There are thousands of people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions who would like to follow a natural treatment protocol, yet don’t have a lot of money to spend. And let’s face it, when it comes to eating healthy foods, taking good quality supplements, ordering tests, and consulting with a natural healthcare professional, it can become quite expensive. Without question this is an investment in your health, but even though this is true, some people simply can’t afford this investment. Others can afford this type of treatment, but they have to make other financial sacrifices. So I decided to put together a post which discusses how to follow a natural treatment protocol on a budget.
1. Only take those supplements which are truly necessary. Although I take nutritional supplements and herbs on a wellness basis, and also recommend them to my patients who are taking a natural treatment approach, it’s easy to find yourself in a situation where you are taking too many supplements. There is so much information available, and so it’s common to read an article or watch a video or webinar which discusses a specific supplement, and then based on this information you can easily convince yourself that it would be a good idea to take that supplement. This happens to myself every now and then as well, as whenever I attend a nutritional conference it seems like I end up adding a few supplements to my daily regime. But if you’re not careful you can find yourself taking dozens of different supplements, many of which are unnecessary.
I’m sure most people reading this understand that while taking nutritional supplements and herbs can be beneficial, this doesn’t mean that you should take dozens of different supplements. Of course the challenge is finding out which supplements are absolutely necessary to take. And to be honest, this will vary from person to person, although there are a few supplements that most people can benefit from taking. Some examples include a probiotic and an omega-3 fatty acid supplement. Many people don’t get enough magnesium from their diet and therefore can benefit from taking a magnesium supplement. If someone has a confirmed nutrient deficiency such as vitamin D or vitamin B12 then they will usually need to supplement with these nutrients. Of course the quality of the supplement is important, as if you are taking magnesium you usually will want to avoid magnesium oxide due to the low quality, and if you take vitamin B12, in most cases taking methylcobalamin, adenosylcobalamin, or hydroxycobalamin will be the best option.
But how about other nutritional supplements and herbs? There are many others that can be beneficial to take, including L-glutamine, turmeric, zinc, selenium, digestive enzymes, CoQ10, garlic, rhodiola, etc. These are just a few of the common supplements and herbs people commonly take, and there are times when taking one or more of these can be beneficial. However, I’ll consult with at least a few new patients each month who seem to be taking all of these I listed, plus many other supplements and herbs. The supplements someone needs to take will depend on what imbalances they have. For example, if someone has weak adrenals then they might benefit from taking herbs such as licorice and rhodiola, vitamin C and pantothenic acid, etc. If they have a leaky gut then in addition to a probiotic they probably can benefit from taking L-glutamine and vitamin A. If they have other imbalances then other supplements might be necessary to take.
2. Utilize the dirty dozen and clean fifteen lists. Ideally you want to eat as many organic foods as you can. However, this of course can become very expensive, and not everyone can afford to eat a 100% organic diet. If you eat meat, eggs, and dairy products then I would try to eat organic whenever you can. But with regards to eating fruits and vegetables, if you are unable to afford to buy these organic then I would recommend to utilize the dirty dozen and clean fifteen lists from the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org). The dirty dozen list includes the top twelve fruits and vegetables with the greatest amount of pesticides, while the clean fifteen list includes the top fifteen fruits and vegetables with the least amount of pesticides. And so if you are unable to afford to purchase organic fruits and vegetables, make sure to avoid those foods that are on the dirty dozen list, and stick to those foods that are on the clean fifteen list.
3. Focus on healing the gut. With most chronic health conditions, especially autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Graves’ Disease, having a healthy gut will play a key role in restoring the health of the person. And while it sometimes can be challenging to know where to start, simply going on an elimination diet while at the same time doing things to heal the gut can help a great deal. For example, consider cutting out the common allergens for one month such as gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, and soy. If you want to take this one step further you can also avoid grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. I realize this can be very challenging, and I’m not suggesting that everyone has to do this in order to restore their health. But many people have benefited greatly from following such a diet, while at the same time eating foods such as bone broth and/or sauerkraut to heal the gut, along with supplements such as a probiotic, L-glutamine, and zinc.
Taking this approach won’t always work, as there are times when it’s challenging to identify the source of gut inflammation, or the factor which is responsible for increasing the intestinal permeability. But following an elimination diet and doing some things to heal the gut usually won’t hurt, and many times can make a big difference. Although there can be other imbalances people have (i.e. adrenals, sex hormones, toxic overload, etc.), it is essential to have a healthy gut in order to achieve an optimal state of health.
