What is Hashimoto’s Disease?
Hashimoto’s Disease is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland usually resulting in long-term hypothyroidism. It is the leading cause of hypothyroidism.
This damage eventually leads to swelling of the thyroid gland, inadequate thyroid hormone production, or hypothyroidism.
The thyroid hormones ‘talk’ to all the other hormones, and activate energy inside every cell. When these hormones are too high or too low, it causes immediate symptoms.
Over time, these symptoms build up to a pre-disease picture, and eventually if not treated, can turn into more serious medical diagnoses that require medication or surgical intervention.
*Information supplied is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose or treat a condition. Refer to your medical professional.
Dr. Hashimoto discovered the antibody that can attack Thyroid peroxidase (TPOab), an enzyme responsible for the synthesis and regulation of thyroid hormones. The disease was named after him.
Antibodies are created by our immune system to attack any foreign substances that are dangerous to the body, such as viruses and bacteria. There may also be a genetic link. When the autoimmune cells get confused and start to attack the body’s own tissues causing damage – this is called an auto-immune response. Sometimes this can be transient, as in the case of an acute viral infection, but most often it continues for life.
Like most autoimmune disease markers, TPOab is produced in response to many things like diet or food intolerance, viruses, nutrition, or other medical conditions. They may occur in multiple medical conditions that have been discovered since the original work by Dr. Hashimoto.
Conventional medical treatment only offers thyroid replacement medication which is reevaluated annually or bi-annually. The dose must be adjusted as the thyroid gland deteriorates with the uncontrolled disease.
Functional Medicine approaches the disease very differently – to find the root cause and stop the progression of the disease, and treat the whole body to come into optimal pathological parameters.
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease
Thyroid hormone affects the function of every cell, and symptoms vary greatly due to many factors such as genetic weaknesses, past injuries, pre-existing conditions, nutritional status, and stress history. Some patients have a short period of HYPERthyroid symptoms, but not always. At the beginning of the disease, the attacking autoimmune response can overstimulate the gland, resulting in excess hormone production. But as mentioned, this is not the rule. Once the gland is inflamed, thyroid function diminishes, resulting in hypothyroid symptoms. This is also termed Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
- Difficulty with Math
- Hoarse or Deeper Voice
- Coarse Hair/Hair Loss/Brittle
- Muscle / Joint Pain
- Low Sex Drive / Impotence
- Puffy Hands and Feet
- Unsteady Gait
- Gain Weight Easy
- Outer Third of Eyebrows sparse hair
- Menses More Irregular
- Heavier Menses
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Tiredness & Sluggishness
- Dryer Hair or Skin
- Sleep More Than Usual
- Weaker Muscles
- Constant Feeling of Cold
- Frequent Muscle Cramps
- Poorer Memory
- More Depressed
- Slower Thinking
- Puffier Eyes
Hashimoto’s Disease is characterised by raised levels of thyroid antibodies in a blood test and symptoms.
Antibodies are created by our immune system to attack any foreign substances that are dangerous to the body, such as viruses and bacteria, or undigested food particles. There may also be a genetic link. When the autoimmune cells get confused and start to attack the body’s own tissues causing damage – this is called an auto-immune response. Sometimes this can be transient as in the case of an acute viral infection, but it can continue for life.
Due to the large amount of inflammation caused by an autoimmune disease, the rest of your hormones will also be affected.
When an autoimmune disease is active, there is always compromise to the gut wall. Both need to be addressed to allow the immune system to normalise again, alongside correct diet, and beneficial herbs and nutrients.
Thyroid and Hashimoto’s Testing
Your doctor will first run a blood test to check TSH – Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. If this falls outside the accepted reference range, then T4 will be tested. If this falls below the accepted reference range, you may be prescribed thyroxine.
Your doctor may also run T3 and thyroid antibodies, but that will depend on your presentation and symptoms. Other tests may include a thyroid ultrasound if the thyroid is enlarged.
Please note, GP’s and endocrinologists are not trained in nutritional or lifestyle medicine, therefore can’t offer the same type of treatment as a naturopath or functional medicine practitioner. If you have been told your labs are ‘normal’ by your GP, yet you have symptoms, that means you need someone who can test for and treat suboptimal imbalances with correctional doses of nutrients.
Alternative Hashimoto’s Treatment Options
Conventional therapy through your GP will save your life if your thyroid condition is severe enough to be diagnosed as a progressed disease altering your physiological function to a point of danger.
However, many people are seeking help before they get to this state, due to the severity of symptoms even when the thyroid is classed as suboptimal.
The good news is that autoimmune thyroid conditions may be classed as curable when detected early.
For people already on medication, better symptom management is possible.
If the thyroid is already in a disease state, remission may be possible with a functional medicine approach, incorporating thorough individual testing and multifactorial treatment strategies will improve your treatment outcomes and quality of life. This has the potential to put the disease into remission and stop further damage to the body. Symptoms subside once the driving factor of the disease is discovered and properly treated. Quality of life returns with normal body function, vitality, and natural positivity for life.
The thyroid must have testing: TSH, fT4, fT3, rT3, Anti-TPO ab., Anti-TG ab., SHBG.
These tests help a functional health practitioner to understand where in the thyroid hormone life-cycle the breakdown is occurring.
Another important factor is that functional health practitioners use different reference ranges to interpret pathology. ‘Optimal Reference Ranges’ are where a person with no thyroid disease progression sits – so these reference ranges are very important to pick up the reversible and early signs of thyroid disease.
This test pictured below shows early stages of Hashimoto’s Disease progression. The patient complained of not being able to lose weight, fatigue, and periods of brain fog. Learn more about our functional thyroid test – Click Here.
The thyroid speaks to all the other hormones, as well as tissues of the body. It is common for thyroid patients to be experiences three or more co-morbid health conditions which all require exploration.
Common co-morbid presentations include – but are not limited to:
- Dyslipidemia (high cholesterol)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Insomnia and sleep apnea
- Obesity and unhealthy weight range
Adrenal health and stress hormones need to be assessed as it plays an influential role in thyroid hormones and immune dysfunction.
What is Holistic Hashimoto’s Disease Treatment?
Regardless if you are on medication or not, or if your thyroid blood test is classed as normal or not, if you have unmanaged symptoms there is something we can do about it.
Nutritional deficiencies and co-morbid antinutrient toxicities will need specialised treatment, using high-grade and dose-specific nutritional supplementation to correct this. Thorough testing to assess the driving factor behind your symptoms is required and treatment will be different for each person based on individual pathology results. Our treatment programs have all this covered with additional support, education, coaching, and community.
Hashimoto’s can be managed and patients do not need to live with life-depleting symptoms.
Book a call with a Lucy Rose consultant and we can discuss how to get you on track to your healthiest possible self!