Each month I receive a decent number of emails from people who want to see a natural endocrine doctor for their thyroid condition, but can’t afford to pay for these services. I realize that some people truly can’t afford to receive natural care, especially since most health insurance companies won’t cover these types of services.
The truth is, in most cases natural healthcare is less expensive than receiving conventional medical treatment. Of course there are exceptions to this, as I know some holistic doctors charge in excess of $5,000 for their service, and require that their fees be paid upfront. Some of these doctors will recommend a minimum commitment of six months or longer, and require the patient to pay for entire fee, although some will be “generous” enough to offer a payment plan.
This isn’t necessarily meant to criticize any holistic doctor that does this, as any doctor has the right to charge whatever fees they want. And to some degree I can understand them requiring patients to make a commitment to care, as this a way to screen out those people who are not serious about their health, as there is nothing more frustrating than having a patient start a program and then drop out. Even so, I’m not a big fan of doctors charging what I consider excessively high fees, and at the same time requiring patients to pay the full amount upfront. While every doctor needs to make a profit, at the same time they shouldn’t make it difficult for most people to afford their services.
On the other hand, there are many holistic doctors who do charge reasonable fees, but are still too high to afford for some people. As of writing this article I’m personally not accepting new patients, but I still occasionally receive emails from people who tell me they can’t afford to see a natural doctor, and will simply wait until I accept new patients again. The problem with this is 1) I’m not sure when I’ll begin accepting new patients again, and 2) while I think my fees are reasonable, there still are people who wouldn’t be able to afford the fees that I charge.
So What Other Options Do You Have?
For those who have a thyroid condition and truly don’t have the money to pay even reasonable fees for natural healthcare, there aren’t too many options, other than try to find a holistic doctor who might accept financial hardships, or one who will put you on a payment plan. However, while this might reduce the fees you will pay to speak with a holistic doctor, one needs to keep in mind that there are expenses involved that can cost hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars over the course of a treatment plan.
After all, besides the fees for the consultation, one will likely require additional tests to determine what is causing the thyroid condition. In addition, nutritional supplements most likely will be recommended. With regards to any additional tests that are recommended, most of these are conducted by other companies, and not the actual doctor who is recommending them. As a result, a discount is not feasible (although some insurance companies will provide coverage for these tests, such as certain blood tests, saliva testing, etc.).
With regards to the nutritional supplements recommended, what many people don’t realize is that some of the companies require that all healthcare professionals sell their supplements for the same retail price. An example is the company Standard Process, which is one of the companies I use for nutritional supplements. Doctors who purchase supplements from this company don’t have a choice as to what prices they charge, although there are of course some doctors who will charge different prices anyway and risk getting banned from being a distributor. Sometimes these supplements can be found on ebay or other online websites for a reduced price (although once again they shouldn’t be sold at a reduced price anywhere), but many times they cannot be purchased anywhere else.
Not Choosing To Receive Additional Tests Or Nutritional Supplements
Someone with a thyroid condition can obviously choose not to have additional tests performed and can buy their own supplements, but this falls under the realm of self-treating one’s condition. One can possibly still receive some benefits if they don’t receive any additional testing and randomly take certain nutritional supplements. On the other hand, it’s difficult to know exactly what supplements and herbs someone needs without doing the appropriate testing. Plus, frequently the supplements purchased in retail stores or on the internet are of low quality. So while you might save some money buying supplements on your own, if they don’t absorb well and are of low quality, then of course they won’t be benefiting you at all and you’ll just be throwing your money away.
Let’s look at an example of this. If a person with a thyroid disorder has a condition called estrogen dominance, which can be causing or contributing to their condition, but refuses to have a hormone panel done to confirm this, then a holistic doctor will have difficulty recommending the appropriate natural protocol for them to follow, which most likely means that this person will not receive optimal results. This is just one example, but there can be many other areas of the body that can be compromised and therefore contributing or directly causing your thyroid condition. And in many cases, the only way to determine the cause is by doing some additional testing. I’m not talking about thousands of dollars worth of testing, but definitely at least a few hundred dollars in most cases.
