About Our Guest- Dr. Eric Osansky- Natural Approaches to Thyroid Conditions
Dr. Eric Osansky is a chiropractor, clinical nutritionist, and a certified functional medicine practitioner who helps people recover from thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions. He is author of the books “Natural Treatment Solutions for Hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease” and “Hashimoto’s Triggers“. Dr. Osansky was personally diagnosed in 2008 with Graves’ disease, and after taking a natural treatment approach has been in remission since 2009. After seeing how well natural treatment methods helped with his condition, he began helping others with different types of thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions, including hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease, and hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
Full Podcast Transcription
Dr. Eric Osansky 01:30
Approximately 90% of all thyroid conditions are autoimmune, so most people who have hypothyroidism actually have Hashimotos, and most people who have hyperthyroidism have Graves’ – there are definitely exceptions. But unfortunately, when it comes to hypothyroidism, not all medical doctors do further testing to diagnose them with Hashimotos, so sometimes a person will just be put on thyroid hormone replacement and then might never get diagnosed with Hashimotos, or sometimes it might be 5, 10, 15 years.
Diva Nagula 02:02
Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of From Doctor to Patient. Today I’m joined with Dr. Eric Osansky. He’s a chiropractor, a clinical nutritionist, and a certified functional medicine practitioner who helps people recover from thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions. He is author of the books, Natural Treatment Solutions for Hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease and Hashimotos Triggers. Osansky was personally diagnosed in 2008 with Graves’ disease, and after taking a natural approach, he’s been in remission since 2009. After seeing how well natural treatment methods helped with his condition, he began helping others with different types of thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions, including hyperthyroidism, Graves’ disease, hypothyroidism and Hashimotos thyroiditis. Dr. Eric, how are you today? Thank you so much for joining me.
Dr. Eric Osansky 03:13
I’m doing well. Dr. Diva, thanks. Thank you for having me. I look forward to this opportunity to educate your listeners.
Diva Nagula 03:21
Yep. You know, and I want to be open and honest. When it comes to thyroid issues, even when I was in medical school, I could never ever, figure this stuff out. I mean, it’s easy enough. But it’s sometimes can be very confusing. And if I’m confused as a physician, I can only imagine, you know what the listeners are like and what people who actually have thyroid conditions are actually facing on a day-to-day basis, like what do you eat? What do you do? How do you know what medicines to, you know to take and how long for and it’s just so confusing. So I’m really glad we have the opportunity to take a deep dive into thyroid dysfunction. But I’d love to hear your story and then you have an amazing story about how you were diagnosed and you went into remission. So please share with us the story.
Dr. Eric Osansky 04:08
Sure, so I’m a Doctor of Chiropractic, graduated from chiropractic school in 1999. And, and just had a typical chiropractic practice just helping people with musculoskeletal conditions neck and back pain and headaches. And then in 2008 is when I was diagnosed with initially hyperthyroidism. And it just was random. I was in a Sam’s Club….well I wasn’t diagnosed with hypothyroidism in the Sam’s Club, but I was walking around in a Sam’s Club and took my blood pressure at one of those automated blood pressure machines and my blood pressure was okay but my resting heart rate was elevated. And I was also losing weight at the time, but I was dieting and detoxifying so I attributed the weight loss to that. But with the elevated heart rate, that was concerning and I took it myself the next few days and you know, it was still elevated. So I saw a doctor diagnosed me with hyperthyroidism eventually saw an endocrinologist who did further testing to diagnose me with Graves’ disease. And at that time I was not familiar with with hyperthyroidism Graves’ disease. But I did know I was going to take a natural approach just because as a chiropractor, most of my continuing education credits was in nutrition. I attended a couple of functional endocrinology seminars. And so I knew I was going to take a natural approach. Now, I didn’t have any idea whether or not it would work, whether I would be able to get into remission nationally, but fortunately, everything worked out well. I did clean up my diet, you know, did other things from a lifestyle perspective, took some supplements and, you know, just again, made a lot of changes. And of course, we could talk more about this. But yeah, long story short since 2009, I’ve been in remission. And shortly after that, I started to work with others with thyroid and autoimmune conditions, not only hyperthyroidism, Graves’, but as you mentioned, hypothyroidism Hashimotos as well.
