In this episode, I am speaking with Dr. Izabella Wentz—a Doctor of Pharmacology, an internationally acclaimed thyroid specialist and New York Times best-selling author—about the best and worst foods for Hashimoto’s and her latest book Hashimoto’s Food Pharmacology.
We will discuss the best ways to fix your thyroid naturally.
Table of Contents
In this podcast, Dr. Wentz and I discuss:
- What the difference between Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and hypothyroidism is
- Why TSH levels alone are not a good point of measurement for diagnosis
- Why there are more women than men who have hypothyroidism
- How hypothyroidism can be linked to infertility
- How you can make easy changes to your lifestyle habits today, and start reversing Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism.
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Ari Whitten: Hi everyone, I’m here with Dr. Izabella Wentz. And I wanted to give her a little proper introduction here before we get started. I had the pleasure of meeting her several months ago, and I’m just a huge fan of her work. She’s an awesome person and she is doing absolutely brilliant work in the realm of Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism. I’m so excited and honored to have her here to speak on that subject and to share her brilliance with you also. With that, welcome Izabella, and I’m honored to have you here.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Ari, I’m so excited to be here with you, I’m such a fan of your work, and I really appreciate the work that you’re doing for people with fatigue. That was my struggle for almost a decade and, I just really, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Ari Whitten: Cool, thank you and the feeling is mutual. I’m super impressed with the way that you’re putting the pieces together around Hashimoto’s, and especially your safety theory I thought was super cool. So, I love what you’re doing. I know that you are New York Times bestselling author, you have The Root Cause book, you have a new book coming out Hashimoto’s Protocol, and you have a documentary. So you’re doing so many big things just to evolve our state of understanding on the subject and I’m just super appreciative of all the work you’re doing.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Thank you. When you’re fatigued for almost a decade you have to make up for lost time I guess, right
Ari Whitten: Yeah, seems you’re doing a good job of it, so let’s get right into it. So, the first question I have for you is: How did you originally get interested in this subject? How did you come to kind of find that interest for the thyroid and Hashimoto’s specifically?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: So, in full disclosure, I was never really interested in the thyroid during pharmacy school. There were so many other conditions that had much more interesting drugs that I could give to people. For thyroid conditions, we pretty much, for an underactive thyroid, we had just one drug and I didn’t quite get why people would continue to struggle. They would come to the pharmacy, and they’d struggle with their health and I’d be like, well you’re already taking the medication, and there was really nothing else that I could do for them. And, that was what I was taught. It was like, you have a thyroid condition, you get on this drug, and yes it’s resolved and that’s all you need to do.
And when I, got diagnosed myself with Hashimoto’s in 2009 after almost a decade of some pretty debilitating symptoms, including the kind of fatigue that kept me sleeping for 12-13 hours a night, and prevented me from really following my dream, starting at age 18. I kind of got it, and I was like, wow there is nothing really for people with this condition from a lifestyle perspective other than to take thyroid hormones. And I wanted to figure out what I could do from a lifestyle perspective to get myself better.
I wanted to be the healthiest person with Hashimoto’s that I could be, and I also had just secret inkling or feeling, or maybe, I thought I was a little bit crazy, and I did not really tell anybody at first, but I was like, what if I put this puzzle together? And, what if I could reverse the condition? And, then maybe, I could help other people who are struggling as well because I’m a smart cookie, I could figure this out.
So, that’s how I became a Hashimoto’s expert/human guinea pig. There was nothing really out there to help me from my conventional training, from my conventional doctors. So, I stepped out of my comfort zone and started to really peel back the layers of my own health and researching and got myself on the path back to healing.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, that’s super cool. I just, as a quick aside. I’ve actually read your work, I read Root Cause, I think, two years ago, maybe three years ago. And the reason why is, I had a few people that I was working with who had Hashimoto’s. And I wanted to understand it better and so, I read that book. I read a bunch of other books on the subject, and I went and explored the research first hand and, like you said, I basically discovered that there isn’t really much out there, other than; take thyroid hormones. And yet, when you read the research, you find inklings of stuff that may suggest, ”Hey, maybe this lifestyle factor might affect things, maybe this one might affect things.” It’s kind of insane, that we are operating in this framework where we’re not really looking at any of the lifestyle factors. We’re just saying, ”Oh, you have low thyroid hormones, here are some thyroid hormones.” So I think, what you’re doing by putting the pieces together, is just brilliant.
The difference between ”hypothyroidism” and ”Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism”
So, can you tell me a little about how common Hashimoto’s is, and is there a distinction between hypothyroidism – sometimes you hear people say ”hypothyroidism”, sometimes it’s ”Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism” – so, is there a difference between these two things? What’s the deal there?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: It’s, it’s kind of a common question I get and people, I tell them, they ask what I do and then I say I’m a pharmacist, who may say which Walgreens you work at?
And I say, I don’t work at Walgreens and I have to get back into, that I help people with Hashimoto’s recover their health, and I’m an author, and I write books on the subject. And they’re like, that’s so nice that you’ve taken on this mission of a very rare disorder, you must have five clients and ten readers, right? And then I start talking about thyroid hormones and how many people take them in the United States.
So thyroid medications were the number one prescribed drug over the last three years, two of the last three years, I think they got beat out by Vican last year and they are given to people who have an underactive thyroid, right? 97% of the time, people who have an underactive thyroid, their thyroid became underactive because of Hashimoto’s.
So, Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition that impacts the thyroid gland. So what’s happening is, the immune system starts to recognize the thyroid gland as a foreign invader and begins to launch an attack. Over time, the person will have a destruction of their thyroid tissue to the point, where they will become hypothyroid, where their own thyroid gland, won’t be able to make enough thyroid hormone unless they take external thyroid hormone.
Now, the thing about Hashimoto’s is, that it’s a multi-stage process. So there are five stages to it. Most people don’t get diagnosed until stage four when their thyroid gland has been destroyed to the point where 90% of it is gone and they just need to be on hormones.
The scary thing is stage five, is when we start progressing into other types of autoimmune conditions, and thyroid hormones don’t do anything to stop that progression.
And so, if we can back up if we could go to stage two which is the first clinical-stage where we start having an infiltration of the immune cells into the thyroid gland and we can also find this through thyroid antibody testing. That’s the first that’s a stage when people start having symptoms, that’s when the immune system imbalance happens and if we could find a person in that stage we can prevent a decade, sometimes 20 years, of suffering. We can prevent the need for thyroid hormones.
Going back to your question, how common is it? So, using more advanced diagnostic methods, we’re looking at 27% of our population, within the United States, that has Hashimoto’s and the more advanced testing will uncover it. If you just do this TSH test, which will find thyroid disorders of stage four, you’re going to miss it.
Ari Whitten: Wow, 27% percent of the entire population in the US.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Yes, and women are more commonly affected. So, for every man affected there are five to eight women.
Ari Whitten: Wow, that’s crazy. I had no idea it was that common.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: It’s very common when you use more advanced diagnostic methods. So, the TSH test, that’s not going to be abnormal until likely stage 4 of Hashimoto’s and it takes anywhere from, I said, 10 to 20 years to get between stage two and four. And in stage two is when we start seeing thyroid antibody tests. These are thyroid peroxidase, the antibodies GPO and thyroglobulin, antibodies TG, and I always recommend that a person gets a blood test for those. Those will indicate that the immune system has started to recognize the thyroid as a foreign invader.
We used to think that about 80% of people with Hashimoto’s had those antibodies. But now, that we’ve backed into it, we’re seeing that there’s also something known as Seronegative Hashimoto’s, where you don’t have the antibodies, but you do have the attack on your thyroid gland, and a lot of times, you can see the sign via an ultrasound.
Now, one of the reasons could be because there’s a dozen of different potential antibodies you could have in Hashimoto’s. But realistically, clinically, we’re only testing for two or three of them when there’s probably 12 that have been discovered, and probably a hundred other types of ones, there are different parts of the thyroid that could be attacked.
And then, another thing is, when they studied the thyroid tissue of people with thyroid nodules – and looked at it under a microscope – they found that a significant amount of those people actually had Hashimoto’s too. So, when you look under a microscope it’s beyond the ultrasound you could still find additional cases.
How they diagnose hyperthyroidism at your doctor's office
Ari Whitten: Wow that’s crazy. So, you mentioned that there’s advanced testing. So, what’s kind of a standard testing, and how does that differ from that the advanced testing that you’re talking about?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: So, the standard testing is this thyroid stimulating hormone test. This is the test that most people will get when they come to their doctor and say, ”Hey I have all these symptoms, I’m tired, I’m having trouble losing weight.” And they’ll say, ”Well let’s test your thyroid and unless you’re going to our friend Dr. Alan Christensen, they will only do one test, and then they will say, your thyroid was normal.
Now this challenge with that is, of course, we know that TSH is going to be the last thing that is going to be affected, and so that’s going to miss it, and the other the other thing is here that, when scientists first determined their reference range of the TSH, they have people within the pool of healthy blood that actually had thyroid disease. So we ended up with this really lacks reference range, and people who had a TSH of 8 we’re getting told that it was more and more rare for a woman of childbearing age, you want to be between 0.5 and 2. And most women really feel best when they’re at that level. I personally, feel best on my TSH at a 1. When it was at a 4.5 I was a sloth, and I was told at my thyroid is normal, right?
Ari Whitten: Right. Yeah, the reference range is huge. What is it? It’s like 0.5 to 4.5 for most people. , slightly different reference ranges depending on different doctors, but I think it’s somewhere around there, right?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: It depends on the lab. You know, when I was going to complaining about my systems every year the reference range was pretty lax, or it was I have one lab test, it was up to 8 and I was testing at 4.5 and 5 and they said: ”that’s fine.” Now, recent labs are more close to 4.5 the Endocrinologist Association would like to see it at 3.5. I’d to see it no higher than two. So for anybody who gets those tests, get your own copy and do your own cross-checking.
Ari Whitten: Yeah so you’re saying if something is, that the standard test is just TSH they’re not testing any of these other antibodies or some of the other aspects of thyroid hormone. But you’re saying if it’s showing up as above normal TSH, then it’s already well into the progression of the disease, is that correct?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: That’s correct so a TSH between 2 and 10 is going to be at stage three, and then above 10 is considered generally stage four.
Ari Whitten: Gotcha. And at that point, it is it much harder to start to reverse it, once it’s progressed to that level?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Right. It’s going to be harder to reverse it when it’s more progressive. When you think about what’s happening in Hashimoto’s we have this damage on the thyroid gland, and we can stop it, but the damage. It is so much easier to prevent the destruction of an organ that it is to regrow the tissue. But we do have some ways to do that.