How To Self Treat Your Thyroid Condition With Minimal Risks
So what can someone do who absolutely can’t afford natural thyroid treatments? For those who don’t have any money to spend on consulting with a doctor, let alone the other expenses involved, they might need to resort to doing as much on their own as they could, without trying to self-treat their condition with thyroid boosters, immune system support formulas, etc. While someone with a thyroid condition might not receive optimal benefits taking this approach, they can still frequently improve their symptoms and overall health by doing the following (you’ll notice that most of what I’m about to list has been covered in other articles and blog posts on my website):
1. Begin Eating Better. Eat as many whole foods as you can. Try to eat as many organic foods as possible, especially any meats you consume, as well as the vegetables you eat. Some non-organic fruits also should be avoided, as fruits such as strawberries and apples can be high in pesticides.
2. Drink Pure Water. Try to avoid drinking tap water, as you ideally want to drink water that has been purified through reverse osmosis or distillation. It’s also a good idea to add a chlorine filter to your showerhead, as this will minimize the amount of chlorine your body absorbs, as this can help with some common health problems, including chronic fatigue.
3. Exercise Regularly. I realize that some people with thyroid conditions don’t have enough energy to exercise on a regular basis. If this describes you then you will need to make some changes in the other lifestyle factors that are contributing to this, and eventually get on a “walking program” where you begin with some light walking for five to ten minutes each day, and then build up gradually until you can walk for about 30 minutes daily.
4. Obtain Sufficient Sleep. Getting a decent amount of sleep each night is important to help rejuvenate your body. Some people do try to obtain quality sleep but have difficulty falling to sleep, and/or staying asleep at night. Once again, this might mean paying attention to the other lifestyle factors. For example, someone with blood sugar problems can also have sleep problems, and so changing their diet alone will frequently help with this (see My Personal Thyroid Diet article in the “Articles” section of this website).
5. Manage Your Stress Effectively. These days most people are dealing with chronic stress, which our bodies are not designed to handle. While you won’t be able to completely eliminate the stress from your life, you most likely can do a better job of managing your stress, which can help greatly with your thyroid condition, as well as other health problems you may have.
6. Minimize Exposure To Environmental toxins. Tens of thousands of different chemicals have been manufactured since World War II, and thousands of more each year are manufactured. As a result, it’s impossible to completely avoid environmental toxins. However, one can definitely minimize their exposure to them, especially by purchasing more natural household products. While such products might be more expensive than brand name products, you can purchase some low cost natural products at places such as Trader Joes.
7. Try To Have A Good Attitude. Your attitude is important when it comes to your health, and while keeping a positive attitude might be difficult when dealing with a thyroid condition, doing so can make a big difference.
8. Continue To Educate Yourself. I of course recommend to continue reading the articles and blog posts on my website, as well as other blogs and books on natural health to continue to learn how to live a “healthy lifestyle”.
Can You Do Your Own Testing?
You can definitely do some of your own testing, especially when it comes to blood tests. Check out the website www.directlabs.com, as you can obtain a Vitamin D test, complete blood count (cbc), thyroid tests, and many other blood tests inexpensively. As for saliva testing to determine the state of your adrenals and steroid hormones, there might be labs out you can use on your own that can save you some money, but the thing to keep in mind is that not all labs are the same, as many use different reference ranges that are incorrect.
The reason I use Diagnos-Techs is because they do a great job, have valid reference ranges, and overall they are a reputable company that has been doing this for awhile. Plus their fees are also very reasonable, although I’m sure there are some holistic doctors who double or triple these fees in order to make a good profit, but at the same time make it even more difficult for people to afford. In any case, just be careful about choosing your own lab for adrenal testing or a hormone panel, as you always want to choose a company with a good reputation and one that uses valid reference ranges.
Are There Nutritional Supplements You Can Take On Your Own?
