An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Up to 60 percent of these people are unaware of their condition. One in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime. So it makes sense to shed some light into the matter and start with the basics.
What Are The Symptoms and Root Causes of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?
It’s possible to have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis for years without experiencing a single symptom. But there are hallmark signs and symptoms and it’s important that you know what they are, because the sooner you recognize the symptoms, the sooner you can receive effective treatment.
Every patient’s experience with the disorder is different. One might have preponderantly skin issues and hair loss, another might experience more fatigue, irritability or depression. Some of the most common symptoms to look for are: fatigue, weakness, weight gain, hair loss, constipation, sensitivity to cold, dry hair and skin, depression, irritability, abnormal menstrual cycles, sensitivity to cold, muscle cramps and aches, memory loss, decreased libido.
Dysfunctional Digestive System
If you have an autoimmune disease you might also suffer from “leaky gut.” This is a condition where the tight junctions that typically hold your gut lining together have become loose. This is allowing undigested food particles, microbes and toxins to escape your gut and enter your bloodstream. These particles are recognized by your body as foreign invaders, sending your immune system into high alert and triggering a huge rise in inflammation. This continual strain on your immune system eventually causes it to go haywire, and it ends up attacking your own tissues by mistake.
Gluten contributes to autoimmune disease by damaging and inflaming the digestive system and stressing out your immune system. It is a major contributor to leaky gut, because gluten triggers the release of zonulin in your intestines, a chemical that tells your gut lining to “open up”. The gluten protein has a similar chemical structure to some of your body’s tissues (specifically your thyroid). This can lead to molecular mimicry, where your body mistakes your tissues for gluten and attacks them.
Hidden and undetected infections with bacteria like E.coli, mycoplasma or Borrelia (causing Lyme), viruses like Epstein Barr, Herpes Simplex 1 and 2, and other toxins can contribute to the development of autoimmunity. The chronic infections cause an imbalance in the immune system called a TH1 to TH2 shift. This results in dysfunctional immune system that is less able to fight invading organisms but is more likely to attack the body. Screening for pathogens is essential in any autoimmune healing protocol.
It is known that stress disrupts immune function and with autoimmunity that is the last thing you want! Chronic stress leads to long-term inflammation that never really shuts off. Once the autoimmune response is present, immediate stress only exacerbates it.
Toxic overload should be carefully considered in any autoimmune disease. Many autoimmune patients are sensitive to mycotoxins – compounds produced by toxic molds that wreak havoc on the immune system. Heavy metal toxicity is also common and should be addressed. Heavy metals can accumulate in vital tissues (brain, bone, liver, etc), disrupt organ function, displace nutritional minerals from sites of biological activity, disrupt enzymatic activity and create biochemical imbalance.
What is The Right Treatment?
Having Hashimoto thyroiditis and taking medication for your thyroid is a classic example of conventional medicine treating the disease of a particular organ by just covering up the symptoms. Additionally, if you suffer from an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto and other multiple autoimmune conditions, you will see an endocrinologist for Hashimoto’s, a dermatologist for psoriasis, a gastroenterologist for ulcerative colitis, celiac or Crohn’s, and so on. You will see several different specialists, each of whom will prescribe a different medication and most likely, none of them will look at how to strengthen and support your immune system, and get to the root cause of your illnesses.
The first thing to understand about autoimmune diseases is that they are a disease of the immune system. If you have an autoimmune disease, it means that your immune system began attacking your own tissues, in this case your thyroid. So in order to treat, prevent, and reverse autoimmune disease you’ll need to get your immune system back under control.
By proactively treating Hashimoto’s disease early in patients who show any level of antibodies, it may be possible to stop the progression of the disease, save the thyroid from further damage, and save the patient from development of hypothyroidism.
Addressing other steroid hormonal imbalances is important to help reverse your autoimmune condition. Scientific studies have also shown that selenium deficiency can play a role in Hashimoto’s disease. Taking Selenium supplements can often reduce antibody levels, though selenium should not be use as a replacement for thyroid medication.
Low Dose Naltrexone has also shown to be very effective for autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s, by lowering the anti-thyroid antibodies.
The immune-modulatory properties of gamma globulin, either given intramuscularly or intravenously, can be very beneficial.
Identifying and treating intestinal inflammation, any chronic viral or bacterial infection that may be the underlying cause of the immune dysfunction can also reverse the disease.
Find a doctor that uses the latest in integrative and prescription therapies to reverse the underlying immune dysfunction that can cause conditions such as Hashimoto’s disease.
For more information on Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, watch this interview with Dr. Holtorf.