto’s Mistakes

There are some mistakes that I made in the past and would not repeat again if I was given a chance to repeat the journey.

Not taking Medicine

One of them was stopping taking Tyroksin meds just because I disliked so much the idea of being dependent on meds for the rest of my life.

A study has shown that about 50% of hypothyroidism patients fail to take thyroid medicine regularly. Though the main reason for that is the requirement to fast for at least half an hour after taking the medicine and before having breakfast.

This is a significant mistake as all the symptoms due to the missing hormone that are described above are getting more severe, and all organs and tissues like muscles get weaker.

Taking Medicine with Iron Supplement

One of the typical symptoms of Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism is low values of blood iron (anemia). This was one of the most resistant symptoms that I had. And it had the most effect on me during pregnancy time.

I went regularly to the gynecologist for check-ups during my pregnancies. And it was during the second pregnancy that I had Hashimoto’s diagnosis, took Levothyroksin, and then low levels of iron were found.

Levothyroxine medicine is taken in low dosages, at microgram levels and its absorption gets easily influenced by ingesting foods or specific substances. Therefore one has to take the medicine first thing in the morning and then fast for at least half an hour before having breakfast.

Iron is one of the substances that interfere with the absorption of levothyroxine in the digestive tract. Unfortunately, the gynecologist that prescribed the iron supplement didn’t know this and even reassured me that I can take both together.

This caused an abrupt decrease in levothyroxine levels and, in my case, extreme mood swings and tiredness during pregnancy. I found the right information and stopped taking the medicines together immediately.

Psychological Root Causes

I am a great believer that every chronic or autoimmune disease has a psychological root cause besides genetics and environmental causes like toxicity.

It is known that Hashimoto thyroiditis affects women more often than men. And there are different studies indicating that Hashimoto’s disease can serve as an adjustment and protection mechanism for the body.

The psychological factors causing such protection mechanisms can be an unfavorable environment in childhood like violence, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse between parents or towards the child, addictions of parents, loss of a family member, etc.

I used hypnotherapy to deal with my insecurities. Hypnotherapy offers powerful tools to resolve a load of emotional hurt from the past.

Impossible Becomes Possible

In 2017, I went for another blood test which showed that thyroid antibodies were in the norm (<34 IU/ml). The comment of the responsible immunologist was saying that the diagnosis of Hashimoto’s is not confirmed.

The test was repeated. Two months, two years, and even three years later it was still negative.

The antibody count dropped within ten years from about 640 to 200, to 100, and finally to below 30 IU/ml.

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The Journey Continues

Healing | Hashimoto thyroiditis | Hashimoto disease | new empowered you | olga willemsen | hypnotherapy

I do though believe that my immune system would flare up and start again its fight against my own thyroid if I go back to consuming wheat and milk products, iodine salt, and stop using supplements.

Also, the function of the thyroid was restored through the interventions only to some extent. And I still need to take daily thyroid hormones though at a lower dose than at the very beginning.

So, I will continue my search for solutions to be fit and vital.

Many people would say that those are too many lifestyle restrictions and too much sacrifice.

But for me, these restrictions are only the means to be able to live better and enjoy my life more, to be a better mother for my daughters, and to be there for my clients.

I choose long-term, sustainable life pleasure over short-term pleasure.

If changing your lifestyle seems to be impossible using therapy or coaching can be an option. Hypnotherapy works with the root causes of your resistance and is therefore exceptionally effective in changing your mindset and setting you up for success.

It is known that perimenopausal and menopausal hormonal changes can trigger Hashimoto’s even in till then healthy women. Since this phase of life is approaching me, I might need to deal with additional challenges. I will keep you updated about my interventions and their results.

Read an update to my remission story here.

Conclusions

These are the learnings from my Hashimoto’s journey that I wanted to share with you:

  • Let the quality of your life be the priority over instant pleasures.
  • Take full accountability not simply relying on the treating doctor or on prescribed medicines.
  • Look for knowledge and experts that can help.
  • Resolve the psychological root cause of your condition.
  • Adopt the lifestyle and nutrition that helps with your condition.
    • Test and exclude foods that you are sensitive to.
    • Take supplements that help your condition.
    • Control your Iodine intake

Have you or someone in your family had symptoms that could not be explained by your doctor?

Disclaimer

Please consult your doctor before taking any interventions mentioned in this post.

References

  • Farebrother J, Zimmermann MB, Andersson M. Excess iodine intake: sources, assessment, and effects on thyroid function. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2019 Jun;1446(1):44-65. doi: 10.1111/nyas.14041. Epub 2019 Mar 20. PMID: 30891786.
  • Liontiris MI, Mazokopakis EE. A concise review of Hashimoto thyroiditis (HT) and the importance of iodine, selenium, vitamin D and gluten on the autoimmunity and dietary management of HT patients.Points that need more investigation. Hell J Nucl Med. 2017 Jan-Apr;20(1):51-56. doi: 10.1967/s002449910507. Epub 2017 Mar 20. PMID: 28315909.
  • Ihnatowicz P, Drywień M, Wątor P, Wojsiat J. The importance of nutritional factors and dietary management of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Ann Agric Environ Med. 2020 Jun 19;27(2):184-193. doi: 10.26444/aaem/112331. Epub 2019 Oct 2. PMID: 32588591.
  • Zsolt Hepp, Kathleen Wyne, Shivaji R. Manthena, Siting Wang & Ved Gossain (2018) Adherence to thyroid hormone replacement therapy: a retrospective, claims database analysis, Current Medical Research and Opinion, 34:9, 1673-1678, DOI: 10.1080/03007995.2018.1486293
  • Scavone C, Sportiello L, Cimmaruta D, Sullo MG, Vitelli B, Rafaniello C, et al. Medication adherence and the use of new pharmaceutical formulations: the case of levothyroxine. Minerva Endocrinol 2016 June;41(2):279-89. 
  • Kandukuri RC, Khan MA, Soltys SM. Nonadherence to medication in hypothyroidism: a case report. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2010;12(3):PCC.09m00863. doi: 10.4088/PCC.09m00863gre. PMID: 20944769; PMCID: PMC2947542.
  • Wiesner A, Gajewska D, Paśko P. Levothyroxine Interactions with Food and Dietary Supplements-A Systematic Review. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2021 Mar 2;14(3):206. doi: 10.3390/ph14030206. PMID: 33801406; PMCID: PMC8002057.
  • 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.

