In January of 2007, I was diagnosed with Graves Disease (Autoimmune Hyper-Thyroidism). The doctors gave me 2 options for treatment –
- Use radioactive iodine to obliterate my thyroid and be on thyroid hormones for the rest of my life.
- Take a round of anti-thyroid drugs for 18 months and see if, by chance, the disease goes into remission.
I know it sounds like #2 is the obvious choice, but most doctors in the U.S. recommend option #1. The only reason my doctor let me go with option #2 was because I was breastfeeding my son. Only one anti-thyroid drug is safe for breastfeeding mothers, so if it didn’t work I’d be forced to take the radioactive iodine.
Luckily a few months in, my symptoms subsided. The meds were working. I was also taking beta blockers during this time, because my resting pulse was around 140 (:-O). As my treatment progressed, I could tell that the disease wasn’t going into remission. If I forgot to take my meds (either one), my pulse would race and I’d get hand tremors again. I was devastated to know that at the end of the 18 months I would probably have to have my thyroid obliterated.
So in a last ditch effort, I started scouring the internet and reading about correlations between diet and Graves Disease. One thing that kept coming up in searches, was the link between hyperthyroidism and gluten intolerance. I only had a few months left on my meds, so I didn’t have anything to lose. I made a simple grocery list that cut out all bread, cookies, crackers, and grains and went gluten-free. The first day was tough. When you’re accustomed to eating sandwiches and pizza and breads, cutting it out cold-turkey feels strange. On the second day, I noticed increased energy. I had been falling asleep in my afternoon meetings for months and now all of the sudden I was WIDE awake. By day three, I was convinced. I didn’t need a doctor or a blood test to tell me that this was good for my body. Most of the time, our bodies will tell us what it needs. We just aren’t conditioned to listen to it.
So I was now gluten-free. I had increased energy. My digestion was regular. My skin cleared up. It was amazing.
A few months later when it was time to stop taking the anti-thyroid drugs, I did so cautiously. I was terrified at the prospect of taking drugs forever. Fortunately, I stopped taking my meds and my symptoms DIDN’T return. I’m not a doctor (duh). I can’t tell you if it was finishing the round of drugs or the elimination of gluten that made my disease go into remission. But I do know that 2.5 years later my thyroid levels are “spot on” normal (just had them tested last month). And being gluten-free has had all kinds of wonderful positive side effects – like weight loss, clearer skin, more energy.
DISCLAIMER – I acknowledge my gluten intolerance and eat as gluten-free as possible. But I admit to not being a purist. Sometimes I go eat sushi and use regular soy sauce. I know that there is wheat in soy sauce. Sometimes it upsets my stomach sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t always worry about trace amounts. So please don’t eat what I eat and feel that it’s 100% gluten free. If you have Celiac or a more serious gluten allergy, use your own judgment.