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Understanding Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Diving Deeper into Thyroid Health

Hashimotos thyroidBrain fog that makes routine tasks a drag, unexplainable bouts of lethargy in the middle of the workday and a metabolism that has officially gone M.I.A. – these are signs that an individual may be suffering from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder that affects at least 14 million people in the United States of America alone! While both men and women suffer from the chronic condition, it is women who are 10 times more likely to be diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis than men. While Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is one of the most commonly diagnosed forms of autoimmune disorders, many people are still not aware of its symptoms, causes or possible treatments.


Most people suffering from Hashimoto’s do not detect any symptoms initially; it is when this disease slowly progresses and begins attacking the thyroid gland that patients take notice. If a patient notices that their neck area is looking swollen, it is a sure-fire sign that their thyroid gland has enlarged and is now a goiter. The goiter is evidence that the individual is now suffering from hypothyroidism. While the goiter looks painful, this symptom causes minor discomfort to the patient. Aside from a swollen neck, other symptoms that indicate the presence of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis are:

❏    Depression

❏    Cold Sensitivity

❏    Excessive Thirst and Frequent Urination

❏    Hair Thinning out or Noticeable Hair Loss

❏    Rougher, cracked skin

❏    Feeling cold while others feel normal

❏    Dealing with Digestive problems like  Constipation or Bloating

❏    Difficulty in Concentration

❏    Unexplained Weight Gain

❏    Drastic Hair Loss

❏    Tingling in Patient’s  Hands & Feet

❏    Puffy Eyes

❏    Slower than Usual Heart Rate

❏    Chronic Fatigue and Lethargy

❏    Brain Fog

There may be a marked increase in anxiety, stiffness in the joints area and for women of childbearing age, fertility problems.  If left undetected, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis may cause the development of Type 2 Diabetes, neurological damage, kidney and brain problems, other autoimmune disorders like Grave’s Disease, an increased risk of heart disease and higher levels of cholesterol.

Despite the prevalence of Hashimoto’s signs and symptoms, thyroid antibodies are often NOT tested. You may have Hashimoto’s and not know it. The diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is only done with testing for the thyroid antibodies, Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPOAb) and Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb).  The challenge with Hashimoto’s is that the symptoms are so common and mild that most people do not get the right diagnosis until irreversible damage has occurred to the thyroid gland. TSH is typically the only lab run in conventional medicine and that will not provide the whole picture. To get the whole picture of your thyroid health the following labs should be tested:

  • TSH
  • Free T3
  • Free T4
  • Reverse T3
  • Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPOAb)
  • Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb)


A feature of being an autoimmune disorder is that Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis disease is inflammation of the thyroid after immune cells attack the healthy thyroid tissue instead of guarding it. The pituitary gland usually releases thyroid stimulating hormones after detecting a change in thyroid hormone levels (T4 and T3) in the bloodstream. When Hashimoto’s is present, this natural systemic flow of hormones fails in the body.

Autoimmune disorders, like Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, are a result of a genetic tendency that runs in families, can skip a generation but usually affects women more than men. Being genetically predisposed for a disorder like Hashimoto’s does not automatically mean that it will develop. There are individuals whose autoimmune disorder never gets triggered, but for those who do, the trigger usually is viral, fungal, significant life stress and some foods.

Research has found that there is no one factor that results in the development of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (and hypothyroidism, subsequently). There may be one, some or all of the following factors at work to cause this chronic condition:

❏    Deficiencies of specific nutrients in the body

❏    Bouts of emotional stress

❏    Pre-existing issues with normal digestive functions or Leaky Gut Syndrome

❏    Intolerances or sensitivities to grains or grain by-products, and food additives

❏    Undetected food allergies such as gluten or dairy

❏    Autoimmune disease in other parts of the body that also attacks the thyroid gland

Cigarette smokers more likely to develop Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis disease compared to non-smokers. A complete list of behaviours or circumstances that increase the risk of being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s includes:

❏    Pregnancy and post-partum stage in women

❏    Having a family member who has suffered from autoimmune disorders or having suffered themselves in the past

❏    Being a woman

❏    Being middle-aged, especially above the age of 50. Researchers noted that signs of Hashimoto’s resemble symptoms menopause closely enough that it goes undetected in women above the age of 60.

