Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wisdom Wednesday: Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid. The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, which produces hormones that coordinate many of your body’s activities.

The thyroid is responsible for general metabolism. It facilitates the Krebs’s Citric Acid Cycle to provide energy for every cell in the body. Thyroid hormone is what gets you out of bed in the morning. During the day, various stressors stimulate the adrenals to produce additional hormones to further facilitate general metabolism.

The inflammation from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis often leads to an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).

Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. It primarily affects middle-aged women but also can occur in men and women of any age and in children. It is estimated that one in three cases of hypothyroidism is caused by Hashimoto’s disease, but I feel that statistic is low and it’s much closer to 50% of cases clinically in my office.

The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, pale, dry skin, puffy face, hoarse voice, unexplained weight gain, hair loss (especially the lateral third of the eyebrows) and depression. The two male patients currently in my practice with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are both underweight. One has none of the common symptoms but does suffer from seizures and apnea, both associated with this disease. The other exhibits constipation as the only common symptom.

The low diagnostic rate is due to a lack of testing. The TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is the “gold standard” for diagnosing a thyroid problem. However, the TSH is a pituitary hormone that stimulates the thyroid and not really a thyroid hormone. It works through negative feedback. The hypothalamus monitors T3 and T4 production (the real thyroid hormones). When the level of T3 or T4 drops, the hypothalamus tells the pituitary gland to release more TSH, this stimulates the thyroid to make more hormone. As the thyroid hormone levels rise, the hypothalamus tells the pituitary to make less TSH. So TSH regulates thyroid hormone production and is a useful tool in looking for thyroid problems.

However, often the TSH is well within medical norms and a significant thyroid issue exists. In part this is due to the wide range of normal set by the laboratory industry. The norm is 0.4 to 4.5 uIU/mL. The American College of Endocrinology established a normal range of 1.0 to 2.0 uIU/mL in 2002 that has been largely ignored.

To properly test the thyroid a T3, T4, TSH, reverse T3, TPO (thyroid peroxidase) and thyroid auto-antibodies should be run. The last two, the TPO and thyroid auto-antibodies are needed to identify Hashimoto’s disease.

Medically, these tests are rarely run because there is no conventional treatment for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Medical treatment is limited to regulating the TSH with synthetic thyroid hormone (levothyroxine) or Armor thyroid.

Alternative treatment of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is based on first resolving the autoimmune stimulation. Typically, this is coming from the GALT (gut associated lymphatic tissue) of the digestive tract.

The second step is reducing or eliminating the antibodies through natural support of the thyroid gland with various vitamins, minerals, and herbs. Clinically, I have found the herbs Rehmannia, Ashwaganda, Bladderwrack and Bacopa to be extremely effective in reversing Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The protomorphogin Thyrotrophin PMG from Standard Process is also quite helpful.

The Bottom Line:
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is best treated by alternative methods as no other methods truly exist. However, first the disease must be discovered. If you think you have a thyroid problem and especially if your “thyroid test” came back as “normal” ask for complete thyroid evaluation.

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