How to do lymphatic drainage for your thyroid or autoimmune disease

The lymphatic connection to autoimmune and thyroid diseases

Your lymphatic system is a complex web of tissues and organs that help your body get rid of toxic wastes. The lymphatic system moves “lymph” which is a fluid containing white blood cells throughout the body. White blood cells are our primary infection fighters. 

Those diagnosed with thyroid or autoimmune diseases are prone to having a “clogged” or “sluggish” lymphatic system, which means you aren’t properly disposing of waste materials, such as bacteria, in an efficient way. It can also mean infection-fighting white blood cells are unable to reach certain tissues of the body to stave off infection. 

Infections are an underlying cause of thyroid and autoimmune diseases, so it stands to reason that by maximizing your waste removal and white blood cell function, we can improve the status of your thyroid or autoimmune disease (and thankfully, there are studies to support this). Specifically, those dealing with thyroid-related illnesses such as Hashimoto’s Disease, Graves’ Disease, and basic hypo- and hyperthyroidism can absolutely benefit from regular lymph drainage.

You have lymphatic tissue all over your body — even in your gut! But the easiest lymph tissue to manipulate and drain will be the lymph nodes closest to the thyroid — on your face, jawline, and clavicle. You can hire a professional, such as a massage therapist to do this technique for you, but you can also easily learn to do it yourself at home on a regular basis.

How to do lymphatic drainage for your thyroid or autoimmune disease

First, identify the location of the lymph nodes you are attempting to drain. The easiest to access will be those at:

  • the back of the cheeks, right in front of the ears
  • behind the ears
  • on each side of the jawline
  • under the chin
  • up the left and right sides of your neck
  • the crook where your neck and shoulders meet/the clavicle area

You do need to exercise care and gentleness with these areas as they can be inflamed, achy or sensitive for many thyroid and autoimmune sufferers. You also never want to apply too much pressure to damage these areas or cause them to swell.  Note: those with goiter or kidney or liver diseases especially should speak with their doctor before performing this on themselves at home. 

Next, either using your hands or a firm, fixed knob tool (I like to recommend the Fascia Blaster for body work) press firmly on these areas until you reach a level of pressure that is comfortable but providing resistance to the tissues. Some people feel an aching or releasing sensation while applying pressure and some people feel nothing at all. Do this motion repeatedly for just a few minutes at a time. Never press beyond your comfort level and be sure to avoid all major arteries. 

Help with detoxification

You will only want to do one session every few days because there will be a toxic load that will be released from the tissues and your body will work hard to rid itself of this. After doing this lymphatic drainage technique, you may also experience “detox” symptoms such as rashes, hives, itching, soreness, nausea or lack of appetite, fatigue, and brain fog after these draining sessions. This is common and if it does occur, you should take the time to rest and recharge yourself with plenty of nutrient-dense foods and be sure to get plenty of sleep. 

Drinking lots of water and herbal teas, as well as taking liver supports are a good idea to assist this process. I especially like to recommend roasted dandelion root tea, which has a flavor similar to coffee but is non-acidic and an excellent liver support.  Also be sure to avoid refined foods that are acidifying, such as white sugar, corn syrup, refined grains, and too much protein. Rely on fresh-pressed juices, greens and green vegetables, (preferably those that are not goitrogenic, such as lettuces), and fresh fruits while you detoxify from the lymph drainage.

Ready to figure out the perfect diet for you? Ready to improve your lab work and daily symptoms? Click here to book a consultation.



Supplements to help stop die-off reactions

What is die-off?

If you have been diagnosed with a thyroid or autoimmune condition, chances are you also have an overgrowth of certain bad yeasts, bacteria, or parasites that are contributing to your illness. In the holistic health world, we know that infections are causative in most chronic illness because they perpetuate Leaky Gut Syndrome, which is a root cause of immune and hormonal conditions.

Leaky Gut Syndrome is a condition where the cell walls in the intestines become “leaky” or permeable and allow food proteins, yeasts, bacteria, viruses, and other nasty bits into circulation in the blood stream where they do not belong. As a result, you end up inflamed, allergic, and experiencing uncomfortable symptoms. Over time, if left unaddressed, Leaky Gut Syndrome can cause autoimmunity and hormonal conditions, as well as food allergies, nutrient deficiencies and detoxification problems. 

In my health coaching practice, I always make a point to address underlying infections with my clients. This means we put them on anti-yeast, anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, or anti-viral protocols that include very strategic diet and supplement changes in order to restore their health. In the long run, clients see dramatic improvements in their lab work and symptoms, but in the short term it can sometimes be uncomfortable as these infections start to die. (Note that viruses remain in the body but we use measures to greatly reduce their impact on the immune system or localized tissues). 

When bad yeasts, bacteria, or parasites begin to die, people can sometimes experience what is called a “die-off reaction”, though it’s also known as a Herxheimer reaction, or healing crisis. This is when you are on the correct protocol but temporarily feel worse because the pathogens emit toxic byproducts upon their death. Yeasts, for example, emit ethanol and acetaldehyde when they die, which can mimic symptoms of a hangover.