❏    Dealing with an extraordinary amount of stress that breaks down the body’s immune system and results in adrenal insufficiency.

❏    Over-training (or exercise addiction) and malnourishment (or eating disorder) can both result in hormonal imbalances and weaken thyroid function.


Those suffering from hypothyroidism or goiters are recommended to begin hormone replacement therapy by taking synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine.  While some people may find temporary relief through hormone replacement medication, it means a life-long dependency that suppresses a symptom and not a treatment of the disease itself. We need to identify if the immune system is involved in destroying the thyroid versus just treating Hashimoto’s as hypothyroidism.

There are better treatment options available, that address the ROOT CAUSE. Those can include changing your diet and taking replacing the nutritional deficiencies with supplements to stave off of the effects of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Those individuals concerned about controlling Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis naturally should take the following steps:

A.   Revamp Your Diet: Doctors recommend removing all grains and all gluten from your diet for a minimum of 90 days to give the gut a chance to heal. After the first three months of going grain-free and gluten-free, you should stay on a gluten-free diet as much as possible. Removing grain is important as it mimics gluten and causes gut inflammation. Overly dairy products, refined flours, refined sugars and fast food are low in healthy nutrients and are inflammatory to the gut.

B.   Heal the Gut: It is recommended to eat foods that are less processed and in their raw forms, such as fresh vegetables and fruits. Bone broth made from organically-sourced meats is easy for the body to digest and is not a trigger for those suffering from a previous autoimmune disorder. (click here for our favourite bone broth recipe) 

C.   There are several supplements that have been shown to heal Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis here are a few:

  • Probiotics: repairs the lining of the digestive tract and overall improves gut health
  • Selenium: regulates the levels of T4 and T3 hormones in the body
  • Vitamin D: More than 90% of thyroid patients suffers from Vitamin D deficiency. Some 15 to 20 minutes in the sun or a daily dose of Vitamin D is just what the doctor ordered.

Patients diagnosed with Hashimoto’s (or people who suspect they are suffering from Hashimoto’s) are encouraged to discuss thyroid treatments with their physician or Naturopathic Doctor before changing their diet or lifestyle.

Talk to Dr. Danby, ND to learn more about available testing and a natural custom approach to treating your thyroid condition. Click here to book your visit! 


A Deeper Look at the Causes of Autoimmune diseases

Naturopathic Medicine AutoimmuneThe belief in current medicine is that in order to stop the symptoms your need to suppress the immune system, reversal of is not possible. These medications that suppress the immune system are often very harsh with a lot of undesirable side effects such as weight gain, depression, fatigue, increased risk of infections and cancer.

As a Naturopathic Doctor and a functional medicine practitioner I see the body as a whole and work on the principle that the health of one system impacts the health and function of all others. Our approach is to focus on supporting and strengthening the immune system by getting to the root cause of WHY the immune system went haywire. To date there has been no cure for autoimmunity however clinic I have been able to successfully help hundreds of patients lower and even reverse antibodies, and become symptom free by treating these 5 major areas.

