Thyroid Health with Dr. Amy Myers - Diane Sanfilippo, Liz Wolfe | Balanced Bites

Podcast Episode #262: Thyroid Health with Dr. Amy Myers

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TopicsThyroid Health with Dr. Amy Myers - Diane Sanfilippo, Liz Wolfe | Balanced Bites

1. News and updates from Liz [2:17]
2. Introducing our guest, Dr. Amy Myers [4:04]
3. Understanding the thyroid [12:39]
4. Blending conventional and holistic practices [16:59]
5. Conventional versus functional approach to the thyroid [25:41]
6. Individualized care [31:00]
7. Which thyroid labs to request [32:44]
8. The addition of herbs [37:25]
9. Dr. Myers’ book and program [41:48]
10. Resources on mold exposure [47:26]
11. Final words from Dr. Amy Myers [51:21]

 

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Thyroid Health with Dr. Amy Myers - Diane Sanfilippo, Liz Wolfe | Balanced Bites Thyroid Health with Dr. Amy Myers - Diane Sanfilippo, Liz Wolfe | Balanced Bites

You’re listening to the Balanced Bites podcast episode 262.

Welcome to the Balanced Bites podcast. I’m Liz; a nutritional therapy practitioner, and author of the Wall Street Journal best-seller Eat the Yolks; The Purely Primal Skincare Guide; and the online program Baby Making and Beyond. I live on a farm in the mystical land of the Midwest, and I loved golf cart rides, pontoon boats, and high-waisted jeans, and that’s not because I’m fashionable.

My podcast partner, Diane, is on tour so I’m on podcast duty, but just so you know; Diane is a certified nutrition consultant, and the New York Times bestselling author of Practical Paleo and The 21-Day Sugar Detox. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and fur kids. And she loves a nicely curated Instagram, beachy waves, and gel manicures. #Notpaleo

We’re the creators of the Balanced Bites Master Class, and we’ve been bringing you this award winning podcast for 5 years and counting. We’re here to share our take on modern paleo living, answer your questions, and chat with leading health and wellness experts. Enjoy this week’s episode, and submit your questions at http://balancedbites.com. Remember our disclaimer: The materials and content within this podcast are intended as general information only, and are not to be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Before we get started, let’s hear from one of our sponsors.

Liz Wolfe: Our podcast sponsorship today comes from Vital Choice, an online purveyor of the world’s best wild seafood delivered right to your door; because juggling a busy life shouldn’t mean you have to forgo healthy meals. At www.vitalchoice.com, you’ll find wild Alaskan salmon, halibut, tuna, sable fish, and cod, as well as prawns, crab, and scallops. You’ll also find grass-fed organic Wagyu beef, free range heritage chicken, fresh frozen organic berries, and dark organic chocolates. Make a vital choice by eating the highest quality food you can. Vital Choice; come home to real food. Use code BALANCEDBITES to save on your first order at www.vitalchoice.com.

1. News and updates from Liz [2:17]

Liz Wolfe: Hey everyone, Liz here. And I want to thank everyone who gave us positive feedback on the new opening. We are trying to keep it more dynamic, so we’ll keep throwing little funsies in there. We are glad you’re enjoying.

I’m a little slim on the updates this week, but I did want to let the listeners know that we got the cows back; yay! It was a combination of luck, really long PVC pipes to extend my wingspan, at least as far as the cows were concerned; luck, again, and really helpful neighbors. The cows are now, maybe happily, who knows. Seems like they don’t like it too much where we live. But maybe they’re happily back home with us in a secured areas; fingers crossed about that.

So, with that in mind, my shout out today goes out to Rhonda, Jeff, and Greg; who were instrumental in getting our cows back home.

I’m recording this episode while Diane is on tour with Cassy Joy of Fed and Fit, and I’m not sure whether this will air before or after we have our event in Kansas City; let’s see, that would be Thursday September 15th, I believe in Kansas City; so if it’s not that exact day that this podcast airs, you might have missed us. But it’s at 7 p.m. at Half Priced Books in Westport. So come see us if you still can. If not, sorry you missed it. It was me, Cassy, Diane, and Juli of PaleOMG; so fun crowd; I predict. Sorry we missed you if we missed you.

Let’s see; so she’s on tour, and today we actually have a guest expert on thyroid autoimmunity, so this is going to be a good one.

2. Introducing our guest, Dr. Amy Myers [4:04]

Liz Wolfe: Ok; let’s jump right in then with Dr. Amy Myers. Amy Myers, M.D. is the author of the Thyroid Connection: Why You Feel Tired, Brain Fogged, And Overweight, And How to Get Your Life Back. And that’s what she’s here to talk to us about today. She is a renowned leader in functional medicine, and she’s also the New York Times’ bestselling author of the Autoimmune Solution and The Thyroid Connection. She’s been on the Balanced Bites podcast before; folks probably remember. She received her doctorate in medicine from LSU Health Sciences Center, and spent 5 years working in emergency medicine before training with the institute of functional medicine. She’s helped thousands around the world recover from chronic illness through her dietary based program; you know we love that here, the Myer’s way. And she has created multiple programs, tools, free resources to guide readers through her approach to health.

Her blog and website serve as a beacon of hope to the many people suffering from chronic disease and autoimmune conditions. We’re really, really excited to welcome her to the podcast today; welcome Amy! Thanks for joining me.

Dr. Amy Myers: Hey, thanks for having me Liz! I’m glad to be back; thanks for asking me back.

Liz Wolfe: Absolutely. And we talked about this off the air; I’m going to really try; you don’t prefer Dr. Amy, you just like; it’s Amy. Dr. Myers is fine; {laughs} so I’m going to make sure, I’m going to really try to remember to call you either Amy or Dr. Myers. But please forgive me if I slip up on that.

