Paleo Thyroid Solution Success Story: Cara Haun

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. This week’s featured testimonial is one of many success stories spurred by Primal Blueprint Publishing’s brand new release, The Paleo Thyroid Solution, by Elle Russ. Note: If you’re outside of the U.S. and had trouble purchasing a Kindle copy of the book, it’s now available!

If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

realifestories in lineWhen I look back on my life, I realize that I had hypothyroid symptoms for most of it. One I can recall clearly is that I was always cold. It could be 95°F outside and I would be freezing.

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism about twelve years ago, when I had my second miscarriage in a year. My OB referred me to a well-known endocrinologist in Los Angeles, who immediately ran tests, diagnosed hypothyroidism, and without blinking an eye, started me on Synthroid (levothyroxine).

For about eight years I was diligent about taking my Synthroid pill every morning and getting my blood work done every three months. During that time I felt terrible. I was experiencing a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue (even though I was getting enough rest); weight gain (even though I was exercising like a pro athlete and eating healthfully); hair loss, cracked/dry skin; allergies (to everything); miscarriages; acne; heavy bleeding during my periods and long periods (more than seven days); and brain fog and emotional highs and lows.

Every time I would go in to see the endocrinologist, he would tell me my blood work was good and fell within the normal range. He would update my prescription and send me on my way. Several times I complained about having no energy and gaining weight. He told me I was probably just eating too much. (I was training for a marathon at the time.) When I asked about other options for medication, he just said Synthroid was the only option. Nothing else worked for hypothyroidism. I trusted that my endocrinologist new what he was talking about.

One day I was due to have my blood work done, and I was just too exhausted to drive the 5 miles to my endocrinologist, so I made an appointment with my internist, who is located less than a mile from my house. She did all my blood work and when she went over the results with me, she said “Your thyroid results are low, and did you know you have Hashimoto’s? I’m not sure why your endocrinologist has you on Synthroid…it doesn’t work well for people with Hashimoto’s.” This doctor appointment changed my life. My internist prescribed a new compounded medication for me (T4/T3 combination) that day, and I started taking it immediately.

After that appointment I went home and curled up on my bed and cried for the rest of the day. I was so angry and depressed that my endocrinologist never tested my thyroid antibodies to find out whether or not I had Hashimoto’s. How could he have misdiagnosed me and mistreated me for eight years? I was beside myself, because he not only ignored and dismissed all of my complaints, but also he made me feel as if I were a crazy person and a hypochondriac.

A week later I went back to my internist and she took some intensive blood tests to check all my vitamin and mineral levels. When we went over the results of those tests, she said to me, “If you were not sitting in front of me right now I would have concluded (based on the results of your tests) that you were a person who is going through chemotherapy. Your immune system is severely compromised.”

We immediately started a vitamin/mineral protocol to get my immune system back into shape. I am happy to say that after a year of supplementation, along with the new medication, my thyroid and immune system started to work properly again.

For eight years I suffered with massive hypothyroid symptoms and didn’t even realize it until my new compounded T4/T3 medication kicked in and I started feeling better—in fact, I felt amazing! All of my hypothyroid symptoms went away. I was losing weight; feeling smarter/more focused (my brain fog vanished!); started having shorter and lighter menstrual periods; free of all allergies (this was huge!); energetic and enthusiastic; and happy!

Now I go in and get my blood work done every six months. My doctor adjusts my medication, depending on my test results combined with how I feel. If I am having any hypothyroid symptoms, my doctor listens to me and adjusts my medication accordingly. I love that she doesn’t just rely on test results and isn’t afraid of a Free T3 that is toward the top or at the very top of the range.

I am currently on compounded thyroid hormone replacement equivalent to 4 grains of NDT (natural desiccated thyroid). Even though my thyroid hormone replacement is optimized, I continue to take supplements to support T4 to T3 conversion and optimal thyroid hormone metabolism/adrenal health. I am diligent about taking selenium, vitamin D, vitamin B-complex, fish oil, and a probiotic.

After many years on compounded T4/T3, I decided to adopt a paleo/primal lifestyle. Elle had gone primal a couple of years prior, but she didn’t try to convince me to change my diet and exercise lifestyle because she thought I would be the last person in the world who would ever be open to eliminating grains from my diet. That is, until Elle spoke with Dr. Gary Foresman about Hashimoto’s. Very concerned for me, Elle immediately called me and explained the connection between grains and Hashimoto’s antibody levels and what that meant for my long-term health. I was unaware that it was even possible to consciously lower my levels of thyroid antibodies, nor did I know that lower levels were better than higher levels. I assumed, like many (and my uninformed doctor!), that because I had Hashimoto’s I would always see the presence of antibodies on my blood tests and that the fluctuations were random and uncontrollable. I was also unaware that higher levels of antibodies are detrimental to my long-term health and could potentially ignite other autoimmune disorders and other health issues.

