Why Thyroid Healing Roadblocks Are Common
Hitting roadblocks on your thyroid healing journey is very common. Even so, it’s discouraging to feel like you’re doing everything right but not seeing the expected results.
Over the years, I’ve seen six main issues come up time and time again that cause people to hit these roadblocks. Today’s episode is for anyone with a thyroid condition who chooses to take a natural treatment approach.
I’m discussing why it seems these healing roadblocks are becoming more common and some of the things you can do to move past them.
During this episode, you’ll learn about:
- Why I’m doing an episode on thyroid healing roadblocks
- Issue #1: Diet
- Many people are not strict enough with their diet
- The number one priority is eating whole, healthy foods
- Issue #2: Adrenal Health
- The many problems caused by chronic stress
- How to start an achievable and effective stress management routine
- To have healthy sex hormones, you need to have healthy adrenals
- What you can do to improve the health of your vagus nerve
- Prioritize getting sufficient sleep
- Issue #3: Unidentified Triggers
- The triad of autoimmunity: genetics, environmental triggers, and leaky gut
- How to identify all your triggers
- It’s common to have multiple triggers
- The difficulty with testing for certain hidden triggers
- Issue #4: Continued Exposure to Triggers
- Accidental cross-contamination can cause issues
- Sometimes multiple rounds are necessary to eradicate infections
- Issue #5: Gut Health
- You can’t have a healthy immune system if you don’t have a healthy gut
- How to know if you have leaky gut or intestinal dysbiosis
- Signs that leaky gut has been healed
- Issue #6: Overlooked Roadblocks
- Electromagnetic fields (EMFs)/electronic pollution and chronic conditions
- Less common factors that can act as hidden triggers
Mentioned in this episode
- Join the Reduce Your Toxic Thyroid FREE 5-Day Challenge – We start the week of October 17, 2022! Learn more and register for free at ThyroidChallenge.com
- HeartMath Inner Balance™
- Save My Thyroid Podcast:
- Episode 32: Effective Sleep Strategies with Dr. Damiana Corca
- Episode 7: Graves’ Disease Triggers and the 5-R Protocol (learn more about the Triad of Autoimmunity)
- Episode 31: Thyroid Antibodies: What You Need To Know
- Episode 50: How To Lower Thyroid Antibodies
- Episode 41: My Chronic Lyme Disease Story
- Episode 24: Toxic Mold and Thyroid Autoimmunity with Bridgit Danner
- Episode 45: Overcoming Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance with Beth O’Hara
- Natural Endocrine Solutions Article | Thyroid Health Tip: Getting Optimal Sleep Each Night Without Taking Supplements
Free resources for your thyroid health
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Here is the transcript for this episode:
Welcome back to the Save My Thyroid podcast. This is Dr. Eric Osansky, and in this episode, I am going to discuss the different thyroid healing roadblocks and what you can do to overcome them. The reason why I decided to put together this episode is because it’s very common for people to hit roadblocks. With my patients, I have a couple of group coaching calls per month, and every time I have a group coaching call, I do a brief presentation to go over some of the basics as far as diet and lifestyle, and I also talk about roadblocks, why some people hit them. Once again, I figured I would put together a podcast presentation on this. Let’s go ahead and get rollin’.
One reason why people hit roadblocks is they are not being strict enough with their diet. Food without question can be a trigger of Graves’ and Hashimoto’s. Even if you have a non-autoimmune thyroid condition, certain foods can be inflammatory. That being said, food isn’t the only trigger. If you’re thinking, “Hey, I have been super strict with my diet,” maybe you follow the autoimmune protocol and haven’t noticed any changes or maybe some slight changes, it’s because there are other factors. That being said, food is an important piece of the puzzle. If you’re eating inflammatory foods, you probably will not achieve optimal health and probably will hit one or more roadblocks along the way.
As far as what type of diet you should follow, that really depends on the person. There is not a single diet that applies to everybody. For those with autoimmune conditions such as Graves’ or Hashimoto’s, I do like the AIP diet. I look at it as a starting point, like an elimination diet. For some people, it might not be a good fit. I might start someone on AIP, and maybe they are a better fit for a regular Paleo diet, for example. Sometimes we need to have someone follow a different type of diet.
