Long before Emily Lipinski earned the professional designation of Naturopathic Doctor, she struggled with her health. It was a lengthy journey from her initial symptoms as a kid (ranging from allergies to eczema) to her eventual diagnosis with an autoimmune disease. In this exclusive excerpt from her recent book HEALING YOUR THYROID NATURALLY, she discusses how she took control of her health, found a routine that worked, and eventually saw the symptoms of her hypothyroidism begin to fade.
My journey with hypothyroidism began long before my diagnosis. I was the kid who reacted to everything: pollen, grass, and dust—just to name a few. If I came into contact with cats or dogs, I was sneezing within a few minutes, and half an hour later, my body was littered with hives. I had chronic eczema on my face, hands, and legs. By the time I was ten, I was diagnosed with asthma and I also began to have chronic issues with strep throat. Clearly, my immune system was struggling, but my medical doctor did not have any answers except to give me antihistamines for the allergies, puffers for my asthma, and multiple rounds of antibiotics for my strep throat. Little did I know that my allergies and asthma represented an overreacting immune system that could predispose me to autoimmune disease (such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism) later in life. Not to mention the plethora of antibiotics I was exposed to that were harming my microbiome and could have also set me up for autoimmune issues.
During my high school years, my health was fairly good. However, once I moved away from home for my undergraduate studies, began to have less home-cooked food, stayed up late, and took on a large course load, my sore throats returned. I also began to constantly feel cold and I started to gain weight. My doctors chalked it up to the “freshman fifteen” and fewer home-cooked meals. Fair enough—but when my blood work was taken, not only were my ferritin levels (the marker of a person’s iron stores) low, but my TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) [was often slightly elevated. If I only knew then what I know now, I would have challenged my doctor and pushed for more tests to be run. Like countless patients I have met over the years, I trusted the expertise of my physician and assumed that everything was “normal.”
Fast-forward to my last year at naturopathic medical school. My weight was at an all-time high, my face was puffy, I was cold, and my fatigue was unbearable. After learning about how to treat and diagnose patients with thyroid issues, I knew I had to retest my thyroid. This time around, armed with new information, I requested that not only my TSH be tested, but also other blood markers of thyroid health: T3 hormone, T4 hormone, and thyroid antibodies. When the results came back, my new doctor was shocked. My TSH levels were now significantly elevated, my thyroid hormones were low, and my thyroid antibodies levels were sky high! I was told that I would now need to be on the thyroid medication known as Synthroid (levothyroxine) for the rest of my life and there was nothing else I could do. There was no mention about my high levels of antibodies. But by that point, I had my own medical knowledge and I knew better. Elevated thyroid antibodies meant I had an autoimmune issue—Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. High levels of certain antibodies (we’ll explain more later in Chapter 1)have also been associated with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive syndrome. Additionally, if the autoimmune disease is not addressed, there is an elevated risk of developing other autoimmune diseases, such as pernicious anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. I also knew that women living with elevated thyroid antibodies can have difficulty with fertility and with becoming pregnant. Essentially, if I did not address my immune system, my health could get a lot worse.
Although I started on the levothyroxine thyroid medication, many of my symptoms persisted. I was still having difficulty losing weight, I was always freezing, and my fatigue was only marginally improved. Deep down, I knew that medication was only part of the puzzle. I began to search out any and every possible way to lower my antibodies and improve the state of my immune system. My journey included dietary changes, such as the removal of gluten and other grains from my diet, changing my beauty care routine, addressing my stress head-on, and using herbs and other supplements to help support my immune system and my thyroid gland. I also stopped using the levothyroxine medication and switched to desiccated thyroid medication. Slowly but surely, my symptoms of hypothyroidism began to subside and my levels of antibodies gradually reduced. I am now a healthy body weight, my face no longer looks puffy, and my energy is much better. Thankfully, I did not have any trouble conceiving and I welcomed a beautiful baby boy in 2018 without complications. By addressing my immune system and using natural therapies, I am now essentially in remission from Hashimoto’s.
Excerpted from HEALING YOUR THYROID NATURALLY. Copyright © 2020 by Dr. Emily Lipinski. Used with permission of Hachette Go, an imprint of Hachette Books. New York, NY. All rights reserved.