How to Support the Nervous System for Hashimoto's and Hypothyroidism with Dr. Cathleen King - Inna Topiler

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Health Mysteries Solved: Thyroid and Hashimoto's Revealed

How to Support the Nervous System for Hashimoto’s and Hypothyroidism with Dr. Cathleen King

Connecting the Mind & Body, Reversing Patterns for Optimal Thyroid Health

The Case: 

  • Terri Ann was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and has struggled with symptoms for years.
  • She’s experienced weight gain, exhaustion, food sensitivities, anxiety, depression, hair loss, sleep issues, and brain fog.
  • She’s seen countless practitioners and has tried everything with no consistent results.
  • She’s become reliant on supplements, even though they are not working.

First Steps in Healing Hashimoto’s Chronic Symptoms

I have seen Terri Ann’s Hashimoto’s symptoms before and I knew something was lying under the surface. My first step was to get her access to the Primal Trust Program since they specialize in tough chronic cases like this.  Also if you don’t know your thyroid type of your immune triggers, please join me at my next Free Hashimoto’s Training Here

The Investigation with Dr. Cathleen King

Who better to discuss Terri Ann’s case than the creator of the Primal Trust Program, Dr. Cathleen King? She’s a renowned physical therapist and neuroscience-based mind-body practitioner. As the CEO and founder of the Primal Trust Academy & Community, Dr. King specializes in addressing chronic illnesses, including autoimmunity, Lyme disease, chronic fatigue, long-haul COVID, mold issues, and Mass Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS). Her unique approach combines brain retraining, vagus nerve toning somatics, and trauma-informed practices to unlock self-healing so I knew she’d be so helpful with this case. 

The Multifaceted Approach to Supporting Hashimoto’s and Hypothyroidism

If you’ve listened to this show for a while then you know I am a staunch believer in having a multifaceted approach to supporting anyone with Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism. Dr. King is also a big supporter of this approach so we kick off our conversation by exploring how interconnected systems are affected, because having one autoimmune disease often links to others. Triggers for these conditions vary, from infections to toxins and mold, which is exactly why we need a comprehensive, whole-body perspective. Our conversation starts with looking at the foundational role of the nervous system, something often overlooked in conventional approaches.

Your Nervous System’s Crucial Role in Managing Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s

There is no minimizing the foundational importance of the nervous system in addressing autoimmune and thyroid conditions. As the master regulator, the autonomic nervous system influences organ functions, endocrine processes, and digestion. Stress responses mark the beginning of these health challenges, prompting compensatory measures by the body. Dr. King focuses on the intricate control panel aspect of the nervous system, highlighting the potential for positively influencing the autonomic nervous system. In other words, we can make a difference in managing our thyroid issues by managing our nervous system.

The Overlooked Nervous System

Despite being the master switch that runs the show, the nervous system often takes a back seat in health discussions. Dr. King explains that this is because we have all normalized stress in our lives, a factor often overlooked in conventional medical approaches. Instead of stress analysis and tailored exercises for the nervous system, the focus is usually on blood tests and markers. And Dr. King would know because, as she shares in this episode, her decade-long journey included a battery of tests, supplements, and protocols, missing the crucial piece of the puzzle: the state of her autonomic nervous system. This gap in the medical approach is the fire that fuels her mission – redefining how we handle chronic illnesses by making nervous system regulation a central part of the strategy.

Understanding the Polyvagal Response to Busy Lives

So many of us are juggling busy lives. Dr. Cathleen King outlines a practical approach to nervous system support for anyone who has a million things on the go. She suggests the polyvagal theory (coined by Stephen Porges), where you map your nervous system states throughout the day, identifying moments of fight or flight, immobilization, or a safe mode. 

Here are the three states and how to determine which you’re in:

  1. Ventral Vagal State: Safe Connection and Calmness

In this first state, the ventral vagal state, there’s a sense of safety, open connection, and calmness.

  1. Sympathetic State: Stress and Motivation

The second state, the sympathetic state, encapsulates the fight/flight response to stress. Chronic activation can lead to stress-related challenges.

  1. Dorsal Vagal State: Shutdown and Resting

The third state, the dorsal vagal state, is characterized by shutdown, collapse, and immobility. Recognizing stress responses normalized in this state becomes crucial for self-awareness.

Mapping when you are in each of these states throughout the day is the key because this awareness allows for subtle course corrections within the demands of a busy life. Consciously taking a breath or responding differently becomes a realistic starting point for those managing multiple responsibilities.

