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The cold-hard truth about symptoms

BY: Andrea Nakayama

DATE: 2014-05-19

I’m just going to come right out and say it: symptoms suck.

Symptoms like waking up tired, feeling run down, struggling with bowel dis-regularity or sudden skin issues can possess you, monopolize your thoughts and behavior and prescribe you to a life that falls outside of your dreams and potential.

Yet symptoms can also be your dependable GPS, the internal system that provides direction and key information in all conditions.

The process of going from the suck to the sympathetic doesn’t happen overnight. It comes first from the fortitude to seek explanation. Why do those symptoms not just persist but dominate, despite your best efforts to do what you know to address them?

Symptoms don’t look alike for everyone with a particular diagnosis. My Hashimoto’s symptoms, for instance, likely look quite different than yours, which look different than my mother’s. Not having all symptoms doesn’t mean your handful are less relevant.

Take a look at the top results from the Hashimoto’s Symptom Checklist I posted last fall on the graph down below. Responses came flowing in with fatigue, difficulty losing weight and poor concentration afflicting more than 75% of the 700+ checklist participants.

These are symptoms that most definitely suck.


It’s my strong opinion that we all owe it to ourselves to seek the support that will help us interpret the meaning or the reason for our symptoms. While this same thinking may not be true of an actual diagnosis ~ we may not benefit from steeping ourselves in the why ~ a symptom always has a root cause.

There’s always a reason why.

The root cause of our symptoms may even provide insight about the diagnosis itself.

Upwards of 95% of hypothyroid cases in the U.S. are actually an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s Thyroidistis that is not being addressed by traditional hypothyroid care. Hashimoto’s can even deceive the practitioner, making it appear that you are not hypothyroid on standard labs even when you have every suspicion that you are.

This leaves too many of us struggling with symptoms like those in the graph below without any explanation or resolution at all. It deludes hope.


If fatigue, resistant weight loss and brain fog are your concerns, coffee, calorie restriction, excessive workouts and Suduko may not provide lasting resolution, as you’ve likely experienced. I have too! That’s because these seeming solutions are sidestepping the root cause of our symptoms.

Sadly there’s no quick-fix or one right way to treat a diagnosis of any sort.

In fact, recently I read a report on how to address hypothyroidism by consuming a hearty breakfast of eggs, raw milk, coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice. I can tell you that with my unique internal system (ie. my symptoms and sensitivities), that this prescribed morning meal would leave me bathroom bound all day, oscillating between nausea, loose stools and swinging energy levels. And that’s just on day one. I hate to think of what a week of this regime would do to my system!
(Who needs symptoms in response to the supposed resolution? That sounds like the trap of the pharmaceutical industry to me.)

With no one-size-fits-all solution, it takes a deeper understanding of your internal situation, from your symptoms to your story, to navigate the management of any condition, particularly an autoimmune condition. This is a level of detection that you are poised to do better than anyone else on your team, at least with the right guide.


The bottom line is that symptoms suck when they rule your life, when they’ve taken over your everyday and seem to define you and everything you do.

What if the goal were not to be symptom free? What if the goal was to manage and mitigate those symptoms so that you could become symptom sensitive, using your symptoms as the GPS that helps to re-route you, keeping you on the course that allows you to experience the freedom to live your life to its fullest?

Step by step to symptom sensitivity. . .

(Remember, your symptoms are your GPS. Learn to pay heed to the directions!)



P.S. Where do your symptoms fall in relation to these Top Ten Responses to our Symptoms Checklist?

Andrea Nakayama

By: Andrea Nakayama, FxNA Founder & Functional Medicine Nutritionist

Functional Nutrition Alliance provides the comprehensive online Functional Nutrition training in the Science & Art of the Functional Nutrition practice. Learn to address the roots of your clients’ suffering with client education, diet & lifestyle modifications.


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