Or, if you are following an anti-bacterial or anti-parasitic protocol, you may experience stomach troubles in addition to other symptoms because your gut flora is adjusting as you kill the pathogens. 

Supplements to help stop die-off reactions

Thankfully there are ways to alleviate some of the discomfort caused by die-off reactions. Here are some I suggest to clients undergoing this process:

  • Activated charcoal: because this acts as a binder, it can expedite the process and help remove unwanted pathogens or their byproducts. Do not use for a few consecutive days as it can also interfere with nutrient absorption, especially iodine. 
  • Liver supports: as yeasts die, they emit toxic byproducts which can temporarily affect the liver. Milk thistle, dandelion root, and burdock are my favorites to suggest. If you prefer to not take a supplement, you can also find these in tea form. 
  • Bentonite clay: Another binder, clay can “mop up” pathogens and their byproducts. Mix a small amount into a large glass of water. 
  • Herbal teas: Drink these to ease stomach discomfort often associated with die-off. Ginger and peppermint are especially effective because of their astringent properties. 
  • Digestive enzymes: These can also help with digestive complaints. Take a digestive enzyme that contains amylase, protease, and lipase about 5-10 minutes before meals for best results. 
  • Electrolyte drinks: Staying hydrated is important when undergoing die-off so drink electrolyte-enhanced water, or use natural electrolyte powders that contain magnesium and potassium especially. 

Ready to figure out the perfect diet for you? Ready to improve your lab work and daily symptoms? Click here to book a consultation.

How subconscious stressors hurt your health

In my work with women over the years, I’ve noticed a few trends. Even though clients come to me for nutritional needs, they inevitably start talking about the stressors in their lives. I can’t tell you how many women have sat in my office, and upon me merely asking how they’re doing that day (and REALLY listening to their answer), they start crying, start divulging their stresses, fears, insecurities, and after a few minutes of being truly heard, take a big breath, a deep sigh of relief and apologize for crying or “talking too much”. I always make sure to tell them “it’s okay. Crying is good” because usually when someone cries, they get shushed and “comforted” by people telling them, “it’s okay, don’t cry!”. In truth, they get told to stop crying so the observers aren’t uncomfortable or have to process emotions. Crying is a better medicine than learning to not cry.

What I see in my clients is similar to what I have also noticed and experienced through out my life — very often, women have been taught to trivialize their thoughts, feelings, and emotions, because it makes other people uncomfortable when they express their true thoughts. Other people may not know how to process their own emotions so they feel very uncomfortable being asked to experience someone else’s. We are expected to be stoic or appear to have it all together because it makes people uncomfortable at the thought that we could be “dependent” or “needy” or “hysterical”. So we learn to suppress. And suppress and suppress and suppress because we definitely don’t want our mental health to be in question — ever.

Think of stress like a body of water. The sand, shore and blue-green water are a beautiful scene but take a closer look and you’ll notice that every now and then the surface current picks up. We’re suddenly aware of the passing temperament of the water. We often judge our stress level by the “surface current” in our lives — those major stresses like finances, relationships, work, children, an uncleaned house, making sure to get to important meetings on time, unexpected circumstances like a broke down car or water heater, or the unexpected environmental events we can’t control like fires, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes. And addressing those fears and anxieties is important. But the work I prefer to do with my clients is the work of beginning to recognize and address the UNDERCURRENT. 

The “undercurrent” in our lives is the subconscious behaviors and thoughts we have been taught and that cause us intense stress by trying to live up to certain standards, or meet certain expectations, or be a certain way to keep towing the line and being what others demand. The undercurrent is the power play in our relationships that we are scared to upset. It is the way we get subconsciously punished when we don’t stay inside another person’s expectations. It is the pressure we put on ourselves to look and act a certain way in order to get the affirmation we desire. It is the way we walk, hold ourselves, speak, and dress to get positive feedback. Most of the time, we do not even think about doing these things — it is all subconscious choices that we have become accustomed to. It is an inauthentic way to live. And the undercurrent is ultimately what hurts people the most.

Here are “undercurrent” themes I see affecting my clients:

  • feeling pressure to look a certain way to keep their spouse’s attention and getting hurt feelings when they don’t receive their husband’s full sexual attention visually
  • fears that their spouse will leave — for various reasons — all because of false perceptions of ourselves — “If only I did this better”, “If only I looked more like that”, “He’s going to find someone better”, “I’ll never be good enough”.
  • letting others (often a father figure or other strong figure, like a stern mother or grandmother) take the lead on decisions and daily activities, suppressing your natural desire to lead
  • diluting your opinions so you don’t rock the boat; minimizing and sugarcoating how you really feel so you don’t face consequences, or straight-up lying so you don’t get “in trouble”.
  • agonizing over your wardrobe choices so you don’t upset anyone or receive unsolicited comments — both sexual attention from strangers or disapproval from friends/family
  • feeling ashamed of certain body parts
  • feeling ashamed of eating in front of people, no matter what you are eating or how much
  • trying to hyper-feminize your voice to appear less aggressive or assertive
  • speaking in passive sentences or writing in passive sentences to appear less assertive
  • apologizing and saying sorry for normal requests so you are not perceived as aggressive or rude
  • over-thinking your choice of specific clothing or make-up colors so you will be taken seriously in business encounters
  • feminizing ourselves so we don’t emasculate fathers, spouses, and friends because of the anger we anticipate
  • and so many more!