The #1 priority is eating whole, healthy foods regardless of whether someone is following AIP, paleo, Mediterranean, ketogenic, carnivore, or vegan/vegetarian. There are so many diets out there. If you’re following a strict diet but your symptoms or blood test aren’t improving, this means that you most likely have other triggers and underlying imbalances that need to be addressed.
A second reason why some people hit roadblocks along the way is because they are not doing a good job of managing stress. Chronic stress without question is a factor of many chronic health conditions, including thyroid conditions. Chronic stress causes a dysregulation in the immune system. As a result, it causes an increase in proinflammatory cytokines. As the name implies, these promote inflammation.
Chronic stress also weakens immunity, which can make you more susceptible to infections, which in turn can be a trigger of autoimmune conditions and non-autoimmune conditions, such as subacute thyroiditis, which is usually caused by a viral infection.
How can you effectively manage stress during tough times, like we have been having over the last few years? Regardless of when you’re listening to this, there are always challenges. There are always stressors. I wish I had a perfect answer, but we’re all going to deal with stressors. Sometimes, stressors are going to be from out of nowhere. There might be a sudden death in the family or a friend, or an illness, or a trauma. Other times, we could prepare for certain stressors. For example, I have aging parents, and I know that doesn’t get easier as they get older. It’s something that many others have to deal with as well.
Regardless of what type of stressor you’re dealing with, I would recommend to block out time for stress management. I realize that some people at least will say they don’t have the time for stress management. If this describes you, then you especially need to block out time for stress management. If you’re in a situation where you just don’t have time to block out time for stress management, you need it more than anyone else.
What I tell people to do is start out with five minutes per day. If you do 10 minutes, that’s great. Let’s just say five minutes per day of some type of mind/body medicine: yoga, meditation, biofeedback, tai chi. Some people will say reading or watching TV is their form of stress management. They think any type of quiet time is a form of stress management. I get it. I understand. When some people sit back and watch TV, they are in a relaxed state. But you want some quiet time, ideally away from technology. An exception may be an app for stress management for meditation. I use Heart Math, which measures heart rate variability. Start with five minutes, and gradually increase to 20-30 minutes per day. You might start with five minutes, and then a few weeks later, gradually increase to 10 minutes.
The key is to do it every single day. What I see a lot of people do is they might do yoga three or four days a week, and then the other days, they don’t do anything for stress management. You want to do something every day. You don’t have to spend the same amount of time every day. For example, if you go to a yoga studio or practice yoga at home (I don’t do yoga, so you don’t have to do yoga) three days a week, and you’re spending 30 minutes or an hour at the studio, it doesn’t mean you have to spend 30 minutes or an hour the other days. You could spend 5-10 minutes the other days if that’s all the time you have.
I fit in that category as well. When I dealt with Graves’, stress was a big factor. I definitely had the excuse that I didn’t have time for stress management. I can make that excuse now as well, just because I have a never-ending to-do list. I prioritize stress management. I prioritize other things, too, like eating well and exercising regularly. Definitely block out time for stress management. The more time you dedicate to stress management techniques, the more it will benefit your health.
Even if you’re out of town, I would keep up with the routine. If you get into the routine of blocking out 20 minutes per day for stress management, when you’re out of town, whether it’s for vacation or business, maybe you don’t have 20 minutes per day, or you don’t want to spend 20 minutes per day on vacation. I would still block out at least five minutes per day. I still wouldn’t neglect the stress management aspect when you’re out of town. Definitely make this a goal if you’re not blocking out time for stress management already. Do this right away. Do this today. I wouldn’t set a goal to do it a month or two months from now. Try to do this right away.
I can’t stress enough the importance of the adrenals being healthy. In order to have healthy sex hormones, you need to have healthy adrenals. I mention this because a lot of people do have sex hormone imbalances. They might take progesterone or testosterone or estrogen. There is a time and place for that. You definitely need to do things for stress, too.
