While doing some initial fact finding for the Hashimoto’s Protocol book back in 2015, I came across some research suggesting that formaldehyde could have a negative effect on the thyroid gland. This was new information to me, but I was not surprised, as any toxin in great amounts can have an adverse reaction on our thyroid gland, which is our very own environmental sensory gland. However, some people may be ultra sensitive to formaldehyde, even at small levels. I happen to be one of them and thought I would share a bit more about formaldehyde sensitivity, in case others may also be reactive.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- What is formaldehyde?
- The signs and symptoms of formaldehyde sensitivity
- How this chemical affects the thyroid
- Common sources of formaldehyde exposure
- How to tell if you’re chemically sensitive
- Tips to reduce your exposure to formaldehyde
The Warning Signs I Missed
My first clue that I was formaldehyde sensitive likely occurred when I was in my first year of undergraduate studies, during my gross anatomy lab. The specimens that are used for dissecting are preserved in formaldehyde. (2) I intuitively always had an aversion to dissection and tried my best to avoid classes that incorporated dissecting animals or humans, but anatomy classes with dissection were unfortunately a requirement for becoming a pharmacist.
I remember dissecting a fetal pig, and becoming nauseated, having palpitations and a cold sweat coming over my body, then losing color in my face, almost fainting. The instructor removed me from the class and had me sit in the hallway with my head between my legs. The verdict was that I had an emotional reaction. In truth, this made perfect sense, I was really grossed out — the fetal pig looked like a baby — so this could have very well contributed to it.
The following year, I had to take human anatomy, and I vaguely remember fainting on the first day of class when we had to walk into the lab. I say vaguely remember, because fainting was a rather common occurrence in my life around that time.
Interestingly, fainting is one of the early signs of hypothyroidism. When thyroid cells are under attack by the immune system, we have a rush of hormone into the blood stream that leads to palpitations, which result in a rapid drop in blood pressure and then fainting (or feeling faint). Perhaps the formaldehyde triggered a sudden attack on my thyroid. (14, 15)
Again, the theory was that seeing the cadavers was an emotional experience for me, and of course it was, but studies show that physical reactions to formaldehyde manifest the same way as the “emotional” ones I was told I experienced.
I’ve since realized that science is starting to document both short-term and long-term health concerns for science students and biological researchers exposed in labs, as well as funeral home workers using formaldehyde to preserve bodies.
But one does not need to spend hours in an anatomy lab to be exposed to formaldehyde… A few years later, I remember going with my mom to a popular furniture store filled with manufactured wood that was treated with formaldehyde and not effectively sealed, so the formaldehyde was constantly off-gassing.
I remember feeling anxious and having watery eyes, a runny nose and feeling faint once more.
My mom, who had asthma and allergies most of her life, was surprised that I would have this type of reaction. She didn’t smell or sense any problems with the furniture.
What is Formaldehyde?
Formaldehyde is a colorless, water-soluble gas that has a pungent odor (but this may not always be detectable if levels are low).
An organic compound made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, formaldehyde occurs in nature as a byproduct of combustion. (In other words, it can be found in smoke). Formaldehyde-based chemicals are even found in dust clouds in outer space! Small amounts are also produced in living organisms — including animals and people — as a byproduct of metabolic processes such as making amino acids.
The Russian chemist Aleksandr Butlerov first synthesized formaldehyde in 1859, and by the late 1800’s it was being commercially manufactured in countries like Germany. In 1907, Belgian chemist, Dr. Leo Baekel, used phenol formaldehyde resin to help him invent one of the earliest plastics called Bakelite.
Cut to the present, and it is now widely used in all manner of products and can be manufactured as a solid (paraformaldehyde) or a liquid (formalin).
If you have a gorgeous bouquet of flowers on your table and can smell their fragrance, you are inhaling the plant’s airborne molecules. Anything that you breathe in eventually enters the bloodstream, brain, and nervous system. The same happens with chemicals like formaldehyde — whether we can smell them or not.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has found that formaldehyde is usually present in outdoor and indoor air at levels of at least 0.03 parts per million.
Levels in indoor air can vary depending on temperature, humidity, and air exchange rate within the indoor space. Levels tend to go up on hot and humid days and are higher in new homes and offices with poor or limited ventilation. As we spend around 90 percent of our time indoors, this means our formaldehyde exposure may be chronic.