Dr. Amy Myers: As I said, anything is fine.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} Very good. Alright, so when I was reviewing all of the notes that I had for the show, and looking at your book and chatting with a couple of, actually my friends, who are interested as well, one of the things that we were really excited about was the fact that not only do you have a personal experience with thyroid dysfunction, but that you’re also blending functional medicine with conventional medicine. So I think we all want to hear a little bit more about your personal story, and then I want to talk about how you struck out as in, not struck out like baseball, but how you kind of struck out on your own into this blending of functional medicine with conventional medicine; because that’s still something that’s really hard to find in a practitioner.

Dr. Amy Myers: Yeah, so my thyroid story is part of the first chapter of the book, so I won’t spoil it for everybody and I’ll keep it brief here because I could talk for an hour about it. But I actually was a Peace Corps volunteer, and when I was in the Peace Corps, decided I wanted to be a natural physician. I read some books by Andrew Weil, and got into holistic health down there, and then came back to the States. Looked at Bastyr about becoming a naturopath, and just really realized that I wanted to become an MD. I just wanted to have those credentials, and just not have any issues about where; I’m a person that likes to keep my options open, so I didn’t want to be confined to a certain number of states to have to practice in to be licensed and stuff.

So, I ended up in medical school, but I took all my electives in integrative and complementary medicine. I was president of the integrative and complementary medicine interest group. My second year of medical school, I started having panic attacks, and tremors, and I was losing weight, and insomnia like I’ve never had. And if anybody has ever had insomnia, it’s literally awful. Finally, when my tremor got so bad, my friends convinced me to go to doctor; I didn’t have one, because I was healthy, but I went to a doctor and she basically wrote me off and told me that I was imagining it and thinking that I had everything that I was learning in medical school and completely discounted me, and I was like; yeah, no. this is not how I respond to things; this is not stress. There is something wrong with me.

So I really stood there, and was like I need a full workup, and she called me back and told me that I had Graves’ disease. Which is an overactive thyroid, and is an autoimmune condition of the thyroid. And if anybody is familiar with it, the treatments in conventional medicine are to give you medications that are really toxic to shut down your thyroid, to have your thyroid ablated with iodine 131, or to have it surgically removed.

So I kind of went back to my roots, and tried some natural medicine and Chinese medicine for a while, and that didn’t work for me, and then; and I’ll say that I was a vegetarian for 27 years, but at that point I don’t remember how many it had been, but about 20 years. So I was eating this grain-based diet, and taking all these fermented powders and pills in Chinese medicine, and it just was not working for me.

I eventually took the medications; got toxic hepatitis, got super sick, almost had to drop out of med school, and eventually; of course, not giving all the details here because it’s in the book, but I had my thyroid ablated with iodine 131, because I knew nothing else. I had searched high and low; the internet had just come out and I was searching everything possible to try to find some alternative, and you know, functional medicine is about 20, 25 years old, and this was back in 2002, so 17 years ago, I mean it wasn’t; only now becoming somewhat well known and still difficult to find a functional medicine practitioner. So back then you really couldn’t. So I had my thyroid ablated. And then that was a whole nother roller coaster.

So, you know I ended up having my thyroid ablated, and that really started a whole nother roller coaster of symptoms, and you know, I finished up medical school, I went into emergency medicine. I actually knew that I was going to do what I’m doing now, which is functional medicine, but I just didn’t know how to get there. So I knew if I became an emergency medicine physician, I could either go back to my roots of working in developing countries, or I could eventually find what it was, even though I didn’t know the name of it, and I could easily just get out, versus having a practice and having to figure out what to do with that. So it might sound random, but it was actually a well thought out plan.

I realized that conventional medicine had “solved my problem” so to speak; i.e. they just ablated and blew up my thyroid so I didn’t have one, so therefore they thought they had cured my Graves’ disease, but it never really addressed the underlying problem of why I got it. And you know, those of us with one autoimmune disease are three times more likely to get another. So I kind of went on this search of what; how did I get here? Nobody in my family had this, you know, and how do I prevent myself from getting something else?

So I eventually found functional medicine, and heard Mark Hyman speak at a conference; and I was like, oh my god, that’s exactly what I want to be doing. He’s a medical doctor, but he has this road map of how to really help people and get to the root, and seeing the body as all interconnected, and dealing with everybody as an individual. So I started all the training through the institute for functional medicine, and eventually opened up my own practice, and as you know, wrote the book, The Autoimmune Solution, and then this book I really wanted to dive deeper for all those people who are frankly being mismanaged.

I mean, I say I was failed by conventional medicine, and it’s my mission to not have it fail you, too. And there are so many people that have thyroid dysfunction that are not getting the proper diagnosis, and I know we can get into that, about why that is. Then people that are like me had to do super harsh treatments when I have helped many people with Graves’ disease reverse their Graves’ disease through my dietary based program, which is very similar to a paleo program, autoimmune. And lifestyle changes, and again we can dig all into that. But I have people with normally optimally functioning thyroids didn’t have to do what I had to do. It’s very satisfying, but also bittersweet. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Oh my gosh, I’ve just been clicking away making a million notes while you’re talking, I just got really excited. Well, first of all I think it’s funny; I think a lot of our listeners won’t remember when, like you said, the internet had just come out. I think we have a significant portion of listeners that have never really been without the internet.

Dr. Amy Myers: Oh my gosh, yes.

Liz Wolfe: But I still remember when the internet first came out. {laughs} So that’s just too funny.

Dr. Amy Myers: Showing my age. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: I mean, I still feel; I understand the store name Forever 21 now, because I still feel like I’m 21 years old. But I’m not, unfortunately, it’s been a very long time. So, there’s my kid shouting in the other room, I’m not sure I can do anything about that.

Dr. Amy Myers: That’s ok.

Liz Wolfe: It’ll just add …

Dr. Amy Myers: It will show that we are human beings.

