How I Challenged Graves Disease
I thought I’d strike an autobiographical note for the first entry. I don’t find myself nearly as interesting as the science – but here’s a short story about me that might be relevant.
Although I had been studying pharmaco-nutrition for many decades, it suddenly became a bit less theoretical for me about ten years ago when I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease.
For those who don’t know, Graves is an autoimmune disease where your immune system jumps the tracks and starts to attack your thyroid. It starts with night sweats, fine tremor, fever and weight loss. Along with those symptoms come hypomania, insomnia and impaired judgement due to inflated feelings of competence and self-worth. And eventually, you go into atrial fibrillation. If left untreated, and if you survive the hyper phase, the thyroid eventually burns out and you go into the hypo phase. Your metabolism slowly runs down until you die of congestive heart failure. Frankly, it’s not much of a career path.
Medical students often go through a phase of medical paranoia, self-diagnosing with weird and wonderful diseases. This is known in the trade as medical student syndrome. In medicine there are many syndromes… exploding head syndrome, genital retraction syndrome, walking corpse syndrome and gourmand syndrome are four syndromes I somehow managed to avoid. For a while, however, in 2nd year medical school, I acquired an extremely rare synovial sarcoma of the knee joint. Or at least, I thought I did…
Doctors, on the other hand, tend to be very lackadaisical; having seen too much disease, they are often the last to diagnose themselves accurately. And I didn’t think that anything was wrong until I woke one morning in a pool of sweat with my heart jumping out of my chest, beating at anything between 120 and 140 bpm. I walked to the local hospital, roughly a mile away, and was correctly diagnosed within 30 minutes. The diagnosis was confirmed with blood tests which showed sky-high levels of thyroid hormone and the presence of anti-thyroid antibodies – textbook stuff. I was immediately shot full of heparin and told to stay in the hospital for at least a week for observation and treatment. This would involve surgically removing the thyroid gland, and I would then be dependent for the rest of my life on thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Thousands of people go down this road every year. I didn’t want to.
I had been studying certain aspects of immune desensitisation, and had the idea that if I could stop my immune system from attacking the thyroid it might eventually forget its target.
So I used a combination of omega 3s and polyphenols to bring my omega 6:3 ratio down to below 2, and kept it there for the next 6 months. I also took large doses of vitamin D. And all the Graves symptoms stopped.
Ten years further on, I do not have Graves Disease. My thyroid function is perfect and I am well in every way – except one. I occasionally experience atrial fibrillation. If my heart jumps out of the groove I coax it back with flecainide, an anti-arrhythmic drug that is effective but has a rather nasty history of toxicity.
6 months ago, I had had enough of this and started supplementing with a low dose magnesium salt, taken t.i.d. On its own I doubt this would have been sufficient, but when combined with the omega 3’s and polyphenols it stopped the arrhythmias, as I had hoped it would. I no longer have atrial fibrillation – though, of course, it may one day return.
My story, of course, is medical heresy. Once autoimmune disease starts it does not stop. It progresses. But my experience tells me that there is another way. It is yet another reminder that medical orthodoxy is substantially wrong. And it confirms the evidence I see with my own eyes, almost every day, of people with serious non-communicable health problems who respond to pharmaco-nutritional inputs in ways that I can only describe as miraculous.
At a recent meeting I spoke to a colleague who has been working with children suffering from type 1 diabetes, which is another auto-immune disease. And I learned that current work indicates that if caught early enough, this condition can also be stabilised / stopped using a nutritional regime very similar to the one I used on myself 10 years ago. This is starting to look very promising.
This text was originally published here on Saturday, June 16, 2018.
This is a guest post. The opinions expressed are the writer’s own.