Short-term exposure to formaldehyde often causes symptoms that mimic signs of allergies, hay fever, upper respiratory infections, colds, or viruses. When formaldehyde is present in the air at levels exceeding 0.1 parts of formaldehyde per million parts of air, some people may experience:
- Watery, itchy, burning (irritated) eyes
- Sore throat
- Runny nose (or nosebleeds)
- Skin irritation
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services added formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen to its Report on Carcinogens, which is a science-based, public health report that identifies agents, substances, mixtures, or exposures in our environment that pose a health hazard. The Environment Protection Authority also classifies formaldehyde as a potential carcinogen.
Additionally, long-term, constant exposure to formaldehyde has been linked to:
- Chronic irritation of mucous membranes such as the airways, which triggers asthma attacks and bronchitis.
- Cellular damage: Formaldehyde is lipid-soluble, which means it can get into your cell membranes, reducing their function and increasing risk of autoimmune disease.
- Inflammation, particularly in human bronchial cells in the respiratory tract. This is often mistaken for an allergy.
- Increased cancer risk: This includes cancers of the blood and the lymphatic system.
- Cellular damage: Research from Brown University shows that formaldehyde may damage DNA and also extensively damage proteins in the nucleus of cells, which could have negative effects on the nervous system. Accumulation of damaged proteins can then cause cells to malfunction and die. This may be why animal studies show that exposure to formaldehyde can interfere with memory, learning, and brain function.
Research in rats has shown thyroid changes when rats are exposed to formaldehyde at levels of 5, 10 and 15 mg/kg per day, for just 30 days. Their thyroid gland starts to shrink, suggesting that the formaldehyde is interfering with the synthesis of their thyroxine hormone.
In addition, the rats experienced T4 deficiency, decreased T3, and a spike in their thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).
My own response to formaldehyde also highlights just how potent this chemical is. Within minutes of exposure in the lab and the furniture store, formaldehyde triggered my immune system!
Proof of these thyroid impacts are starting to filter down through studies, such as research by the Department of Medicine and Physiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, which observes:
“Environmental agents interfere with thyroid function at multiple sites, including thyroid hormone synthesis, thyroid hormone metabolism and excretion, and thyroid hormone action. Most of these agents reduce circulating thyroid hormone levels or impair thyroid hormone action, although some may influence the pituitary and thyrotropin (TSH) secretion, or even be partial thyroid hormone receptor agonists. A number of environmental agents also interfere with iodine uptake. For these agents, low iodine intake increases susceptibility and adequate iodine intake is recommended to reduce their effect. A less often recognized impact of environmental agents that influence the thyroid is triggering autoimmune thyroid disease.”
In short, not only can normal thyroid function plummet due to chemicals like formaldehyde, these toxins may also trigger autoimmune thyroid responses such as Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s. Elevated TSH has been linked to hypothyroidism and the development of Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease.
Formaldehyde is widely used as a preservative and also as a disinfectant. According to the American Cancer Society, it is often listed on product labels as:
- Formic aldehyde
- Methyl aldehyde
- Methylene glycol
- Methylene oxide
Sources of Formaldehyde Exposure
Formaldehyde can be found in a very wide range of products, including:
Furniture and Building Materials – Formaldehyde is found in all manner of building materials, including pressed wood such as plywood, particleboard and chipboard, plastics, coatings, paints, varnishes, resins, finishes and adhesives. Some floorboard materials – even bamboo – may also contain formaldehyde in their adhesives. Insulation materials such as glasswool and rockwool also release formaldehyde into the air, and many older houses have urea foam insulation, which is particularly problematic.
In addition, formaldehyde is present in flame retardant chemicals used in computers, mattresses, couches, and the interior of cars. If you build a new home or renovate, the levels of formaldehyde in your home environment usually escalate—even if you opt for eco-friendly paints. Formaldehyde can also contribute to “sick building syndrome” that can occur in office workers.“Energy-efficient” office buildings now often have permanently closed windows, more insulation, cheap chipboard furniture, and fewer air vents so that less air can get in and out of the building. This may help save on electricity or air conditioning costs, but the end result is that you may be constantly breathing in more formaldehyde.
Personal Care Products and Medicines – If you’ve ever had to dissect a frog in science class, you’ll know what an effective preservative formaldehyde is. For this reason, it is often used in:
- Nail polish
- Body lotion
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Keratin hair-smoothing products, such as the popular “Brazilian blowout”
- Some medications
- Dishwashing liquid
- Household cleaning products
- Fabric softener
Cosmetics – All kinds of personal care products including eye shadow, foundation, and lipstick may contain formaldehyde, but you won’t see it listed on the label. Companies often use preservatives that release formaldehyde over time. According to the American Cancer Society, they include:
- diazolidinyl urea
- 1,3-dimethylol-5,5-dimethylhydantoin (or DMDM hydantoin)
- imidazolidinyl urea
- sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
The European Union has set legally enforceable limits that there should be no more than 0.2 percent of formaldehyde in products. In the United States, similar guidelines are only voluntary. This is concerning given that even concentrations of formaldehyde as low as 200 to 300 parts per million may trigger dermatitis in sensitive people.
