The “Five R” Approach of Functional Medicine Summary
In January 2011, I made a specific resolution, to take charge of my health and my life.
I had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s in 2009 and started to research complementary/alternative/functional medicine treatments in 2010. Unfortunately, despite my hours of research, I was stuck in a state of “paralysis by analysis,” there was just so much information about Hashimoto’s and autoimmune disease, I didn’t know where to start, who to trust, or if anything would help. As a pharmacist, I have been trained to be highly skeptical of non-FDA approved treatments, and a large part of me did not believe that myself, could figure out and fix something that hundreds of brilliant doctors were not able to. Despite my doubts, I finally decided that I needed to take action in 2011. After all, doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results is Einstein’s definition of insanity. Clearly what I had been doing during 2010 wasn’t working, and I needed to make a drastic change!
I decided to be the creator of my own universe!
I made a vision board with pictures of all of the things that I hoped would manifest for me that year…
- Getting my energy back (I was sleeping for 12+ hours each night)
- Getting my hair back (I had lost more than a third of my hair!)
- Regaining my health (reversing my autoimmune condition)
- Buying my first home
- A beach honeymoon/anniversary trip with my husband (postponed due to work obligations)
- Writing a book that would help and inspire others
I purchased numerous books on autoimmunity and thyroid disorders, scheduled a consultation with Dr. Mercola’s Clinic, an integrative doctor, and invested in food sensitivity testing, numerous supplements and started journaling.
One of my first successes was changing my diet! I had amazing results! You can read about my Hashimoto’s and Acid Reflux Journey.
But my journey didn’t end there. It took another year of trial and error to get my energy back, and two years to recover my hair and health.
There is a lot of conflicting information on the internet, and many of us will hear a variety of different explanations from various practitioners. (If you’re in need of a practitioner in your area, I’ve collected names of those who believe in the root cause approach to thyroid disease.) I decided to sort through all of the available information and do my testing and research.
In 2012, I started writing a Hashimoto’s patient guide to organizing my research and outline a roadmap with the hope that it would empower others with Hashimoto’s with the necessary knowledge to recover their health.
I’ve gone to great lengths to make the material in the book accessible and approachable for the patient. After all, we know ourselves best, and ultimately it’s up to us whether we will get better or not.
I hope you consider picking up a copy of Hashimoto’s: The Root Cause.
Starting Your Hashimoto’s Journey…
There are many of you that are just beginning your Hashimoto’s journey to find your own Hashimoto’s Root Cause! My aim is to empower you! Below you will find a summary of my approach; it’s very similar to the approach that I developed for myself in 2011.
You will start with the simplest modifications, by removing triggers, followed by repairing the other broken systems to restore equilibrium, allowing the body to rebuild itself.
You will dig down to why the immune system is imbalanced in the first place, and this will tell you how you begin to finally feel better, reduce your thyroid antibodies and even take your condition into remission.
The “Five R” Approach of Functional Medicine Summary
The complete approach to healing Hashimoto’s can be summarized through the Five R’s of Healing, an approach used by Functional Medicine Practitioners that I have tailored for Hashimoto’s patients.
REMOVE the things that may be irritating your thyroid and causing it to send out a stress signal.
Iodine excess (especially when other nutrients are deficient), fluoride, and toxins can cause thyroid inflammation as a result of oxidative damage, causing the thyroid to send out a stress response, which becomes picked up by the immune system.
Gluten and food intolerances promote intestinal permeability, making our immune system unable to recognize our cells.
Gut infections including bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections can weaken the intestinal lining, affecting the ability of our immune system to recognize self from non-self (the gut is home to most of our immune system)
Food that is poorly digested feeds the bad bacteria, making them stronger.
Stress weakens the thyroid through its actions on the adrenals and can help the negative bacteria proliferate.
REPAIR the intestinal permeability through an anti-inflammatory leaky gut diet, broths, and glutamine.
REPLACE the depletions that are present to help the body strengthen and jump back on a cycle of wellness. This includes thyroid hormone!
-> -> You can download my nutrient depletion chapter for free
REINOCULATE, giving the body enough beneficial bacteria to displace the pathogenic bacteria. Probiotics and raw Lacto-fermented foods are used.
REBALANCE the adrenals, immune system, and our detoxification capabilities. The adrenals respond well to adaptogens. Some may require the use of further interventions such as the use of low dose hormones or glandulars.
The “Five R” Approach of Functional Medicine (in detail)
- Healing diet
- Fermented Foods
- Adrenal adaptogens
- Green juices, smoothies, vegetables
Are there additional things you can do?
Create your health timeline – look back at your overall history as far back as you can remember. Look for infections, periods of severe stress, the use of medications (especially antibiotics, antacids, and oral contraceptives), accidents, and exposure to toxins. These are events that may have contributed to Hashimoto’s. Once you do, you will know what types of changes you need to implement to make yourself feel better.
Journaling –Keep track of how you are feeling, the interventions you are making, and how they are impacting your well-being, and “numbers” (TSH, Free T3, Free T4, antibodies, etc.)
Embrace change, believe that you can heal, and listen to your body…
Implementation proved to be the hardest part for me, as many of us have been made to feel guilty about wanting to do something for ourselves, stories like: “it’s selfish to spend money on supplements,” “you should eat the same diet as everyone else”, “everyone feels tired”, “you’re not smart/strong/patient/good enough to get better,” “you’re wasting your time/money” often played in my head.
Through my journey, I have come to understand that I am powerful, smart, deserving of support and that taking care of myself is important. I hope that all of you believe the same. Now and then, a person such as an unsupportive doctor, friend or family member may come along and challenge your beliefs…don’t let them! You are the creator of your universe, and you know what’s best for you!
PS. You can also download a free Thyroid Diet Guide, 10 Thyroid friendly recipes, and the Nutrient Depletions and Digestion chapter for free by going to www.thyroidpharmacist.com/gift. You will also receive occasional updates about new research, resources, giveaways and helpful information.
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