3. Understanding the thyroid [12:39]

Liz Wolfe: We are real. We have kids and dogs and things going on. So, one of the things, one of the notes that I just wrote when you were speaking was; the whole thing about ablating your thyroid, I was thinking to myself, there just had to have been and probably still you can confirm or not this for me, a fundamental misunderstanding of the importance of the thyroid. Because if somebody comes into the doctor’s office with a headache, we don’t take their brain out; so, why do we just destroy organs?

Dr. Amy Myers: Yeah, well I think it was a runaway train, and they really don’t know. They tried what they know, which is the train is running away; or like I say, the horse has been let out of the gate, and they tried to get the horse back into the gate by beating it. And the horse practically died when they beat it; so they were like; ok, well that’s not going to work.

I definitely tell people; it is, I made the best choice that I could make. When I got off the medications, I became so hyperthyroid. And if anybody has suffered from insomnia; I mean, it really, honestly, is worthy of you wanting to end your life when you are just sitting there, you know, night after night after night and not sleeping and yet utterly exhausted. And you know, I didn’t want; go back to the fact that I entered medical school with this holistic view, so of course they were throwing pills at me left and right; Xanax, beta-blockers, sleeping pills. I didn’t want to take any of it, you know? I mean, I was like; no, there’s got to be a better way. I’m not just going to drug myself and suppress all these symptoms. There’s got to be a better way. So I was like; I’m not taking sleeping pills. I suppose if had been taking sleeping pills, I might have felt differently, but I didn’t want to do that.

So with all these sleepless nights, and I’m depressed and suddenly I’m hyperthyroid and then I’ve got the flu on top of it because I was so stressed out; and I was just like, you know, if I go on that operating table, I don’t know; if something happened if I would have the will to come out of that. You know, it just… and of course I was new to medicine, and I’d never had a surgery, I’d never broken a bone, so the idea of a tube down my throat and anesthesia; of course, now, I would do that in a second over irradiating my thyroid again, but back then I was just in a different place and I just didn’t know.

So I definitely advise people that if they’re not getting well on the program; or I get people coming to me really end-stage and their symptoms are so bad, and have been for so long, and it’s not being controlled by the medications. And I mean, you can die from Graves’ disease; you could have a heart attack. So, it’s not something to prolong if you’re not getting better, so I’ve had people literally come for one visit, just hoping that maybe I could do something at one visit, which is pretty difficult to do, and they ultimately had to go just do something, and I always advise people if they can; of course, there’s always risk with surgery, but to do a surgery over an ablation. Because with a surgery, they can remove just part of your thyroid gland, and then you’ll at least have part of a functioning thyroid gland. So that’s my advice; of course you have to look at all your individual risk factors, I can’t advise anybody. But if I had it to do over again, obviously I would follow my program. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Amy Myers: And if that failed or didn’t work, then I would go for the surgery, and if that, you know, then I would go for the ablation. But I didn’t know. And like I said, I was not until; I don’t know how many years it’s been now, 5 or so, that I’ve been eating; now I basically eat a paleo diet, but back then I wasn’t eating any red meat. I mean, I vividly remember the day that I started eating red meat again. So that would have been; not that I wouldn’t have done it back then, but there were a lot of things that would have had to have happened for me to have gotten well on my own, now that I know what I know.

4. Blending conventional and holistic practices [16:59]

Liz Wolfe: I think a lot of times we think of medicine or science as “the science is in.” We know so much, so we must already know exactly how to deal with thyroid dysfunction, autoimmunity, those types of things. The conventional approach. So how is it; I think it must take a level of bravery as a both conventionally and holistically trained professional; it must take a certain level of bravery; I mean, this is way outside the status quo, what you do. You blend the medicine stuff, but you also are looking at such a far reaching lifestyle approach. Is that at all professionally difficult for you? That’s kind of a personal question, I hope it’s ok.

Dr. Amy Myers: Oh yeah, you can ask me anything.

Liz Wolfe: Ok.

Dr. Amy Myers: I mean, I’m very open about pretty much everything. No; I mean, I grew up with a mother who was an artist and an architect and a fashion designer who was ahead of her time, and she was pretty bold, so there just is a part of me that I just don’t think twice about things. And I am, you know; somebody is asking what motivates me. I don’t know what it is, but it is an internal compass and it is not a cliché that I literally want to leave this place better than it was when I got here. I want to genuinely help as many people as possible. And you know, that time when I was working in the ER and I had opened my practice, and so I was straddling both worlds. And it was so difficult because I was in the ER; and you think, oh, the ER, most people come in for an emergency, how could that be soul sucking for you? Well no, actually most people don’t come for emergencies to the ER.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Amy Myers: We were seeing a lot of people, and I remember seeing this woman, and she was like; “I’m just dropping off my daughter. I’ve been to the allergist, I’ve been to the immunologist; I’ve been everywhere and nobody can give me answers and she’s just in pain with her stomach.” And I just wanted to be like, ok, why don’t you try giving up gluten and dairy, but I can’t really say that. And it was just literally soul sucking to be in the ER, because I was like; I know this different way. I know this way, and it can help people, or I can continue to do this. Of course, in the emergent situations I was helping people, but in these other situations, my hands were tied and I wasn’t helping people.

So it was just; it wasn’t even a decision. It was like; this helps people, so I didn’t ever really think about, am I putting myself out there? It really wasn’t until my first book, and this I have not actually talked about, but I will give you the first, the exclusive.

Liz Wolfe: Nice.

Dr. Amy Myers: My book was about to come out, I was about to get married, and I got a letter from the Texas Medical Board; that I had written an article on the flu vaccine, about why the flu vaccine might not be necessary or something. And I knew when I wrote the article that it was going to be super controversial, and I needed to really be very, very careful. So there was nothing in there that was; wash your hands, eat vitamin rich foods. {laughs} Really, there was really nothing in there. But it was around the time as that mumps outbreak; it was very interesting because I wrote the article the year before, and it was on Mind, Body, Green, and I mean it was super controversial. It had gotten hundreds of thousands of likes and shares, and we actually sent it out in our newsletter a year later. And I got; and it was very clear, because the titles were different, that somebody read it in my newsletter, and reported me to the Texas Medical Board.

