Back in 1999, I recall falling asleep standing up at a bar, while talking with friends at night, and playing cards or board games. In fact, I pretty much fell asleep any time after 9:30 p.m. if I wasn’t heavily caffeinated, and even that sometimes didn’t help. My energy stayed fairly high throughout the day, but come nighttime, I was sluggish.
In 2000, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I was rather surprised, at first thinking my only indication was the nighttime fatigue. But I also had a low body temperature, approximately 96.8, low blood pressure, 100/52, and dry skin and hair. I was very active and a vegetarian, so I had never experienced weight gain and I was not depressed – two other common signs of having a low-functioning thyroid.
I was put on Synthroid and I was told by my doctor that I would be on the medication for life.
Approximately 10 percent of the nation has an undiagnosed thyroid issue. Millions of others are already on medication for an overactive or underactive thyroid. Others have had their thyroids removed after suffering from Graves’ disease or cancer of the thyroid. The numbers continue to rise.
In 2003, I had been exposed to some different forms of alternative healing – massage, chiropractic work, yoga and a more natural diet – and my prescription of Synthroid got significantly reduced. Having eliminated the need for Prilosec for a former acid reflux problem, I believed that if I focused on healing my thyroid, I could be rid of my prescription altogether.
Healing from the outside
I began to meditate daily, sitting in the lotus position with my hands clasped behind my neck, which forced my focus onto my throat chakra. I saw an herbalist who recommended a variety of dried herbs to make into a tea twice daily. I also ate fresh rosemary every morning, as it is believed to be one of the best herbs for the thyroid. I cut my schedule drastically so that I could focus more on my healing and on doing the things I really wanted to be doing. I began doing Rebirthing Breathwork to enhance the physical and mental changes already occurring. I lowered the amount of soy products in my diet, as that is one thyroid hormone-inhibiting food.
Along with soy products, avoiding refined sugar, peanuts and peanut butter, margarine and hydrogenated oils, such as safflower, vegetable, soy and canola, is also beneficial for good thyroid health. Olive oil and coconut oil are recommended. It is also best to avoid chemical pollutants, including pesticides, fluoride and mercury.
There are certain yoga poses that are most beneficial for the thyroid. Among them are inverted poses, especially those where your chin is raised toward the ceiling. Fish pose and shoulder stand or a half inversion with your legs up against a wall are three of the best poses to stimulate the thyroid. Camel and table top or incline plank with a slight head inversion are other good poses. Lastly, thirty minutes of daily physical activity does wonders for the thyroid.
Healing from within
Of course, the most important factors to look at when you’re trying to heal your physical body is to look at what your body is trying to tell you. The thyroid is located in the throat chakra. Ask yourself, "What am I not communicating and to whom am I not communicating?" In general, Minnesotans have a difficult time expressing themselves and their needs to others. We tend to be passive and repress our true emotions from the person we need to talk to. By continually denying ourselves the chance to speak out as we need to, we tell our bodies that we don’t really need to be functioning so highly from that body part. Our thyroids respond by shutting down.
Secondly, the thyroid is the Will center of the body. Located between the head and the heart, it is the mediator that must deal with the battle between the mind and the emotions. We are asked to do things that we may not want to do, but our logical minds tell us we need to do them. And unfortunately, the mind is often the winner over the heart, while the throat becomes the battle ground for this struggle. By never allowing yourself to do what you truly want to be doing and giving in to your true will, your will eventually shuts down on you. Your throat chakra (more specifically, your thyroid) lets you know that if it won’t be taken seriously, it’s not going to bother playing a role at all.
There are times when the throat chakra is hit doubly hard. Think about a scenario such as this: It is Thursday afternoon. The forecast for Saturday is warm and sunny. You’d love to spend the day at the lake, but you should really go to the company picnic instead. Your logical mind tells you that you really ought to go to the picnic. Your heart tells you to skip the picnic and go to the lake. You are completely torn between the two options. And just as you’re hammering out the ramifications of choosing either option, your boss comes by your desk and asks if you’ll be coming to the picnic. This presents the perfect opportunity to voice yourself – to be 100 percent genuine in whatever decision you make – and to follow your will about going to the lake. Floundering, you say, of course you’ll be at the picnic. There’s no other way you’d rather spend your day.
Not only did you fight your will, you did not voice your truth. How many times does something just like this need to occur before thyroid levels become abnormal? It’s different for everyone, but why allow the stress to occur in the first place? When it really comes down to it, is it more important to go to all those company picnics or to give in to your inner child and go to the lake?
No matter what state of health your thyroid is at – from a healthy standpoint to Grave’s disease or thyroid cancer – most people can benefit from taking a look at how truthfully they are communicating and how they are following their will. It’s also a great opportunity to examine your diet and exercise habits to be sure you’re not overtaxing the thyroid in other ways.
After about six months of practicing alternative healing techniques for my thyroid, I was able to discontinue Synthroid. I continue to get my blood tested every six months and have routinely had normal thyroid levels. I continue to listen to my throat chakra, following my will and speaking my truth. I continue teaching and practicing yoga and Rebirthing, as well as watching my diet to avoid thyroid-inhibiting foods. I am an avid believer that the thyroid, as well as the rest of the body, is a messenger to us. Staying in harmony with our bodies may be the best way to honor ourselves and live long and healthfully.