  1. Digestive Track /Leaky Gut – Your digestive track is what controls your health. It has been reported that approximately 70% of your immune response comes from the digestive track. Research has clearly indicated that the majority of people diagnosed with an autoimmune condition have what we call leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome is the breakdown of your intestines tight junctions (cells that hold your digestive walls together), allowing larger molecules (such as food, toxins, bacteria, candida etc.) to pass through. When this happens your immune system goes into attack mode and starts to attack all those larger molecules it sees as foreign. This continual elevated immune response eventually causes the immune system to attack its own tissue.
  1. Previous Infections & Candida – New research is confirming what scientist suspected for years that previous and current viral, bacterial and fungal infections could be the initial trigger for the immune system to go rogue. Infections such as Herpes, Epstein Barr, e.Coli and Candida (yeast) have all been linked to various autoimmune conditions.
  1. Food Allergies – are linked to autoimmune condition for several reasons. Firstly they trigger an immune and inflammatory reaction when consumed. Secondly, the inflammatory reaction often is the main cause of Leaky Gut syndrome. Finally many foods are considered to be “molecular mimicry” meaning when consumed the body confuses your tissue for the food and attacks it. A few perfect examples of this are: beans with the myelin sheath for MS and gluten which is actually associated with several AI conditions such as thyroid, celiac, Sjogrens (tear duct).
  1. Mold & Heavy Metals – Mycotoxins released from mold cause tremendous amount of stress on the immune system. Where as heavy metals such as mercury, block the body’s ability to repair and function. They often replace the nutrients needed on receptors or as co-factors, for example mercury is found in the mitochondria (the part of the cell that produces energy) and the thyroid preventing the addition of Iodine, overall impacting the function of these cells and creating increased stress on the body.
  1. STRESSAll stress: Physical, mental/emotional, environmental and chemical affect your immune response. Chronic stress, the day to day hustle and bustle of life leads to long term inflammation, impacting how your immune system functions. Once the autoimmunity is triggered immediate stress only makes it worse.

How do we fix this? First we need to identify if you have one, two or all of the factors impacting your health through clinical intake and lab testing.

  1. 4 R approach to healing the gut: REMOVE all the foods, bacteria, toxins and yeast that could be causing the immune and inflammatory response. RESTORE the function of the digestive tract, stomach acid, digestive enzymes etc. REINOCULATE the good bacterial and establish a balance. Finally REPAIR the intestine lining with proper nutrients.
  2. Identify if there is any underlying infection and treat it.
  3. REMOVE all potential food allergens the most common are Gluten, Dairy, and Eggs. If you are unsure, visit your Naturopathic Doctor for lab testing or to talk about the hypoallergenic diet.
  4. Eliminate your exposure to toxins and mold. If you suspect your have heavy metals there are several tests that can determine your levels.
  5. REDUCE and MANAGE your Stress: daily meditations and deep breathing are just as important as all of the other steps and can help control and prevent many flare ups.

My approach to autoimmunity is getting down to the core cause of what caused the immune system to go on high alter in the first place and alleviating.


You’ve come down with that nasty cold, it’s the weekend and you can’t make it in to your Naturopathic Doctor what should you do??

Here are a couple of very oldies but effective goodies that you can do at home to beat that bug!

FIRST SIGN of a virus: Boost your immune and lymphatic system with HYDRO-Therapy: Alternating Hot/Cold Showers.

Alternating hot and cold (contrast hydrotherapy) is a common hydrotherapy treatment. The hot application expands blood vessels, filling them with blood, and the cold application constricts the blood vessels, forcing the blood to move on to other parts of the body. This not only improves lymphatic and blood circulation to boost the immune system but also enhances the delivery of nutrients to organs. (Provided you are feeding your body good nutrients!)

Free cold pic- need to creditDirections: take your normal shower at the end turn it slightly cool (do not shock yourself!) you want double hot for the time of cold, your length of is very individual however try to aim for 30 seconds hot and 15 seconds cold, for 3-5 cycles.

Nasal congestion: Increase your circulation, warm your toes & clear that stuffy nose!

It’s the WET SOCKS treatment!!

It might not be every one’s favourite thing to do this time of year, however it’s great for increasing circulation! Whether you have chilly toes or a stuffy nose the wet sock treatment is sure to help!

Directions: What you need is a pair of cotton socks and thick wool socks. Soak the cotton sock in cool water and rinse them out so they’re not dripping. Place them on your feet, putting the wool socks over…Now the magic begins! You will find that as you warm up and dry the socks your toes warm up and your stuffy nose is gone!