Liz Wolfe: Wow.

Dr. Amy Myers: And we totally thought, they accused me of manipulated data or statistics, which I literally linked to the papers that I was citing in the article. And so you know I of course had to hire a lawyer, and we totally thought it was going to get dismissed; he’s going to send this letter and it’s going to get dismissed. Well, it didn’t. And it went to the next level of; well, we need to review it and see if we’re going to take action on this. And that whole process takes a month, and he had to send back another letter. And eventually, the next level they did decide not to do anything, and nothing happened and it just literally went away. But I did say out of good faith I’ll just take down the article. I mean, I offered that on my own.

But it was this scary moment of, I wrote an article, and the board could of have been; who knows? Who knows what could have happened. But literally, my medical license, in my head, is flashing through; I’m flashing through, my entire career is over, and that was an article; and I have a book about to come out! I had never actually thought, when I wrote the book, not that it wouldn’t be controversial, but it’s like; there are Dr. Oz’s out there. Mark Hyman has written a bunch of books. I’m just writing a book; and in that moment, I was like, oh my god. Am I putting myself out there, and am I going to be under scrutiny?

But frankly, that was the one and only thing that’s ever happened. Most doctors in town are super thankful for me, because I get all the super chronic patients that they don’t know what else to do with. I’ve never had another issue with another physician; most people are grateful that I’m here because they’re really difficult patients that they didn’t know anything else to do with I’ve gotten well.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Amy Myers: And we’re all probably like you, in a little bit of a bubble, on Facebook and things like that. Only the people interested in us follow us, so. I’m in this super encouraging, positive, you’ve saved, helped get my life back. You know, I’m surrounded by positivity that most of the time, I think nothing of it. That was something that I’ve actually not ever talked about to anybody other than literally my family and friends; not even friends, really my family about that, because again it was absolutely nothing but it was scary how being vocal about something, and not even that vocal, can get that far.

Liz Wolfe: I feel like so much of modern medicine in the dealing with chronic disease and autoimmune disease; I mean, modern medicine is absolutely life saving; I mean, you were an ER doctor, and you know, it’s so, so important that we have these resources for people. But so much of it just feels that people aren’t getting a lot of hope for their chronic illnesses. So when you’re not coming from a place of hope, you end up coming from a place of fear and the you’re afraid of anyone questioning something that you’ve done, whether that’s getting the flu shot every year or whether it’s having your thyroid ablated, or whatever it is. These are such deeply personal things, and it’s so hard to think; well gosh, maybe I could have done something different or maybe the evidence didn’t support this in this situation.

It’s just a really tough thing, and I think people are quick to take offense out of fear and out of lack of hope; but the whole point of all of this is to bring hope to people. I think, you know, over time as people are realizing this type of approach, you’re blended approach, is effective, is actually working, the word is spreading; I think then it’s almost like market pressure. It starts to become more acceptable, and it starts to become replicated; I’m sure other doctors are using your approach, and consulting with you about it to help their patients, because in the end we just want people to be healthy. It’s the same goal for everybody.

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Dr. Amy Myers: In conventional medicine, keeping somebody sick, not intentionally, but having someone sick guarantees you have a patient.

Liz Wolfe: Right.

Dr. Amy Myers: I on the other hand, and my staff, we get people well so we’re always “looking” for new patients. I mean, fortunately there’s usually not a lack of that because there are so many people who need help. But it’s a completely different model. My model is to get you well as quickly as possible, you go tell somebody how great you feel, and then they come and have an appointment. It’s just a steady stream of people, but the goal is to get people well. And I’m not saying conventional medicines goal is to not get you well, but if they get you well and if we have a well society, {laughs} then our medical system breaks down.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} That’s very true.

Dr. Amy Myers: Unfortunately.

5. Conventional versus functional approach to the thyroid [25:41]

Liz Wolfe: So, delineate one more time. I know you talked about your history with treating your thyroid issues, but just, if you could quickly delineate for me how conventional medicine and I guess functional medicine and/or your approach differ fundamentally and the approach to treating thyroid dysfunction so we can kind of see what we’re working with here.

Dr. Amy Myers: Yeah, so in a broad sense, the diagnosis is the end result for conventional medicine. You get the diagnosis of Hashimoto’s or hypothyroidism, and then they give you a pill. They treat you, and that’s the end of the story. For us in functional medicine, it’s the beginning of the story. It’s like, ok, you came in, and you have Hashimoto’s. Well, why do you have Hashimoto’s? What are the root causes of why you got Hashimoto’s? Let’s address those, and when we address those, in many cases these things go away.

Now I want to give the caveat that as opposed to my first book The Autoimmune Solution; a lot of those things, rheumatoid arthritis, MS, you’re on drugs suppressing the immune system so we can get you off and reverse that. When you’re on supplemental thyroid hormone because of Hashimoto’s or low thyroid, or you’re like me and you had your thyroid ablated or had thyroid cancer and had your thyroid taken out; if you’ve had enough damage to your gland over many, many years; it’s like the pancreas in a type 1 insulin diabetic. It’s supplemental thyroid hormone; I don’t think of it as medication. If I didn’t take mine, I would literally die, because I have no thyroid and I can’t live without it.

So, I don’t want people to feel that they’ve failed if they can’t get off their supplemental thyroid hormone. If it took them 6 years to get diagnosed and that was 15 years ago, likely there’s been enough damage, if they haven’t addressed those root causes that they’re going to need to stay on that. But that doesn’t mean failure. And that doesn’t mean don’t get the book, and that doesn’t mean there’s nothing else you can do.

We still want to know how you got in the boat in the first place, because that’s going to decrease your overall toxic burden, your inflammatory load, hopefully prevent you from getting another autoimmune disease, prevent you from getting cancer, and give you a more vibrant, healthy body, mind, and spirit and outlook.