4. Don’t underestimate the importance of getting sufficient sleep and managing your stress. Getting quality sleep is important, and while some people have problems falling and/or staying asleep, others intentionally neglect their sleep. Most people should aim to get at least 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep each night. And while too much sleep isn’t a good thing for many people, some people with chronic health conditions can benefit from getting more than eight hours of sleep per night until their health improves.
As for managing one’s stress levels, this is something that is very cost effective, yet many people don’t do a good job of managing their stress. There are three main reasons why most people don’t block out time for stress. The first reason is because they don’t think that managing stress is important, even though there are many research studies which show a correlation between chronic stress and different health conditions. A second reason is because some people think they do a good job of managing the stress, even when this isn’t the case. Sometimes it can be challenging to know if stress is having a negative impact on your health, and so regardless of whether someone thinks they are doing a good job of managing their stress levels I recommend for people to block out time to manage stress.
A final reason why many people don’t block out time for stress management is because they can’t find the time to do so. Either they work very long hours, or perhaps they are a stay-at-home mom (or stay-at-home-dad) and have a few young children to tend to throughout the day and at night. The problem is that those people who can’t find the time to focus on stress management usually need this the most. The truth is that most people can block out at least 10 to 15 minutes per day to manage stress, but many don’t do so not because they don’t have the time, but because this isn’t a priority. For more information on this I would refer to the blog post I created entitled “Blocking Out Time To Manage Your Stress Is Essential“:
5. Price around before ordering tests. When it comes to ordering tests, it is a good idea to contact different labs. This is especially true if you pay out of pocket for blood tests, as there can be a big difference between the pricing of different labs. There are numerous online companies such as www.directlabs.com and www.privatemdlabs.com that offer blood tests at a discounted price. And what’s even better is that you don’t need a doctor’s order for these companies. The downside is that ordering blood tests online isn’t available in all states. If you are able to get an order from a doctor but pay out of pocket, then it might be a good idea to call some of the local labs, including any small hospitals, as you very well might find a lab that is willing to give you a nice discount on your blood tests.
As for other types of tests, such as a saliva test for the adrenals, you can of course shop around for these as well. However, keep in mind that different saliva panels include different tests, which will be a factor in the price. For example, you might choose an adrenal saliva test based on price alone, but then realize that it only tests for the cortisol levels, whereas another lab offers a more comprehensive adrenal panel which also includes tests for DHEA, 17-OH progesterone, and secretory IgA.
6. Eat as many whole foods as possible. You no doubt have heard of the phrase “food is medicine”, and while eating a healthy diet alone many times won’t be enough to restore one’s health, eating a diet consisting of whole foods while minimizing the refined foods and sugars will benefit your health. Earlier I mentioned how certain foods such as bone broth and sauerkraut can help to heal the gut. Similarly, certain foods such as broccoli, kale, and garlic can increase glutathione levels, which can help with the elimination toxins. Overall you want to eat foods that are nutrient dense, and try to eat a good variety of vegetables in order to get most of the phytonutrients which are essential for optimal health.
7. Do other things to improve your health. There are many other things you can do to improve your health which won’t cost a lot of money. For example, besides eating whole foods to help eliminate toxins, you of course want to try doing everything else you can do to minimize your exposure to toxins. This not only includes chemicals (i.e. pesticides, toxic metals, etc.), but electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Earthing can also be beneficial and is free, and I’ll discuss this in a future article. Take advantage of any free webinars on thyroid health, as many times these can provide some valuable information. If you have more time than money you also might benefit from visiting some thyroid health forums and/or facebook groups. And of course try to do your best to stay positive, as while it isn’t always easy to have a positive attitude when dealing with a thyroid or autoimmune thyroid condition, doing so can make a big difference.
In summary, if you are looking to follow a natural treatment protocol but are on a budget, there are still many things you can do to improve your health. Make sure you don’t take more supplements than you need, utilize the dirty dozen and clean fifteen lists, and focus on healing the gut. You also want to make sure to get sufficient sleep and block out time to manage your stress. Make sure you eat plenty of whole foods, and if you order tests and pay out of pocket for them consider contacting different labs in order to get the best price. You also want to minimize your exposure to toxins, consider doing earthing, and try your best to keep a positive attitude.