Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Naturopathy or the Devil's Cure

Today's post is also a lesson.

This story is mine and mine alone and every single person will react differently so I don't want anybody to think that I am a medical/science person ringing alarm bells, but it should serve as a warning for those of you searching for quick health fixes or easy solutions to physical problems via supposed "safe" herbal remedies or somewhat unregulated naturopathy. Please please please....always consult medical professionals before using any herbal or natural "remedy".

So...here goes.

I have a thyroid issue. I have been diagnosed with a form of hypothyroidism known in medical circles as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. I know. It sounds like the name of a sushi roll, but in reality, it is a medical condition whereby my thyroid is underperforming. As a high achiever, the idea of having an underactive thyroid was a real pisser to me. I'm an A student and my thyroid was failing me? How dare it? You can read all about Hashimoto's by clicking the hyperlink, but suffice it to say that it is manageable with medication, and I am fine and under the care of excellent physicians, both primary care and specialist.

The real problems started when I asked my doctor if there might be a way to jumpstart my metabolism. One of the symptoms of Hashimoto's is weight gain and I have never been content to sit still for weight gain. I eat well, I exercise regularly, and I am wholly frustrated by my inability to drop those pounds. Aggravating? Yes, especially for a high achiever with a thyroid that preferred sitting on the sidelines. My doctor suggested I visit a naturopath that she wholeheartedly recommended. One of the things that I like best about my doctor is that she is willing to think outside of the box. She has had great success with some natural remedies in the past and thought that I might benefit. She sent my charts over to the naturopath and an appointment was set up.

I liked the naturopath immediately. We talked for over an hour and I think that she understood that I wasn't searching for a miracle cure, but rather a way to restart my flailing metabolism. It was understood from the beginning that I was on thyroid medication prescribed by an endocrinologist and that my doctor and I were only interested in enhancing what traditional medicine was already providing. She gave me a whole range of supplements, most of which were just higher dosages of stuff I was already using like Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D. And then....she handed me something called a thyroid booster. The pills, from a highly reputable Canadian laboratory, purport to "help in the function of the thyroid gland". I followed her directions to the letter and took the pills exactly when I was supposed to. And then the trouble started.

Within a week of taking the supplements, I was swept up in a wave of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and vertigo. I spent hours in the bathroom and days recuperating. The first time it happened, I honestly thought that I had the stomach flu. I ceased taking the medication but only because I couldn't keep anything down. After almost a week of wretched symptoms, I returned cautiously to my normal routine. I cut out the supplements for almost a month while I regained my strength and then I restarted as before. Within two hours (not exaggerating) I was once again heaving over the toilet. Another week of recovery ensued and I finally ceased taking all supplements for another month. Last week, I mentioned to The Husband that I was going to reintroduce my supplements but one at a time to try and discern if there was a problem. The B12 and D were non-issues, and yesterday I decided to try the thyroid booster. It should surprise noone that my dinner plans last night went awry.

A quick Google search provided irrefutable confirmation that it was indeed the thyroid boosters that were causing my misery. A cursory reading of the label, past the ordinary minerals of manganese and zinc, list several root extracts that we are now fairly certain are the emesis culprits. Suffice it to say that the thyroid boosters are now occupying a permanent place in the trash. Fifty bucks down the shoot.

While I absolutely should have done better due diligence and I absolutely should have ceased taking the shit after the second go, the fact that I went against my skeptic nature has me more aggravated than anything else.  I am thoroughly bruised from the beating I have given myself. Why didn't I ask the naturopath about possible side-effects? Why didn't I ask about fillers and source the active ingredients? Why didn't I tell her about my high propensity for stomach ailments, vertigo, and vomiting? Why???

Because I wanted it to work. Because I was looking for an easy solution. Because I liked and had faith in the naturopath. Because I am tired of being tired and cold and weight-retaining. Because I wanted to trust alternatives. Because I forgot who I am at my core....a new-age solution agnostic, a cynic, and a full-throated science believer.

Look...not all naturopathy is bad and not all alternative medicine is hokum. There are probably some very good remedies out there that are effective and work. Hell...it is very likely that these same thyroid boosters that made me projectile vomit would work on others. All I am saying is that next time I will do better homework and ask better questions. For now? It is back to the endocrinologist for an enhanced game plan and back to the treadmill for more intense workouts. And.....

Caveat emptor.

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