Dr Sharon Walt PhD CIHC helps women suffering from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and other autoimmune conditions find the pathway back to optimum health.
“There’s a big difference between optimum health and not feeling sick”
The incidence of chronic illness and autoimmune disease is skyrocketing, and while our health system helps with medications which just might allay some of the symptoms for a while they don’t get to the root of the problem.
The Doctor Is In
Enter Dr Sharon. She’s not a GP – she gained her doctorate from studies in science and biophysics – in fact, she’s speaking at the Women’s Economic Forum in India in April. Sharon’s taught hundreds of university students, conducted research and published papers on health and movement and has now taken those research and teaching skills, made a career pivot and emerged as a Certified International Functional Medicine Health Coach.
It was a personal health crisis that brought on the change of direction for the Canadian-turned-Kiwi. “I found myself stressed out, putting on weight, tired all the time, and losing my hair,” she says. “I figured out that stress affects the thyroid which led to the other issues and when I discovered there weren’t many ways of dealing with it outside of medication, I began seeking other solutions.”
Science vs Lifestyle
“That’s when I stumbled upon health coaching, which takes the focus from addressing only the symptoms to finding the causative factors and healing through lifestyle and behaviour changes,” she says. “We absolutely can live better through science but it needs to be appropriate. There’s been so much research on the importance of our gut microbiome, especially in the last 10 years, that shows that many medications we take can have unintended effects on our health.”
While researching her own needs Sharon developed an interest in helping those with autoimmune disease. “I kept running into women with Hashimoto’s who fall through the health system cracks,” she says. “They’re often misdiagnosed with anxiety and/or depression and given prescription medications which might improve their symptoms a bit but doesn’t get to the cause.
“Ten percent of women have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and if you run the numbers that’s 270,000 in New Zealand alone.
The sad thing for many women is that by the time they see me their disorder may have progressed. It’s not the GP’s fault, traditional medicine works incredibly well for infectious diseases and trauma, but with chronic illness a 15-minute appointment and medication isn’t going to do it.”
Sharon explains that Hashimoto’s and other autoimmune disorders develop when three conditions are met: you have a genetic predisposition, leaky gut, and some external trigger that can set off your immune system. This can be toxins, stress, food sensitivities, yeast or bacterial overgrowth, parasites, and more. It’s easy to see that the root causes for each person can be different so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. And no magic pill!
Sharon’s procedure is to address the leaky gut and identify and address the external triggers.Sometimes this is made easier by using functional testing such as:
comprehensive stool analysis
full thyroid panel
organic acids tests
Sharon can refer you for these tests.
Eating for Energy
She also offers a short online course called Eating for Energy. “There’s no magic, it’s about getting back to basics,” she says. “It’s not me that will make you well it’s you. I don’t ‘treat’, I give you the confidence and tools to heal.”
You Can Beat This
Having an autoimmune disorder can be frustrating. “You just keep on going even though you feel like you’re being hit over the head with a stick and you can’t remember when you last felt vibrant and alive,” says Sharon. “But you can overcome it.”
Knowledge Is Power
“There’s so much informational crap out there. ‘There’s nothing you can do, just keeping taking your meds and live with it’, is an example of some exasperating internet advice I saw the other day,” she says. “It’s not true! My background as a scientist means I have an understanding of the literature and research available and it’s my goal is to interpret it and bring clarity for people.”
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
lack of focus
tight or scratchy throat
loss of the outer third of the eyebrow
Contact Sharon at healthylivingwithdrsharon.co.nz. She’s offering a 90-minute history and habits consultation and review of blood tests for $180 (usually $250)