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Big Energy Influx: LDN's Alleviated Engineer Elsa Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

Elsa Hennings
November 15, 2021

About Hashimoto's Thyroiditis:

Hashimoto’s Disease (also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. This gland produces hormones that coordinate many of the body's activities including metabolism. The inflammation resulting from the attack on the thyroid often leads to an underactive gland (hypothyroidism). Hypothyroidism typically starts subtly with symptoms like fatigue, constipation, dry skin, and weight gain. It often progresses to much more severe symptoms over time. There is no cure for Hashimoto's disease. Current treatment involves attempting to replace thyroid hormones in order to regulate metabolism.

Elsa, what was going on that made you realize you had an issue with your health?

I used to have so much energy. I was an engineer in charge of parachutes for the United States Navy. That’s a big job…we’re trying to save people’s lives. I was also raising 3 wonderful daughters with my husband, and I was school board president for a charter school I helped start. I was on several boards for my church, for our local museum, and for the rotary club. I did so much for so many different organizations. But around 2010, I started feeling “low energy”. At some point, somebody asked me, “What do you do for fun?” I couldn’t think of a thing. I struggled to get through a day just doing the ‘necessaries’: fixing meals, doing the laundry, going to work, helping take care of my oldest daughter who is handicapped. I honestly couldn’t even think of what I would do for enjoyment even if I had the energy. At that point, I realized there was something wrong.

My thyroid antibodies were close to 400 (normal is less than 9), which was a wakeup call
How was it discovered that your energy problem was coming from your thyroid?

Because I worked on a military base and handled explosives, they did physicals every two years, so I have medical records from the past. Looking back at 2015, my thyroid levels were out of range, but it wasn’t until about 2018 that my regular doctor commented that my thyroid was having some issues. I was eventually diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. My thyroid antibodies were close to 400 (normal is less than 9), which was a wakeup call. I was given thyroid medication but didn’t feel any different. Was there anything else that could be done? According to ‘traditional’ medicine and my local doctor, the answer was no…just keep taking thyroid medicine because “that’s all we can do”. That was a scary moment. I retired from the US Navy partially because I realized I didn’t have the energy to continue in a position of responsibility.

How did you first become aware of LDN?

In Dr. Izabella Wentz’s book on treating Hashimoto’s, low dose naltrexone is discussed, so that’s where I first learned about it. But once I learned the same medication is used to treat opioid addicts, taking it for my thyroid seemed like ‘trying to swat a fly with a tank’. So I hesitated. Fortunately, I eventually learned more.

Elsa Hennings Elsa's ride
What ultimately convinced you to try LDN?

I was starting to wise up about different approaches to restoring health, but I found that my regular doctor was not interested in implementing those approaches. Fortunately, I crossed paths with two great functional medicine doctors, both of whom independently recommended I start taking low dose naltrexone: Dr. Megan Stone and Dr. Soheila Torabi.

That said, I was very skeptical. I’m from Missouri and we are the “Show Me” state! However, the bulk of Dr. Torabi’s clients, for instance, are cancer patients who’ve survived long after they were expected to. After talking to them, I realized how important a niche this doctor is filling. She has to go to medical conferences in Europe because a lot of what she does is mainstream in Europe, but it’s not in the U.S. We in the U.S. think we have the best medical system in the world, and we do have a lot of good doctors that could do a lot of good things, but there seem to be some areas in which we really could use some groundbreaking, gutsy people—some Elon Musks of the medical world— that will say, “I don’t care how it’s been done until now. Let’s do it this way because it works.” My doctor seemed like one of those, and her approach seemed to work. So I ultimately decided to give it a try.

I was full of energy. I started doing one thing after another. I never had this kind of energy before
What happened when you started taking LDN?

I started taking 1.5mg a day for a week. From the first day I took LDN, I started looking around our property and thought, “I want to do this task…” “I need to get that done…” The next week I took 3mg a day, and the third week I took 4.5mg. That’s when I noticed a big influx of energy. I was full of energy. I started doing one thing after another. I never had this kind of energy before. It was like a light-switch turning on. From one day to the next, it was 180 degrees different.