Diva Nagula 06:11
So let’s talk into the different types of thyroid dysfunction. So, you know, there’s hypothyroidism, hyper, there’s Graves’ and Hashimotos. Can we talk about a little bit of each and, you know, kind of symptoms of one and the others?
Dr. Eric Osansky 06:27
Sure. So what hypothyroidism typically what we see is, as far as lab findings, we’ll see low thyroid hormone levels, sometimes they’re within the lab range, but less than optimal. Sometimes they’re overtly low, but usually medical doctors diagnose it more based on the TSH which is thyroid stimulating hormone. And so when that is elevated outside of the lab reference range, again, there’s optimal and lab reference ranges, but medical doctors usually go by the lab range. When we see elevated TSH, that’s usually what’s diagnosed as hypothyroidism. And some of the common symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, weight gain, coldness in the hands and feet for example, sometimes hair loss, brittle nails, constipation, and with hyperthyroidism we have the opposite findings on on the lab. So we have typically elevated thyroid hormone levels, so T3, T4 will be high on the blood test, and TSH will be depressed, usually undetectable. And as far as symptoms…so like when I dealt with hyperthyroidism, some of the symptoms I dealt with which were pretty classic of hyperthyroidism included elevated resting heart rate, palpitations, I had some tremors, I lost a lot of weight not everybody with Graves’ or hyperthyroidism loses weight, but I lost 42 pounds. So a lot of weight and voracious appetite. Some people have loose stools, diarrhea, hair loss is pretty common. Some people also have what’s called thyroid eye disease, which is more closely associated Graves’ where you have like bulging of the eyes swelling, sometimes double vision. And so those are some of the symptoms associated hyperthyroidism and as far as Graves’ Hashimotos – these are autoimmune thyroid conditions and approximately 90% of all thyroid conditions are autoimmune so most people have hypothyroidism actually have hashimotos. And most people have hyperthyroidism have Graves’, there are definitely exceptions. But unfortunately, when it comes to hypothyroidism and not all medical doctors do further testing to diagnose them with Hashimotos. So sometimes a person will just be put on thyroid hormone replacements and then might never get diagnosed at Hashimotos. Or sometimes it might be 5, 10, 15 years. With hyperthyroidism the symptoms are more prominent and in most cases, the medical doctor will test to see if someone has Graves’ disease. And as far as autoimmunity goes with, as far as what is Hashimotos that’s when the immune system attacks the thyroid gland and causes damage over time. And this is what’s responsible for the thyroid hormone lowering over the years. And then with Graves’ you have the immune system attacking the TSH receptors, and that’s what causes the excess production of thyroid hormone.
Diva Nagula 09:29
Got it. And then I know we were talking just briefly about the T4, T3. So which of the two do we typically obtain for purposes that are active versus inactive? And then there’s also a reverse T3, which not all physicians get. So what does that mean when that is obtained and what isn’t in reference to?
Dr. Eric Osansky 09:50
Yeah, good question. So a lot of medical doctors will just test that TSH, which is thyroid stimulating hormone. And that’s the, again the pituitary hormone so it’s more of a signaling hormone. But then there’s T4 and T3. So T4, thyroxin. And then T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone. Unfortunately, most medical doctors will….it depends on the doctor, some doctors will, even conventional doctors, some of them will test T4, T3. But some of them will just look at TSH and T4, but not T3. And a good number of people have what’s called a conversion problem, T4 has to convert into T3, or most of T3 comes from this conversion, not all of it, some of it is directly produced from the thyroid gland, but most of it is through that conversion process. And again, a lot of people have that conversion issue. And so if doctors are just looking at TSH and T4, then they’re missing, in some cases, a piece of the puzzle with the T3. And then you know, so reverse T3, that’s like an inactive byproduct of T3. And unfortunately, again, most medical doctors don’t test for reverse T3. And that could be elevated if someone has a conversion problem as well. There’s other like high cortisol problems with stress can cause reverse T3. It’s very common with hyperthyroidism. Honestly, I’ve stopped testing it in my hyperthyroid patients just because just about everybody is elevated in reverse T3, I find it more helpful with those with hypothyroidism. Hashimotos just because again, if they have that elevated reverse T3 that can be you know, connected with that conversion problem also could relate to adrenals even though I do recommend usually testing adrenal separately.
