Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

Kristine Burke, MD
November 16, 2017

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

What is it?

Hashimoto's thyroiditis is a diagnosis given when someone's own body is making antibodies that attack their own thyroid gland. This causes improper functioning of the glad which could result in improper production of thyroid hormones, and ultimately destruction of the gland itself.

What are thyroid hormones?

Thyroid hormones are essentially our body's metabolic powerhouse! They drive all metabolic processes in the body.

What are the symptoms of thyroid imbalance?

If your thyroid production is low, you may feel tired, have hair loss, weight gain, cold intolerance, cold hands and feet, low heart rate feel depressed, be forgetful or have "brain fog", irregular periods and infertility, dry skin, constipation, among other symptoms.

If your thyroid production is too high, you might feel anxious, sweaty, have insomnia, weight loss, diarrhea, oily skin, palpitations (irregular heart beat or fast heartbeat), as well as other symptoms.

How did I develop this?

Like all things we treat in functional medicine, there are many root causes for Hashimoto's thyroiditis. The first place we start is in the gut. Most people with Hashi have "leaky gut". Leaky gut can be caused by many things including stress, eating the wrong foods for your body, chronic infections, presence of antibodies against proteins in the lining of the gut, amongst others. Through a process called "molecular mimicry", our body begins to attack our own tissues. When we have leaky gut, particles that should remain in the intestinal tract (like food and toxins) move through the openings in the intestinal lining and make their way into the blood stream. Our body does not recognize these particles, because they are not broken down through the digestive process into small peptides or molecules the body can use. This "foreign invader" is seen as a threat to our body, so our body responds by calling in all the troops! From inflammatory mediators, immune mediators, allergy mediators, our body is ready to defend us from whatever this foreign invader is.

This is a good thing, right? Not exactly. Our immune and inflammatory responses do protect us from harmful substances, but when there is immune activation to specific food particles, and we keep eating those foods, there are always circulating antibodies ready to protect us from this foreign invader. However, sometimes the proteins that we eat are broken down into substances that very much resemble parts of our own anatomy. So sometimes the antibodies don't ONLY attack, for example, a gluten particle or a dairy protein. The antibodies may attack the proteins found in a specific tissue that may resemble those antigens or "foreign invaders", and start attacking our own tissues, as in Hashimoto's thyroiditis. This can also open the door for the development of other autoimmune conditions.
Other contributing factors to developing Hashimoto's thyroiditis are stress, medications, hormone imbalances, nutrient deficiencies, toxin exposures, food allergies and other modifiable lifestyle factors, which we can work on identifying and correcting in order to help restore wellness.

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What can I do about this?

We follow a very specific Functional Medicine approach to treating and reversing Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, that addresses all potential contributors to this autoimmune disease.

Izabella Wentz, PharmD writes a phenomenal book called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause. She also wrote a Hashimoto's Protocol, which is the foundation of our Hashimoto's program. If you have been diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, contact the front desk to have yourself added to the next class to begin your journey back to wellness. If you are not sure of your diagnosis, please contact your healthcare provider for further workup and diagnosis.

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