How to diagnose hyperthyroidism at home
Ari Whitten: Interesting, maybe we can get into that a little bit later. I want to step back a little bit because we’re talking about some of these advanced diagnostic tests. But beyond actually getting these tests, is there a way, through symptoms, that someone could start to maybe suspect that they might have hypothyroidism?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Oh, definitely. The only word of caution here is that the symptoms can be very non-specific. So, thyroid hormones have receptors in every cell in our body. So we end up having anxiety could be a symptom, whereas that could be a symptom of a dozen other things.
Thyroid imbalance symptoms
Some of the most common symptoms that people are going to record are gonna be fatigue.
Number one is, I’m tired, oh my goodness like, I just want to take naps all the time, I don’t want to get out of bed, and everything is a big effort. The other big symptom is going to be waking or an inability to lose weight.
When I was first diagnosed I didn’t change anything, didn’t change my diet, and change my workout schedule, sleep schedule, nothing changed. And all of a sudden all my sweat pants are getting really tight, I was like, how is this happening, why can I not put on my sweat pants and that’s pretty common for women. They’ll just find that the weight starts creeping up, it just creeps up, creeps up, creeps up, until all of a sudden, they’re like, ”oh my goodness I’m eating like a bird, and I’m looking at the scale, and and it’s like, it’s not working. I’m just putting on more and more weight.”
And then the other big struggle that I personally had – and I know a lot of women have had a greater, much more devastating way than I have – is effects on the brain. So, I had brain fog where I couldn’t remember things. My husband used to tease me, be like, ”Oh, we know how your memory is.” And I was like, ”No, I am sharp and smart.” But that was the old me.
And then the other thing is depression or apathy, where a person is going to just feel like, ”I don’t really care.” That they have a hard time making decisions, or they’re just not as excited about life as they used to be. They might withdraw socially, they’re not going to want to spend time with their friends, it’s just too much of an effort. And then we also have seen – I had this personally – anxiety and panic attacks.
And I have had some clients, unfortunately, who had misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder and I’ve even had some clients who were hospitalized with psychotic disorder and misdiagnosed because the difference between Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism, which we touched on a bit, is if you, just let say just removed your thyroid gland and that’s it, You don’t have a thyroid anymore, you would just go directly into the sluggish symptoms, you’d be putting on weight, you would be losing hair, and you’d be tired. You’d be just basically sluggish with Hashimoto’s, you actually end up with symptoms from the grave spectrum or the hyperactive term as well. So irritability, palpitations, being aggressive, being anxious. Some people may lose weight. These are going to be present as well because as the thyroid gland if it’s under attack by the immune system we start breaking down our own tissue that contains thyroid hormone. Then this kind of gets dumped into the blood and so you’ve got this ”holy cow I’ve got all this extra thyroid hormone.” And then, that gets cleared out.
And for me, that presented itself panic attacks. Where I was, my husband used to run ultra marathons, and he would go out running and it was, he’d be like, I’ll be back in an hour. And then, I would be watching my clock. With an hour and five minutes and he wouldn’t be back, and so I call the hospitals in the area. I called the non-emergency police number and ask if there had been any accidents, if any runners had collapsed from a heart attack, if any runners had been hit by a car, and then, when they were ”No, there was nothing like that,” I’d be like, ”Oh, he must have met another woman, and ran off with her.” It’s like, it’s really I believed this, and I would take our little dog out and I go look for him. It was just, it was nuts. So I’d have these panic attacks and that was the manifestation for me.
For other people, they might have mood swings and bipolar disorder symptoms, or even psychosis. Which I’m lucky I didn’t have. But it just angers me, because so many people get placed on antipsychotic medications, all these horrific things that do more harm, in the long term.
And then, there’s always fertility issues and I know as a new dad that’s close to your heart. But women who have thyroid disease, are going to have higher rates of miscarriage and infertility. And I’ve had women who were told they would never be able to have children. And it’s lo and behold it was because their thyroid was out of balance. And once you address either their need for thyroid hormone, and reduce the thyroid antibodies, they’re having babies, are having miracle babies, and no it’s beautiful.
How many doctors are treating thyroid problems
Ari Whitten: Yeah, that’s awesome. So, let’s say somebody has a number of these symptoms and kind of take me through a couple different scenarios. So, they’re having these symptoms, and let’s say they just go to their family doctor, or an endocrinologist, or something. They get tested. What does the conventional approach look like, and how does that differ from what you would do?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: So, generally, if somebody was to be diagnosed with the thyroid condition by an endocrinologist, they would say, okay, depending on what your TSH number is, and depending on the endocrinologist, they would either place you on levothyroxine – a synthetic thyroid hormone – or not. And then they would say ”We’re going to have you come back every few years, or next year, whenever, to figure out and test you for additional autoimmune conditions. And because once you have one, you’re likely to have another one, sometimes if you’re in the earlier stages, in stage 2 or 3 when your TSH is still under 10, some of the older school ones will say, “We’ll just wait and watch, and we’ll let your thyroid burn itself out and then we’ll put you on replacement.” And then, “Oh, you’re depressed? You should go see a psychiatrist,” or “You are struggling with your weight, oh, hmm maybe eat less and exercise more.”
Ari Whitten: I was gonna say, if you don’t have TSH levels that are high enough to be diagnosed with hypothyroidism, as you were kind of saying a minute ago, you might get antipsychotics, or antidepressants, or something of that nature. Is that correct?