Diva Nagula 11:43
Got it. And when you are treating folks, I’m sure people are coming to you that are already on some sort of pharmaceuticals for hypothyroidism specifically. And so you know, those are the some of the conventional treatments and I’m sure I’m missing others but give us an idea of what some of the things that are people commonly on when they come from a western medicine allopathic physician and do you typically continue these medicines or do you take them off and then try other modalities to adjust for thyroid dysfunction?
Dr. Eric Osansky 12:19
Yeah, so what my background I never tell anybody to stop taking the medication. So if they’re on thyroid hormone replacement or anti-thyroid medication, I never tell them to stop, but a lot of people with hyperthyroidism and Hashimotos are on thyroid hormone replacements and usually synthetic thyroid hormone so Levothyroxine, Synthroid being the most common brand. And then there’s also desiccated thyroid, which is ____ based, from a pig and that has both T4, T3 as well as T1, T2 calcitonin. But, but some examples armor, nature thyroids, AP, thyroid, MP thyroid, and so I mean there, there’s no replacement for thyroid hormone. So there are people who definitely need thyroid hormone. And if someone comes in with Hashimotos, and they’re on it, you know, again, I’ll never tell anyone to stop taking medication even if I….either way the goal is to try to address the underlying causes that are problems. So with Hashimotos again, it’s an immune system condition. So even if someone needs thyroid hormone replacement, the goal is to address the immune system. Now with hyperthyroidism Graves’ disease – so a lot of people, when they see me, they’re already on anti-thyroid medication such as Methimazole. There’s also PTU which is sometimes given but more frequently Methimazole because it usually has less side effects. And some other countries like in Europe, they use Carbimazole, which converts into Methimazole, but again, there is a time and place for these medications. When I dealt with hyperthyroidism. I chose to take an herb called bugleweed which has anti-thyroid properties. And so I did not take the medication. Now if the bugleweed wasn’t effective, I would have taken the Methimazole. I did have my endocrinologist, the endocrinologist I saw, wrote a prescription. But I already knew about bugleweed from attending the conferences and my own research and you know, so I decided to take the bugleweed, give that a try. And then I added another herb called motherwort, which when I took the bugleweed, it definitely helped with the symptoms, the hyperthyroid symptoms but I still had some palpitations, heart palpitations, so I added the motherwort, which also supports the cardiovascular system – kind of like a natural beta blocker, obviously not the same as like propranolol or Atenolol, but anyways, that’s bugleweed and motherwrot. But a lot of my patients already are taking the anti-thyroid medication. And if they’re doing fine on the medication, if there’s no side effects, I mean, if there are side effects, I’ll refer them back to the prescribing doctor, but if they’re doing fine I’ll say, you know, probably good idea to stay on the medication and we could still address the cause of the problem. And yeah, so it really depends on the person – if someone comes and sees me, and if they’re not taking anything, you know, let’s say again, they have hyperthyroidism, they’re not on anything, you know, sometimes they still will take the anti-thyroid medication, but many times they’re not taking anything, because they they’ve read about the side effects and/or they’re just not into taking medication. They might have read my story about myself taking bugleweed. So in that case, I have no problems just giving them recommendations to be on the herbs. So again, it really does depend on the person but again, hypothyroidism, Hashimotos, typically thyroid hormone replacement, hyperthyroidism, Graves’, anti thyroid medication, and one other thing I’ll add is that, again, Hashimotos hypothyroidism, usually thyroid hormone replacement is the only treatment option that’s given. Again, it might be synthetic or natural, but with hyperthyroidism, besides the anti- thyroid medication, there’s also radioactive iodine, which is pretty much a bleed in the thyroid gland and then thyroid surgery. So removing the thyroid glands, so you know, everything’s risks versus benefits, but my job is to try to prevent as many people with hyperthyroidism from receiving a thyroid surgery. And again, if they need to take the medication or temporarily take the medication to prevent that from happening, from getting those procedures, then again, to me, it’s worth doing. And also, you know, again, risk versus benefits, unmanaged hyperthyroidism, you know, there’s also risks of decreased bone density, you know, cardiovascular risks, you know, arrhythmias, for example, thyroid storm, which is a medical emergency. So you want to be safe, you know, and again, some people can accomplish that through the herbs, others will need the medication. And so that’s pretty much my perspective on the conventional medical treatment.