Nasty lingering cough: Castor Oil Pack to the CHEST

Castor oil has been used therapeutically for hundreds of years, both internally and externally. Castor oil applied topically has many beneficial effects. Physiological effects of the castor oil pack include, but are not limited to: stimulating the liver, increasing eliminations, relieving pain, increasing lymphatic circulation, improving gastrointestinal function, increasing relaxation, and reducing inflammation. When applied to the chest it helps reduce inflammation and improve lymphatic circulation helping your body kick the cough out.

Directions:  Take a piece of flannel you have around the house (I cut up my PJ’s) drizzle castor oil over the flannel apply it to the chest and place a source of heat over (watch you do no burn yourself!) Relax have a nice herbal tea (Echinacea tea to help battle the cold) for 20-30 mins. You can do this several times a day.

Ear infections: Garlic, not just to keep the vampires away!

It’s that time of year when the little ones start pulling at their ears! There are several different types and causes of ear infections, viral and bacterial being the 2 most common. Reducing the mucus production and the inflammation help with the drainage in the ears preventing the advancement of any infection. Please ensure you visit your ND or MD to avoid complications of ear infections, this can become serious.

If your little one is prone to ear infections 2 things you need to do over this winter…

  1. Investigate food allergies. The most common associated with ear infections is diary, it is known to be phlegm forming and increases mucus production (not good for coughs or asthma in the winter months for the same reason).  At first signs there might be a potential problem remove all dairy.
  2. Garlic ear oil: may help reduce the pain of middle-ear infections in children. You can make your own at home by crushing a clove of FRESH raw garlic and dissolving it in some olive oil. Put a few drops of oil in the ear canal, as long as the ear drum is not perforated. You can also purchase garlic ear oil if this sounds too messy for you.

Make sure you talk to your Naturopathic Doctor on other more advanced ways of preventing and treating the cold/flu virus. This is where we excel!

Photo credits: Woman Sick With Flu by marcolm
















Wild Rice, Chicken, Kale and Apple Salad

Yesterday I bought kale and apples with this salad in mind…Delicious and amazingly healthy!

Wild Rice, Chicken, Kale and Apple Salad 

  • Cook 4 cups of wild rice (another option is the sprouted rice and quinoa)
  • 1/3 cup of diced red onion
  • 1 apple diced (tart is the best)
  • 5 large organic kale leaves thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of cooked chicken (previously roasted or sautéed in balsamic vinegar and garlic)


  • Roasted chopped almonds or walnuts
  • ½ cup of currents


  • ½ cup of balsamic vinegar or apple cedar vinegar (for the digestive aid)
  • ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp of herbamare or sea salt, pepper to taste

Optional: add1 tbsp of maple syrup

Mix the salad and dressing in separate bowls, combine when ready to eat and ENJOY!

Chocolate Nut Butter Smoothie

This smoothie is not only protein packed, but makes a great breakfast or post workout drink! AND it tastes amazing while still being cleanse friendly!

  • 1 tbsp of hemp seed (other options ground flaxseeds or chia)
  • 1/4 frozen berries  (or 1 ripe frozen banana… berries are the best choice!)
  • 1-2 tbsp of Almond butter (or your choice of nut butter)
    ** if doing the cleanse you need to avoid peanut butter
  • 1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk, almond milk or rice milk
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1/4 of an avocado
  • 1/4 cup of water (or ice)


  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, or vanilla extract
  • Additional greens add a handful of spinach!! Give it that extra boost!

Why do we avoid peanut butter in the cleanse? Peanuts (and corn) are known for their ability to produce a fungus known as Aflatoxin. This mould/fungus is considered to be carcinogenic and associated with liver damage, unfortunately children are more susceptible to damage than adults. Solution: switch to almond butter.

Do you know how much water you should be drinking in a day?

freeimage-7991993-webOne of the most common question I’m asked is “How much water should I be drinking?”. It’s actually simple to calculate how much water you need to meet your individual needs:

Weight  (lbs)  / 16 = ___________ cups (1 cup = 250 ml) of water you should be consuming per day.

For those of you that consume coffee or black tea, for each CUP (not mug) of coffee you drink you need to incorporate an extra cup of water per day.