Izabella Wentz: Yeah, you definitely will get in some cases if you go to a primary care doctor. They might prescribe antidepressants for you. For the antipsychotics, they would refer you, usually to a psychiatrist. I personally, got offered a lot of interesting drugs. I had been, just a newly graduated pharmacist at the time and I got offered let’s see, anxiety medications, antidepressants, and then stimulants.
Ari Whitten: Wow, stimulants the fatigue or something like that?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Exactly. I was like, I’m just tired all the time and they were like, “Antidepressants.” I’m like, “But I’m not really depressed.” They were like, “Stimulants.” And I didn’t take them, I was concerned, I knew they were habit-forming and I felt like, man, there’s gotta be something else. And then as you likely, a lot of your clients will probably show, they, when you’re fatigued there’s really not a good answer, and when you start looking at – or at least when I did ten years ago – it was like, okay, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome there’s nothing that can be done. And I sort of almost was in denial for a while, where I was like, oh well, maybe I’m not fatigued, maybe it’s normal to be sleeping 12 hours a night at age 24.
How Izabella and her team are treating thyroid problems
Ari Whitten: Interesting. So that’s a conventional approach. How does that differ from the way that you would analyze those test results and the kinds of things you would think to do, once you get those test results?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Right, so if I saw somebody with an elevated TSH, I would for sure recommend that they get on thyroid hormones right away to address the imbalance and deficiency in their body. Oftentimes, I would generally recommend natural desiccated thyroid hormones or a combination of t4-t3 or even glandulars in some cases, depending on the person and what their numbers were, and how they tolerated various interventions.
The standard of care is levothyroxine and this is t4, and this doesn’t always turn into the active thyroid hormone inside the body known as t3, and so with a natural desiccated thyroid and combination meds have both of those, as do glandulars.
And so that’s where I would usually think about, ”Okay, let’s make sure if this person has an elevated TSH. Let’s make sure they have enough thyroid hormone on board, and that will help them start feeling better right away
Then, if they have elevated thyroid antibodies, regardless if they had elevated TSH or not, I would be really thinking about incorporating lifestyle, to start reducing those antibodies. We know that the greater they are, the more aggressive they are. And I would also, of course, besides looking at the labs, I would be primarily focusing on the person’s symptoms. Like, what are you going through? What are your three biggest struggles? And how do we get you to start feeling better really fast? For me. a lot of times that looks like; supporting the liver, supporting the adrenals, and supporting the gut. And I do this with nutrition, various nutrients
Giving people a high dose of nutrients that usually wakes them up and get things moving for them and often times targeted herbs and protocols. We can get into detail if you want.
The most common root causes for hypothyroidism
Ari Whitten: Yeah, so tell me a little more about some of the root causes, why someone would get Hashimoto’s and kind of what’s underlying this. Like, why does all of a sudden the body’s immune system start attacking the thyroid gland, the body starts producing less thyroid hormone. What’s the root cause here?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Some of the more common root causes are going to be food sensitivities, nutrient depletion, an impaired ability to handle stress, toxins, that you can’t handle, intestinal permeability, and then chronic infections.
And the way. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and this is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night trying to connect all these little puzzle pieces, and I thought about it, why more women have thyroid disease, and when does it happen, and why do these different things trigger it, and why do these different things cause it
And then I came across a research study from a few years ago, about the thyroid actually having the potential to sense danger and then sending out danger signals for the rest of the body and I was like “that’s it!” The thyroid gland, it’s a butterfly-shaped gland, but it’s really are but it is really the canary in our coal mine, that is responding to the toxins in our environment before everybody else does, to give up a signal.
Ari Whitten: In a way, if it was shaped a canary, somebody would have had this realization a lot sooner then.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. I’m like, well it may be a kind of shaped a canary and I try to play around with some photoshop – I’m not really good so I kind of left it alone. But, yeah, it’s definitely an environmental sensing organ. So, it’s going to be figuring out whether we’re safe or not. And why it’s really relevant for women, is a few reasons why we have more cases of autoimmune thyroid disease in women.
Hypothyroidism and pregnancy
But one of them is that, obviously, women – as you know – carry a big responsibility to bring new life into this world and in order to have the healthiest baby, that has the best chance of surviving and casting on its gene to the next species, the woman should probably be in good shape. So the woman would have been full of nutrients, right?
And the woman should not be in a situation where she’s in danger. So whenever we have times of famine or war, obviously, it’s not beneficial for us to reproduce to have children during wartime, because there’s a good chance that they wouldn’t survive. If there was a zombie apocalypse, a pregnant woman would not be able to run as quickly as a woman who was not pregnant. So, these are just some considerations to think about. From going back to having an ancient body in present times and during cavewoman times there were things that signaled our body that it was not a safe time to reproduce, or create, or be out in the world. And this was generally when there wasn’t enough food around, when there were toxins around us, when we were infected, and when perhaps there was some danger and so we sense this
Now, the way this was translated into modern days is, we see women who have had a history of sexual abuse, women who are in abusive relationships – battered woman syndrome – these women have alterations thyroid hormone profiles. They are more likely to have an autoimmune disease, they’re more likely to have higher rate antibodies, they’re more likely to have fibromyalgia and that makes sense. It’s ”okay, this is going to be a signal that this is not a good time to reproduce and I need to survive.” And the other ways that we could send these same signals is through dieting, exercising too much, and eating stuff that our ancestors would not have considered food, right?