So I find that there are 5 sort of factors that affect all people with chronic disease, and that’s the diet, which you guys talk a ton about and again, mine is called the Myers Way, it’s just what I’ve tweaked that works in my clinic, but it’s very similar to an autoimmune paleo protocol. People always ask me what’s the difference; and the difference is just some very subtle tweaks. Some things that I find, people look at the research and; oh, you shouldn’t have this herb, or this spice, and it’s like; well, in my opinion, eating enough of that in my clinic that I’ve seen that is really that irritating to the gut.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Amy Myers: I mean, I’m not going to tell you that there isn’t an individual or some individuals, but this is what I’ve seen in clinical practice, so this is what I’m running with. And then leaky gut, fixing the gut, looking at infections; SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, Candida, parasites, and I have quizzes in the book for these and natural ways to recover from these. Looking at the toxic burden; looking at infection, and of course, looking at stress.

And then when it comes to the thyroid, also very specific to the thyroid, nutrient deficiencies. So a lot of people that I see, the primary cause for their thyroid dysfunction is they don’t have the nutrients that they need to either make their thyroid hormone or to convert their thyroid hormone from the storage to the active. And that would be like selenium, iodine, zinc, B-vitamins, tyrosine. Things that we need to do that.

And then of course, in the toxins, there are the toxins that are affecting all of us, but very specific to the thyroid is what we call the halogens on the periodic table; iodine is very near the other halogens; chloride, bromide, and fluoride; we call them the halides once they’ve been converted. And the primary place that we have iodine in our body, or the largest storage area, is in our thyroid because we need iodine to make our thyroid hormone. And when we’re being bombarded by fluoride in our water and toothpaste, and chlorine in the water and bromides in our baked goods and in our flame retardants and our carpets and our sofas and our mattresses, and we’re eating less iodine; this has really become a problem. And most people think, “don’t take iodine if you have thyroid dysfunction.” Well, don’t take mega, mega dosages, but most people need some amount of supplemental iodine because of this imbalance; we’re not getting it and then we have all of these halides displacing it.

So in functional medicine, we’re really looking to the root cause, hopefully addressing those and either reversing disease, preventing disease, and restoring the body back to its optimal function, and then also looking at people as an individual. So like I said; you know, some people, the vast majority of them, a specific herb or something might not be a problem, but there might be some people who do. I mean, I clearly deal with those super, super sensitive people in my clinic, so I am aware that there are individualities, for sure.

6. Individualized care [31:00]

Liz Wolfe: So what’s really cool about this and about your book is, I know in your clinic you’re all about individualized medicine, would that be a good term for it?

Dr. Amy Myers: Yes.

Liz Wolfe: Ok. So what I like about your book, and your approach, and your website, is that you give people the tools to kind of individualize for themselves, because you can’t see everybody. You can’t see everybody that buys your book or comes across your website, but you’re looking at gut health, you’re looking at different herbs; infections, and toxins in your environment, and toxins in your food. So you’re giving people the tools to asses which thing is affecting them most and where to start for themselves since you can’t see everybody. Is that kind of part of the point?

Dr. Amy Myers: For sure. I mean, I like to think of it as a pie chart, and all of those five pieces are a part of the pie, and I might have three people with Graves’ disease, and the pieces of the pie might be different for them. For one, the largest piece might be heavy metals; for another the largest piece might be stress. I’d argue that for everybody the diet and the gut or the leaky gut are probably a piece for everybody. So I do start in those two places for everybody, and then kind of where we begin to dig deeper is it infection, or stress, or toxins, or nutrient deficiencies; that’s where it becomes even more personalized. And yeah, I mean that’s what the book is for, you to figure out where the areas that you need to focus on for yourself.

Arguably, by the time people get in that boat or certainly come to me, they probably have some aspect of all five pieces, but not everybody does.

7. Which thyroid labs to request [32:44]

Liz Wolfe: So, let’s kind of back out a little bit, because people always want to know about labs; about their numbers. So, clearly and we have a disclaimer at the beginning of this podcast, none of this should be considered professional medical advice, this is just information for you to take to your practitioner. But in your clinic, what labs do you recommend or which ones do you order for someone that thinks they might have thyroid dysfunction?

Dr. Amy Myers: Yeah, so the book of course has this, along with optimal reference ranges. So at a minimum at your first visit, you should get a TSH, a free T3, a free T4, a reverse T3, and then thyroid antibodies; TPO and thyroglobulin antibodies. There are some very specific to Graves’, but most doctor’s don’t run those unless you’re labs aren’t really picking up that you have Graves’. I mean, most people with Graves’ also have TPO antibodies. Those could go for Hashimoto’s or Graves’. So that’s the bare minimum.

And then I have, you know, the optimal reference ranges in the book. I have these all spelled out in a letter; you can download it from my website, but it’s also in the back of the book to take to your physician. This book, as opposed to The Autoimmune Solution, is very a work with your doctor book. You know, if you have thyroid dysfunction that requires supplemental thyroid hormone, you need to work with a physician who can prescribe that. So I wanted this to be very spelled out for them about what I’m recommending that I hope that they order for you. And if they don’t, we’ve partnered with a lab; I don’t know if you want me to say that or not, I don’t get anything out of it.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah, that’s fine.

Dr. Amy Myers: But there will be a link on my website. I think it’s; I can never remember if it’s Your Labs for Life or My Labs for Life. I think it’s Your Labs for Life. Is a company that you can order your labs online, and then go to any Quest in your local town. You pre-pay for them at a much reduced cost. And I think it’s Your Labs for Life; My Labs for Life. I’m sorry that I can’t even remember. Anyway.

Liz Wolfe: It’s alright, if they can Google one, they can Google the other {laughs}.

Dr. Amy Myers: Yeah. There will be a page up; I think it should have been up this week, that has all the labs that I recommend. Because I know there are going to be physicians who are resistant to doing this. And I can’t write a book and then you not be able to get the help you need. So you can order your labs through this company, and then take them back to your doctor. If you’re still having difficulty, my wellness coach can review those with you or you can set up an appointment with me or one of my clinicians in my office, and we can over those with you.

