If you have hypothyroid (low thyroid) chances are you have Hashimoto Thyroiditis also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis. Specifically, this type of hypothyroid is an autoimmune disease resulting from the body producing antibodies that attack the healthy thyroid tissue of the body.
As a result there is decreased thyroid hormone output and function. In this article we will discuss Hashimoto Thyroiditis natural treatment options with a focus on the underlying autoimmune component.
What is Hashimoto Thyroiditis?
Hashimoto is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. In developed countries like US, over 70 percent of the cases of hypothyroidism are due to hashimoto’s disease. To understand this disease we need to look more specifically at what hypothyroidism is and then we will look at Hashimoto's specifically.
The main hormone produced by the thyroid gland is T4 and a small amount of T3 (most of the T3 comes from peripheral conversion of T4 to T3). The thyroid gland receives the stimulation to make thyroid hormone from the pituitary gland in the brain (via TSH).
Through contact with the blood your levels of thyroid hormones are monitored by the pituitary gland. When there is a decline in thyroid hormone, the pituitary gland releases TSH. TSH is thyroid stimulating hormone and it does just this.
In general, hypothyroid occurs from a disruption in the TSH signaling and/or the response of the thyroid gland to the signal. With Hashimoto's thyroiditis there is a disruption in signaling as a result of the autoantibodies. In addition, the tissue destruction by white blood cell attack (that occurs from the immune system attack) leads to a decline in thyroid response to the TSH signal and therefor thyroid hormone output. 
Decreased T4 thyroid hormone output leads to the many sign and symptoms of hashimoto thyroiditis including:
- rough dry skin and hair loss
- depression and fatigue
- weight gain
- digestive tract symptoms like constipation,
- intolerance to cold
- sexual dysfunction
- excessive thirst
- increase in urinary frequency.
In some cases the immune response in hashimoto's is not only affecting the thyroid gland, but also may be occurring in other parts of the body.
For instance, there may be an affect in the pancreas, the joints, the skin, the lungs etc. We call these autoimmune situations by different names like Lupus, Sjogens, type 1 diabetes. However, if we look at the the problem globally we can say that the immune system is overactive or dysfunctional in general.
The tissues where the dysfunction is manifesting may differ but the overall problem with all autoimmune diseases are similar. So to explore Hashimoto thyroiditis natural treatment options is to explore natural treatment options for autoimmune disease in general.
Let's look at some specific and general options for this.
Hashimoto Thyroiditis Natural Treatment
Most Hashimoto thyroiditis natural treatment options can be put into two categories:
- Those that focus on the thyroid function and
- Those that reduce the autoimmune response
These are not mutually exclusive but it is helpful to look at them separately. Here we will focus on ways to reduce autoimmune response ranging from diet and lifestyle modifications to digestive and specific autoimmune focused treatments.
Diet and lifestyle
First you have to think what could be stimulating your immune system to attack parts of the body? Sure some of it is genetics but the environment inside your body allow the genetics to unfold. The first and most obvious thing to look at is food. Food is process through your digestive tract. Because 70% of the bulk of your immune system is wrapped around the intestines it acts like a filter for food particles. Therefor each time you eat there is a consistent interaction of the food particles with the immune system. As such the food you eat can act like a primer for your immune system.
The idea here is to eliminate the food which can cause immune reactions. Here are things to consider regarding food :
1) Get screened for food sensitivities and food allergies.
2). If you cannot do # 1, you should at a minimum eliminate gluten. Gluten is a known trigger for Hashimoto's.
3) Reduce grains and refined sugar in your diet as high amounts can weaken the immune response to infections. When infections linger autoimmune reactions can worsen.
4) Avoid fast food, junk food, and highly processed food, as much of it contains pesticides and insecticides that your body may not be able to process (depending on your genetics). These can trigger your immune system (see chemicals below as well).
Specific Autoimmune Triggers and Treatment
Exposure to high iodine is well documented to cause an increase in the rate of thyroid autoimmunity. In fact, excess iodine intake is twice as likely to trigger thyroid autoimmunity as deficient iodine intake. Now the question is what qualifies as excess iodine intake. This specific study cut it off at 500 mcg. However they did not say how long this amount was consumed to act as a trigger. If you are taking 500mcg or more a simple blood test will confirm if you are consuming too much. 1
Medications and Chemicals
Medications such as interferon can trigger and autoimmune response to the thyroid. Other medications like amiodarone and lithium also pose a threat to the thyroid. Depending on what the purpose of these medications serve for you health you may be able to use alternatives.
In addition, many chemicals used for a variety industrial applications have been linked with increased incidence of thyroid autoantibodies. Specifically polyaromatic hydrocarbons or polyhalogenated biphenyls have been linked in this way for both human and animal models. For instance, significantly higher prevalence of Hashimoto and thyroid antibodies have been found in San Paulo residents living in a petrochemical area compared to control area residents. 1
You many not be aware if you are being exposed to these but you can get a better idea by looking here. Avoiding these chemicals is the first solution but your body may need additional help getting rid of the toxins through enhanced detoxification.
Hepatitis C, Epstein Barr virus (EBV), Human Herpes virus #6, hepes symplex Virus and many other viruses have been suggested and correlated as riggers for Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. An equal trigger are infections stemming from the digestive tract, like bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), candida, and other potentially pathogenic microbes. More research needs to go into viruses and other infections as a cause and trigger. 1
However clinically we do see that viruses and infections in general are associated with higher antibody levels in Hashimoto and autoimmune disease in general.
Therefore many Hashimoto thyroiditis natural treatment options include detecting and treating these infections.
It is now clear that immune-regulatory genes such as HLA, CTLA-4, and PTPN22 play a major role in the cause of Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and several other autoimmune diseases. The only thyroid specific gene currently showing the association with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis is the gene for Thyroglobulin antibody. The location of this gene and specific Snp's that lead to increased susceptibility have been identified but is yet to be confirmed. 1
Natural treatment for Hashimoto thyroiditis should involve a thorough understanding of how all these components are influencing your thyroid function. In some cases the techniques above have been partially or whole responsible for reversing Hashimoto Thyroiditis.
Whatever approach you take, being diligent about monitoring thyroid function tests and symptoms will ensure your natural thyroid treatment is effective. For a customized approach to Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, click on the link below. If you have question about the above content or what to let us know about your experience, leave a comment below.