Diva Nagula 17:56
Are there risks if you are combining the herbs with conventional pharmaceutical
medications or treatments?
Dr. Eric Osansky 18:21
So, you know, as far as like bugleweed, like the herbs for symptom management…I wouldn’t say there’s risks I mean, the risks come when someone’s symptoms…so yeah, so if someone has unmanaged hyperthyroidism, like again, sometimes the herbs don’t work. And that could definitely pose a risk. But there are some people who will want to take, like they might be on anti-thyroid medication, and they want to get off the anti-thyroid medication. Again, I can’t tell him to stop. But what I will do sometimes I will put them on bugleweed while they’re still taking, let’s say the Methimazole. And then the only really way to know if they have a prescribing doctor can lower the dose of that. And then there are some people who are on Methimazole and they might still have some palpitations and they don’t want to have their doctor increase the dosage. So maybe they’ll take motherwort along with the the anti-thyroid medication so yeah, I wouldn’t say there’s necessarily risk – the risk is when again, you have unmanaged hyperthyroidism and same with hypothyroidism. I mean hyperthyroidism, I think there’s greater risk, but if thyroid hormone gets too low, that’s not a good thing either. But as I mentioned, with hypothyroidism there really isn’t an herbal replacement for thyroid hormone. You know, again, there’s more natural options such as the nature thyroid, WP thyroid, MP thyroid, and you know, there are glandulars out there too, that don’t require a prescription, but they all have thyroid hormone.
Diva Nagula 19:59
Right. And then I didn’t know the high percentage that these thyroid disorders whether it’s hypo or hyper, were autoimmune based you were saying was 90%, I had no idea was that high. So what other means can we treat this besides the herbs and conventional pharmaceuticals?
Dr. Eric Osansky 20:19
So the the goal while managing the symptoms, whether it’s through the pharmaceuticals or through the herbs, you know, we want to try to address the causes that are problems. So how do we accomplish that? So there is what’s called the triad of autoimmunity that sometimes I bring up. In the triad of immunity, there’s three components necessary for autoimmunity to develop. And so one is a genetic predisposition. And of course, we can’t do anything for the genetics. But fortunately, we can find a remove the trigger, and that’s the second component of the triad is one or more environmental triggers. And then the third component is an increase in intestinal permeability, which is also a leaky gut. And so we want to find and remove the triggers, as well as heal the gut. And as far as the different types of triggers, there’s four categories of triggers I talked about. So one food – so common food allergens: gluten, dairy, corn, you know, can potentially be a trigger and stress. Stress can cause dysregulation of what’s called the HPA axis, the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, which can cause pro inflammatory cytokines, pro inflammatory state increased pro inflammatory cytokines, and can be a factor with autoimmunity. And then we have a third trigger would be chemicals. So Mercury, which can be found in….a lot of people still unfortunately have Mercury amalgams. Also fish, which is a source of methyl mercury. And then there’s glyphosate, which I haven’t seen evidence where it could be a direct trigger of autoimmunity, but there is research showing that it can disrupt the gut microbiome, which again is a factor with autoimmunity as well. And then a fourth trigger, one of the fourth main category of trigger is infections. So like, for example, gut infections, such as H. pylori has been associated in the literature with both Graves’ and Hashimotos, your scindia enterocolitica, which is another bacteria in the gut, and even viruses, such as epstein barr, there’s a potential relationship between epstein barr, and autoimmune conditions, Graves’, Hashimotos, even other autoimmune conditions. So really, it’s trying to play detective to some extent trying to, I mean, some of it is just diet and lifestyle. So just cleaning up your diet, managing your stress can make a big difference. But sometimes you need to dig deeper. And you can’t always go by symptoms, that’s what makes it challenging. I’ve had patients where their gut seemed perfectly fine from a symptomatic standpoint, they weren’t experiencing any symptoms, any digestive issues, they had regular bowel movements, yet, you know, we did testing and we found, you know, either h pylori, or a parasite or something else. So again, that’s another challenge is you can’t just go by symptoms. But yeah, so the goal is, in order to try to improve the health of the immune system and try to reverse that autoimmune component. Again, I don’t like to use the word cure, just because there is that genetic component, and people can relapse. But to try to get to the point where I am, where you know, the person’s remission, you got to find the root of the triggers, and, you know, heal the gut.
