Your thyroid is a gland located at the base of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple. It is shaped like a butterfly – each wing, or lobe of your thyroid lies on either side of your windpipe. The purpose of your thyroid gland is to make, store, and release thyroid hormones into your blood. These hormones, affect almost every cell in your body, and help control your body’s functions. If you have too little thyroid hormone in your blood, your body slows down. This condition is called hypothyroidism. If you have too much thyroid hormone in your blood, your body speeds up. This condition is called hyperthyroidism.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition of the thyroid, and is the most common autoimmune condition1. Unfortunately, those suffering often go undiagnosed for a long time, as it’s not commonly tested for. The characteristics of this illness can be similar to hypothyroidism, but the autoimmune component adds a twist. Symptoms people often experience are fatigue, dry skin, pain, hair loss or brittle hair, TSH levels that fluctuate, anxiety, depression, weight gain, paleness or puffiness of the face, joint and muscle pain, constipation, inability to get warm, difficulty getting pregnant, irregular or heavy menstrual periods and slowed heart rate and heart palpitations2. It is common for Hashimoto’s to be triggered after giving birth since Estrogen fluctuations can trigger the gene expression of Hashimoto’s3, but can also happen at others times.
If you have thyroid symptoms that are not responding to treatment, or you are still tired, the first step is to start with getting your TPO-antibodies tested by your doctor. The common treatment for Hashimoto’s in Western Medicine is to provide medication (usually Synthroid or desiccated thyroid) and allow the autoimmune aspect to continue to damage the thyroid. The complications of an autoimmune condition make Hashimoto’s multi-faceted. Diet is an important component, and gluten needs to be approached first4. Gluten is a protein contained in wheat, rye, barley spelt and kamut, so it is breads and pastas and packaged food that has to be removed. Gluten also causes a lot of inflammation and fatigue and contributes to any autoimmune disease. After the diet is assessed, we will then test the patient (usually using BioMeridian testing) to find out what the root cause of the autoimmunity is. Often, the immune system has become over active due to an external pathogen. Heavy metal toxicity is common, as well as a candida infection and/or parasites, viruses and Lyme Disease all need to be assessed and treated. The treatment for this illness is individual according to each patient.
At Ananta Health Hashimoto’s is commonly part of our patient’s disease complex. The majority of our patients are chronically ill, and Hashimoto’s is often a component of Chronic Lyme Disease, heavy metals and Chronic fatigue. We find this disease can fluctuate up and down, especially in the beginning of treatment. As time goes on through treatment, we find that the TPO-antibodies stabilize and the autoimmune component calms down. Our goal is to save the thyroid from further damage, regulate the immune system, and treat whatever underlying cause there is. Our patients do go on to live normal lives, although they will constantly have to monitor their thyroid and stay off gluten to keep the autoimmune disease in check.
(1)Merrill, S.J., Mu, Y. (2015, June 21). Thyroid Autoimmunity as a Window to Autoimmunity: An Explanation for Sex Differences in the Prevalence of Thyroid Autoimmunity. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25576242
(2)DerSarkissian, C. (2016, September 17). Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/women/hashimotos-thyroiditis-symptoms-causes-treatments#2
(3)Kresser, C. (2010, August 30). Basics of Immune Balancing for Hashimoto’s. Retrieved from http://chriskresser.com/basics-of-immune-balancing-for-hashimotos/
(4)Kharrazian, D. (2014, July 7). Gluten and the Connection with Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism. Retrieved from http://thyroidbook.com/podcast-gluten-connection-hashimotos-hypothyroidism/