Exercising? Then you also need to increase your water intake. The general rule of thumb is for every 30 minutes of exercise you should incorporate an additional cup of water.

For some people this can seam like a lot of water in one day! Gradually build up to your recommend amount up over a week or two. Your body will start to adapt and you’ll end up craving it over time! Many people confuse dehydration with hunger, especially at nighttime when you get the munchies. Increase your water intake throughout the day and you will find that you naturally want to eat less.

To aid in the flavor department for those of you that like a little zip in you life, try a herbal tea (hot or cold) it count towards your water intake. Also adding lemon to your water first thing in the morning is a great practice to start. It stimulates your liver and bile production prepping for digestion.

Another concern I hear often when people start to increase their water is that they’re waking through the night to use the bathroom more frequently. Make sure you incorporate your water intake throughout the day as apposed to when you get home at night also limit how much you are drinking after 8 pm.


PHOTO: © Motorolka | <a href="">Dreamstime Stock Photos</a> & <a href="">Stock Free Images</a>

The DIRTY DIRTY Dozen! What produce should I buy organic?

freeimage-836755-webEvery year the USDA and the FDA look at the most common fruits & vegetable consumed and the levels of pesticides in our produce. They then provide a useful list call “the dirty dozen” – produce that contains high amounts of pesticides and “the clean dozen” – produce that contains the lowest pesticides. With the dirty dozen these are the produce you WANT to ensure are organic however when it comes to the clean dozen it’s not as important.  It’s still better to buy organic but the clean dozen less toxic if not organic.

The DIRTY DOZEN: (in order of highest pesticide contamination)

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Lettuce
  • Grapes (imported)
  • Pears
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes
  • NEW addition: Kale and Collard greens increase use of pesticides!
The CLEAN DOZEN (in order of lowest pesticide contamination)
  • Avocados
  • Onions
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Asparagus
  • Kiwis
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Eggplant

Full results of the study at


As an FYI – Kale is a SUPER-DUPER food that is very easy to grow in your gardens making it organic. Also it will actually grow all year long, allowing you to have fresh Kale from your garden through the winter months to use in your winter soups and stews. Keep in mind the deer do enjoy it too… so your winter supply might not last as long as you hoped!


Photo:© Ynot11 | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Cleaning your produce

Cleaning Nonorganic Produce:

For many, buying organic isn’t always an option whether it’s the cost of the weekly grocery bill or the availability of organic produce. Here are a few simple ways to reduce your exposure to many harmful chemicals found on nonorganic produce. It does add a little more time in the kitchen but the overall pay back on your health is well worth is.

For fruits you want to remove the skin with either a peeler or a paring knife. I can hear you saying but its important to eat the skin… YES it is but not when you are potentially ingesting harmful chemicals. Use your nonorganic fruits to make a fruit salad adding chia and ground flaxseeds for the boost of fiber and to help balance the blood sugar.

The SOAK & SCRUB! For nonorganic vegetables (peppers and celery) and fruits (apples, grapes & cherries) you can make your own acid wash.

  • In a large bowl of water add 1 cup of distilled vinegar
  • Allow them to SOAK for 15 to 20 minutes
  • Follow up with a good SCRUB (using a vegetable scrub brush) for 45-60 seconds. (*Grapes and cherries do not need to be scrubbed but should soak for longer ~ 60 min)

When picking produce from the grocery store or the market one thing to keep in mind is where was grown? Try to avoid produce that was grown in Mexico, their pesticide laws are much looser than Canada’s or the US (not that ours are much better!) Strawberries and lettuce are the two foods that you should always buy organic.  The wash and scrub are virtually ineffective for cleaning them!

Every year the FAD puts out a list of the dirtiest produce, called the “Dirty dozen”. They contain the highest amounts of pesticides and are the ones that you DO want to buy organic if available. They also produce a list of the “Clean dozen”, produce with low levels of pesticides and isn’t as important to buy organic.