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6 Comments

  1. Здравствуйте Ольга!
    Благодарю Вас за эту историю, за то что Вы её описали в подробностях.
    Скажите пожалуйста, какой у Вас уровень ТТГ и Т3свободного был на время последнего тестирования?
    Я тоже борюсь с Хашимото иду примерно тем же путем хотя есть и отличия.

    1. Здравствуйте, Мила,
      ТТГ и Т3 меняются даже после ремиссии. Я заметила, что они зависят от психического состояния, его стабильности.
      Около 2х лет назад у меня был период стресса и показатели щитовидки ухудшились.
      После коррекции (поднятия) дозы тироксина некоторое время назад теперь показатели очень хорошие. В настоящее время я принимаю 88 мкг тироксина.
      Для поддержки метаболизма, а значит всех функций организма, всех органов важно подбирать оптимальную дозу тироксина.
      Последние анализы в этом году показали ТТГ 2,5, а свободнго Т3 4. Оба показателя в середине “нормы”.
      Тоже все показатели железа были впервые за десятелетия в норме, ближе к середине нормы. Анемия – один из типичных сопутствующих симптомов Хашимото.
      Было бы интересно узнать, какие меры позволяют Вам добиться успеха ремиссии.

      1. Здравствуйте Ольга! Спасибо за ответ 8 лет назад я лечила гипотиреоз классической гомеопатией и мне удавалось сойти до минимальной дозы эутирокса 25мкг. Но когда случался стресс все слетало с катушек( Я пробовала разное, но поеяла что нужен комплексный подход! У меня были АТПО 800 а после стреса ТТГ 100 Т4св.грусть тоска ( все застопорилось. А я очень не хочу висеть на гормоне( у меня к нему психологическое не принятие! Но пока так. Мой комплекс включает в себя: ашваганду, спирулину, витамин Д+К, селен, магний и ванны с ним в холодное время года, л-тирозин курсами пью и он прям хорошо работает. Зимой я себя поддерживаю промасливанием (абхьянга), для психической стабильности ежедневная медитация и йога (без этого мне вообще нельзя). Питание противовоспалительное без молочки, глютена, сахара, сои, кукурудзы, канолы. Яйца оставила). Питаюсь по аюрведическим канонам в соответствии своей конституции и это тоже большая поддержка для тела. Также оставила гомеопатическое лечение.
        Я закинула все удочки! Почти за год такого труда Т4 по срединке стал. Ттг 8 сейчас на 25мкг. И АТПО 100. Я всячески избегаю стресов, споров, скандалов, плохих фильмов, новостей, неоднозначных людей и общения с ними. Я понимаю как все шатко и каждый день как челендж в плане защиты своего тела.

        1. Очень интересно, Мила. У меня есть опыт работы с Аюрведой, наукой о жизни. Я обожаю эту идею, что здоровье это не отсутствие болезни, а оптимальное состояние организма и психики. А также, что мы отличаемся друг от друга по своей природе и поэтому лечение должно быть согласовано с нашей первоначальной природой и отклонением от оптимального состояния.
          Я вскоре добавлю к статье мой опыт использования Лапчатки Белой. В России она применяется для лечения как повышенной так и пониженной активности щитовидной железы. Использование Лапчатки позволило мне уменьшить применяемую дозу Тироксина, т.е укрепило щитовидку.
          По поводу избегания стрессов, мне кажется важным, чтобы мы не стали избегать самой жизни. Поэтому важно работать над укреплением психической стабильности, уверенности в себе. Важную роль в этом я придаю гипнотерапии, ежедневным практикам йоги, медитации, дыхательным практикам, ритуалам благодарности и т.п.

          1. Оля, именно так и есть. Поиск ответов на такие вопросы зачастую тоже стресс( и пока я не увидела позитивных изменений в этих тяжких жизнь казалось проходила сквозь меня. Лишь когда все вошло в привычку а это 4-5мес.я почувствовала что в правильном направлении иду. А вот с лапчатки я хотела начать 7 лет назад но сама боялась её пить. Фитотерапевта толкового не нашла тогда. Мне было бы интересно почитать об этом на Вашей страничке.
            Оля желаю Вам силы не сдаваться для того чтобы обрести стабильность и стойкую ремиссию!!!

          2. Спасибо, Мила, за добрые пожелания! Я добавила информацию о моем опыте использования лапчатки со ссылками на исследования.

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