The whole thing with the references ranges is; and the book is also for all these people who have been told, “you’re labs are normal, you don’t have a thyroid problem.” Well, the problem is that the reference ranges are way too broad; at least for the TSH. And even some functional and alternative practitioners; I see this all the time, when they finally do get a T3, they’re still looking at the reference range there, rather than looking at what I consider much more narrow, optimal reference ranges. So when they were doing a TSH, they inadvertently added all these people who actually had thyroid dysfunction when they were trying to establish the normal reference range. So even the Academy of Endocrinology has said this reference range is way too broad. So the book is really also for those people who think, “Oh, I’ve already been told, I had it checked, it’s not my thyroid.” When really, it could be, because they’re looking at what I consider antiquated and way too broad references ranges.

So, all the information, I mean really that you need to work with your doctor, is in the book so that you don’t have to wonder; what do I think it should be? Or; he told me it was fine, but you’re saying this. Well then you go back and it’s of course about; that’s a first stage, and of course we’re referring to hypothyroidism here, but getting the diagnosis and then getting on the right type and dose of supplemental thyroid hormone. And I talk all about the differences. I have been on them all myself, and there’s not one right answer. If you go to the alternative practitioner and they say it’s only Armour or Westhroid pure, and you go to the conventional one and they’re like, “it’s Synthroid only.” Well, that’s not really right. I’m not; I say I’m agnostic when it comes to supplemental thyroid hormone. It’s whatever one works for you.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Amy Myers: And that’s listening to the patient, looking at the labs, and seeing how the person feels. And then of course for the Graves’ disease patient, there’s a whole program of some natural herbs rather than doing the harsh medications that I did to help naturally try to suppress the thyroid rather than taking these really, really harsh medications like I did, and of course, a dietary based program and stress relief program and all that stuff.

8. The addition of herbs [37:25]

Liz Wolfe: See, the herb thing fascinates me. Because you just don’t see doctors talking about herbs. It’s like; what; I just thought it was so cool when I saw that you were recommending thyroid calming herbs. Can you give us a little bit more context on that? Talk a little bit more about that?

Dr. Amy Myers: Yeah, well if you think about it; if you think back to medicine, how did medicines evolve?

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} Right.

Dr. Amy Myers: Most of them came from plants, and then somebody figured out how to synthesize these things, and then patent them, and then make money off of it.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Amy Myers: But back in the day, everybody was using plants. I mean, I was out in the middle of nowhere Paraguay for the Peace Corps, and there’s not access to everything, so I had this little journal, they were teaching me all about these different plants. I mean, think about turmeric now that is so huge in the wellness community. It’s a root! If there was a way for somebody to patent that and synthesize that, don’t you think they’d be doing it as an anti-inflammatory? I think the best known one is aspirin from, I think it’s willow bark. That’s where that originated.

So, I mean, it can be, you know, being a medical doctor; yeah, I can say it’s a little bit more scary because a lot of times there’s not a lot of research out there, but there are more and more books coming out that are really researching. The problem is there’s not funding for these things, because they can’t ultimately patent them and then get their money back. So that’s why it’s difficult. But there actually was quite a lot of literature, which I reviewed, before recommending these herbs in my book. And my publisher was kind of like; “Ah! We can’t have so many scientific references, it’s pushed your book over 400 pages!” And I’m like, ok, well they’re all there. She’s like, ok well keep them because you worked so hard, but I don’t know how many I have, but hundreds of scientific references at the back of the book that is showing.

But it’s difficult with herbs; you have to make sure you’re getting a company that is standardized, that is reliable, that there’s research. I would say, you might think I’m bold and all that stuff, but I’m fairly cautious when it comes to actually practicing when we don’t know about something or trying something new. If it’s applicable, I try everything on myself first, just because, yeah, it is uncharted territory, but at some level you’ve just got to go for it.

Liz Wolfe: What’s so interesting, and part of the reason that I love your work, is because there’s just this initial block, I think, for some clinicians; when you say the word herb, or when you say the word natural. But what you’ve just explained for all of us is that there actually is literature behind a lot of these things, and there is a way to approach is systematically and cautiously while still kind of working with the body before you resort to something maybe stronger or something, I don’t know, by prescription. So all of this stuff is science based, it’s just having a clinician that’s willing to look there.

Dr. Amy Myers: Yeah. Yeah, I mean a lot of my research actually came out of the University of Maryland in Baltimore, and one of the reasons when I applied to emergency medicine residencies, I only applied to a couple of them; Tuscan in Arizona so I could be near their integrative center, and then Baltimore so I could be near that integrative center. Of course, I never took advantage of it, because I didn’t have time, {laughs} but that was the theory of going there.

So the University of Maryland has this incredible integrative medicine center that has, if people are curious about herbs and stuff, they have a lot of, you can kind of type in any supplement herbs; you can type in Graves’ and see what their recommendations are. And of course, they have standard recommendations, but they also talk about things like L-carnitine that I have in the book for people with Graves’, and fish oils, and a lot of other, Co-Q10. So there are a centers out there doing research, because again I think the consumers are demanding it, and conventional medicine is realizing that they can add these things into their practice and help patients.

9. Dr. Myers’ book and program [41:48]

Liz Wolfe: Ok. So, I feel like I keep; I could talk to you all day. But I want to get into some of the nuts and bolts of your program, and so I have this kind of overview; diet, supplements, herbs, lifestyle. How do you want to outline it for our listeners?

