+ Well Nourished | How I Cured my Thyroid Naturally

My Thyroid Disorder – the monkey on my shoulder

I haven’t always been as healthy as I am now.  In fact, twice in my lifetime, I have suffered serious illness and  I understand first hand, the feeling of being caught in a maze of mainstream medicine and the effort it takes to return to health.  As a child, I developed a cardiac disorder (more about that here) and more recently an autoimmune thyroid disorder.  I thought I’d share my story….

In May of 2004, my beautiful baby girl was born.  I’m not exaggerating when I say she was the calmest, most easy going baby ever.  She breastfed well, slept through the night from around 4 weeks of age, rarely screamed, spewed or became agitated.  As a result, I didn’t really feel that adjustment that parenting brings – at least not right away.  But this isn’t a story about babies and for the record my calm baby developed into the most ferociously strong willed toddler (and now a child)- so every rose has a thorn!

However this idyllic child made it very easy for me to fulfil a kind of ‘super mum’ fantasy – and for a while, I pulled it off.  I took maternity leave from my naturopathic practice the week before she was due and because she was a great sleeper, I was back at work again when she was just 5 weeks old (pumping breast milk in my lunch break and between patients).  ‘My patients need me, rely on me’ I told myself.  You see, I am a very committed and loyal person, often to my own detriment.  I was also mindful that, like many young families, we were struggling financially and needed my wage to pay the bills.  My husband was working in a car yard 6 days (and almost 70 hours) a week and so wasn’t home much to help with raising our new bub.  In hindsight, we were on a fast train to disaster (couldn’t see it then, but certainly do now).

My collapse
Not long before my daughter turned two, I got sick with a nasty virus called cytomegalovirus.  I was still breastfeeding, working, mothering and doing everything I could do to hold it together.  I dealt with the virus herbally and got better quickly, but I didn’t change my crazy lifestyle or consider what made me vulnerable to infection in the first place.  As a result, soon after my health really fell apart.  I felt exhausted, yet I couldn’t sleep.  My heart was racing and I was so anxious all of the time.  I managed to keep my focus at work but outside of that, my brain was in pieces. I felt apathetic and lost all motivation to keep going. I was losing weight but couldn’t stop eating.  Most of all I felt intense shame and embarrassment- I was a naturopath, ‘we don’t get sick.’  I ate well, exercised regularly but I was still unwell and holding on desperately to my ‘healthy’ image.  When I could no longer ignore the way I felt, I sought help.

Dealing with Graves
I had a heap of tests and discovered that I had an overactive thyroid, later diagnosed as an autoimmune disease called Graves Disease.  My fast paced life had firmly bitten me on my butt and I was forced to come to a grinding halt.  Now I’ve always maintained in life we are given warnings – illness is the greatest warning of all that we need to take stock of our lives, make necessary changes.  So I really needed to sort my lifestyle out!

My husband had been offered a job with fewer hours, good pay but (here’s the catch) on the other side of the country.  I had absolutely resisted the move, until my Grave’s diagnosis.  You see I loved my work, friends and family, I really didn’t want to move.  But I just knew I couldn’t keep up the pace and this move would mean I could focus on getting myself well.  Without my health, my business, the money, friends, and family meant nothing anyway.

Informed choice…
So first off I saw a specialist, had heaps of tests and sorted through my options.  I weaned my daughter, started beta blockers (my heart rate and a history of a heart disorder) were of real concern in the short term.  I then sought the opinion of my close friend (a naturopath).  With all of my options explored, I made an informed decision to attempt to deal with my condition without thyroid medication and I cut a deal with my slightly miffed endocrinologist.  We agreed I would do my thing, have blood tests every few months and, as long as my condition trended in the right direction,  I would not start medication or any of the radical treatments he was advising I undertake.  He told me that given the aggressive nature of my condition, the likelihood of me resolving it (without medication) was highly unlikely.  But I had a goal and my main driving force was that I really wanted to have another baby and I wasn’t keen to risk taking any medication whilst pregnant.  He had said that given my age and condition, having another child would be unlikely and that even if I did conceive, the pregnancy would tip me back into hyperthyroid.  So it was really important to me that I got myself well – fast and permanently!  I am a very determined person and I truly believe in the bodies ability to heal.  Working with many chronically unwell patients over the years has taught me that the body can and does heal, given the right support.

Long story short…
We moved to QLD (from Perth) and it was a tough road of managing my illness whilst mothering a now determined little girl without any family support.  My treatment plan evolved as the months ticked by and included herbal medicine, reiki, kinesiology and daily meditation.  I tried to be kinder to myself.  Each blood test revealed a slow but steady improvement and my endocrinologist had no choice but to accept that I was remitting (though each visit he reminded me it wouldn’t last).  About a year later I was back to normal.  I conceived and carried my son without event and for the second time in my life, proved the medical establishment very wrong (I’ll tell you about my childhood heart condition and how I avoided major surgery another time).

The monkey on my shoulder
It’s been almost 8 years since being diagnosed and I never want to go back to that place, even though I learned so much about myself and my body during that period of illness.  When my stress levels elevate, I occasionally feel myself sliding or standing on that precipice.  It will always be a monkey on my shoulder but one I’m willing to bear.  It has ultimately shaped me professionally and personally,  without a doubt, for the better.

 Love for you to share your wellness journey and as always, I’d love to receive your questions.