And so, if we’re eating a lot of grass, which in our days has been turned into bread, that’s going to send a signal to our body that there’s nothing else to eat – and the same with processed foods – we become nutrient depleted. Then our bodies saying, ”Oh you poor thing, you must be really hungry. I’m going to just, I’m going to help you out, I’m going to help you slow down the metabolism, and hold on to these things for you.” And then when you’re not sleeping, if you’re not sleeping in modern days it’s coffee, and deadlines, and whatever. You’ve got work to do. But in the olden days, the only reason you would be keeping up at night was if there was a dangerous situation
And so, for me, it’s what is happening in your life that is sending your body these danger signals, and how do you start sending safety signals? And that’s how you really get to the core of recovering from Hashimoto’s.
Ari Whitten: That’s beautiful. I just want to point out for everybody watching this, that this paradigm that Izabella just presented is really her own paradigm. It’s her own realizations and this is in my opinion just a brilliant piecing together of what’s going on. I think that this is a huge step forward, and our general understanding of this condition, and what’s really going on. So I’m super excited about it. I just want to make sure that everyone here understands how big of a shift in paradigm, and how brilliant that really is.
Izabella Wentz: Thank you, I appreciate them. I think it also gives us perspective to not think about the thyroid gland as an enemy, but as someone that’s trying to help us, right?
How to fix thyroid problems naturally and fast
Ari Whitten: Yeah for sure. Let me see, you’ve worked with over a thousand people with Hashimoto’s and I know that you figured out that you can accelerate healing and symptom reduction within one to two weeks. Even for people who have been suffering for many, many years. So, how do you actually do that?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: One of the things that I started doing with my clients when I first got my health back – and it didn’t take two weeks to get my health back, right – is, I started trying to figure out what the root causes were, and I was doing a lot of functional medicine testing, and kind of doing the dig-add-on approach, where we were going through, and checking off boxes. In some cases of this, turned out to be expensive, labor intensive, and we weren’t always seeing results right up front
I also have the sub sort of clients who was sensitive to everything. I would say, ”Hey, try this D vitamin” and they’d be like “It was horrible.” I felt horrible and they were just these people that react to their environment. They reacted to supplement, everything around them was was just troublesome, and so I started thinking about, ”Okay, how do I help these people?” These are things like, how do I do it faster and in a more efficient way? These are the thoughts I have in my head all the time.
I thought, ”Okay, well there’s going to be issues with the liver, because when people have circulating immune complexes that are present in Hashimoto’s, where they’re created against foods and against our own thyroid tissue, this kind of gets shunted to the liver. And then people with thyroid disease are less likely to sweat, and this is not a common symptom that they complain about, but when you’re not sweating then you’re not getting rid of toxins, and then the liver gets the extra burden. And then when you have the leaky gut – that’s present in every case of autoimmune condition – then all the toxins are also getting shunted to back to the liver when the gut’s not clearing them properly.
And so we end up with the person with this liver backlog, where I like to think of one of those government workers in a little office where she just has this stack of papers, and she’s supposed to process it all and she keeps getting more and more stuff put on her desk and there are cuts all around in the company, and she just can’t. It takes her 16 weeks to process one application, that takes five minutes on her end, right. And this is my idea of what’s happening with the liver. And so what we do is, we start taking away some of those piles, and we start making her be more efficient so that we start clearing out some of that toxic backlog.
When I first started doing liver support with my clients I found really amazing and exciting things that surprised me because I wasn’t- with multiple chemical sensitivity – I just wasn’t expecting much
I was like, wow, that’s really tough. But, once you start clearing out the toxins out of the liver, then the body sort of resets. And so, one of my favorite stories I have to tell is a woman who couldn’t go to the mall because she was so chemically sensitive to the smells. That they have at Abercrombie and Yankee candle in all those places that smell great for the average person but if you’re chemically sensitive, you’re done. She also had headaches. She had headaches migraine headaches, she had joint pains, elevated thyroid antibodies, and her mood was down, and she’s very sluggish. So, we put her on the liver support protocol for two weeks and within the first week she called, and left me a message, and said: ”You’ll never believe this, but I’m at the mall with my daughters, shopping for the first time in years, for Christmas.” And she ended up having her headaches went away, her joint pains lessened, her mood got better, and then the next time we tested for thyroid antibodies they were lower. We still had to work more to get her antibodies in the remission range, but it was like, wow, that just happened within two weeks.
Then I was, “Okay, I’m going to do that for everybody.” When I started doing that in my program, and I used to work in outcomes research, and this is another fun thing for me, where I was testing everybody and asking them what were your results? With every intervention and 65% of people felt better on the liver support.
Ari Whitten: 65 you said?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: 65% within the first two weeks. There were people who were working with functional medicine doctors who were working on their own. These are highly educated people that even read my first book, right. So that was really, really exciting. And that’s how the idea of my second book Hashimoto’s protocol was born. It was based on this fundamental thing you need to do to restore your health, liver, adrenals, and gut and then we go into the advanced protocols that deal with individual triggers.
Ari Whitten: Beautiful, so you’ve mentioned liver support. What’s involved in that? And how does that differ from- there’s a lot of kind of pseudosciencey ideas out there around detoxing – how would you differentiate what you’re doing from all that mess of pseudoscience around detoxes.