Dr. Amy Myers: Yeah, so there’s a 28-day program in the back, and the program, just the nuts and bolts program, is laid out day by day, and there is, which was mentioned but not really part of the last book that I did and I went through a very stressful time of toxic mold exposure as I was writing this book so incorporated a lot of stress reduction techniques in this book. So the program really starts out with; and your choice of things to do, but waking up in the morning and doing some heart math or heart rate variability, and then diving into the dietary component. And along with it, the first part of the book is kind of explaining what are the five factors; which are diet, gut, infections, toxins, and stress. So it’s in those chapters just making you aware of those things, but it’s not like; oh, you have to throw out all your body products tonight, or you’ve got to go buy a water filter today. They’re things that I recommend if you can tackle these things, do them, but you don’t have to do them all at one time. Just be aware. I feel like what I’m kind of known for is giving you enough information to know this is a problem, and it should pique you’re; “oh, maybe I should look into that”; and then here’s what I think is a simple solution.

The program itself is really the dietary based program with stress reduction and gut healing. So the gut healing part we have quizzes to see; do you have Candida? Do you have SIBO? Do you have parasites? And then what to do about those. And then also a lot of people with thyroid dysfunction have adrenal dysfunction. So also some quizzes on adrenal dysfunction and some adaptogenic herbs, again, some herbs to help with the stress, and of course some stress reducing techniques. And I kind of lay them out in daily things, weekly things, and then monthly things, and I give you choices so that you don’t feel pigeon-holed into something that you don’t like or doesn’t work for you or cause you more stress.

And then tons of great basically autoimmune paleo recipes that are fabulous. And the thing that I love most about this book that we didn’t have in the last book, it was so hard to find a paleo protein powder. And we finally find one that is amazing. At first I was like; “Ugh! No way, that sounds disgusting.” And I’m completely addicted to it now. We call it the Myer’s Way Paleo Protein, but it’s hydrolyzed, non-GMO, grass fed beef, so this time around we can have smoothies for breakfast. So there’s a little bit having people; which of course, you and I and people following you guys are used to this, but basically eating leftover dinner for breakfast.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Amy Myers: Or you know, sweet potato hash and sausage for breakfast. Things, you know, for the people new to this might not be familiar or they want their kind of comfort stuff, so really excited in this book that we have a lot of smoothie recipes if that’s something that people want to enjoy, because it’s quick, easy, and you can throw your supplements in it, and it’s just delicious too. After not having a paleo protein powder for like 2 years; to have a smoothie, I was like, oh my gosh this is the best thing in the world. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: This is amazing! Well, if I could give my plus one to that; I think, Diane and I have talks for a long, long time. We’re always like; oh, whole foods first, it’s really important that you just eat real food. You don’t need a smoothie, blah, blah, blah. But over the last couple of years, we’ve really come around to this idea that people who are hurting, who are dealing with autoimmunity or chronic illness; like you tackle in your book. Their digestive capacity is suppressed.

Dr. Amy Myers: Yes.

Liz Wolfe: So I think it’s actually a really good way to start the day. I’ve really come around to that. I think I was really wrong about that for a long time.

Dr. Amy Myers: You know, I think, again, it’s one of those individual things.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Amy Myers: It’s like, you know, there are people that we’re really like; you need to only eat out of a Vitamix and out of a Crock-pot for the next 30-60 days until your gut heals.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Dr. Amy Myers: I mean, we do. There are people that we’re like; you need to cook everything to death or blend it up, because your digestion is so off.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Amy Myers: And then, yeah, eat real whole foods. But I’m in hot Texas with 107 degree days. I mean, just a smoothie is sometimes what you want. And I don’t do one every day. We were just on vacation for 3 weeks, and I didn’t have a smoothie everyday because I had to go to a smoothie place. They were super awesome; I’d bring my protein powder, and they’d put it in, which I couldn’t believe they did. But it was awesome.

So you know I think it’s just one of those things. It’s like; I don’t think there’s a good or bad about it, it’s just now an option for people, you know. It’s like, for me, personally, it’s nice to have that option. And for our people; for our following, they really appreciate the option, too.

Liz Wolfe: Definitely. And really, it doesn’t even have to be a thyroid thing; it doesn’t have to be an autoimmune thing. Just for me as a really stressed out preoccupied mom, super busy, it was actually really helpful to me to start putting a lot of my nutrition in a morning liquid nutrition type beverage. Because I wasn’t digesting well, let alone that early in the morning. I mean, the kid wakes up at 5, so just starting out is stressful. So I really appreciate that about the book.

Dr. Amy Myers: Yeah. Good.

10. Resources on mold exposure [47:26]

Liz Wolfe: Can I quickly; this is a totally different topic and I promise I’ll be done with you soon. But you mentioned mold exposure.

Dr. Amy Myers: Uh-huh.

Liz Wolfe: And we actually had a question about this a couple of episodes ago. Do you have any wisdom that you could share around your experience with mold exposure?

Dr. Amy Myers: Well, I have lots of wisdom.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Dr. Amy Myers: {laughs} Unfortunately.

Liz Wolfe: How about a little microcapsule.

Dr. Amy Myers: yeah, this has hit me twice. So, oh god. Let’s see; where would I start. It is a real thing. I think, even in the functional medicine world, it’s really only being talked about by people like myself, and there are a few other practitioners, Jill Carnahan, who have been exposed by this or been affected by this. It’s one of those things that it wasn’t on my radar in the beginning, because I didn’t know about it. It’s kind of like Lyme; unfortunately, I’ve had to open my radar to that, and then once you do you find it everywhere. So it is affecting a lot more people than people are aware of.

In fact, I’d like it to be my next book. I don’t know if the world is ready for that one yet, but with the floods in Boulder; the Sandy in New York, Katrina in New Orleans; the floods in Baton Rouge, it is only getting worse and worse. And then a place like Austin that’s already hot and humid, and there’s so much growth here, and they are just building things literally overnight. Already with black mold on them, and then the houses are getting so sealed. To me, it is going to be the next big problem.