Your Nervous System Toolkit

Dr. King provides some great tools for connecting to your nervous system so you can better control it. Feeling into your body might sound like a new concept for many accustomed to being trapped in their heads. It’s about tuning into the sensations in your body, a shift for those not used to being present in their bodies. Nervous system tools come in handy, offering diverse approaches from vagus nerve toning to brain retraining and somatics. The diversity of the toolkit she shares recognizes that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, catering to different time constraints and preferences.

Connecting Thyroid Issues with Vagus Nerve Toning

Dr. King shares the benefits of vagus nerve toning exercises, especially for anyone dealing with thyroid issues or Hashimoto’s. The vagus nerve acts as the conductor orchestrating the harmony of bodily functions, serving as the on-off switch of illness. Various exercises, including breathing techniques and Voo-Woo breaths, aim to bring this powerhouse nerve into optimal shape. These exercises involve using your voice to stimulate the vagus nerve, promoting a sense of safety and toning the fifth chakra, where the thyroid resides. The focus on stimulating the vagus nerve is akin to working out a muscle at the gym, enhancing organ function, and improving communication between the brain and body.

The Throat Chakra and Voice Connection to Thyroid Health

The throat chakra and our ability to express ourselves connect with the broader nervous system. Engaging in nervous system work provides the capacity to feel safe expressing our truth. Dr. Cathleen King emphasizes the importance of working on trauma patterns by developing more states of safety. Speaking your truth requires feeling safe in your body, a journey that may take time but is considered crucial for thyroid health and overall nervous system well-being.

Vagus Nerve and Digestive Issues in Hypothyroidism

The Vagus nerve is also connected to our digestive health. As we’ve discussed on the show before, many with hypothyroidism grapple with digestive issues. But did you know the vagus nerve plays a central role in this challenge? Dr. Cathleen King shares stories of individuals whose digestive issues were transformed by getting the vagus nerve online. This is because the digestive system acts as an indicator of the underlying chronic stress response, highlighting the interconnected nature of thyroid health and nervous system function. It all works together which is why a comprehensive approach is so important. 

Can People-Pleasing Impact Your Thyroid Health?

It’s so interesting how interconnected everything is. Even our people-pleasing habits can impact our thyroid because it can cause a stress response. Recovering from people-pleasing involves recognizing that not feeling safe is at the core of this behavior. Dr. King’s perspective sheds light on the safety factor, which is often overlooked in the context of people-pleasing. Feeling safe to express oneself authentically is crucial for reprogramming behaviors and fostering healthier relationships.

Every behavior in relationships is intricately tied to our sense of safety and connection. Feeling safe to be truthful and express ourselves authentically is something many people will have to intentionally reprogram. Dr. King shares how deeply she believes that choosing authenticity can lead to improvements in thyroid health, especially when we can also foster a sense of feeling safe in our own bodies.

Reconnecting with Our Desires Reduces Stress

I found it fascinating when Dr. King started talking about a part of our brain called the Insula. This is what’s responsible for our sense of gut instinct or intuition but it also connects us to our needs. The problem is that it tends to go offline if we have ignored our needs over the years, maybe because we needed to pay attention to the needs of mom and dad or others more. When we tap into that Vagal Nerve toolkit and start to pay attention to our body, to the feelings in our body, it helps the insular cortex get back online. It starts small (like recognizing the desire for a certain tea over another) but it builds from there. When the insular cortex is activated, it supports the connection to the nervous system. This is when we restore the mind-body connection.

The process of tuning into intuition echoes the journey of discovering desires. Dr. King says that the insula has a significant role in intuition. Feeling disconnected or unsure about feelings can manifest in symptoms like perpetual people-pleasing or a struggle to discern between yes and no. Recognizing these signs becomes essential in understanding the need for reconnection and restoration.

Hidden Stress and Navigating the Busyness Trap

Constantly being in a state of “Busy!” has been completely normalized in our society but often disguises chronic stress. This stress will reveal itself in various subtle ways. Dr. King brings attention to scenarios where being in a state of constant activity serves as a coping mechanism for an underlying stress response. Chronic stress can manifest in procrastination, feeling overwhelmed, or seemingly unmotivated behaviors. Recognizing these indicators is crucial for addressing stress responses and fostering a healthier nervous system.

But, it’s not that easy. Stress can be elusive, hiding behind a facade of constant motion or numbing behaviors. Dr. King shares her experience of suppressing sensations and anxiety in her youth, realizing later in life that feeling is a form of communication from the body. Recognizing and navigating the sensory landscape involves a practice known as “pattern interrupt,” breaking the habit of assigning meaning to every sensation and relearning how to engage with basic bodily experiences. What story are you telling yourself?