’Dr. Izabella Wentz: The detoxes can be quite scary, because in some cases. Let’s say, think about this liver backlog the office worker and then you’re ”let’s detox, let’s clean up your desk” and you just get in there and you start trying to clean things up, and move things around, you create even more mess. That’s what happens with these horrible detox methods. Like [inaudible] that pulls heavy metals from within our bodies. Then, if our detox systems are working perfectly then the heavy metals come out. If they’re backlogged, then they just go somewhere else
And so this is one of the challenges. I did try this and didn’t have the best reaction, so that’s why it’s not in any of my books to do stuff like that unless you’ve gone through the fundamentals. Some people may still benefit later on. But the liver support is different – because we’re basically supporting your own body’s natural processing – and so what we’re doing is we’re removing those additional stacks of paper from the desk. How we do that, is we’re going to go through and think about your diet. So gluten, dairy, and soy are out right away. And then we get off of processed foods. That’s another thing that gets out, so then you’re not getting all these new toxins every day. Organic foods so you’re not getting pesticides.
Why removing fluoride can help treating hypothyroidism
The first part is removing foods. Then we’re also removing toxins – the low-hanging fruit around you – what can you do? Obviously, there are toxins everywhere in our environment, and I’m all for cleaning up our environment. But let’s start with your home, right. So we’re going to go and clean up your water supply – remove fluoride.
Fluoride is a thyroid-suppressing substance and it’s added to our water. So every time you’re taking a sip of water, you’re damaging your thyroid and you’re suppressing its function. So reverse osmosis filter. Then we’re looking at personal care products.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, if I can interrupt you just for a second, just to emphasize what you just said, because so many people that still drink tap water, or they drink water filtered with a Brita, or something that. Even some people that I know that are even health conscious people are doing this. And it’s just insane to me that people don’t realize how much junk is in there and fluoride being just one of many that can potentially disrupt thyroid function. But I just wanted to emphasize for people how important it is to drink pure water, that doesn’t have things that are known to disrupt thyroid function in every sip you take. That’s just a huge factor. So, I just want to make sure people get that.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: The crazy thing Ari, is that the dosage used for suppressing thyroid hormones. So back in the day, when we didn’t have thyroid suppressing drugs, they were using fluoride, and the dosages that they were using, this is what you would get in the average American home if you drink six to eight cups of water a day like a good girl or a good boy, anthology recommendations.
Ari Whitten: Wow.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Don’t do it, get a filter or get a clean delivery source where they deliver clean water to your home
And going through and for women, other low-hanging fruits, are your personal care products.
So I recommend that women go on a two-week personal care product detox. For some people it’s not it’s not an option, but when you think about all the creams and lotions from a pharmacologist standpoint, when you put this on your skin it actually bypasses the liver which helps you detoxify things and it gets directly into your bloodstream and essentially what you put on your skin is going to be potentially more harmful and toxic than you would take internally
How lipsticks can cause lupus
If women are not willing to give up their personal care products for two weeks, I say, ”Okay, let’s make sure that you go and clean up your personal care products so there are versions that are much cleaner. And I recommend investing and them. I mean really how often are women, I’ll buy one lipstick, and it lasts me three years, but you could spend an extra five dollars on getting a new lipstick because it will last you so much longer. And you won’t have those toxic effects.
The EWG is a great source for figuring out what your level of toxicity is in your personal care products. I was appalled when I found out my favorite perfume – it’s a one to ten scale – was at a nine. I was putting this on my thyroid every day. Putting this on my neck, all over my body, and I was basically giving myself small doses of poison.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, yeah I think I had read something recently about lead in being very common in lipstick as well.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Yes, lupus. So this was a few years ago they found that women who wear lipstick are more likely to have lupus.
Ari Whitten: Oh, wow.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: And they suspect that it was the lead. I, personally, one day I’ll write a blog about this I was too angry to write about it at the time, but I was once after getting myself into remission, I actually had a flare-up because of my lip gloss which contained arsenic in it. So, every day I was applying this lip gloss and I was, and the lips absorb so much, and I ended up with arsenic toxicity. I was losing my hair, and having all these joint pains, and all these rashes, and it was because of the lip gloss I was putting on my lips. I was reapplying, reapplying.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, it’s crazy, how toxic of a world we now live in. Where all these things that are so common, are potential sources of toxins. Our water, the things we use in our hair, and on our skin. I mean it’s just, it’s nuts.
How to cure your thyroid with food
So is there a particular diet that you recommend, that you found helpful for people with Hashimoto’s?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Generally gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, at a minimum. That’s where I have everybody start. In some cases, I’ll have them modify and start tailoring their diet. A lot of people have benefited from the autoimmune Paleo diet. I recommend it for people who have thyroid nodules, for people who have a lot going on, so sometimes that might be a good starting point. I always try to work with a person as we have a step-up approach, where you start off with gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and then you remove more foods over time until you are symptom-free, or at a good place. Then the step-down approach is when you remove the all of the foods in the autoimmune Paleo plan and then you add more foods back in.
Of course, one of the things that I often caution about is diet, is not the be all, end all.
Because if you are eating a clean diet and if you hit a plateau, I would say give it three months before you need to investigate other things. My clients and the people in my program, who had a plateau with diet, 97% of them had had the liver congestion issue based on an assessment. And 95% of them had low cortisol levels based on adrenal saliva testing. Then 80% of them had a gut infection based on two tests that I did. You always want to consider those. Yes diet, but I just don’t want people to get into a place where they start losing more food and then they start saying, ”okay, well I’m pretty much just eating water with ice cubes.” You’ve seen those memes where there is a plate with ice cubes – it’s gluten free.