Now here’s how those undercurrent themes stress you out physically:

  • shallow breathing, which can lead to dizziness, panic attacks, and acidosis
  • resentment that causes adrenaline rushes and high cortisol
  • tensed stomach which causes improper digestion, gas, bloating, heavy full feeling, ulcers, stomach acid problems. Inhibitory responses also cause low thyroid function.
  • painful lump in throat when suppressing tears or words
  • strained vocal cords and muscles
  • tense neck, shoulder, and back muscles
  • tense jaw muscles and TMJ
  • racing thoughts, fear, anger, resentment, and shame
  • inability to fall asleep due to racing anxious thoughts and unexpressed desires
  • low thyroid function. A lifetime of inhibitory responses can cause this. When we inhibit normal breathing, muscle function, and digestive function, it slows thyroid hormone release.
  • adrenal fatigue — low or high cortisol problems
  • and more!

Once you begin to identify and work through these stressors, your health will improve. The goal is to identify every single stressor and work through it so that it no longer has power over you. 

Ready to figure out the perfect diet for you? Want to work through your mind-body hangups? Ready to improve your lab work and daily symptoms? Click here to book a consultation.

How generational wounds keep you sick and stressed

How stress affects your thyroid and immune system

Your stress response affects your hormones and immune system. It can cause thyroid and cortisol imbalances, as well as immunosuppression, leaving your susceptible to infections that cause Leaky Gut.

Stress hormone release is affected by the patterns of tension in the body — trouble breathing, which can lead to anxiety, which can cause the brain to not receive enough oxygen, which can prevent muscles and glands from receiving adequate blood flow, over-production of stomach acid, muscle pain and more. It’s a domino affect. 

Sometimes stress comes in the form of our daily life experiences — difficult relationships, difficult decisions to be made, feeling sick from a diagnosed illness, financial troubles, and more. But I want to challenge you to also recognize that GENERATIONAL WOUNDS can keep us sick. 

What is a generational wound?

Generational wounds are the patterns of thoughts and behavior that we inherit from our family members. We learn how to think about the world and how to behave from our parents (or caregivers). And they learned how to think about the world and how to behave from their parents, and their parents learned from their parents, and so on and on and on. 

The problems is that most often, generational patterns are never broken and we inadvertently inherit them from our family. So the way that your grandmother always worried herself sick (literally), or the fact that your great-great grandfather was an alcoholic, or that your great grandmother was ashamed of her figure and was always putting herself on unreasonable crash diets, or that your father never learned positive communication and instead only knew how to yell, or that your great-great-great grandmother suffered in poverty, are likely all still reflected in your thoughts, actions, and how you feel about yourself, even if you don’t know their stories.

The sum total of the lessons we have learned from our caregivers is a direct result of what they have learned over the course of their lifetime — and what their caregivers taught them. The anger, shame, frustration, poor communication, anxieties, fears get passed down. So although you are not living in poverty, you still feel shame that you are not in a better place financially. Even though you are not an unhealthy weight, you still impose strict calorie restrictions on yourself because no woman in your family has ever been happy with her appearance so what gives you the right? Or, although you don’t want to fight with people, you never learned how to communicate in a clear and healthy way so you aren’t sure why your conversations always end in anger. And, even though you aren’t in an abusive relationship, you still feel like you are always walking on eggshells because you learned that anyone can become angry at you at any moment and for anything.

Think of generational wounds as the memories we subconsciously pass down to others. And because life can be painful, pain is very often what we pass down and our brains and nervous systems choose to remember most. Remembering pain is a survival technique, after all. It’s the brain’s attempt at avoiding anything that can jeopardize our safety. Unfortunately, these wounds also keep us locked in figurative cages. We hold ourselves back, don’t allow ourselves happiness, choose pain and suffering over joy, recreate our own cycles of shame and anger, and live our lives to please people who are no longer even alive. 

How to break the cycle

To break this cycle, start by recognizing your own generational wounds. What is the behavior you recognize in your parents that isn’t/wasn’t healthy? Now think back to their parents and try to recognize the wounds and unhealthy patterns that were passed down to them and how it must have affected them as people. We want to have empathy for our ancestors, instead of blaming any one person for how they may have acted in this life. The idea isn’t to point blame, but to see the struggles and events that led up to the dysfunctional behavior. Then we can distance ourselves from the pain of the generational wounds, instead of being triggered by them. We can recognize problems in our own lives that we inherited and work to change them. We can stop the stress patterns and stress hormone release. We also need to identify where in the body we store tension from these generational wounds. Is it a tensed stomach? Tensed muscle or shoulders from fear and stress? Clenched jaw? Shallow breathing? Everyone will have different wounds and different patterns of tension in the body. Identifying them is the best way to start to heal.

Ready to figure out the perfect diet for you? Want to work through your mind-body hangups? Ready to improve your lab work and daily symptoms? Click here to book a consultation.