Natural Remedies for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
March 25, 2018
Original article and page source found here.
Is Hashimoto a serious disease? Yes, it is quite serious because when left unaddressed, Hashimoto’s disease typically continues to progress and can cause chronic thyroid damage. This results in a decrease in crucial thyroid hormones, which can set off a cascade of other major issues including mental health and heart problems. (1)
Can Hashimoto’s disease go away? Yes, with the right treatment it is possible to return to normal thyroid function. In this article I’m going to share with you the most important steps you need to follow in order to overcome Hashimoto’s disease. I’ll go through the root causes of Hashimoto’s, common signs and symptoms, how to follow a healing Hashimoto’s/hypothyroidism diet, beneficial supplements, as well as other natural treatments to help treat symptoms.
What Is Hashimoto’s Disease?
Hashimoto’s disease, also called chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis or simply Hashimoto’s, is an autoimmune disorder, which means the immune system is producing antibodies that are attacking the body’s own healthy tissue, and in the process negatively impacting functions of the thyroid gland.
In developed countries Hashimoto’s is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. (2) An alarming fact: In developed countries like the United States, it’s estimated that 90 percent to 95 percent of cases of hypothyroidism are due to Hashimoto’s disease! (3) In the vast majority of cases hypothyroidism is not actually a problem of just the thyroid gland itself, but rather it’s a condition stemming from overreaction of the entire immune system.
The primary hormones that are produced by the thyroid are called T4 and T3. Their production depends on the brains “control center,” the hypothalamus, accurately sensing the need for more thyroid hormone in the bloodstream and signaling the pituitary gland to then release more.
Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is normally released by the pituitary gland in response to changing levels of thyroid hormones in the bloodstream, but with Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism this system fails. There is either too little T4 being converted to T3; the hypothalamus is not signaling to the pituitary gland properly; or the pituitary gland is not releasing enough thyroid stimulating hormone after it is signaled to do so.
You may still be wondering, what is the difference between Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism? These two labels are not interchangeable even though both involve the thyroid becoming undertactive. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease in which antibodies react against thyroid gland proteins causing gradual destruction of the thyroid gland itself, resulting in reduced production of thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism is considered a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism.
Signs and Symptoms
Some of the most common warning signs and symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease include: (4)
Depression and anxiety
Feeling cold easily, including when others do not
Digestive issues like constipation and bloating
Muscle aches and tenderness
A swollen face, eyes and belly
Stiffness and swelling in the joints
Hair loss, changes in hair’s texture or hair thinning
Rough, cracked skin
Frequent urination and excessive thirst
Low sex drive or sexual dysfunction
Changes in the menstrual cycle, including absent or irregular periods and problems with infertility
More frequent colds, infections or illnesses due to low immune function
Aside from the noticeable symptoms of Hashimoto’s or hypothyroidism you might experience, these disorders also raise the risk for long-term health complications. Studies show that people who have thyroid and autoimmune disorders that are left untreated can go on to develop health problems including: (5)
Infertility, ovarian failure, pregnancy/birth complications and birth defects
Thyroid goiter, caused by the thyroid gland becoming enlarged, which can then interfere with normal breathing and swallowing
Addison’s disease or Graves’ disease (other thyroid disorders)
Type 2 diabetes
High cholesterol levels and increased heart disease risk
Mental disorders including depression
Brain and kidney problems
Causes and Risk Factors
What is the cause of Hashimoto’s disease? Research shows that the development of autoimmune disorders is multifactorial. Genetics, your diet, environmental influences, stress, your hormone levels and immunological factors are all parts of the puzzle. (6)
What most doctors might not tell you is that the root causes of Hashimoto’s disease (and therefore hypothyroidism) include:
Autoimmune disease reactions that can attack tissue throughout the entire body, including the thyroid gland
Leaky gut syndrome and problems with normal digestive functions
Common allergens, such as inflammatory foods like gluten and dairy
Other widely-consumed foods that cause sensitivities and intolerances including grains and many food additives
Several risk factors make it more likely you’ll develop Hashimoto’s disease at some point in your lifetime. These include: (7)
Being a woman: Many more women than men get Hashimoto’s disease, for reasons we aren’t exactly sure of. One reason women might be more susceptible is because they are more impacted by stress/anxiety, which can take a serious toll of women’s hormones.