Since I adopted a paleo eating strategy and lifestyle (including significantly reducing my high-intensity tennis workouts from three to four days a week down to about one day a week), my Hashimoto’s thyroid antibodies have decreased significantly. Before going paleo, my TPO (thyroid peroxidase) antibodies were over 200 and after six months of adopting a paleo lifestyle (with a few cheat meals), my antibodies dropped down to 70. As of June 2016, my TPO antibodies are the lowest I have ever seen them…down to 25! Having the lowest level of thyroid antibodies is my new goal. Even though weight loss wasn’t a conscious goal, everyone in my life has noticed a major difference in my body. I have slimmed down even more and any inflammation/bloat that I had disappeared. The biggest change I’ve noticed since going paleo and becoming fat-adapted, is that I eat a lot less food overall. My body is more efficient and I no longer have the blood sugar highs and lows that I used to. The cranky monster that would come out when I started getting hungry no longer exists!

Because I am the cook in the house, my husband accidentally (or by default) transitioned to the paleo lifestyle with me. At first he expressed some resistance, because he is a creature of habit and believes that every meal should have protein, salad or vegetable, and some sort of carbohydrate like bread or pasta. There were definitely some grumbles at the dinner table when I first eliminated grains from our meals. Soon enough, he actually realized that he was benefiting from the paleo lifestyle too. He no longer had arthritis pain, he lost weight, he went longer in between meals, and he had a lot more energy. My husband has come a long way from being a reluctant convert.

Of course I am human, so yes, I do cheat every once in a while! I have no guilt about taking on a slice of pizza or a bowl of pasta every now and then. That said, it definitely comes with a price to pay. When I do cheat with something containing grains, I get stuffy and feel bloated the next day. I also wake up hungry and feel stiffness in my body. I have noticed after a solid year of going paleo that I rarely crave sugar. Being paleo has made big a difference in my life. I feel so much better, and I feel so much freedom around food because I am not always thinking about my next meal.

What I have learned through my Hashimoto’s journey is that it is very important to get second and third opinions, follow your intuition/gut, ask questions, learn about your health issue, listen to your body, and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about yourself. Oh, and go paleo!




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25 thoughts on “Paleo Thyroid Solution Success Story: Cara Haun”

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  1. Love your story Cara!!! I had already read it in Elle’s book but happy to have the chance to comment on it. It’s amazing how the right meds and the right lifestyle can make all the difference. So happy for you..your excitement shines through in your writing!

  2. Great story! Just received “the book” yesterday and am about half way through it. My husband suffers from what I feel is a poorly treated thyroid condition. I see him in a great deal of the situations and hope to find a doc that will work with him.

    So glad you were able to get help and resolve your problems and give us a great success story..

  3. I feel amazing, no symptoms of hypothyroidism. But two test done two months apart, showed my TSH levels were rising. When they hit 9.9, my doctor put me on 25mcg of levothyroxine. I took one pill and felt horrible for twelve hours straight. I said forget that and didn’t take another. Why take a pill when I feel great already. I then went online searching for an answer and it turns out thyroid issues are really complex and commonly misdiagnosed. There’s Hashimot’s as described above, there’s sub clinical hypothyroidism which has a combo of normal T3 and T4 levels, elevated TSH, but no symptoms …plus any number of reasons that could give false positive or false negatives. I told my doctor to refer me to an endocronlogist and to test my free and bonded T3 and T4 levels and test for anti-bodies. We do that on September 29th.

  4. Though this is an exciting and important subject and I enjoyed reading this further thyroid success story (I guess it is the fourth in a row), I think in the meantime it is too much of “advertisement” for Elle Russ´ book. Less would be more ;-).

    Hence, I am looking forward to the next “conventional” (should I say “old-school”) success story.

    1. {VBG} Those wanting a break are clearly NOT folks with thyroid problems!! I am finding it motivating and heart-warming that it IS possible to recover and live a normal-ish life!! Got the book, hope to get better!

      1. Actually, I have Hashimoto’s and I’m not happy with the obvious promotion of a book by someone whose credentials are shaky. One of the things I have always liked about this website is that it is very science-based. I feel like I can rely on the information I’m getting. This book seems to be the exception.
        Yes, the traditional medical approach to treatment of thyroid problems is woefully inadequate. That doesn’t mean that it is a condition that you should undertake treating on your own. First of all, it’s hard to diagnose. It took 20 years for me to get a diagnosis! (Did I say woefully inadequate?) Many other diseases present with similar symptoms. Some of them are life-threatening, i.e., pituitary cancer. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution to thyroid problems. The main thing is to try to find a trained medical practitioner (probably someone trained in functional medicine) who can properly diagnose you and who is willing to try different approaches. You are going to have to advocate for yourself. You may have to do some switching of doctors, but don’t do it on your own. You need to be monitored. You might get lucky like the folks in these success stories or you could really seriously mess yourself up.

