Well you guys, I have some things to share with you with regards to my first visit with the new naturopath I am seeing. I took Taylor to see her a few weeks back, in hopes that she could help sort out her sleep issues she’s been experiencing for the past 2 years, and I was so impressed I made an appointment for myself and my husband to visit her as well.

Art has always had a weaker immune system and gets sicks on a regular basis, so I was hoping she could help him boost his immunity. And for myself, despite feeling relatively healthy overall, I thought it would be a good idea to get my thyroid checked out as well as seek help for my ongoing sleep issues that I have pretty much just tried to ignore and deal with. Having been plagued by these sleep issues for the past couple of years, I have been able to pinpoint them to a hormonal issue by the sheer fact that symptoms worsen the week I ovulate and the week I start my cycle. So while I sleep well the majority of the time, I still get terrible sleep about 10 days a month, which is 1/3 of my life. I figured I may as well see if she could help me improve those numbers a bit. 😉

Hashimoto’s/Thyroid Update:

So, where to begin?! Well, let’s start with my thyroid. First off, having tested for hypothyroidism for the past decade, and tested positive for the TPO antibodies that are related to Hashimoto’s (a thyroid autoimmune disease), she assured me that I definitely should not be eating gluten or dairy. She cleared up A LOT of the confusion I had when it came to the last visit I had with my endocrinologist, and assured me that although I may not be experiencing a current flare-up, I still need to protect myself and live as someone with Hashimoto’s, which means no gluten or dairy.

If you are interested, you can read the blog post with my latest Hashimoto’s update, but to recap the confusion as quickly as possible – 2 years ago my latest bloodwork showed an almost undetectable level of TPO antibodies, and so my endocrinologist said that my first test must have been a mistake, despite being symptomatic and having hypothyroidism, and so I must not actually have Hashimoto’s! I left feeling very confused and frustrated at her dismissal, and just decided to move on with my life after having spent the last year + trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with me.

Fast forward to yesterday, after telling my new naturopath my history, she assured me that TPO antibodies can absolutely fluctuate, and if I tested positive before, I do have Hashimoto’s and I just am not experiencing a flare-up, but I need to live my life like I have it as to protect myself from getting another massive flare-up, or at least slow down the inevitable. I felt a huge sense of relief that I am not actually crazy, and after doing lots of research yesterday, I found that I am not the only person who has experienced fluctuating TPO antibodies.

And this is where I get so torn between Western medicine doctors and holistic doctors. Why can’t they just all get along and be open to the best of what both have to offer?!? 

I am willing to follow both doctor’s advice, but they just don’t always seem to want to work together. My old endocrinologist treated me like I was insane when I told her that the Integrative Doctor I was working with at the time wanted me to go off gluten. And despite my own personal reservations to actually follow that advice, when I did so, my antibodies WENT DOWN. And instead of giving some pause and looking into it further, she dismissed me and said my original test just must have been wrong, because it was impossible to decrease antibodies.

It’s enough to make me want to tear my hair out.

But at any rate, I am getting a full thyroid panel done to see where I am right now, and so my new naturopath can better treat me going forward. Moving on!

Hormones, Fatigue & Sleep Issues:

She is equating the majority of my sleep issues to elevated cortisol levels that are then burning through my progesterone levels, messing me all up. When you are exposed to stress, the body increases secretion of cortisol and adrenaline. When this happens, progesterone decreases since it is used to producing cortisol. This makes it important to control stress response, in order to increase progesterone levels. So, she is trying to fix the cortisol and adrenal issues first, and then if need be, she will put me on a bio-mimicking progesterone if I see no marked improvement. Low progesterone can affect many things from, sleep to energy levels, irritability and libido. If we can get this sorted out, I seriously feel like my life would change. I’ll get into her treatment protocol a bit below.

Another concern for her was my very low blood pressure. When laying down, I was 90/60, and then when I stood up, I was 80/60 (it should rise when standing up, not lower). Not necessarily a health risk at this point, just may be why I feel a general sense of fatigue (who can say though since I don’t sleep the best haha!). At any rate, she feels that should be an easy fix and prescribed me to start chugging 1/2 tsp of sea salt twice a day, to help raise those numbers a bit and see if I feel any better.

Treatment Protocol:

To help with cortisol levels and adrenals:

Cortisol Manager – “Phosphatidylserine combined with calming herbs to reduce cortisol levels for all-day stress reduction and restful sleep. Cortisol Manager stress hormone stabilizer combines stress-reducing ingredients and cortisol-lowering botanicals to help reduce stress and relieve occasional sleeplessness. This safe, natural and non-habit forming formula increases the ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, and will not cause morning grogginess, while providing all-day stress reduction. I’m supposed to take 2 pills once a day before bed

Vitamin D – 7500 iu total each day

Drenamin – contains several active ingredients, but one of the main ingredients is bovine adrenal, and is supposed to help adrenal gland function. She wants me taking 4 pills in the morning and at lunch.

