My experience with Dr Izabella Wentz' thyroid healing protocol
Dr Izabella Wentz is a thyroid health expert and has developed a thyroid healing protocol using 'root cause medicine’. She managed to heal her own Hashimoto’s using this protocol. ‘Root cause medicine’ is a form of complimentary medicine using lifestyle interventions to bring the body back into balance so that the body can then heal itself. As mentioned in it’s name, it gets to the ‘root’ of the problem instead of just covering up symptoms.
When I got diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, conventional doctors told me that it was ‘incurable’, there was ‘nothing’ I could do and that I would be ‘dependent’ on pharmaceutical drugs ‘forever’. When I questioned if there were any dietary or lifestyle interventions that could help with symptoms, they told me with absolute certainty that there was not. Even though many of my symptoms were gut troubles, they told me to continue to eat whatever I wanted, and to ‘drink lots of milkshakes’ to help with the unexplained weight loss.
**and of course now knowing what I know, telling someone who has serious gut problems to consume copious amounts of dairy and sugar was foolish. But doctor's don’t learn about nutrition.**
Something inside me told me that this was wrong. It felt wrong that our diet wouldn't have any affect at all on our health - especially our gut health. It didn’t feel right that the only answer was to take synthetic medications for the rest of my life with dangerous side effects. It didn't feel right to believe that our lifestyles couldn’t have any affect on our health.
I began researching alternative options for treating the disease naturally and came across two books and a documentary by Dr Izabella Wentz - a pioneering expert in lifestyle interventions for treating Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I read her books cover to cover, watched her documentary series and educated myself about the root causes of the condition. I decided to do her 12 week programme from her second book (which I really recommend) which she described as a ‘root cause medicine approach’. It was a similar approach to naturopathy and nutritional therapy combined. It focused on supporting and getting the body back into balance so that it can concentrate on healing.
The programme addressed three main areas - the liver, the adrenals and the gut. The liver is the body’s main detoxification organ and the detoxification system can become impaired in patients with Hashimoto's. The adrenals and the thyroid gland have an ‘intricate feedback loop’ and so if one gland is ‘struggling’, the other one will be ‘struggling’ too - adrenal dysfunction is found in 90% of Hashimoto’s patients (Wentz 2017:148). The health of our gut plays a huge factor in whether we develop Hashimoto’s or not. Leaky gut (intestinal permeability) is a factor in every case of autoimmune disease and allows problematic substances to pass through the intestinal lining and into the blood stream (Wentz 2017:191). This can both cause autoimmune disease as well as perpetuate current symptoms.
I followed the three protocols but adapted them to meet my personal needs (this is what I recommend everyone does). There is a lot more to it and I would recommend you get her book as there is sooo much useful info in there! She explains everything in detail and helps you to understand what is going on with your body! These are my personalised protocols I followed below:
Two-week liver support protocol:
Remove potentially triggering foods: Gluten, dairy, sugar and soy.
Add supportive foods: Hot lemon water, cruciferous vegetables, beetroot, coriander, green juices, fibre, fermented foods, turmeric and a small amount of berries.
Reduce toxic exposure: Replacing all teflon, stainless steel and plastic cookware with glass, ceramic, cast iron and wooden utensils. Removing fluoride and chlorine from tap water with a water filter and activated charcoal sticks. Introducing natural air-purifying plants into the home (snake plants). Swapping out all personal care products for more natural, organic and low-toxin alternatives.
Swapping toxic cleaning products for different home-made solutions consisting of: vinegar, bi-carbonate of soda, lemon juice and essential oils.
Support detox pathways: Sweating (through exercise) and taking the following liver support supplements - NAC and magnesium.
Four-week adrenal recovery protocol:
Rest: Get 10-12 hours of sleep every night for 2-4 weeks and avoid caffeine
Destress: Yoga, meditation, journalling, implementing healthy boundaries (learning to say ‘no’).
Reduce inflammation: Follow the autoimmune-paleo diet (excludes all processed and inflammatory foods including caffeine, dairy, grains, nightshades, legumes and sugar).
Balance blood sugar: Ensuring adequate healthy fats and protein with every meal.
Replenish nutrients and add adaptogens: Supplement with the following: B vitamin complex, vitamin C, selenium, magnesium and licorice root.
Six-week gut balance protocol:
Remove reactive foods (stay on the autoimmune paleo diet)
Balance the gut flora: Fermented foods and probiotics help to heal ‘leaky gut’
Nourish the gut: Supplement with zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Drink bone broth daily or add to soups and stews.
*Note - when taking new supplements for the first time introduce only one at a time and monitor any reaction. Consult your doctor if you are unsure. My advice is to go slow.*
Over the period of 3 months I began to feel more energised, my skin cleared up and my eyes looked brighter. Some symptoms which I had suffered with for over two decades had vanished. I used to take Paracetamol every day for headaches and Rennie and Gaviscon every day for stomach aches and acid reflux. But they disappeared. I didn’t realise how unwell I was until I started to feel better. I couldn’t believe that I had spent most of my life feeling like that. Doctors told me there was nothing I could do but take pharmaceutical drugs. Specialists told me there was nothing I could do but take pharmaceutical drugs. But yet, here I was following an ‘unconventional’ lifestyle protocol that made me feel better than I ever had.
I decided to implement many of these modifications long-term and continued to improve my health and heal more and more as the months and years went on.
I was both shocked and in awe of what I had experienced. The shock was from realising how limited the medical system really was. Conventional medicine looks at body parts as if they are ‘boxed-off’ from one another. There is no understanding of the body as a system, or of it’s connection to nature. Conventional medicine was originally made to treat acute illness - but it is not equipped for treating or even preventing chronic illness.
The awe was from witnessing how incredible my body was! I was giving it the tools it needed, and it began healing. It knew how to heal all by itself. It just needed the right environment to heal. I used to think I was powerless and had no control over my health. I used to completely give my power away to doctors, I used to think they knew everything to do with health. From this experience, I now make sure I advocate for my health. I also want to share this knowledge with as many people as I possibly can in the hope that it will help them. I know how dark and low it can get living with thyroid disease and being told there is nothing that can be done.
In my opinion, I think that doctors do not have the right to tell you that something is ‘incurable’ and there is ‘nothing you can do about it’. I think that they should say that in their opinion, and from what they learned in medical school there isn’t a way - but that doesn’t mean that’s the only way. Secondly, I think that all doctors should work alongside nutritionists, complementary therapists, mental health professionals and health coaches. We can’t keep looking at body parts as separate. Thirdly, I think that our medical system needs to focus more on prevention. And lastly, I think that the medical curriculum should really keep up with the latest research and findings.