  5. I am loving these success stories. I also have been struggling with hypo/hashimotos, which I also didn’t find out about until I switched doctors after over tens years of feeling horrible on levothyroxine. I have switched over to a ketogenic diet 2 months ago and feel better but not great. My thyroid levels are optimal but my TPO is still over 1300 (as it was a year ago). How long should it take for it to reduce? Do you have any suggestions to reduce my TPO? I take all of the supplements that you list in your success story.

    1. Eliminate dairy. That was the game changer for me in addition to gluten and sugar.

  6. Good for you, always pleased to see someone healing there self without pharmaceutical help. I was diagnosed with a slightly larger thyroid then what’s classified as normal. Enlarged thyroid basically, every time I get a routine checkup my thyroid is checked as well. So far so good but I’ve been eating like this for awhile anyways. I eat mostly 90% primal. My technical diet is a mixture of PB and WAPF. I do eat small amounts of sprouted grain and legume. It might be considered extreme in some social circles but I actually eat a lot of raw foods too. Raw milk, raw eggs, even a little raw meat on occasion. Tyrosine, iodine, and selenium are three nutrients absolutely essential for thyroid health. Raw cholesterol helps too, which is primarily why I eat raw animal products.

    1. No pharmaceuticals? Read again… She is using compounded T4/T3. I am very glad for having Cara reach her optimal thyroid levels (and stated so above) – I am working on mine, I think that the recent stories, book included, about the subject misrepresent themselves, as none is completely cured and off Medication (I’ll probably take heat for this comment).

      It’s a different story of-course, if someone is misdiagnosed, stop treatment within weeks or a few months and gets his levels straighten naturally.

      1. True that. Some things you can’t Primal your way out of. Thyroid problems are one of them. It’s more or less the luck of the draw. Yes, there are things you can do to aggravate your condition but really, other then hormone replacement therapy, there’s not much you can do to solve it. These Primal success stories are drifting dangerously close to a blame the victim mentality. Bone broth and sprints can’t cure everything. Yes, I’m glad so and so stopped eating donuts and coke and their skin cleared up, but you really can do everything right and still not have a six pack, perfect skin and free yourself from all medication.

        You know what happened to Grok when his eyesight went bad and he couldn’t get glasses? He fell over rocks and had to have his buddies feed him. What did Grok do when he had hypothyroidism? He friggin’ got sick and died.

  7. Cara thanks for the great post. I went gluten free and that helped a lot but could still use more help. If you don’t mind sharing would love to go use your internist. I’m in the Malibu / Thousand Oaks area.

  8. Great story, very enlightening. At the risk of emphasizing the negative, I wonder if Cara’s former endocrinologist has been privy to this information? I’d hate to think how many other patients he / she has misdiagnosed and caused needless suffering. I also wonder if the allopathic approach to thyroid treatment as a whole is lacking?

  9. Great story, well done. Looking forward to reading Elle’s book!

  10. A quick comment on the new site… While it looks more modern and fresh and makes it easier to find recipes and the podcast, I have to admit that I’m not digging it. I live in a rural area with moderate internet speed and the site is now slow to load. I loved that I could previously navigate and load pages with only a one or two second delay. Now it’s much more.

  11. Hello Cara, I am very happy for you!

    Would you care to mention which brand of T3 you are using?

  12. This actually helps me a lot! I have the same symptoms you have (fatigue, weight gain, cracked/dry skin, acne, heavy bleeding during my periods) and have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s by my non-medical practitioner. Meanwhile the standard doctor I go to regularly – and who is way closer – told me that I’m the Mediterranean type who all of a sudden needs more sleep. °v° Well, …
    I’m really looking forward to getting my blood work checked again by my non-medical practitioner and showing the results to the doc. Hopefully, I’ll get some help then…
    Thanks for sharing your story!

  13. Wow, my sister has Hashimoto’s so I may send this article to her. That is crazy that your first doctor didn’t catch that. There are definitely some bad doctors out there, just like there are bad mechanics, bad cooks, etc. Great article and thanks for sharing your story.

    There is a typo I spotted, “I trusted that my endocrinologist [k]new..”

  14. I have had a similar experience.
    I am now seeing a top endo who does extensive blood work. He took me off the Armour Thyroid I was on because my T3 was too high. No one else was picking up on this or that I had a stunning number of antibodies.
    I was sad about my natural medication no longer working for me but relieved to find an endo who understands Hadhimotos. I currently take Synthroid and Cytomel.
    I continue to avoid grains like the plague. Grains are not my friends.

  15. I know most MDA readers are in the US, but is there anyone who can recommend a functional medicine doctor in Auckland, New Zealand? I have Hashimotos and a story similar to the one above, including a doctor who can make me feel like a hypochondriac when my thyroid tests are normal but I still don’t feel great. I’d love to see a functional medicine doctor and get everything tested and on the road to a full recovery. Any suggestions and recommendations for practitioners in NZ welcome!