I have Hashimoto’s disease. So do about 30,000,000 other Americans, give or take a few million. I wonder if you might have it? It’s the most common of all autoimmune diseases and more than ninety percent of people (mostly women, natch) who are hypothyroid have it, even if they don’t know it. The symptoms range from brain fog, sleep disturbance, extreme fatigue, unexplained weight gain, intolerance of cold, joint and muscle pain to low libido, digestive issues, bloating and puffiness,a tendency to get carpal tunnel syndrome, etc.
I have been ingesting prescribed thryoid hormone- either natural or synthetic- for thirty years but I did not know I had Hashi’s until about 6 years ago. That’s because conventional medicine does not differentiate between autoimmune thyroid and hypothyroid, because it treats them identically, so the doctors didn’t bother to tell me. If you had cancer, would you want to know what kind of cancer you had, even if the treatment of chemotherapy and radiation would be used no matter what type of cancer it was? I know so many women who have been told their blood levels are fine, so their complaints must be psychosomatic. Sheesh! (which means full out SCREAMING RAGE without adequate outlet. Do I hear the sounds of the largest class action suit in history?)
The real question is why is the thyroid gland- the master gland of metabolism that communicates with every frigging cell in your entire body- so often ‘attacking itself’?
At this time in our history, the U.S. has a veritable epidemic of autoimmune diseases, which are said to affect well over 60,000,000 people, or about one in five. Next time you count about 25 people in the grocery line while you wait impatiently, know that 5 of them have so much inflammation in their bodies, that their bodies are confused and attacking their own cells. Probably 3-4 of them have Hashimoto’s.
Autoimmune diseases were extremely uncommon a century ago, so we know we have created and are responsible for near epidemic numbers of people with autoimmunity. There are now over 100 autoimmune diseases that are new to medical lexicon and are occurring at alarming rates. Our polluted environment, nutrient-deprived foods, and the ingestion of toxins like additives, plastics, mercury fillings, as well as unresolved trauma and highly stressful lifestyles result in chronic inflammation, which gravitates to an organ or bodily system that has some type of inherent weakness, causing the profound distress that eventually becomes an autoimmune disease. Our bodies cannot take the toxic ingredients that they are tasked with assimilating or the toxic environments they must live in.
Virtually every chronic autoimmune disease shares in common that the body appears to be attacking itself (more on that in a future post), including but not limited to: multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, interstitial cystitis, fibromyalgia, systemic lupus erythematosus, Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Sjögren’s syndrome, systemic sclerosis, dermatomyositis, primary biliary cirrhosis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, vitiligo, bullous pemphigoid, alopecia areata, idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy, type 1 diabetes mellitus, IgA nephropathy, membranous nephropathy, relapsing polychondritis, and pernicious anemia. Hashimoto’s is by far the most common autoimmune disease, affecting 30,000,000 people. Alzheimer’s, sometimes referred to as Diabetes 3, and other memory disorders are now considered autoimmune disorders of the brain.
How do cells go from being healthy and happy to pissed off and inflamed? The cellular breakdown happens over our lifetimes and autoimmunity is the expression of prolonged inflammation building upon inflammation. However, now more and more children have autoimmune and chronic health issues at such very young ages and we can see that our kids are inheriting our chronic conditions, thereby starting off their lives with tendencies towards inflammation.
How to deal with the overwhelm of having an autoimmune disease, getting medical advice that does not help and living with chronic pain? How to move into resolving the health problems and healing? I am here to say that many, many of us are doing it, sometimes quickly and other times slowly. For me, it was very slow and sometimes imperceptible. It happened over two decades and continues, as I also had chronic back pain, interstitial cystitis and systemic candida. I no longer have brain fog and my digestion is better. I sleep well and have as much energy as I need. My overall fluish feeling and muscle pain of twenty-five years has disappeared. My bladder is not overactive. I still have intolerance to cold which I manage with a lot of extra warm sweaters and socks!
I am here to say that there is hope. I did it slowly and often my healing journey was frustrating. I was my own guinea pig. I no longer have any mercury fillings. I do not eat gluten, processed foods, or soy. I eat very little to know foods with dairy or sugar. I use stainless steel and glass containers, having gotten rid of plastic tubs and teflon. I have ingested Chinese herbs and all sorts of supplements for years. I have seen every type of healing practitioner imaginable. I have tried so many different approaches to food and eating and fasting. I have done therapy and coaching. I have prayed for clarity and guidance.
Now there is so much more information and options. People are healing faster. Their trajectories are a lot more linear than mine was because we know so much more. So don’t give up. There is relief and support waiting for you! If you are struggling, try working with a coach and learn how to take small steps towards success!