Getting to the bottom of this, being aware of your nervous system state, connecting the mind and body – these are all tactics for reducing stress which in turn, will reduce Hashimoto’s flare-ups and support thyroid health in general. 

What Role Somatics Can Play in Stress & Thyroid Management

Throughout our conversation, Dr. King mentioned somatics as a tool for managing the nervous system. She shared more about the transformative potential of somatics in managing stress and supporting thyroid health. Somatics incorporates practices that bring attention to bodily sensations so that individuals can tune into their nervous system states and foster self-regulation. Somatic work proves particularly beneficial for those navigating the demands of a busy life, providing practical techniques to navigate stress responses. This approach aligns seamlessly with the broader goal of incorporating nervous system support into overall health strategies, offering a nuanced and embodied way to enhance well-being and address thyroid concerns.

How Trauma Affects the Thyroid and Hashimoto’s

We’ve talked about the role trauma can play in our thyroid health – see episodes 143 and 62. In this episode, we also touch on the profound interplay between trauma, the nervous system, and thyroid health. Contrary to the common perception of trauma as exclusively linked to catastrophic events, Dr. King broadens the definition to include both significant, ‘big T’ traumas and seemingly minor, ‘little T’ experiences. These moments, which overwhelm an individual’s ability to process emotions at the time, create a lasting impact on the nervous system and, consequently, the thyroid.

Trauma, in Dr. King’s view, is not merely about the events themselves but about how an individual reacts to those events. When the brain cannot fully handle the emotional intensity of an experience, it becomes lodged in memory structures, shaping responses to future stressors. Dr. King’s approach to trauma healing involves holding space for these overwhelming emotions and fostering a broader perspective so the patient can find the resolution they’re looking for. This transformative process doesn’t necessarily mandate revisiting specific traumatic events but unfolds organically through present-moment triggers that activate old emotional networks. By addressing these triggers and skillfully navigating the associated emotions, individuals can embark on a profound journey towards releasing the grip of trauma on their nervous system, offering a holistic and empowering avenue for managing thyroid health and Hashimoto’s.

Mystery Solved: Unlocking the Nervous System Connection

Everything that Dr. King shared started with her struggle to find answers for her own health and how her healing required digging deeper for the solutions. I can relate! 

I knew that looking at the whole picture – especially the central nervous system was going to be the key to solving Terri Ann’s health mystery. The first step was to get Terri Ann access to Dr. King’s Primal Trust Academy. This foundational step allows the body to embrace protocols more effectively, laying the groundwork for addressing thyroid concerns and autoimmune triggers.

Next Steps: Thyroid Insights and Trigger Identification

As Terri Ann embarks on the Primal Trust program, we conduct thyroid labs, uncovering a pattern indicating a low T3 type. Next, we start to identify her Hashi triggers – what is stimulating the immune system to turn against itself? In a comprehensive approach, I consider Terri Ann’s supplement sensitivity, revealing mold and underlying viruses as triggers. Recognizing the significance of the nervous system, I adjusted the protocol, focusing on supporting the vagus nerve and introducing specific supplements targeting cortisol, PS 150, and Magnesium.

Happy Ending: The Transformation Unfolds

Within a month of aligning with the Primal Trust program and refining the protocol, Terri Ann is experiencing improved sleep which leads to enhanced energy levels and reduced anxiety. I encourage Terri Ann to connect with her body and get to know its signals. We also introduced some gentle cleansing support, coupled with newfound self-awareness which also made a big difference. The synergy between nervous system support and tailored protocols has Terri feeling a lot better and finally feeling a rejuvenated sense of well-being.

Eliminating Health Mysteries

For Terri Ann, we were able to find that missing piece of the health puzzle and help her regain her health. Could this be the missing clue for you or someone in your life? 


Resources mentioned

Thanks to my guest Dr. Cathleen King. I highly recommend you download her free book: How Healing Happens: Find Freedom from Chronic Illness and Trauma

If you’re interested in getting results like Terri Ann from the Primal Trust Program, click here to access the monthly membership

Otherwise, you can connect with Dr. King on her social channels: Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, or follow her on TikTok: @primaltrust_official

Suggested Products

Primal Trust Academy PS 150 Magnesium


Related Podcast Episodes:

143 Your Family History Goes Beyond Genetics: A Novel Way to Look at Hashimoto’s 62 An Underlying Cause of Autoimmunity and Inflammation w/ Dr. Don Wood 137 Are You Ignoring an Important Connection Between Gluten, Your Gut, and Hashimoto’s? 157 Why Medication and Diet Changes May Not Be Enough to Stop Hashimoto’s Symptoms


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