It is such a problematic chemical that in 2015, the American Contact Dermatitis Society named formaldehyde the Allergen of the Year.
Clothing and Bed Linen – According to the World Health Organization,“formaldehyde-releasing agents provide crease-resistance, dimensional stability, and flame retardance for textiles and serve as binders in textile printing.” This means that formaldehyde is present in clothes and permanent press bed linen, and you may be absorbing it through your skin and when you inhale. Clothes that have high levels of dyes or require constant dry-cleaning also contain higher formaldehyde residue. Research from the University of Louisiana shows that this is an often undiagnosed cause of dermatitis (also known as eczema, which can be characterized by itchiness, red skin, and a rash).
Fertilizers and Pesticides – Commercial agricultural chemicals and domestic pesticides such as insect sprays and cockroach bombs often contain formaldehyde, which may leave unhealthy residues in your food, home or workplace.
Plastic Food Containers – Formaldehyde is used in plastic soda bottles and melamine tableware; and it may also migrate from other forms of plastic food packaging, into foods.
Emissions From Heating and Cooking – Unvented fuel-burning heaters such as gas stoves and kerosene space heaters can outgas formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is also emitted by cigarette smoke and exhaust fumes. As a result, you may be breathing in formaldehyde if you warm up your car in the morning, particularly if your garage doorway allows easy access for garage fumes to enter your house.
If have a natural gas oven and stove top, your daily exposure may also be higher. Research by Berkeley National Laboratory has shown that when homes don’t use venting range hoods above gas cooktops, the household exposure to formaldehyde and other gases such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide may exceed benchmarks based on federal and state health-based standards.
As women are typically the cooks of the house, their exposure is often the highest.
Are You Chemically Sensitive?
- Find that strong smells from cigarettes, household cleaning chemicals, nail polish and even perfume, lipstick and incense make you feel sick?
- Suffer chronic asthma or skin rashes such as eczema, hives or welts?
- Get an irritated nose and eyes when you’re around unflued gas heaters?
- Feel unwell when exposed to the smell of some strong foods and drink such as tamari or alcohol?
These are classic signs of chemical sensitivity. This may be caused by a combination of the following, which can trigger or increase hypersensitive reactions to smaller amounts of chemical triggers. Such reactions include:
- Chronic inflammation, which may be due to lifestyle factors like stress, lack of sleep, food sensitivities, environmental toxins, trauma or long period of chronic stress, and adrenal fatigue.
- Over-activity in the limbic system of the brain, which is strongly connected to the olfactory, or smell sensory system.
- Impaired detoxification: This can occur if our liver is overburdened or if you are low in glutathione, an antioxidant which does a great deal of detoxing work in the body.
- An unhealthy gut microbiome: This may be due to taking many courses of antibiotics or due to a diet high in refined carbs and sugar. Drinking alcohol every day can also increase the level of unbalanced bacteria in our gut.
Testing for formaldehyde sensitivity can be done via the Cyrex Chemical Immune Reactivity Array.
If you are affected by chemical sensitivity, don’t despair – you can get better!
Reducing Formaldehyde Exposure
This needs to be tackled from many angles and involves:
Food and Supplements
1. Buy organic foods: This will ensure you’re not ingesting chemicals like formaldehyde when you eat. Organic farmers only pick vegetables when they are ripe, which also means they’ll be higher in nutrients.
2. Serve fresh fish: Formaldehyde can naturally occur in marine fish and crustaceans after death, but if frozen, the formaldehyde levels rise even higher. That’s why I recommend eating fresh wild caught fish, preferably from the fish market.
3. Reduce inflammation: Take a big picture approach – minimize stress, maximize good quality sleep, reduce your intake of alcohol, and eliminate and reintroduce foods like gluten, dairy, corn, soy and eggs to see if you are sensitive to them. Take turmeric daily, sprinkled on a latte, in curry, or in a savory breakfast bowl – it is a potent anti-inflammatory spice. You can also eat foods like fish and seeds, which are packed with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
4. Drink dandelion tea: Or enjoy other herbal bitters such as chicory, endive and arugula – they all help stimulate bile production, which in turn boosts liver function. This is important, as your liver is the main organ that helps filter chemicals like formaldehyde from your body.
