by Dr. Will Cole
In my last article, I talked about six different patterns of hypothyroidism that aren’t detected by standard labs and therefore, aren’t sustainably helped with thyroid hormone replacement medications. Research shows a link between low thyroid symptoms and the autoimmune condition, Hashimoto’s. If you are faced with this condition there are a few underlying factors to consider when looking to treat your symptoms.
Hashimoto’s disease is also considered autoimmune thyroiditis and was the first autoimmune disease to be discovered in 1912. Your immune system works to keep you healthy by fighting off viruses and bacteria that threaten your body. However, autoimmune conditions occur when your immune system mistakes parts of your body as a threat and ends up attacking itself. This is considered an autoimmune response.
To diagnose Hashimoto’s, you’ll run thyroglobulin antibodies (TGB Ab) and thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO Ab) tests. Normally, doctors don’t run these tests because thyroid hormone replacement drugs would be the treatment regardless if you have true primary hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s. Since the autoimmune response has both active and dormant states, it is vital to look at your entire health history in the case of a false negative test.
Out of all the hypothyroid cases in America, 90 percent are autoimmune. In fact, thyroid related autoimmune conditions affect an estimated 8 percent of the population. In conventional medicine it doesn’t matter if you have a dysfunction with thyroid hormone conversion, primary hypothyroidism, or an autoimmune disease, they will look at treatment the same. However, when it comes to Hashimoto’s the thyroid isn’t actually the problem, making thyroid hormone replacement medication unhelpful. The thyroid is merely the victim of the immune system’s attacks.
In order to successfully treat hypothyroidism, we need to understand what triggers the immune system to attack the thyroid in the first place. Only then can we begin to mitigate these triggers to start a path to true healing.
Ongoing physical and emotional stress can trigger an autoimmune response. Chronic stress plays a role in elevating cortisol levels which can weaken the immune system.
2. Food intolerances
If you are predisposed to an autoimmune condition, certain foods can cause your immune system to overreact. Specific foods such as grains, gluten, soy, and dairy can contribute to inflammation which can further perpetuate symptoms and autoimmune flare-ups. In fact, eating gluten just one time can cause an immune response that can last up to 6 months in your body. I run a full food intolerance panel to help you determine which foods are an issue for you.
3. Nutrient deficiencies
Your body relies on a certain amount of specific nutrients for your immune system to function optimally. Deficiencies in selenium and vitamin D have been linked to poor immune function in people with autoimmune thyroid conditions.
4. Gut problems
Close to 80 percent of your immune system is found in your microbiome. A compromised gut like in leaky gut syndrome or bacterial imbalances will contribute to poor immune health. Gut labs can determine your level of gut dysfunction to see if this is a factor in your health case.
5. Toxin exposure
Our world has become increasingly toxic. Studies have shown that chemicals and heavy metals can cause an autoimmune response against the thyroid. You can measure your toxicity levels through labs such as a urine heavy metal panel.
6. Estrogen imbalances
Proper levels of hormones are important for optimal health. An imbalance of estrogen in women has been shown to trigger autoimmune thyroid problems.
7. Blood sugar dysregulation
PCOS, insulin resistance, or other blood sugar problems can contribute and perpetuate Hashimoto’s.
8. Iodine levels
While iodine is necessary to make thyroid hormones, excess amounts can actually exacerbate Hashimoto’s symptoms. Since iodine is an active ingredient an many thyroid supplements, it just goes to show that what works for one person, doesn’t always work for the next.
If you want to learn more about your own health case please check out our free health evaluation. We offer in person as well as phone and webcam consultations for people across the country and around the world.
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