Have you been struggling with an under-active thyroid for years and not getting any results with your medication?
Have you been told your thyroid blood tests are all normal, but something doesn’t feel right?
What about experienced any of the below?
- Struggling to lose weight?
- Extreme fatigue?
- Aching joints?
- Sluggish digestion?
- Brain fog?
- Dry skin?
- Thinning hair?
- Feeling cold?
These are all symptoms associated with Hashimotos – an autoimmune condition and the most common cause of an under-active thyroid.
The thyroid is a gland that releases hormones that influence cellular activity in order to regulate the speed and temperature of different functions in our body. An under-active thyroid means that the thyroid is producing reduced levels of thyroid hormones and therefore their effect is reduced in the body.
This is experienced as a general slowing down or sluggishness of bodily functions. The body struggles to lose weight, brain function feels like it’s lagging, and fatigue really sets in as the metabolism slows down.
In Hashimotos, the reason why your thyroid has slowed down the production of thyroid hormones is due to the immune system mistaking thyroid tissue for something foreign, resulting in a degree of damage to the thyroid and impairing its function.
Our Newcastle Naturopaths find the most common way of finding out if these symptoms are thyroid related is to have your hormones tested: TSH, T3 and T4.
However, it is also really important to have your thyroid antibodies tested too to find out if you have Hashimotos.
But what if you have done all the testing and you’ve been diagnosed with Hashimotos and your doctor has put you on medication and you STILL have all the symptoms?
This is where Naturopathy can really help. Let’s take a deep dive into other factors which if addressed can help to remove some of those annoying symptoms.
There are a number of reasons or ‘triggers’ for why our body develops Hashimotos:
Exposure to heavy metals:
This is a big one! In today’s modern living environments we are exposed to a number of heavy metals, which have been found to accumulate in the thyroid gland over our lifespan. These toxic substances residing within our cells trigger our immune system to mount an attack, resulting in thyroid tissue being damaged. The main heavy metals which have been associated with Hashimotos are mercury, cadmium, lead and aluminium.
In addition to this, some heavy metals such as mercury compete with the nutrients needed for thyroid hormone production. Having the right nutrients in the body is critical for hormone production. One source of heavy metals is our drinking water, switching to a 10-stage water filtration unit can markedly improve the quality of our water and what we are putting into our body.
Poor gut health:
If there is any damage to the intestinal barrier it can become permeable which means that foreign substances that should be contained within the digestive tract can end up passing more easily into our body and thus activating the immune system.
Dysbiosis of the gut microbiome can also impact the body’s ability to absorb nutrients essential for thyroid and immune health. A little-known fact is that the foetal origin of the thyroid gland is the same as the digestive tract and tongue. Therefore, they have a shared cellular make up, it then makes sense that improving digestive function can result in significant improvement in thyroid symptoms.
If you are someone who experiences multiple gut symptoms it might be worth you having a parasite stool test. Improvements in symptoms and a lowering in antibodies can occur after addressing a gut parasite called Blastocystis hominis. This parasite causes IBS type symptoms such as bloating, wind, constipation and/or diarrhoea.
Other autoimmune conditions:
Many people who struggle with an autoimmune condition will develop a second or third autoimmune condition. Hashimotos is commonly co-found with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Coeliac disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, and Vitiligo. Research has found a common genetic predisposition in coeliac disease and autoimmune thyroid disease which further supports the idea that environmental triggers are the main cause of autoimmunity.
In order for your thyroid gland to have good production it needs to have all the important nutrients that make up the hormone. Various medications, food sensitivities, celiac disease, poor digestion, a leaky gut and an altered gut flora can affect these nutrients. The most important nutrients are: Selenium, Thiamine, Iron, Zinc, Iodine, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12.
Chronic viral infections:
Research suggests that certain viruses can trigger auto-reactive cells in the body which modify the normal immune response, resulting in the immune system mounting an attack on the body’s own tissues. Certain viruses such as Epstein Barre stay in the body for life, which can explain the chronic nature of autoimmune diseases, and the flairs associated long term.
The varying triggers highlight to us the best way to treat Hashimotos is to not only to enhance your thyroid hormone production, but to identify your specific trigger and support your immune system. If your triggers are identified and addressed, a better functioning thyroid can be the result.
The good news is that herbal medicine, diet and some lifestyle adjustments can make a world of difference for your symptoms and the severity of Hashimotos.
If you have been diagnosed and treated for an under-active thyroid for years but still don’t feel right, it might be a good idea to discuss having your antibodies tested too, along with any recommended functional testing.
If you would like some help finding out if you have Hashimotos or already have a diagnosis and want some help managing the condition, then book a FREE health assessment with one of our CK Health Naturopaths below today.