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  • Lucy

    I think you are an AMAZING person. So strong, so determined and just plain brilliant. And I haven’t even met you (yet!). I love this, thank you for sharing your story. xoxo

  • Lucy

    I think you are an AMAZING person. So strong, so determined and just plain brilliant. And I haven’t even met you (yet!). I love this, thank you for sharing your story. xoxo

    • Aww thanks Lucy. I’m rather normal really, but yes very determined. In a strange way, I’m sort of grateful for the experience of being unwell. It has really shaped me personally and professionally for the better. G x

  • Lucy

    I think you are an AMAZING person. So strong, so determined and just plain brilliant. And I haven’t even met you (yet!). I love this, thank you for sharing your story. xoxo

  • Lucinda

    Thanks for sharing Georgia. I’d be interested to know more about your health plan back to balance. I have the opposite problem. Post pregnancy hypothyroidism. I have also resisted medication. Last year I had a few months of doing well and bringing my health back to balance. This year (particularly the last month) I’ve been sliding backwards again. It can be tough not having enough energy to even respond properly (or at times at all) to my daughters. The lethargy can be debilitating. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Hi Lucinda. I’d really recommend seeking the support of a good naturopath. Herbal medicine was an integral part of my recovery as was stress management techniques (I tried a lot until I found what felt right, in my case I found an amazing reiki practitioner). Your thyroid is your barometer of stress so lifestyle changes are a must. In my experience, hypothyroidism is also extremely responsive to herbal treatment. You really need to prioritise your own health, which I understand is hard for a busy mum. But you’re no good to your family feeling wiped out so get to it. It might not be easy, but it is entirely possible! All the very best Lucinda G x

      • Megan

        Hi Georgia – just wondering who your Reiki practitioner is/was? I am in Brisbane and would be interested in doing to someone too, no diagnosed thyroid but stressed and completely sleep deprived with two sleepless toddlers and wouldn’t be surprised if heading it that direction.

  • Sandy

    Thanks so much for this, my SIL has graves and has been on medication for over 12 months now, she is looking into having the more drastic options done soon. I suggested a naturopath ages ago and she wouldnt talk to me for weeks, offended her apparently. I wish I could share your story with her because its beautiful 🙂

    • Thanks Sandy. As frustrating as it is, I’ve found sometimes you have to let others discover their own paths, especially when they aren’t looking for solutions or alternatives to their chosen therapy. Grave’s also messes with your mind and tests your will so you really need to dig deep to tackle it. So lovely of you to take the time to comment. I hope your SIL finds health, G x

  • Thank you for sharing your story. Just another reminder to take life a little slower … which I’m starting to. I have a 2.5 year old, who now sleeps well but I was up every 2.5 hours until she was 22 months old (I breastfed until about 1.5 months ago) and have been working from home since she was born. I feel very fortunate to not have to go back to work (outside the home) but finances do put a strain on things so leaves me sometimes working until the wee hours of the morning (graphic designer) to get the work done for the following day. In those times, I am no good to anyone and find myself falling asleep by mid morning. Thank goodness for my daughter sleeping like an angel now as I sooo look forward to her naps where I’m often falling to sleep on the books I’m reading to her. At least i get to have a nap then. Small things like this from different areas in my life are just a reminder. slow down! Thank you.

    • So pleased to offer a reminder to you to slow down. You know I had treated so many burnt out, stressed out, sick mums over the years – and I still didn’t realise the potential for me to end up in the same boat. I really thought I was bullet proof, then it was to late. So glad your daughter is sleeping well now – sleep is SO important for wellness. G x

  • Sharon Peters

    Hi Georgia. Thanks for sharing your story. I was diagnosed with graves in 2000. I took medication for 18 mths and was well for 10yrs. Graves returned twice in 2 yrs so I reluctantly had radioactive iodine treatment 18 mths ago – worst thing ever!! I’m back on medication but really want to get off it. I’ve just started my food journey. Tried a few naturopaths but haven’t found the right one so I’m reading as much as I can. Which foods do you think are important to remove from your diet? I am interested to hear why you started eating meat again. Thanks 🙂

    • Hi Sharon, I haven’t actually removed a lot of foods at all. I strictly limit sugar (especially fructose), moderate gluten and grains, I have loads of variety of good quality whole foods in my diet. My focus is on the quality and wholeness of the food I eat. I also support and nurture my gut health every single day.
      I started eating meat more out of intuition really – it has been a gradual process, but I do feel better with a little quality sources of animal based protein in my diet.
      Stress management is the key for my wellness, my nervous system is my personal weakness.
      I hope you find the right person to work with. Even with my years of experience treating many people with Graves, I still sought a Naturopath to work with. It’s hard to be impartial and end up going around in circles treating yourself. Ultimately I think it also costs more too.
      All the very best on your wellness journey, take care, G x

  • Cel

    Your story is inspiring. We have found out my husband is developing an autoimmune disease and I’ve booked him in to a naturopath straight away. I think this will help prevent his symptoms worsening. I wish to see him healthier than ever and have all the energy to chase after 2 little boys

    • Thanks Cel. I wish your husband all the very best. I truly believe with determination and commitment to your own wellness, the body can and does heal. G x

  • Maria

    Hi Georgia, I was diagnosed with Graves 4 months ago. We have also discovered that I am allergic to both prescription medicines for Graves. Can you recommend a Naturopath in the perth area? I am not familiar with any and don’t have money to spare trying to find one that has experience with this. Thanks for sharing your story. I too believe I have the power to overcome this naturally 🙂

    • I feel for you Maria, I have heard of allergies to meds a lot lately. You’re in luck, my own Naturopath (Chevonne Clasen) has a clinic in Perth. She is on maternity leave but has a lot of awesome practitioners that work for her. Perhaps explain your diagnosis when booking so they can pare you with the best clinician. She is at Remede (Glyde street in Mosman Park). All the very best, G x

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