Rub a few drops of Young Living Progessence (which has wild yam extract) on the soles of my feet, and stomach 10 days leading up to my cycle, and through my cycle each month.

1/2 tsp sea salt dissolved in small cup of water, twice a day to help with low blood pressure.

During exercise, do not let heart rate elevate above 138, and optimal range is between 128-138 bpm.Training above that zone, anaerobic glucose is the primary energy source, which causes an imbalance in blood sugar and causes burn out. Thankfully I wear a heart rate monitor during workouts so I can keep an eye on this.

Additional emotional stuff & directions:

So before we wrapped up our appointment, she did some craniosacral therapy and uncovered some deep stuff that left me in tears, not in a bad way, but just emotionally charged. She was massaging my head and said something to the affect that I am still holding on to burdens and trauma that happened during the ages of 7-9, and that I needed to work on releasing more, opening up more and not being so guarded. She said she also detected how domineering and in control I always wanted to be (check and check), and that I needed to work on that as well.

Her speaking to the childhood trauma was especially intense because the age she pinpointed was the exact time frame where I have the strongest memories of the stuff that happened when my dad was still drinking and before he got sober, 33 years ago when I was about 10 years old. Things had gotten pretty bad between my mom and dad, and we were living with my grandma at the time, and I’ll just say that I have some vivid memories from that time.

I’ll also say that although my childhood wasn’t ideal, I praise God for his hand in my family’s life, and that through His grace, we made it through. Soon after that time frame, my dad got sober, he found a fantastic job driving trucks for Vons, my parents were reunited and bought their first house, and we began the long road to healing and redemption. When I look back, our story is truly remarkable and I continue to be in awe and appreciation of how we made it considering all we went through.

So needless to say, this last part of our appointment was pretty intense and left me feeling both appreciative and drained.

I am really looking forward to following her orders to see how this protocol can help me out. I don’t want to be overly optimistic, but gosh if I could sort out my hormone issues and sleep problems, I really think my life would change. I am praying that this all comes together and will end up being a solid solution for me.

I am happy to answer any questions you may have, so please leave them in the comments and I’ll get back to ya 🙂 Thanks for reading, and I hope this may help someone out there!

8 Comments

Raluca State

Thanks so much for sharing all this – so helpful and interesting as I am struggling with some of the same issues. I started the cortisol manager a few weeks ago after seeing it on your story. I thought it was a miracle the first few nights but then after a few more, had some adverse effects (waking up again and feeling more agitated when I did) so I got nervous. Curious to hear how you like it. I only did one pill too, wondering if two would have been better or worse, ha. Hope you find some relief — thanks again for being so open about your journey and findings.

Reply
Andrea Howe

what I’m learning is that each treatment protocol is so individualized! It can be frustrating though when you want what works for someone else to work for you. The only thing I can say is that for someone with my symptoms, she recommended not just the cortisol manager but also the drenamin, as they kind of work together for a 1-2 punch in helping my cortisol levels get in line with rising in the am and dipping in the pm, as well as the drenamin helping with energy in the morning and afternoon (she has me take 4 pills each in the morning and at lunch, and advised I don’t take it after 3 pm). Wishing you luck in finding what works for you though!

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Jayne

We’ve had a similar experience with typical docs not taking things seriously and blowing off the advice/diagnoses of functional medicine docs. You’re right-very frustrating! When my daughter finally went to a functional med doc, she said finally somebody who doesn’t make me feel like I’m making it all up. She’s still working to find the perfect combo of treatments for her. Hope you find something that works well for you!

Reply
Andrea Howe

it’s so wonderful when you can finally find someone you trust and who is willing to work with your symptoms, not just what labs say. Best of luck to your daughter and thank you for commenting! 🙂

Reply
Jen

Thank you for sharing! I have struggled with thyroid issues the last 5 years and have tried many things, with little change in symptoms. Perhaps going to a naturopath is my next step. Would you by chance email me her name? I am in LA and would be curious about her.

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Amy Widmer

Hi Andrea, I too have Hashimotos. I take synthroid but struggle with exhaustion and trouble with weight loss. I am so excited to have found your blog. Thank you for sharing about your life and I too am considering a naturopath. If you wouldn’t mind I’d love the number. I recently had foot surgery so I am a bit laid up but once I’m mobile I will get there. Thank you again for your advice and support!

Reply

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