But yeah, I don’t want people to be restricted for a long time. I’m not restricted now. I avoid gluten, dairy, and soy, but I’m not I’m not eating a limited amount of foods. We want people’s worlds to get bigger, not to get smaller. Although, having a restricted diet might be part of the healing process. As soon as I see people losing more foods it’s, okay need to jump in and make sure we’re addressing the liver, adrenals, gut, potentially infection. But let’s find out what else is happening there.
Ari Whitten: Yes for, sure and it’s always walking this balance between trying to identify and get rid of potentially problematic foods. Without creating this intense neuroticism, and fear, and anxiety around toxic foods. Which can often be potentially more harmful than the foods themselves.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Yeah, because that’s us off your stress response, and then you’re more likely to become sensitized to the foods, right? There’s one, people who have had a history of eating disorders are more likely to have this kind of know potential of becoming I guess orthorexic is the right word that I’m looking for. Where they have an unhealthy relationship with food. Where they’re no longer are tuned into their body and their food, and they get to a point where they’re, ”Okay, if I just remove one more thing, then I’ll be better,” or, ”If I just am strict enough then I’ll be better.” And like I said, people with a history of eating disorders are more likely to have this happen to them. But it’s not just limited to that.
I personally never had a history of an eating disorder, but I got to a point where I became orthorexic when I was eating the Gaps diet – which is a wonderful diet for some people – but for me, it wasn’t working. I ended up finding out that I had copper toxicity, and all the nuts on the diet were aggravating me, and making me anxious, and causing breakouts. But you want to be in a communication with your body.
So don’t necessarily listen to a dietary theory, but listen to what your body’s saying. So, if the way you’re eating is causing you breakouts, then that means there’s something happening, of it something you need to take away.
Ari Whitten: Gotcha.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: But I digress.
How nutrient deficiencies can trigger Hashimoto's hypothyroidism
Ari Whitten: We don’t have too much more time here so I want to just try and walk a couple more questions what do you think about nutrient deficiencies in the context of Hashimoto’s, are there some nutrient deficiencies that can contribute to the problem?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Absolutely, so that’s a very well-known root cause, and the most common nutrient deficiencies are going to be selenium, thiamin, vitamin D, B12, ferritin, as well as magnesium. So these are the things that I recommend looking into. Vitamin D, ferritin, B12, you want to test for. The others, I actually recommend supplementing with regardless of doing a test that shows the deficiency, because you might still benefit. And most of them you’re not going to see them on a blood test.
Ari Whitten: I think there was an impressive study on thiamin. or not thiamin or riboflavin, I know you’ve talked about it in relation to the fatigue in people with Hashimoto’s.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Yes, thiamin is to me it’s one of the best things you can do for thyroid fatigue. When I was in pharmacy school I was taught that thiamin deficiency was only in alcoholics, but that’s the furthest thing from the truth. Truth is that really high thiamin deficiency is going to be in alcoholics. That we can have subclinical thiamin deficiency when we have any kind of gut issues. So, people with Hashimoto’s, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, they could be at risk for this.
The amazing thing is the study showed 600 milligrams of thiamin helped a person recover from fatigue within three days. I was one of those people that took thiamin and within three days it was amazing.
I used to struggle with adrenal issues, I had blood pressure over 90 over 50, and then I would for years, years, years, years, and I would go to my doctor, and I was already paleo then, I think. And she would be ”How are you even walking? You should be in bed right now with that kind of blood pressure.” I had blood sugar issues, carbohydrate intolerances, and a lot of fatigue and brain fog. And within three days the thiamin just turned it around, and I’ve had normal blood pressure ever since then. My digestion was improved. Thiamin also helps with digestion and it was like, ”Wow! I have energy now” and I wrote a blog post about it, it went kind of viral a few years ago, and I’ve had people come up to me at conferences, and give me hugs, saying “Thank you for your thiamin article.” and I’m like, “Who are you? Do I know you?” But yeah, I always appreciate hearing from readers that something I’ve recommended has been helpful. And this is one that I’m constantly getting feedback on.
Last week, I had a woman who wrote in and said she was on disability before she started thiamin because she just had no energy. And then she started thiamin and over time, she was able to go back to work, first part-time, and now she’s working full time.
Benfotiamine by Benfomax encapsulation at 600 milligrams is the one I use, and that’s something I have links to. I am a thyroid pharmacist but people can get it from their practitioners, or from anywhere on the world wide web. And that’s the version that seems to work best for most people, and it might have some beneficial immune modulating properties, the benfotiamine version versus plain thiamin.
Ari Whitten: Gotcha. So, I know there are a number of other potential root causes we could go into. There’s what, there’s a whole bunch of them with food sensitivities and leaky gut issues, and infections, and circadian rhythm, and sleep, and stress, and all kinds of issues.
How infections can trigger hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s
Since we’re limited on time, I want to ask you to just talk about one. Can you tell me a little about infections in Hashimoto’s?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Yeah, so infections can trigger Hashimoto’ through a few different pathways. Molecular mimicry is one, and then the other one is going to be through – if they’re inside the thyroid gland – through the bystander effect. But some of the more common ones, are going to be the Epstein-Barr virus, blastocystis hominis, H. pylori is very common and then we’re looking at various yeast and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and I’ve seen a whole host of various parasites that are in the gut, and they lead to gut permeability.
I know there are studies that show that these kinds of parasites are also present in people with chronic fatigue syndrome, and I’m not surprised to hear that. The good news is once we find them and we get rid of them, we start feeling better, and we get we get our energy back, digestion improves, antibodies reduce.