Diva Nagula 23:38
And then once a person’s in remission, like yourself, do you have to follow some sort of maintenance protocol, whether it’s with the herbs or whether it’s with diet, or are you able to just go back to your, you know, previous conventional way of of lifestyle,
Dr. Eric Osansky 23:53
I definitely have a healthier lifestyle than I did before Graves’. Now, that being said, I didn’t consider it to be terrible at the time, at least compared to a lot of other people. Because we’re in chiropractic school, they of course, teach you a lot about health, but still, the diet wasn’t where it should have been, you know, the stress management definitely wasn’t there. I wasn’t doing anything from a stress management perspective. And so, you know, again, 2009, so it’s 12 years or so ago. I definitely eat better. I mean, I’m not perfect, nobody’s perfect with diet and stress management. So I want to throw that out there too. So people don’t think that if they you know, fall off the wagon every now and then that they’re going to relapse – everybody is different and some people might need to be more strict than others. Overall, I am pretty strict. I eat whole foods, you know, try my best to avoid gluten, dairy, you know, common allergens. I do block out time for stress on a daily basis, get sufficient sleep. I don’t take the same herbs same supplements that I did years ago. I do take some but like bugleweed, motherwort, I haven’t taken since 2009. And, you know, I took some other herbs and supplements at the time that I don’t take but I still take things such as vitamin D, I take a probiotic, and omega three and a few others. And so yeah, you know, it’s lifestyle. So while you’re trying to get into remission, I think it’s important to be super strict. And when you’re trying to maintain a state of wellness, I think there’s more room to indulge, you just don’t want to overdo it, and everybody’s different. So some people might be able to get away with what others cannot get away with. So I don’t, again, I’ve fallen off the wagon a few times. But I’m pretty quick to get on the wagon, back on the wagon. So it’s not like I’ll fall off the wagon and eat crap for two or three months. Even if I go out of town, I try to eat healthy, but if I cheat and if I fall off the wagon for a few days, I’m usually pretty good about getting back. And I think that’s what people just need to realize – that it is a lifestyle change, but you don’t have to be perfect after you’re in remission.
Diva Nagula 26:02
Exactly. And that’s, that’s the key thing here too, is it’s definitely a lifestyle change. But I’m always an advocate for the 80/20 rule, you know, 80% of the time, you’re following strict diets and really leading a healthy lifestyle but 20% of time you have to live life, you know, you can’t always be at home and following the strict diet and people go out and travel and whatever, it’s fine. But as long as you’re staying ahead of the game and and you know, really have the best intentions to promote a healthy lifestyle for yourself. I think that’s really important. Dr. Eric, so tell us about your book and how we can find your book online and how people can find you if they’re looking for your expertise.
Dr. Eric Osansky 26:42
Sure, so both of my books can be found on Amazon. So Natural Treatment Solutions for Hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease is my book for of course, people with hyperthyroidism. And then in 2018, I released the book Hashimotos Triggers. So again, both of those can be found on Amazon. And then my website is naturalendocrine solutions.com. And that’s where people can learn more about me and I have hundreds of different articles related to the thyroid health and many different topics. I also offer a free guide that people can check out as well.
Diva Nagula 27:21
Well, thank you, Dr. Eric, thank you so much for joining us and giving us all this great, fantastic information about thyroid disorders. I appreciate it.
Dr. Eric Osansky 27:28
All right. Well, thanks again. Dr. Diva. appreciate you having me as a guest