Tuesday, September 30, 2014


The Right Mix

 When Holistic Health Remedies Get the Cold Shoulder
 from Traditional Medical Practitioners

Has your M.D. ever made you feel like you're "cheating" on him or her when you reveal that you've taken herbal supplements? I never expected that to happen, but I found out just how narrow-minded my very traditional endocrinologist can be today at my annual Thyroid checkup and blood test. 

Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with Postpartum Thyroiditis, which set in after pregnancy. There is also a small cyst on my ever diminishing Thyroid, and I'm on about the highest dose of Levothyroxin Thyroid hormone medicine possible.  Despite healthy eating and exercise, I've never been able to return to my pre-pregnancy weight of 130 pounds, and I've struggled with chronic fatigue at times. Then, I met a terrific holistic dermatologist who listened to my whole story, and made a few simple suggestions that changed my life. 

What was the advice? She recommended that I take two Thyroid Support capsules by Gaia Herbs in the morning, and another at 2 pm, plus one dosage of Holy Basil at both times. I found the herbs at Whole Foods and on Amazon, and began to immediately feel more alert and energized without any shaky side effects. In fact, I didn't even feel the need for an afternoon coffee or tea boost, and began choosing an afternoon water instead. Over the next month, I noticed a sense of calmness, increased coping ability, and I seemed to be losing inches around my midriff, which seemed nothing short of a miracle.  Of course, the midriff is where our body stores "stress fat", so it follows that if we feel less stressed, then our "caveman brain" will begin to let go of the fat it is storing there to "protect" us from some perceived yet unrealistic threat.

Heading into my endocrinology appointment today, I was really excited that after 10 years I finally had something effective to share with my doctor at my annual visit!  I imagined that he would thank me, and begin to share this wonderful holistic approach with all of his thyroid patients.  Fat chance.

Instead, he listened, made notes, asked the dermatologist's name, and proceeded to tell me that he'll be checking my blood test very closely. In fact, he said, if my thyroid reading came back higher, he would be decreasing my dosage of Levothyroxin.  I know it's important to keep my T3 and T4 levels within a safe window, still, it felt like I was being punished for seeking "outside" help. 

On the upside, if the vitamin supplements will allow me to take less of a synthetic drug, that is something to celebrate! However, it'll cost me $30 a month more since the supplements are not covered by insurance (a topic for another day!)  Still, I'm really liking this more natural path, it just feels right. And, I'm not alone: according to the Nutrition Business Journal, sales of natural products are more than $117 billion annually.

One of the most interesting things that I discovered about Gaia Herbs is their transparent "meet your herbs" program, in which you enter the vitamin bottle's ID# to track the life of your herbs, to see the quality control tests it has passed, and to see who signed off on it. Here, I'll even allow you a peek at my very own "plant intelligence" report.

What is really smart about Gaia Herbs as a company is not only the care that they put into their products, but the time and effort they put into informing their customers and sharing their farming processes. For instance, after watching their gorgeous video (below), I feel even better about taking their herbs...and I have fewer reservations about paying a bit more for them.  It's not only smart marketing and good business, it is a positive service for people interested in practicing holistic health and wellness.

I encourage everyone to seek a balance of traditional and holistic medicines, because sometimes one or the other is simply not enough.  Keep an open mind -- it can be an incredible healer -- and have the courage to be your own best advocate in any health-related appointment.  

To learn more about natural products of all kinds, visit the Natural Products Association, founded in 1935, and look for their round green seal on approved natural products.