5. Enjoy cruciferous vegetables: These are high in natural sulfurs, which again support your liver’s detoxification processes. (Click here to read more about about crucifers.)
6. Filter your water: This can reduce the chemical load on your body. My preferred choice is a reverse osmosis filter.
7. Boost gut health: Much of your immune response begins in your gut, so if you have gut issues like bloating or acid reflux, you may be more over reactive when exposed to formaldehyde. To improve gut health, take probiotics, eat fermented foods and use digestive enzymes containing Betaine and Pepsin to help you better digest foods and absorb nutrients. Also minimize use of alcohol and antibiotics, and try supplementing with L-glutamine, which can help heal leaky gut.
8. Support your thyroid with supplements: Antioxidants such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta carotene (a vitamin A precursor), and the minerals Selenium and Manganese are potent free radical scavengers, which help protect your body against the impacts of formaldehyde. Zinc and Selenium can also help improve conversion of T4 to T3, which can be compromised by formaldehyde exposure.
9. Balance acid and alkaline: Processed foods plus meat, dairy, some nuts, and cereals/grains that are high in protein but low in potassium can cause acidity. In contrast, foods rich in potassium but low in protein, such as fruits and vegetables, require an alkaline environment for digestion. They then help create a more alkaline environment, which helps support your liver to detox chemicals.
10. Support your liver: Supporting your liver’s detoxification process can aid with removing toxins such as formaldehyde, and can often reduce the symptoms of multiple chemical sensitivity. Substances that help support liver detoxification include milk thistle, dandelion, amino acids, n-acetyl-cysteine and various vitamins. The Rootcology Liver Support Kit was created to support the body’s natural two-phase detoxification process. This is accomplished by providing the nutrients needed to support and balance phase I and II metabolic pathways, high levels of antioxidants for safe detoxification, and a comprehensive array of herbal hepatics and cholagogues to promote healthy liver function and elimination. Learn more about Liver Support in my article, here.
Lifestyle and Environment Changes
1. Clean Your Air: When scientists were working on the space shuttle Skylab 3, they found that the indoor air was contaminated with over 100 chemicals. But since plants recycle oxygen, they reasoned that plants might have a hidden talent for breaking down pollutants as well – and they were right. NASA research, which focused on keeping the air for astronauts as clean as possible, has found that plants can do a great deal to remove pollutants from indoor air because they absorb and break down chemicals through their leaves, roots and the micro-organisms in the soil.
The NASA studies have found that one potted plant per 100 square feet of floor space is the minimal needed to improve indoor air quality. The plants found to be most effective at removing indoor chemical pollution include dracaenas, bamboo palm, fig species, peace lily, philodendron, chrysanthemums, gerbera daisies, aloe vera and spider plants. These plants are also effective formaldehyde eaters. By placing several varieties of indoor plants in different locations around your home and office, you can enjoy the maximum chemical filtering benefits from your indoor plants. NASA scientists found that by placing aloe vera in a room for 24 hours could reduce the amount of formaldehyde in the air by an impressive 90 percent.
More recently, research published in the Journal of American Society for Horticultural Science discussed the formaldehyde-blitzing powers of two types of houseplants: the weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) and the evergreen shrub (Fatsia japonica).
The research found that the plants were able to remove 80 percent of the formaldehyde within 4 hours. By comparison, when the same amount of formaldehyde was pumped into the same control chambers with no plants present, the formaldehyde levels naturally decreased by around 7 percent.
You can also invest in a high-quality air filter. Air filters that remove VOCs and toxins are essential for removing formaldehyde from the air. I recommend investing in a bedroom air purifier, which can benefit you if you have asthma, breathing or sinus issues as well. I personally have the AirDoctor at home, which removes almost 100 percent of particles, as well as the vast majority of toxic ozone, volatile organic chemicals, and gases. The cleaner the air we breathe, the cleaner our bodies will be, and the easier it will be to heal and stay well.
2. Exercise regularly: This helps your cells to make more healthy proteins which boost the function of the energy centers or mitochondria in your cells, which can be damaged by formaldehyde exposure. High Intensity Interval (HII) workouts can be particularly beneficial.
3. Use natural cleaning products: Look for respected eco-conscious brands that are free of synthetic solvents, detergents and artificial fragrances. Alternatively, make your own natural cleaning solutions using agents such as lemon, eucalyptus oil, baking soda and vinegar.
4. Install a range hood over gas stoves: And open windows when cooking too – this will help reduce some of the formaldehyde released from stove top gas burners.
5. Avoid an overheated house: Put on socks and more clothing layers in winter so you don’t overheat your house. (This will benefit your power bill too). Create additional shade on your home to keep it cooler in the summer by planting deciduous trees near the house and installing awnings and blinds.
6. Steer clear of plastic packaging: Where possible, store food in glass, not in plastic, particularly if the food contains acidic ingredients, such as tomato or fatty ingredients which can cause greater leaching of chemicals. Avoid washing recycled or reusable plastic drink bottles at high heat; reheating and reusing plastic bottles may cause the plastic to break down and leach more chemicals into the liquid. Use glass drink bottles and earthenware, or china cups and plates. In addition, when buying take-away coffee, bring your own mug to avoid drinking from polystyrene cups.
7. Open windows to air rooms and leave doors ajar in order to create a cross breeze. Ceiling and portable fans can help increase the airflow so you get better air exchange – which means you more effectively encourage the stale air to be circulated out of the house.
8. Choose clothes carefully: Consider second-hand clothing – older clothes have been aired and washed more often, so they will contain less chemicals. When buying new clothes, choose fabrics that are not drip-dry and don’t require dry cleaning. Wash garments several times before wearing. Also, choose more untreated natural materials such as hemp or unbleached cotton, which, in most cases, are produced using fewer chemicals and pesticides.
9. Use low VOC materials when building, renovating or repainting. These usually come from eco-conscious companies that keep the amount of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), such as formaldehyde, low in their products. This means you can go for low VOC carpeting as well as low VOC underlay, paints, plywood and adhesives.
10. Avoid prefabricated furniture: These kinds of cupboards and shelves are usually high in chemicals like formaldehyde. Instead, make your own storage units using natural wood or purchase options from eco-friendly retailers. If that means you need to save up, get some second hand options to tide you over, as these will contain less formaldehyde simply because they are older and have already outgassed some of their chemicals.
I’ve created a list to remind you of the best lifestyle tips to prevent formaldehyde exposure:
In addition to avoidance and proper liver support, some people find that desensitization protocols can be helpful. This is best done under the guidance of a functional medicine practitioner who will provide you with microscopic doses of the offending chemical until your body learns not to see it as a threat.
Depending on your unique sensitivities, complementary therapies provided by integrative practitioners, including low dose immunotherapy, sublingual immunotherapy, NAET and homeopathy, have been reported to be helpful in reducing formaldehyde and other types of reactions. Acupuncture may be helpful as well.
Here’s a quick overview of each of therapy:
1. Low dose immunotherapy – Low dose immunotherapy is a form of immunotherapy that uses a tiny dose of the enzyme beta glucuronidase, with very minute doses of various food, pollen or chemical allergens, to stimulate the production of T-suppressor cells (T regulator or T reg cells). The theory behind this is that it switches off helper cells that identify these particles as threatening allergens.
This technique, which claims to have no side effects, reprograms the immune response to promote immune tolerance. It has been used in the treatment of autoimmune disorders, as well as allergies, asthma, and chemical sensitivities.
In one study, low-dose immunotherapy was used to treat formaldehyde sensitivity. The results concluded that low-dose immunotherapy may affect baseline levels of intracellular calcium in lymphocytes (by reducing the lymphocytic intracellular calcium ion concentration). In other words, it suggested that this therapy can indeed help to promote more normal immune cell signaling in those with allergies.
2. Sublingual immunotherapy – Sublingual (under the tongue) immunotherapy involves creating a dilution of an allergen that one is sensitive to, and administering dosages under the tongue to promote tolerance to the substance in question. The treatment is considered safe and effective for those with multiple chemical sensitivities. In a study where 35 patients of various age groups and both genders were given self-administered sublingual neutralizing doses of formaldehyde 3 times a day, 34 people reached recovery or remission. Given that the majority of patients responded favorably to this method, the study concluded that sublingual immunotherapy can be an effective method of desensitizing those with chemical sensitivities, including formaldehyde, although results may vary within individuals, and recovery could take over 5 years to achieve.
3. NAET – NAET (Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques) is a non-invasive technique that reverses allergies by using acupressure (gentle pressure on acupuncture points) in conjunction with exposure to one’s allergen.
After undergoing Neuromuscular Sensitivity Testing (NST or NST-NAET), which diagnoses allergies by comparing the strength of a muscle in the presence and absence of a suspected allergen, a patient holds a glass vial containing one allergen at a time, while the NAET practitioner applies pressure on acupuncture points. This is believed to clear the “energy blockages” in those areas, which in turns sends a message to the brain to become desensitized to the allergen.
At the end of the session, the allergen is checked again using NST. If the allergen is no longer active, the patient must avoid exposure to the allergen for about 25 hours.
While most evidence on the effectiveness of NAET is anecdotal, some practitioners that I know and trust have found this to be a helpful method for desensitization in their clients, and it seems to be a very low-risk option.
You can find out more about this technique, as well as local practitioners in your area who may offer NAET treatments for formaldehyde and other chemical sensitivities, on the founder of NAET’s website.
4. Homeopathy – This form of alternative medicine, developed by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796, is based on the idea that any substance that can cause illness can also be a cure. In other words, if a substance causes a symptom in healthy individuals, giving someone a tiny amount of the same substance may cure his or her condition.
Homeopathic preparations are made by repeatedly diluting substances in distilled water or alcohol, to the point where no molecules of the original substances remain. However, it is believed that the trace amounts left behind are active and are sufficient enough to desensitize the body to the original substance(s) in the remedy.
Although this therapy has been considered highly controversial by conventional doctors, it is widely used around the world as an effective and gentle treatment for many conditions and allergies. I recommend consulting a homeopathic practitioner in your area to inquire about formulas available for formaldehyde sensitivity.
5. Acupuncture – Originating from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this form of holistic health care involves practitioners that stimulate specific points on the body, by inserting thin needles on various areas on the skin. Although it involves needles, it is a relatively pain-free therapy used to treat a variety of health conditions as well as pain.
Acupuncturists believe that stimulating acupuncture points on the body helps to balancing the “flow of energy or life force” throughout the body, which can become stagnant or imbalanced, resulting in illness. Thus, this therapy claims it can assist with allergies and sensitivities as well.
One study in 2014 examined its effect on allergic rhinitis, asthma, allergic eczema, and other allergic diseases. It concluded that acupuncture’s effect seems to be the result of cytokine profile regulation of Th1/Th2 cells, specifically in the expression of IL-10 (a cytokine with anti-inflammatory properties), as well as in the expression of IL-2 and IFN-γ (proteins involved in regulating the immune system). However, further studies are needed to confirm this. (30)
Are you sensitive to formaldehyde or other chemical substances? What has helped you to reduce your chemical reactions?
P.S. To learn more about other helpful interventions for thyroid disease and tips on reducing your exposure to toxins, please consider picking up a copy of Hashimoto’s Protocol: A 90-Day Plan for Reversing Thyroid Symptoms and Getting Your Life Back.
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Thank you so much for this. Wow, what a lot of research and information. Invaluable info and learned a lot.
Really appreciate this Izabella!
Dr. Izabella says
Suze – you are very welcome! I appreciate your support! <3 I hope you keep me posted on your journey here. <3
Omg, never suggest avoiding a flu vaccination! Flu vaccination is the one thing you can do to keep yourself and others with compromised immune systems healthy and alive.
Dr. Izabella says
Lana – thank you for sharing your concerns. Unfortunately, I cannot give any straightforward guidance about vaccinations. As with any drug, we each have to make our own informed decision about this and ultimately, it’s up to you, your family, and a doctor you trust to assess personal risk and benefits, and decide if a vaccine is the right thing for you and/or your family member.
Jessica Hazen says
I agree with Dr. Wentz, that the flu vaccine, while it is a personal choice, is not essential.
Lana- if you have a totalitarian view on “never suggest avoiding a flu vaccination! Flu vaccination is the one thing you can do to keep yourself and others with compromised immune systems healthy and alive.” You really should include more background information in your statement.
For example, You say it’s the ONE thing you can do… but that’s not accurate.
Dr. Wentz clearly suggested other avenues for healthy flu prevention like supplementing with Vit. D. and exercise. And while no one likes the hard work of regular exercise it really does make a valuable impact on your health.
Not only that, but in immunocompromised individuals, flu shots have not shown a 100% success rate.
Don’t get me wrong, I hate getting the flu. No one likes being sick, but many people survive the flu with their lives intact. Personally, I think playing the long-game with healthy everyday choices is preferable to getting the flu shot and introducing unnecessary chemicals into your body. I don’t like the idea of taking the easy way out with my body and I do not like relying on a company to make the best decisions for me.
Thank you, Dr. Wentz, for the very thorough and informative article. You obviously put a lot of time into it.