I want to discuss four factors that can help you to achieve optimal health since we are talking about stress management and adrenals. I brought up diet, eating whole, healthy foods. Minimizing refined foods and sugars is important.
Getting sufficient sleep is also important. Improving stress management skills, as I discussed. Sometimes, you need to take supplements to support adrenals.
Something else you can do is work on improving the health of your vagus nerve. Chronic stress has a negative effect on vagus nerve function. It plays an important role in the parasympathetic nervous system. Many people are in that fight or flight state, that sympathetic state. You want to be more in a parasympathetic state. Doing vagus nerve exercises can help. Incorporating mind/body medicine can have a great impact. There are other things you can do as well.
I think I mentioned Heart Math. I do things to increase heart rate variability through a program called Inner Balance, which is through a company called Heart Math. Most people don’t use Heart Math. They just incorporate meditation or yoga or another form of mind/body medicine. That’s what works for me.
Something else you can do when it comes to improving the health of your vagus nerve is vigorous gargling, two minutes. It may sound strange, but that is one thing that is easy to do to stimulate the vagus nerve.
Doing things to stimulate your gag reflex. Singing loud in the shower or in the car or somewhere else can also help with the vagus nerve.
Coffee enemas. I can’t say I regularly do coffee enemas or have patients do them. I’m not against them. I know a brilliant doctor who recommends these; he is the only one I have heard who says coffee enemas stimulate the vagus nerve. I know they are good for detoxification, but he also says that according to his research, and he does do a lot, he wouldn’t just say something to say it. That may be something to consider. But that does take more time, whereas vigorous gargling or singing loud in the shower doesn’t take as much time.
Sleep. Not getting enough sleep. Getting sufficient sleep is important from an overall health perspective. As far as how much sleep you should get, there is debate on this. Many practitioners agree that at least 7-8 hours per night is necessary on a regular basis. If you have a night every now and then where it’s only five or six hours, it’s not the end of the world. It’s not optimal. Even a single night where you are not getting enough sleep can have a negative effect on your health.
I know there are times where I don’t get seven or eight hours of sleep. On average, I aim for at least seven hours though. This doesn’t mean 7-8 hours in bed. If you’re in bed for seven hours, you’re probably not going to be asleep for seven hours. At least, I won’t be asleep for seven hours if I’m in bed for seven hours. I give it some time to fall asleep. Usually, I don’t wake up in the middle of the night. Sometimes I will, to use the restroom, and then I fall right back asleep.
Some people do have issues falling back asleep, and that can be due to numerous reasons. It could be blood sugar or adrenals. You have to factor that in as well. If you’re in bed for eight hours, and then it takes you 30 minutes to fall asleep, and you wake up in the middle of the night, and it takes you another 30 minutes to fall back asleep, you are only getting seven hours. On the other hand, if you’re up in the middle of the night for two hours, then you’re getting only 5.5 hours of sleep in that example. You have to take that into consideration, which I think most people realize.
I did an episode previously where I interviewed someone else with regard to getting better sleep. I do have an article on getting optimal sleep each night without taking supplements because while there is a time and place for that, you don’t want to rely on them.
Another reason why people hit roadblocks is because they haven’t found all their triggers, and that’s one of the things I try to help people do. There is the triad of autoimmunity I have mentioned in other episodes. One component of that triad is a genetic component, which you can’t do anything about. The other two factors, you can do something about, which are more important. They play a greater role in the development of autoimmunity. The second component is exposure to one or more environmental triggers, and the third component is the increase of intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut.
As far as how you find triggers, most practitioners will do a health history. They will also evaluate the person’s symptoms. I do this as well. I also like to do testing to find the triggers. The testing I do depends on the person. There is conservative testing, which is what I usually do. When I dealt with Graves’, I had what I consider to be basic testing, like saliva testing for adrenals, nutrient testing, blood testing. Some people need more comprehensive testing. Some people might need a comprehensive stool panel or an organic acids test or something else. It really does depend on the person.
