One thing that makes autoimmunity so hard to cope with is that exists within us. Whether or not we ever become symptomatic or if we’re lucky to achieve remission, the potential for autoimmune flair ups is always there. You can’t cure an autoimmune condition like Hashimoto’s because there is no disease to cure. Your own immune system is behind your illness and it is doing its job remarkably well only targeting the wrong things.
How disheartening is that? We’ve been in a very dark place after Hashimoto’s diagnosis ourselves. Your first reaction to finding out that you have Hashimoto’s may be to give up, take your medicine, and hope for the best while expecting the worst. Then when your thyroid medication doesn’t seem to work, isn’t working fast enough, or doesn’t work as well as you wish it would, Hashimoto’s can feel like this terrible burden you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.
In some ways, that’s true – autoimmunity is forever. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to lessen the likelihood that you’ll experience the worst Hashimoto’s symptoms. Because there’s actually plenty you can do to help your body (including your immune system) be as healthy as and work as well as possible, even though autoimmunity is a part of you.
Now, we’d never suggest you ditch your thyroid medication, though some of us have successfully done so. That’s a discussion you need to have with your practitioner when you’re ready. What we do believe and have experienced ourselves is that you can change your life strategically to prevent autoimmune flare ups caused by Hashimoto’s.
You have probably read a lot about going gluten free to help Hashimoto’s or the autoimmune protocol diet. More obvious advice like ‘get enough rest’ and ‘ reduce stress’ still manages to inspire whole articles. But what people don’t talk about often enough are the effects of the products we use to clean our homes and our bodies. We know that people with Hashimoto’s may be more sensitive to certain chemicals but we don’t always make a connection between that and our cleaning products.
After all, cleaning products have to be tough to keep the world germ free, right? That’s probably why we have things in our homes like:
Dish soaps, detergents, fabric softeners, air fresheners, soaps, and shampoos that contain phthalates – which are known endocrine disruptors.
Spot removers, upholstery and carpet cleaners that contain perchloroethylene (PERC) – scary, considering the EPA found that PERC’s most dangerous noncancer toxicity is brain and nervous system damage.
Antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers, which can contain ingredients like that disrupt hormone regulation. And while the antimicrobial agent triclosan was banned in certain products, it may still be in your toothpaste, which was exempt from the ban!
Fabric softener liquids and sheets that are made with quarternary ammonium compounds to give them antibacterial properties. These can trigger illness in those with chemical sensitivities.
So if you suspect that your cleaning products may be making your Hashimoto’s symptoms worse, what can you do about it? The good news is that there are lots more natural alternatives than there used to be.
Check out Dr. Bronner’s products – the brand has gentle soaps for your body and multi-purpose soaps for the home that are made from body-safe ingredients and their company philosophy is pretty amazing on top of it. A little tends to go a long way so Dr. Bronner’s is also budget friendly.
Need the convenience of a wipe? Try Babyganics All Purpose Surface Wipes – they’re fragrance free and have received an A rating from the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
If you feel strongly about using cleaners that also disinfect, you can make your own natural disinfectant cleanser for counter tops, floors, windows, and just about everywhere else! Soak citrus peels (lemon or orange or lime all work) in white vinegar for up to two weeks then strain out the peels. Put the now pleasant smelling cleaning liquid in a spray bottle.
Want to freshen and soften your clothes? Try vinegar, essential oils, and wool dryer balls!
You can find EWG’s full list here if you have specific cleaning needs – and even if you don’t, it’s interesting to browse what’s out there! There are so many safer, natural alternatives to cleansers that use harsh chemicals now that you can easily experiment and find out if switching to a gentler product helps your Hashimoto’s.
As always, your experience may be that choosing healthier household cleaning products doesn’t have much of an impact on your Hashimoto’s symptoms at all. But even if you’re still searching for healing strategies that work for you, why not make the switch anyway? Getting problematic chemicals out of your home can only be a positive change for both you and your family!