Did LDN impact your sleep?

I know that some people report having vivid dreams or insomnia for the first couple of weeks after starting, but not only did that not happen to me, but my sleep actually improved dramatically! That was very helpful because our daughter cannot roll herself over in bed, and needs to be helped 2-4 times a night to get comfortable. That takes a toll on one’s sleep quality, so the better sleep that resulted after LDN made a big difference.

Just in a two month period, it was an amazing change
Did your thyroid laboratory tests change after starting LDN?

At the recommendation of my doctor, I had been keeping careful notes about my health. I had been taking LDN for about two months when I did another test to check my thyroid antibodies, and they had dropped by half! Just in a two month period, it was an amazing change. Even my thyroid levels were looking like those of ‘normal’ people. My TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was way down, lower than it’s ever been before. So my doctor and I started talking about taking me off thyroid medication! That has been my goal all along. It looks like my thyroid is starting to recuperate, thanks to it not being beat up anymore by my own immune system. And just going by how I feel, I feel like a million bucks.

2013 unicycle 2016 jetpack
What would you advise other patients who are contemplating taking LDN?

After you’ve done your research, if you feel LDN could benefit you (even if there’s a small chance), considering there’s virtually no downside to it and a tremendous upside you could benefit from, learn all you can and educate your doctor. If your doctor is unwilling to learn about it, find a different doctor. offers contact information of doctors that do prescribe it. Find one of those. There are people out there willing and able to help you.

You have to push for what you believe you need
What is something you’ve learned from experience with LDN?

The most important thing is to be your own advocate. You have to push for what you believe you need. I think a lot of us won't advocate for ourselves as we would for our child. Any parent would do anything to keep their child safe and healthy. So if you’re struggling with “Should I keep pushing for the LDN?” perhaps think…if I was watching my child deteriorate before my eyes, would I fight for them? You bet! Am I less important than my child? No. As they say on airplanes, put your mask on before you help others. You’ve got to keep yourself healthy so you can keep your family healthy. Keep pushing for what you need.

Why has LDN turned into a passion project for you?

We need to stand up and wave the flag once we realize this inexpensive medicine can help other people, maybe even prevent people from dying unnecessarily. So even though I’m not typically a super “out there” kind of person (I’m an engineer…I’m pretty calm, cool, and collected), I personally saw such a dramatic difference in my own life that I wanted to do whatever I could to help other people get themselves straightened out as well. So I’m trying to educate others as much as I can.

More About Elsa:

I am the wife of a brilliant engineer and mother of 3 wonderful daughters, the oldest of whom is severely handicapped and lives with us. I retired in 2018 from my work as the chief engineer for parachutes for the US Navy, in part due to my Hashimoto's thyroiditis and in part to care full time for our daughter. Before I retired, the brain fog and lethargy brought on by my autoimmune disease concerned me immensely due to the critical nature of my job responsibilities, and I realized I needed to step down. At the same time, our daughter, who also has Hashimoto's, experienced hydrocephalus and 3 brain bleeds which resulted in her becoming non-verbal and confined to a wheelchair. Fortunately I found a knowledgeable doctor early in my Hashimoto's journey who knew about and prescribed LDN so I'm back to my old self, and currently do consulting work for NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for spacecraft parachutes. I've lived in the small town of Ridgecrest, CA for almost 40 years and until I retired about 3 years ago, I volunteered in many organizations including my church, Rotary Club, our local museum, and served as the governing board president of a public charter school that I helped to create. Unfortunately, the onset of my autoimmune illness drained my energy and resulted in my gradually pulling back from all my volunteer work. Now that I've started taking LDN I'm starting to volunteer again, and have been designing and building much-needed projects around our property, including a solar water heater! If you have questions related to my experience, please feel free to email me at

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