Middle-age: The majority of people with Hashimoto’s disease are middle-aged between 20 and 60 years of age. The greatest risk is in people over the age of 50, and researchers believe risk only increases with age. Many women over the age of 60 suffer from hypothyroidism to some degree (estimates show around 20 percent or more), but thyroid disorders might go undiagnosed in older women because they closely mimic menopause symptoms.
A history of autoimmune disorders: If a family member has had Hashimoto’s or a thyroid disorder, or you’ve dealt with other autoimmune disorders in the past, you’re more likely to develop the disorder yourself.
Having experienced recent trauma or a very high amount of stress: Stress contributes to hormone imbalances such as adrenal insufficiency, causes changes in the conversion of T4 thyroid hormones to T3, and weakens the body’s immune defenses.
Pregnancy and being postpartum: Pregnancy impacts thyroid hormones in a number of ways, and it’s possible that some women will develop antibodies to their own thyroid during or after pregnancy. This is called postpartum autoimmune thyroid syndrome or postpartum thyroiditis and it’s said to be the most common thyroid disease in the postpartum period with incidence between five to nine percent.
Having a history of an eating disorder or exercise addiction: Both undereating (malnourishment) and overtraining reduce thyroid function and contribute to hormonal imbalance.
Leaky Gut Syndrome and Autoimmune Disorders:
If you have a thyroid problem, a big part of its development was likely related to your gut. Autoimmune disorders commonly stem back to a condition called leaky gut syndrome. Hippocrates is famous for saying, “All disease begins in the gut”— and today many scientific studies are telling us he was right. If you’re going to fix your thyroid, you’ve first got to fix and heal leaky gut syndrome! As you’ll learn more about below, you can do this by adjusting your diet, using certain supplements, reducing stress and removing toxins from your body.
When you have leaky gut, holes in the lining of your intestines become larger, and particles like gluten can get through tiny openings where they enter the blood stream. This is why a lot of people with thyroid issues, if they go on an anti-inflammatory and gluten-free diet, will notice almost immediate results in terms of better thyroid functioning and reduced symptoms. We will go over treatments in more detail in the following sections. For now just keep this in mind: Diet-wise, the first thing you’ve got to do is remove the things that cause inflammation within your gut and autoimmune responses within your body.
Diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease is based on any signs and symptoms you’re showing, plus results from blood testing. A thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) blood test is is typically used to identify Hashimoto’s or hypothyroidism because it measures levels of thyroid hormone and TSH.
A doctor is also likely to order an antibody test to see if you test positive for thyroid antibodies that are typically present with Hashimoto’s. Some evidence of Hashimoto’s can also be detected during an ultrasound.
There’s some ongoing controversy about what levels are considered normal and abnormal, plus during the early stage of thyroid disorders blood tests might not reveal that anything is wrong because levels of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) might appear normal. This is when it can be very helpful to get more than one expert opinion.
Is there a cure for Hashimoto’s disease? Hashimoto’s is definitely treatable. What is the best treatment for Hashimoto disease? That depends on who you ask.
Conventional approaches to treating autoimmune disorders including Hashimoto’s disease usually involve “watching and waiting” and taking medications, such as the synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine (brand names Levoxyl, Synthroid, etc.). Sometimes surgery is even needed if the disease progresses enough.
Unfortunately, these treatments don’t solve the underlying problems that are causing autoimmune reactions to happen in the first place. Medications are often not a cure-all and if you do decide to use thyroid medications such as synthetic hormones or steroids, chances are you’ll need them for the rest of your life. (8)
Some patients can improve significantly when taking thyroid medications because the synthetic hormones duplicate those made naturally by the thyroid gland and have similar effects, but this still won’t resolve the issue of the immune system attacking itself.
Effectively treating Hashimoto’s disease includes making the following changes to your diet and lifestyle:
1. Remove Immune-Reacting Foods From Your Diet
You must let your system rest and your gut heal if you want to normalize immune system and thyroid gland functions. Here are the most important steps to controlling Hashimoto’s disease using your diet: