Digging Deep for the Roots: One Woman’s Story of Healing From Hashimoto’s
Dr. Izabella Wentz “grew up in a medical clinic” as the daughter of a medical doctor and was drawn to a career in pharmacy from the time she was five years old. As a consultant pharmacist for rare and difficult cases, she often championed lifestyle interventions. During her university studies, she had begun to experience health challenges—culminating in a diagnosis at age 27 of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Having investigated and overcome the disease for herself, she has dedicated her life to helping others do the same through her Hashimoto’s Self-Management Program and her bestselling books, most recently “Hashimoto’s Food Psychology”, as well as consultations and more.
Discovering the Root Cause of Hashimoto’s
Parvati Magazine: How do you explain Hashimoto’s thyroiditis to patients? How has your experience with this disease transformed your understanding of it?
Izabella Wentz: Hashimoto’s is a complicated condition with many layers that need to be removed one by one to find the “root cause.” Generally, there is an autoimmune component where the thyroid is destroyed by the immune system. Three factors are needed for autoimmunity to develop: a genetic predisposition, intestinal permeability (leaky gut), and environmental triggers such as infections, food sensitivities, etc.
I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s at age 27 after years of struggling with chronic fatigue, panic attacks, irritable bowel syndrome, cold intolerance, hair loss, brain fog, acid reflux, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Receiving my diagnosis was almost a relief: I now had an answer and could start medications to alleviate some of my symptoms. But I also wanted to know how I could be the healthiest person with Hashimoto’s. I decided to make overcoming Hashimoto’s my life mission. I dug deep for root causes, overcame Hashimoto’s, and decided to share what I had learned through the process.
Understanding a New Treatment for Hashimoto’s
Parvati Magazine: Why is the mainstream approach to treating Hashimoto’s with thyroid replacement hormone flawed?
Izabella Wentz: Many people with Hashimoto’s are given medication to fix the problem, but medication won’t address the root cause(s) leading the immune system to attack the thyroid. Medication can help to resolve some symptoms, but I always recommend removing triggers in conjunction with thyroid hormone replacement therapy, to bring balance back to the immune system.
Parvati Magazine: Why are the liver, adrenals, and gut microbiome key players in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?
Izabella Wentz: Liver, adrenal, and gut are key players in Hashimoto’s because these are key body systems that can bring the body into and out of balance. In my Hashimoto’s Self-Management Program, as well as my “Hashimoto’s Protocol” book, we dig deep in these three key areas.
If there is an accumulation of toxic buildup in our liver, we cannot properly detoxify, and thyroid hormone conversion can also be compromised, as hormone conversion from T4 to T3 happens in the liver. I always advise beginning by removing potentially triggering foods, reducing toxic exposure, and supporting detox pathways with targeted supplements.
Treating Hashimoto’s without treating the adrenals is a major reason why exhaustion occurs, despite receiving thyroid hormone replacement therapy. When our adrenals are constantly activated, there is a chronic stress response and adrenal fatigue. People with Hashimoto’s often find relief when they address their stress response.
Finally, intestinal permeability is always a factor in Hashimoto’s. We can improve gut health by removing food sensitivities, balancing gut flora with probiotics and fermented foods, adding gut-healing nutrients and digestive enzymes, putting our body in a “rest and digest” state so it stops breaking down the gut lining, and removing infections.
Parvati Magazine: Why do you believe that Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an adaptive survival response to traumatic stress?
Izabella Wentz: Adaptive physiology suggests that our bodies develop chronic illness to adjust to our environment and that the illness serves a protective role. When our body does not feel safe, whether from traumatic stress, food sensitivities, parasites, et cetera, it senses threat and goes into an energy-conservation mode.
Thyroid disorders are actually advantageous in times of famine to conserve resources. By slowing down thyroid function, metabolism slows to a quasi-hibernation mode. The problem is that we are unlikely to be starving from lack of food in this day and age. We might instead lack crucial nutrients in our modern diets, and the prevalence of stress in our lives causes our bodies to slow down thyroid function to conserve resources. This is why I place so much emphasis on addressing the stress response with nutrition in healing from Hashimoto’s. What better way to tell your body that it is safe than by feeding it nourishing food?
Parvati Magazine: Your Hashimoto’s treatment plan empowers patients to take charge of their own health. How has this transformed their lives?
Izabella Wentz: In 2013, I did a research survey with 2232 people with Hashimoto’s, which found that 88% of people felt better eliminating gluten and 81% felt better with a grain-free diet. 79% felt better without dairy, and 62% experienced improvement after food sensitivity testing and elimination. Often, people who follow my protocols report better sleep, weight management, fewer gastrointestinal issues, and more energy. The program allows them to live their life in a way they did not think was possible. It gives them hope and allows them to take charge of their own health.
Dr. Izabella Wentz is a passionate, innovative and solution-focused clinical pharmacist. After two years of researching Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism, she summarized her findings in the #1 New York Times bestseller, “Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause”. Her latest, “Hashimoto’s Food Pharmacology”, offers delicious recipes to support thyroid health.