We are now entering Farmer’s Market season, where buying local and organic is incredibly convenient, much easier on the pocket book and you’re supporting local farmers, which is a win for everyone!


Treating Seasonal Allergies Naturally

IMG_0263 Its the time of year that we welcome all the beautiful flowers, budding trees and the soft grass on our toes… leaving allergy suffers flocking to the INDOORS! Its the dreaded allergy season!! For many the first signs of spring is the uncontrollable sneezing, the red itchy burning eyes, the nose that is constantly running, sore throats and chest congestion. Whether these symptoms are due to seasonal or environmental allergies, more and more people are seeking natural alternatives.

What is an allergy? Its an inappropriate response from the immune system in attempt to remove the allergic invaders (protein from a food, air, environment etc), which typically would be harmless. Any substance can provoke an allergic response however this time of year the most common offender is pollen. When you inhale the pollen through the nose or mouth, molecules tend to stick in the respiratory system releasing the proteins which stimulate histamine production, part of the immune response, then triggers the inflammatory pathway. The immune and inflammatory systems in conjunction are responsible for creating the irritating allergy symptoms.

As a Naturopathic Doctor my therapeutic goal for allergy relief is to strengthen the immune system, reduce the inflammatory pathway and remove additional allergens while providing symptomatic relief. One thing to remember is that just because it’s natural doesn’t mean its 100% safe and may still interact with your current medications. Always speak with your Naturopathic Doctor before making any dietary changes or adding supplements/vitamins to your diet.

Lets take a look at a few  natural anti-histamines available to help alleviate your symptoms at the same time boosting the immune system.

Vitamin C not only helps boost the immune system through its extreme anti-oxidant effect (prevent rusting inside the body) but is also a natural anti-histamine; helping alleviate symptoms of seasonal allergies. Research has shown that 2000 mg per day significantly reduces the histamine blood levels with people suffering from allergies. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition there is a high correlation between low Vitamin C levels and asthma (another common symptom of allergies). Vitamin C has several other benefits which we will be reviewing in future articles. Typically the recommend dose for allergies is 2000-3000 mg per day taken with bioflavonoids, starting 2-3 weeks before allergy season.

Foods high in vitamin C are:
Vegetables: Bell Peppers, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts
Dark Leafy Greens: Kale, Mustard Greens, Garden Cress
Herbs: Thyme and Parsley
Fruits: Kiwifruit, Strawberries, Pineapple, Papayas, Oranges, Cantaloupe

Quercetin is a bioflavonoid, which is a natural plant based compound. There are numerous recent studies done on the health benefits Quercetin, it’s a powerful anti-histamine, a potent anti-oxidant (prevents internal rusting- oxidation!) and has significant anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties. There are many foods that contain Quercetin, however if you are an allergy sufferer you will need a higher dose. Studies have shown that a dose of 1000 mg away from food, best to start 6 weeks before allergy season provides the best results. Research has shown that bioflavonoids are better absorbed combination with Vitamin C.

**Please note that Quercetin does have drug interactions, it also effects liver function. Please consult your Naturopathic Doctor before taking.

Foods high in Quercetin:
Vegetables: red onions, yellow hot peppers, scallions,  broccoli, kale, Dark leafy greens
Fruits: citrus, apples, cranberries
Herbs: parsley, capers, dill
Other: green & black tea, bee pollen, buckwheat

Other recommended changes:
Here are a few other changes that you can make around the house to minimize your exposure to the allergic offenders:

  • Using the air conditioning throughout allergy season will reduce the exposure, especially when in the car.
  • Avoid the use of indoor fans if you have the windows open, they tend to pull the pollen in.
  • Sunglasses can help prevent pollen from getting into eyes.
  • After being outdoors, clean off pollen residue by bathing, washing hair and clothes, and using a nasal salt water rinse.
  • Keep you humidity levels in your house around 30 – 50%.

For those of you that suffer chronically from allergies the best approach is to participate in a Spring Cleanse/Detox before and during allergy season. This settles both the immune and inflammatory response making the allergy season much more pleasant!