Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid, causing chronic inflammation of the thyroid and often hypothyroidism. Experts believe that up to 90% of people diagnosed with hypothyroidism actually have Hashimoto’s. Hashimoto’s disease damages the tissue of the thyroid gland, and it can cause a myriad of unpleasant symptoms. Some of the most common include fatigue, weight gain, brain fog and memory problems, hair loss, cold intolerance, and anxiety or irritability. Interestingly, women are eight times more likely to suffer from Hashimoto’s than men.
Getting A Correct Diagnosis
It is common for conventional doctors to only test TSH when they suspect thyroid problems. Unfortunately, just getting the TSH tested during your annual physical often misses the early warning signs of Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism. If you or your doctor suspect thyroid disease, getting a complete thyroid blood panel is vital. The most important markers to have tested are:
- Free T3
- Free T4
- TPO antibodies
- Thyroglobulin antibodies
The presence of antibodies indicates Hashimoto’s. A thyroid ultrasound may also detect damage due to Hashimoto’s.
A Functional Approach
Hashimoto’s can wreak havoc on people’s lives and well-being. The good news is that functional medicine offers the possibility of reversing symptoms and stopping the body’s attack on the thyroid. This approach includes:
- Dietary changes
- Repairing leaky gut
- Replacing specific nutrients
- Reducing and managing stress
- Thyroid medication when appropriate
Let’s take a closer look at each of these components.
It is vital to address food sensitivities when dealing with Hashimoto’s to calm the immune system and allow the gut to repair itself. Some of the most common offenders include:
Try avoiding all commercial baked goods and switching to dairy-free alternatives like flax or coconut milk. An elimination diet or food sensitivity testing can help determine which foods you need to eliminate.
Foods you should include in your diet are:
- Clean, lean protein
- Leafy green vegetables
- Cruciferous veggies and sprouts
- Colorful vegetables
- Low glycemic load fruits like grapefruit, berries, and apples
- Healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil and avocado
Repairing Leaky Gut
A leaky gut is always present with autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s. Leaky gut contributes to inflammation, poor nutrient absorption, and digestive issues like constipation that often go hand in hand with Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism. A functional approach to healing leaky gut includes addressing food sensitivities and repairing the gut lining with supplements like:
- Slippery elm
Individuals with Hashimoto’s are often low on nutrients vital for thyroid health. They frequently benefit from supplementing with thyroid-supporting nutrients such as:
- B vitamins
- Vitamin D
Reducing and Managing Stress
Stress contributes to Hashimoto’s by promoting leaky gut, taxing the liver, causing blood sugar imbalances, and keeping the nervous system in “fight or flight” mode rather than “rest, digest, and repair” mode. It is crucial to relax and support the nervous system by getting adequate sleep and including practices such as:
- Breathing exercises
- Meditation or prayer
- Tai chi or restorative yoga
Thyroid medication is a valuable tool for helping those with hypothyroidism feel better. Many people tolerate and respond well to natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) medication. Functional doctors look at all of their patients’ markers in conjunction with their symptoms to determine which medication will be the best fit.
If you know or suspect that you have Hashimoto’s, consider taking a functional approach. Dr. Sisu can address the root causes of Hashimoto’s and help reverse your symptoms.
We are here to help, so call today to schedule your consultation!