Dr. Izabella says
Jessica – thank you so much for your support and feedback! I hope you keep me posted on how your journey is going! <3
Hilary Chala says
Dear Dr Wentz,
I really appreciated this article, if I might add one item, there is a trend amongst people who abuse substances to lace any number of things with phormaldehyde. I’m not certain all the negative effects but it seems to affect the brain. I’m sure there’s something on PubMed but I seem to recall Phormaldehyde inducing brain bleeds.
God bless you and your family
Dr. Izabella says
Hilary – thank you so much for your support! I appreciate you sharing this.
Mariana Leiva says
Dear Izabella, thank you for your articles, so detailed and so generous and explicitly written.
Dr. Izabella says
Mariana – you are very welcome! I appreciate your kind words and support! <3
Lynn Schneider says
Hello Dr. Wentz, I thoroughly enjoyed your article and learned many things. I have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis but it seems more like I have Grave’s because I continually battle with the symptoms of hyperthyroidism . . .can you suggest a protocol for hyperthyroidism as well?
Thank you in advance for your reply!
Best regards, Lynn Schneider
Dr. Izabella says
Lynn – thank you for reaching out and sharing your journey. <3 Graves and Hashimoto's are both autoimmune conditions that affect the thyroid. They are thought to be closely related. Sometimes one turns into the other. The difference is the site of the antibody attack. In Hashimoto's, the antibodies are found to thyroglobulin (in 80%) and thyroid peroxidase (TPO) enzyme (in 95% of people) Hashimoto's results in hypothyroidism and is usually treated with Synthroid and replacement hormone.
The same antibodies may be present in a smaller percentage of people who have Graves, but the main antibody is to the TSH Receptor (TSHR-Ab). Usually, people with Graves have hyperthyroidism, and they are treated conventionally with thyroid suppressing drugs (methimazole) or radioactive iodine to destroy the thyroid. At that point, the thyroid will no longer produce hormones on its own, and these people end up on Synthroid as well.
Most thyroid conditions result from the immune system attacking the thyroid because the immune system is out of balance. Even when the thyroid is taken out surgically or treated with radioactive iodine the autoimmunity still persists in most cases. Many people will have their thyroids removed, and will develop new autoimmune disorders such as Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, etc. The immune system just finds a different target.
We need to rebalance the immune system to prevent this. Sometimes the autoimmunity can be reversed as well! The gut determines your immune system. With the exception of discussing proper thyroid medication dosing, the majority of my website and my book focuses on balancing the immune system. The info I present is based on my own research and journey for overcoming my autoimmune thyroid condition. Here are the links to my books:
Hashimoto’s Root Cause
Greg Hill says
I always use reverse osmosis filtered water for all of my cooking and beverages. Unfortunately the reverse osmosis also removes all of the nutritionally important minerals like magnesium that would otherwise be present in the water. To compensate for this, after filtering I always replace the lost minerals by adding back in ConcenTrace concentrated mineral water, which I can buy off the shelf at my local health food store.
Dr. Izabella says
Greg – thank you for sharing! 🙂
Great info but I don’t have the time to sit and read it all. In addition because of my very acute fatigue I would fall asleep which happens very often when I sit but I can listen to videos while doing my meals, etc. Is your info available on U-Tube?
Dr. Izabella says
Heidrun – thank you for reaching out. I understand how difficult the fatigue can be. <3 Fatigue was the most debilitating symptom I experienced with Hashimoto’s. It actually started 8 years before I was finally diagnosed in 2009 after I got Mono (Epstein-Barr Virus) in college. I needed to sleep for 12 hours each night to be able to function, and by “function” I mean after hitting the snooze button on my alarm clock for two hours (ask my poor husband), I would drag myself out of bed and then had to drink 46 cups of caffeine everyday to keep myself awake. I often had Red Bull and Pepsi for breakfast, and was the epitome of “wired but tired”. I do have several videos on U-Tube you may want to check out. The Audio Book and the Audio CD for my Hashimoto's Protocol book are now available through Amazon as well! Here's the link:
Hi Dr. Wentz,
Thank you so much for this information! I have been searching for information on the relationship between formaldehyde and thyroid. I regrettably had the Brazilian blowout treatments done regularly for almost 5 years before educating myself on the potential formaldehyde exposure. I now have been trying to conceive for over a year and was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and high FSH and low AMH at the same visit. Is it possible to reverse the impacts of formaldehyde exposure on fertility and thyroid? Thank you again!