Even though it is highly recommended that you consult with a natural healthcare professional, I realize there are some people who won’t take this advice and will try to purchase their own supplements. Please understand that I can’t tell you exactly which supplements/herbs to buy, as different people will require different supplements, as well as different dosages when taking the same supplement (i.e. Vitamin D, iodine, etc.). Also remember that while taking nutritional supplements is an important component of any natural treatment protocol, taking supplements alone isn’t the answer to curing your thyroid condition. What I recommend is that before you take any supplements on your own you at the very least obtain the following three tests
• Vitamin D Test (you can get a test kit at www.vitamindcouncil.org)
• 24-Hour Urine Loading Test (if you absolutely can’t afford this you can do an Iodine Patch test, which isn’t completely valid but it’s better than doing nothing)
• Adrenal Stress Index Test or a Hormone Panel. Which one of these tests you do depends upon which symptoms you have. The truth is that most people have adrenal problems, and so if you deal with chronic stress, and eat a lot of refined foods and sugars, then you probably should have this test done. On the other hand, someone with estrogen dominance needs to get this addressed as well before they can get better. If you’re having symptoms of estrogen dominance (read my blog post on this) then you probably will want to get a hormone panel done first, and perhaps down the road you can obtain an adrenal stress index test.
The good news is that addressing a deficiency in Vitamin D and iodine is inexpensive, as you can purchase a quality Vitamin D and iodine supplement for a low price. Other common nutritional deficiencies (selenium, magnesium, etc.) also are inexpensive to address, and eating a diet consisting mostly of whole foods can minimize the amount of supplements you need to take on a daily basis.
Be Careful About Taking Herbs
While taking whole food supplements has minimal risks (although isn’t completely risk free), it is a little bit more risky to take herbs on your own. Even though millions of people take nutritional supplements and herbs without any noticeable side effects, there are three main risks of taking these on your own:
Risk #1: You might have a bad reaction to a certain supplement or herb. While this is rare, it is definitely possible, and so you do need to be careful. This is especially true if you have more than just a thyroid condition, as if you have other problems then you need to remember that while serious problems while taking supplements and herbs are rare, they do happen.
Risk #2: Mixing supplements and herbs with prescription drugs can cause problems. This definitely can be risky, as if you are currently taking any type of prescription drug, mixing these with nutritional supplements and/or herbal remedies can cause some serious side effects.
Risk #3: Mixing supplements and herbs together, even without involving drugs, can also cause side effects. For example, many years ago when I wasn’t as knowledgeable about supplements and herbs as I am now, I did a detoxification, and at the same time took other supplements that I just had a basic knowledge of. One night after I started this protocol I woke up in the middle of the night to urinate, but was unable to do so, even though I had a very strong urge. I wasn’t taking anything else other than these supplements and herbs, and so I figured it had to be these that caused the problem. Just to play it safe I went to a medical doctor, received a urinalysis and my very first prostate check, and both were negative.
I stopped taking the supplements for a few days, and my urinating problem went away. However, I wasn’t 100% certain it was the supplements that caused the problem, and so I did a very foolish thing and began taking the supplements and herbs again, and sure enough, I woke up again one night unable to urinate (actually I was able to urinate both times but it took about ten minutes to “squeeze” out the urine in both cases, and it was a very scary and uncomfortable situation).
My past experience doesn’t mean that you will suffer similar or worse consequences by randomly taking nutritional supplements and/or herbs. But it does demonstrate that there are risks to taking supplements and herbs, and I will add that the ones I purchased were from a very reputable company, and not just some supplements that I randomly purchased at a retail store. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t each specific supplment and herb that was the problem, but the combination of them that produced the problematic side effects. In any case, just be careful about doing anything on your own, as while having difficulties urinating wasn’t fun, many people have suffered far worse side effects from taking and combining nutritional supplements and herbs on their own.
So if you have a thyroid condition and have problems affording natural healthcare, then I hope you have found this information to be somewhat useful. I realize what I’ve written here is not by any means a complete solution, but if you make most or all of the changes I’ve suggested, receive some minimal testing, and then take some of the necessary nutritional supplements (making sure they are of high quality), you can receive some benefits without consulting with a natural endocrine doctor.
With that being said, even though health insurance in most cases won’t cover the consultation fees and cost of the nutritional supplements (some companies will cover the lab testing), let’s not forget that this is your health we’re talking about. If you absolutely can’t afford natural health care, then this is understandable. On the other hand, if you can afford this care but it will mean making sacrifices in other areas (eating out less, not buying that lcd tv or other electronic gadget you really want, etc.), then for the sake of your current and future health it most likely will be worth the investment. In fact, I can say with confidence that it probably will be one of the best investments you will ever make.