I can’t say everybody gets conservative testing. It’s up to the person of course. Even if I recommend comprehensive testing, and they can only afford a test or two, we will just order the test or two, or they could get it from somewhere else. If I recommend conservative testing, but they want to get more aggressive, they have the right to do that as well.
Let’s say I recommend some basic tests, and the person is not improving. If they hit some type of roadblock, it could mean we need to dig deeper. There could be other factors. That’s why this isn’t the only thing I’m focusing on. Maybe we haven’t found all the triggers. That is an argument as to why some practitioners will do comprehensive testing on everybody. I give people the choice. Either way is fine, too.
Keep in mind it’s possible to have multiple triggers. Let’s say you find a trigger or two through initial testing. There is always the chance there could be more. There is no rule that says you only can have one trigger. In fact, it’s common to have multiple triggers, not just possible, but common.
Be aware of what I refer to as hidden triggers. Sometimes, we can’t test for everything. There are a lot of environmental toxins out there, and there is no perfect test when it comes to toxins. You could test for heavy metals and some other things, but you can’t test for everything. Certain infections, like stealth infections, Lyme disease, bartonella, sometimes show up on tests. I tested positive for chronic Lyme and bartonella in 2018. Sometimes, people get false negatives, so they might have Lyme for example, and the test shows they are negative. Sometimes, it’s not too obvious. You might need to dig deeper.
Another reason why some people hit roadblocks while trying to regain their health is because they haven’t removed all of their triggers. I just gave an example where maybe we haven’t found all of them yet, but maybe we did find them, and we haven’t removed them. For example, maybe someone thinks they are 100% gluten-free, but some gluten is sneaking in. There is some cross-contamination. They think they removed gluten, which I can’t say is a trigger in everybody, but it could potentially cause a leaky gut in everybody. We can’t say that everybody has a food sensitivity, although they are common. Obviously not everyone has Celiac disease. But even if someone doesn’t have it gluten should be strictly avoided, as it is inflammatory, especially when healing. Some people try to avoid it, but it might sneak in.
Another example I give is let’s say someone has an infection. Maybe they tested positive for H-pylori or parasites. Let’s say they follow a natural protocol for a month or two, or antibiotics if they have H-pylori for two weeks. Either way, they might assume that following whatever protocol they follow is enough to get rid of the H-pylori or the parasites. That’s not always the case. H-pylori can be difficult to eradicate, even if you are taking antibiotics. They usually recommend two antibiotics as part of triple therapy, which is two antibiotics and a proton pump inhibitor. I’ve had patients and people post in my Facebook group who weren’t patients who followed protocols for H-pylori, and it didn’t eradicate the H-pylori after a couple weeks. I have seen that with herbs, too. I’ve had people take herbs for a couple of months that can be effective with H-pylori, but after two months, it’s not gone. The only way to know is by testing. Sometimes, multiple rounds are necessary to eradicate infections.
I’m not saying you always have to retest. With H-pylori, it’s a good idea. If symptoms are completely gone, and blood tests have normalized- If you have Graves’, and your thyroid panel looks great, and your antibodies are normal after following a protocol, and your symptoms are gone, then maybe you just need to monitor your progress, do another blood test down the road, and not spend more money on retesting.
Yet another reason why some people hit roadblocks is because the gut hasn’t been healed. Most of the immune system cells are located in the gut. If you have Graves’ or Hashimoto’s or any other condition, you want to have a healthy immune system, and you can’t have a healthy immune system if you have an unhealthy gut.
Intestinal dysbiosis is an imbalance in the gut flora. Some people will say SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) is intestinal dysbiosis; it’s an example. Not all people who have intestinal dysbiosis have SIBO, but it’s a form of dysbiosis. Any imbalance in the gut flora. A leaky gut is when you have a compromised intestinal barrier. You have food proteins and infections passing through into the bloodstream that normally shouldn’t be there, which causes an immune system reaction. These are just the basics.