Dr. Izabella says
Jenny – thank you for reaching out! I am so sorry to hear you are having trouble conceiving. My heart goes out to you. <3 The liver’s function is to remove toxins from our bodies. These toxins can come from various external sources, such as molds, or from internal sources like an imbalance of gut bacteria or pathogens. Some of us may be exhausted because we cannot process the toxins that are present in our bodies. The toxins saturate our liver enzymes, making us feel fatigued. Some of the most common toxins in the environment include:
It’s a good idea to reduce your exposure to toxins in your environment. A few ideas include the use of an air purifier, drinking filtered water, stopping the use of cosmetics that contain petrochemicals, avoiding preservatives and additives, stopping the use of harsh cleaning agents and aerosols, and eliminating molds in your home. I have also found N-Acetyl-Cysteine, a supplement that supports liver detox capabilities, to be worth considering.
I have a whole chapter on detoxification in my book, Hashimoto’s: The Root Cause and I cover liver support in great detail in my new book Hashimoto’s Protocol. You can also read about how supporting the liver is key to recovering from thyroid disease. You’ll find signs and causes of toxic overload, how liver impairment is related to Hashimoto’s, who is most at risk, and so much more.
Hashimoto’s Root Cause
Hi Izabella! I just started your liver reset and found this article. I’ve heard that aspartame (nutrasweet) turns into formaldehyde when heated. Whatever the case, I drank Crystal Lite every day for 20 years, sometimes drinking it hot! Yikes.
I Googled it… “Free methanol is created from aspartame when it is heated to above 86 Fahrenheit (30 Centigrade). This would occur when aspartame-containing product is improperly stored or when it is heated (e.g. as part of a “food” product such as Jello). Methanol breaks down into formaldehyde in the body.Nov 6, 2011“
My body is very very toxic and this may be a big contributor. Thanks for offering help and hope to those of us with Hashimotos! — Tonia
Dr. Izabella says
Tonia – thank you for sharing. I am happy to hear you are taking charge of your health! <3
christie cook says
Hello Dr. Wentz,
Thank you for all of this wonderful information to help us all not just persevere, but persevere and live life abundantly as possible! I have hypothyroidism. Recently, (thanks to my Dr.) I did a Genova lower Gi test which showed I had 6 bad bacteria and 2 possible pathogens. For the past 10 years I have not been able to sit or stand for long periods. The past 2 years it has gotten so bad that I can hardly walk any distance. I thought perhaps it was my back so that’s why the past 6 years I have done PT, acupuncture, cognitive therapy, hypnosis, etc. etc. to no avail. My legs hurt so badly as if someone were squeezing them. And of course I have zero energy. Because of this recent discovery, the Dr. told me he thought much of my pain was caused by the inflammation of the gut. I am currently taking Cystistatin (conatins Uva Ursi) and Oregano. I have also done a nutrival test and a methylation test and waiting results. I am so thankful to find this MD who specializes in functional medicine. He is treating me in this order 1)gut 2) adrenals 3) thyroid 4) hormones You would think with all this I wouldn’t care much about my toe nails and finger nails, but like a good hair cut it just makes a girl feel better! So that in mind, do I need to steer clear of all nail polish and nail salons? Are there any products out there for nails that I could use? Or bring to the salon? I notice that some salons have such a strong odor, but I didn’t realize what it was. Is that the formaldehyde?
Dr. Izabella says
Christie – thank you so much for sharing your journey! I am so proud of your for taking charge of your health and I’m happy to hear you have found a practitioner as well! <3 Conventional cosmetics, potions, and lotions are filled with petroleum by-products, phthalates, formaldehyde, hormone disruptors and other toxins. As a pharmacologist, I’m well aware that what you put on your skin definitely gets absorbed into your body! Here is an article you might find helpful as well.
ARE YOU SACRIFICING YOUR HEALTH FOR EXTERNAL BEAUTY?
You can also check out the website http://www.safecosmetics.org/ or search http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/search.php to see how your products compare.
Hello Dr. Wentz,
As a pharmacist, do you know of a pneumonia vaccine that doesn’t have heavy metals, formaldehyde, or other ingredients harmful to the thyroid?
According to Pfizer, “there’s no live bacteria, no formaldehyde and no mercury inside pneumococcal vaccines.” However, Pfizer’s vaccine has aluminum in it, so I can’t see how that is helpful. For a senior citizen with a thyroid problem, is it better to get the shot, or not?
Thanks for your help,
Dr. Izabella says
Claire – thank you so much for reaching out and sharing. <3 Unfortunately, I cannot give any straightforward guidance about vaccinations. As with any drug, we each have to make our own informed decision about this and ultimately, it’s up to you, your family, and a doctor you trust to assess personal risk and benefits, and decide if a vaccine is the right thing for you and/or your family member.