From threatened removal of thyroid to healthy balance
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
Client name and identifying information changed
Iris came to me many years ago, already on medication for her overactive thyroid but the drugs didn’t appear to make enough difference. She had also been diagnosed with Grave’s disease, an auto-immune thyroid condition. The doctors treating her recommended removing her thyroid if her body did not settle down by the next visit.
She came to me to see how to get things settled so she could hopefully avoid surgery. Apart from the risks involved in surgery she didn’t want to be on thyroid medication for life. But more importantly, she understood there must be something that was causing the imbalance and wanted to address it.
For many previous years, Iris had digestive problems. She was always getting constipated and bloated and reacted to many foods that she couldn’t isolate by herself. She would occasionally get a ‘tummy bug’ that would be treated with antibiotics. Iris also tried probiotics but these made her more bloated, as did fermented foods.
Then suddenly she started to get anxiety attacks, sleeplessness and lost weight rapidly, which she loved at first, but then it was too much and she also thought she was going a bit crazy in the head. All her prior focus and concern about her gut dissipated because she now had a new problem – her thyroid was out of control.
The tests I organised showed high inflammation, dysbiosis (bacterial imbalance in her gut), parasites and intolerance (IgG) reactions to gluten, dairy, soy, corn, chocolate and pistachio nuts. Her zinc and iron levels were very low and magnesium, selenium, B6 and B12 were sub-optimal (below a healthy range).
Iris had been eating different types of foods but mostly carbs as she feared losing more weight. Her anxiety made her feel like drinking lots of alcohol to try to calm down.
Essentially, her diet was not helping her condition and was no doubt making it worse.
While we waited for her test results to come back, I started Iris on a gluten, dairy, sugar and alcohol-free diet to see if her inflammation would settle down. When she came back for the results after a couple of weeks, she was already feeling much better.
With the food intolerances now confirmed, I advised her to also remove the extra foods on her list from her diet, and continue to avoid gluten, dairy, sugar and alcohol. We started a gut healing protocol to get rid of parasites and change her ‘bad’ gut bacteria balance over to the ‘good guys’. A combination of supplements and the diet changes made a huge difference.
Part of the healing protocol was to use bone broths to restore the gut and help to further settle the inflammation. Iris was also instructed to eat foods rich in the nutrients she was deficient in, such as zinc, magnesium, selenium and vitamin B. These vitamins and minerals are crucial for a healthy functioning thyroid, along with vitamin D. (Iris’s vitamin D levels were fine as she loved getting out in the sun for her daily walk).
After only three weeks into the protocol, Iris was due to see her doctor and her blood tests showed no antibodies and her thyroid levels appeared normal. She was still on medication at this stage and after another six weeks on the hyperthyroid diet and avoiding foods she was intolerant to, she was starting to feel quite tired.
I asked her to return to her doctor even though she wasn’t due for another month. Her blood tests then showed underactivity of her thyroid, which was probably due to her medication that was not needed anymore. The doctor took her off her meds and kept a close check on her, re-testing every three weeks over a few months. Her levels have remained stable ever since.
Re-testing her gut also showed that all was good there and she no longer had any digestive issues. Her energy was good, with no more anxiety, she was sleeping well and back to feeling normal again.