How do you know if someone has a leaky gut or intestinal dysbiosis? There are leaky gut tests out there. I used to do one from a company called Cyrex Labs. They have their Array #2, their intestinal permeability antigenic screening. Most people were positive. Not everybody. It’s a couple hundred dollars, and it doesn’t tell us what’s causing the leaky gut. I just figured, let the person I’m working with spend money on something else since we know they probably have a leaky gut. Even if someone was negative for a leaky gut, I would question if that is a true negative or a false negative. I don’t do testing for leaky gut anymore, but it is something that you can do if you want to.
Intestinal dysbiosis, there is a comprehensive stool panel. There are other tests like microbiome tests as well. There is a marker called zonulin that you could add to a comprehensive stool panel. The thing is with zonulin, if it’s elevated, you probably have a leaky gut. False negatives are common, so I don’t rely on zonulin.
How do you know if someone’s gut has been healed? If you do a leaky gut test, you could do another leaky gut test and see if the leaky gut has been healed. That’s something to consider. Like I said, I don’t do a lot of leaky gut testing these days. I really just look at everything else.If someone’s symptoms have improved, if their blood tests have improved, including antibodies normalizing for autoimmune conditions. That can be challenging, and I do have other presentations where I discussed antibodies.
I look at the overall presentation of the person. If everything is in balance, their symptoms are gone, I might look at other tests, too. Sometimes, we will do retesting of adrenals. If someone has H-pylori or another gut infection, I might do some retesting there. If you want to do a leaky gut test, you can do that.
I want to discuss a few overlooked roadblocks. I mentioned earlier hidden triggers. There is electromagnetic fields or EMFs. Electronic pollution. I can’t say that’s a main roadblock in most people, but it could be a reason why someone is not progressing. I will say I see this more with chronic conditions like Lyme disease, someone with toxic mold, where electronic pollution might be an issue. I can’t say I see this with most people with Graves’ and Hashimoto’s. Someone with Graves’ or Hashimoto’s or another thyroid condition can also have Lyme or toxic mold or another stealth infection. Toxic mold is not a stealth infection; I’m putting the two together because a lot of people who have Lyme also have toxic mold problems. I have episodes on these as well.
There could be other environmental toxins. There is not a perfect test for looking at all environmental toxins. I will mention glyphosate here, which is an active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup. Glyphosate is very difficult to avoid. You could test for it. Most people will have some glyphosate. I have done urinary testing on myself for it. I definitely have some, not crazy levels thankfully, but they were there. I did a lot of sauna and other things. Sauna was a big thing. I retested, and it did decrease, which is great.
Poor oral health can be a factor as well. Mercury amalgams. Root canals are more controversial, but certain metals like mercury, which is the most well-known and is part of silver fillings. It could be a potential trigger. Doesn’t mean that everybody who has silver fillings or mercury amalgams will have problems. I’ve had a lot of patients over the years with mercury amalgams, and not everybody gets them removed. A good amount of those people didn’t get them removed, and most are still getting into remission. There are times where someone doesn’t get into remission, so the roadblock might be because of the silver filling or the root canal.
I’m going through all these not to make you paranoid and want to address everything, but to make you think. If you’re hitting a roadblock, you want to at least consider all of these. You don’t want to overlook any of these.
That is pretty much all I wanted to chat about here. Let me summarize this overcoming thyroid healing roadblocks presentation here. You want to make sure that you’re being strict enough with your diet. You want to make sure you’re doing enough when it comes to stress management, blocking out at least five minutes per day. Make sure you’re getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. If you hit a roadblock, consider if you’re eating well, managing stress, getting enough sleep. Maybe you haven’t found all of your triggers, so you might need to dig deeper and do additional testing. Or there is the possibility you haven’t removed all of your triggers. If you have done some initial testing, maybe retest to see if the imbalances you had initially have been corrected. Have the triggers you initially detected been removed? Maybe the gut hasn’t been healed, so that could also be a factor as to why people hit roadblocks. Don’t forget about the overlooked roadblocks that I mentioned as well, like electronic pollution, stealth infections, toxic mold.
That’s all I wanted to share here. I hope you found this information to be valuable. I look forward to catching you in the next episode!