Ari Whitten: Interesting. So you mentioned molecular mimicry. I’m sure there may be a few people who know what that is, but can you just explain it real quick, so people understand what that is and how it relates to autoimmune Hashimoto’s?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Yeah, so in very simple terms it’s the immune system, it recognizes the pathogen and the pathogen has a protein structure that looks a certain way. And then that might be similar to the protein structure of the thyroid gland, or another part of our body. And so, when the system attacks the infection, it also kind of creates a memory or a snapshot of that structure – I think of it as walking around with an iPhone, showing everybody else this is the bad guy – and then, the immune system ends up attacking our own cells because it’s a case of mistaken identity. It’s like, you look like this infection, so I’m going to kill you. But it’s actually not the infection.
The bystander effect is when the infection is within the thyroid gland and then the immune system tries to attack the infection and tries to blow up its home which happens to be, the thyroid gland.
Hashimoto's treatment. Is there a cure?
Ari Whitten: Interesting. Crazy stuff. So, the last question. Probably, the most important question for anybody who’s watching this, who actually has Hashimoto’s, or suspect they have hypothyroidism. Is there a cure? Is it possible to get Hashimoto’s into remission? and if there’s a cure, what is it?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: So technically, there’s no cure and they’ll say once you have Hashimoto’s you’ll always have Hashimoto’s. But when you think about, we talked about the five stages. So the first stage of Hashimoto’s was just having the genetic predisposition. Based on studies done in people who are exposed to Chernobyl, I would say, at least 80% of us have that predisposition. So, with a strong enough trigger, eighty percent of children within a certain age will develop Hashimoto’s after being exposed.
So, we’re always going to have that, we can’t change our genes, not yet but we can change the genes expression. And so we can move back through the stages, we can get rid of all the symptoms with the current therapies we have. We can reduce the autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland. One elegant thing you can do is measure thyroid antibodies to see if they’re reducing. They’re not the be-all, end-all of how aggressive auto-immune system attack is, but they are one marker that can be helpful. And so we can reduce thyroid antibodies under a hundred, under 35, and some even to 0, or 1 – which is, you no longer have any antibodies. Under a hundred is considered remission.
And then we can, also, in some cases, the person can potentially, we now have thyroid hormones and so then they don’t have symptoms, they don’t have antibodies, and they don’t need to take thyroid hormones. And for all intents and purposes, they don’t have Hashimoto’s, in my opinion. So I feel there, it’s a really great time for functional medicine, for what we’re doing, the work that we’re doing. It sounds kind of funny, but it’s a good time to be thyroid patient because there are so many options for us.
We didn’t chat about this, but low-level laser therapy over the thyroid gland. About half of the people in three different studies were able to get off of thyroid meds completely, and the other half were able to to see a reduction in the need for thyroid hormones. So, this is I know you’re a big fan of light therapy and this is just one of those amazing interventions we have in our pocket. We combine that with all these fantastic tools and resources we have, we can really create a path back to wellness, and take our life back
Ari Whitten: For sure, and I’ve seen it happen, I’ve seen people go into remission, a lot of people I’ve seen go into remission as a result of following your methods. So thank you so much for being here.
I want to just on a final note, just for anybody who’s watching this who has thyroid conditions or suspect they might, where can they get more information from you. What is the best path, because I know you have two books now, there’s a documentary coming out or is out at this point? So, what is the best path that somebody should go on to heal themselves and fix their Hashimoto’s?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: So, definitely come check in with me go to thyroidpharmacist.com. And if you go to thyroidpharmacist.com/gift, you’ll be able to get access to some nutrient dense recipes, quick diet starting guide, and some of those quick nutrients that you can address so you could start feeling better right away. And yeah, this is what I do full time I just specialize in Hashimoto’s and helping people with this condition, recover their health. So, I have a new book called Hashimoto’s protocol that’s coming out, and it’s based on my program that, I think, over 1500 maybe 2,000 people have gone through now. Where we go through all the things you need to do to recover your health with fundamentals, and then the advanced protocols. And yeah I have a thyroid documentary called the thyroid secret just to come and see me I’ll take good care of you, a lot of things that I can help you with, and I’m always sharing the latest and greatest as well as the most the fastest ways back to your health. Because I’m, how do I make it more efficient, right?
Ari Whitten: Awesome well I’ve read The Root Cause, it’s phenomenal. I’ve also had a chance to have a sneak peek of the new documentary, which is also phenomenal. So I’m sure the new book will be as well. And for everybody watching this, make sure you go check out that documentary, right away. And Izabella, thank you so much for being on this call with me, it’s been an absolute pleasure. And thank you for sharing your wisdom and brilliance on this subject with my audience.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Oh, thank you so much, Ari, the pleasure’s been all mine, is truly an honor. And, like I said, I love the work that you’re doing in the world, and it’s always fun to talk with a fellow health nerd.
Ari Whitten: Thanks so much Izabella, have a great night. Thank you
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How they diagnose hyperthyroidism at your doctor’s office (9:22)
How to diagnose hyperthyroidism at home (12:27)
Thyroid imbalance symptoms (13:07)
How many doctors are treating thyroid problems (17:40)
How Izabella and her team are treating thyroid problems (20:46)
The most common root causes for hypothyroidism (22:48)
Hypothyroidism and pregnancy (24:32)
How to fix thyroid problems naturally and fast (28:17)
How to cure your thyroid with food (39:25)
How infections can trigger hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s (47:23)
Hashimoto’s treatment. Is there a cure? (49:29)