So I would say, if you have been to a functional medicine doctor and you’re not getting answers; obviously if you’ve been to a conventional doctor, they’re never going to pick it up. But even if you’ve been to a very good functional medicine doctor, just because they’re not really teaching it to us; unless you’ve been affected by it yourself, they’re probably not going to pick it up. The symptoms can really be anything; autoimmunity, thyroid, neurologic stuff; anxiety. Of course, the classic sort of sinus infections, repeated, I mean honestly, I see it a lot in my autoimmune patients. And it’s very similar; it overlaps a lot with Lyme disease, but in my opinion, the difference that I see is Lyme comes and goes; it’s cyclical, and mold, unless you get out of it, is very, people’s symptoms are kind of constant. They feel bad every day. Whereas Lyme, people will tell you; I had a decent day today and I did the same thing the next day and I felt like crap. So that’s more of an infectious situation.

Ritchie Shoemaker’s website has a lot of information, surviving mold. I have a thyroid summit coming up October 24-31, and I interviewed Ritchie Shoemaker for that. So it’s a free online event; the thyroid connection summit. I have some podcasts on my website that I’ve done, if you just Google my name and toxic mold or mold, some things will come up. Jill Carnahan did a really good podcast as well with Mike Mutzel, so those are just resource because it’s just too much to get into. But stay tuned, because it’s going to be; it’s the next big thing in my opinion and I’ll eventually have a book about it, when the world is ready for it.

Liz Wolfe: When everybody is ready; yeah. Well, we’re getting there, so I’m sure by the time you’ve done the book tour for this one and you’re ready to write that I’m sure there will be people lined up and ready to read what you have to say. It helps, I think in general, to hear someone; to hear a professional say, “It is a thing. You’re not crazy, this is a thing. We just don’t know enough yet. Not enough people know enough about it yet; but keep searching.”

Dr. Amy Myers: Yeah. It is a thing. It is going to be a big thing soon {laughs}.

11. Final words from Dr. Amy Myers [51:21]

Liz Wolfe: That’s great to know. Ok, well I’ve kept you for quite some time; is there anything else that I’ve missed. What do you kind of want people to take away from this podcast as far as your book and what you want folks to know.

Dr. Amy Myers: Yeah, the book is really for anybody. There are a lot of books that are very guided towards Hashimoto’s, which are excellent resources out there. This book is different that it is for those with Hashimoto’s; it is for those with Graves’ disease. There is a very specific program in it for Graves’. It’s for anybody with thyroid cancer, nodules, cysts, anybody who has had their thyroid ablated or taken out. And of course, all those people who have been told that they don’t have a thyroid problem, and it really could be.

And then it’s a guide to work with your doctor. So, as I was mentioning to you before, at least right now, there’s really not another book out there written by a physician. There are some incredible resources out there, which is awesome, by thyroid advocates, which we need all of those in the world, and I don’t want to take away from them, but I’ve had it myself. I’ve practiced, I prescribed thyroid, you know, I’ve helped people with Graves’ disease. So it’s really the best you can get besides physically coming to see me all in a book, and really meant for you to be able to even work with your conventional doctor to not have to find a functional medicine doctor. That part, I explain how to do in the book, but then working with your conventional doctor, and even give you a resource place to get some labs done if they won’t do that for you.

So hopefully people with any type of thyroid dysfunction will find the book helpful, and it’s really my mission to; as I said, conventional medicine failed me and it’s my mission to not have it fail you too.

Liz Wolfe: Well thank you so much for tackling so much with me today; for giving us your time and so much of that juicy information for free here on the podcast. I definitely encourage folks to check out Dr. Myers’ book, The Thyroid Connection: Why You Feel Tired, Brain Fogged, and Overweight, and How to Get Your Life Back at http://amymyersmd.com and that’s M-Y-E-R-S. You can find the book there, correct, and like a segue to wherever they’re selling it?

Dr. Amy Myers: Yeah, for sure. I don’t know when this is coming out, but if it’s before September 27th, then there’s a lot of preorder free gifts that people get off my website, or they can just go to my website and it will take them to any online retailer; and of course, after September 27th it will be in all book stores.

Liz Wolfe: And be sure to go in and give Amy, Dr. Myers, your email address at amymyersmd.com to get updates on; you said there’s a thyroid summit coming out, correct, in October?

Dr. Amy Myers: Yeah. October 24-31, and yeah, we have a newsletter that goes out every week that just; I mean right now, of course we are promoting the book, but it’s usually a recipe that is at least always paleo if not paleo-autoimmune Myers Way, and then a blog that I write every week. So we’re just trying to give you information, not spam you, and then of course all over social media and all of that is just AmyMyersMD.com. I gave you guys; or Diane a shout out today because I know she’ll be in Austin for her new book on Instagram. So yeah, follow me wherever.

Liz Wolfe: Perfect, well thanks for being with us today, Dr. Myers.

Dr. Amy Myers: Thank you for having me, I really appreciate it.

Liz Wolfe: Please come on again!

Dr. Amy Myers: Oh, loved to. Any time.

Liz Wolfe: The Balanced Bites podcast is sponsored in part by the Nutritional Therapy Association. The NTA trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants, including me, I’m an NTP, emphasizing bio-individuality and the range of dietary strategies that support wellness. The NTA emphasizes local, whole, properly prepared nutrient dense foods as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s ability to heal. Nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants learn a wide range of tools and techniques to assess and correct nutritional imbalances. To learn lots more about the nutritional therapy program, go to http://www.NutritionalTherapy.com. There are workshop venues in the US, Canada, and Australia, so chances are you’ll be able to find a venue that works for you.

Liz Wolfe: Alright folks, that’s it for this week then. You can find me, Liz, at http://realfoodliz.com/ and you can find Dr. Myers and her book, The Thyroid Connection: Why You Feel Tired, Brain Fogged, and Overweight, and How to Get Your Life Back at http://amymyersmd.com. That’s M-Y-E-R-S MD.com. Join our email lists for free goodies and updates that you don’t find anywhere else on our website or on the podcast. While you’re on the internet, please leave us an iTunes review. See you next week.

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