Thyroid disease can be incredibly confusing and frustrating, especially when you’re trying to figure out the best step-by-step action plan that will work best for you.
-Should you eat Paleo, Keto, or AIP?
-Is intermittent fasting a good idea?
-Where do I start?
-How do I know what’s best for my body and will get me the results I’m looking for?
And no matter how much research you do, there’s so much conflicting advice that it all gets really confusing.
This why I want to shed light on the common mistakes you might be making, so you can finally focus your time and energy only on what will help reduce your symptoms and help you get your life back.
Are you wondering about how to treat or manage this condition?
If so then you need to understand the main difference between the standard approach and the integrative approach to treating this disease.
So what is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, explained in plain English is an autoimmune disease of the thyroid. An autoimmune disease is characterised by a dysfunction in your immune system in which it accidentally targets, attacks & destroys your own body tissues. In the case of Hashimoto’s this autoimmune target is directed right at the thyroid gland to destroy it. The disease state is characterised by the production of very specific antibodies that float around in your own blood & latch on to certain parts of your thyroid. Your immune system then attacks those targets and slowly destroys your thyroid gland over time.
So here’s the problem with the standard approach most GP’s will take. Many conventional physicians check only for serum thyroid status and often fail to check for serum thyroid antibodies.
This then leads to confusion on the part of the patient as you are often told your thyroid looks normal but you are left with symptoms such as fatigue, depression and weight gain.
There are two main groups of thought when it comes to treating Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
These two groups include:
- The conventional approach (most often used by Endocrinologists and Family practice physicians)
- The functional approach (used by myself, integrative, functional and holistic physicians)
You’ll find that the approach to treatment and management of Hashimoto’s differs dramatically between both groups.
Understanding both of these approaches will help you determine how you want to approach treatment in your individual case.
Let’s talk about the conventional approach first:
The “wait & see approach”. Here your Doctor may identify the presence of thyroid antibodies in your serum and give you the diagnosis of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis but that’s about it.
From here on out your Doctor will likely recheck your TSH and free T4 levels until eventually, they become abnormal.
At that point, your Doctor will place you on thyroid medication and you will be on this medication indefinitely.
The idea is that over time, eventually, the thyroid antibodies will destroy part or all of your thyroid gland, which will render your body reliant upon outside medication as a substitute. As it’s easier to treat hypothyroidisim than it is an autoimmune disease, this is why it’s often the preferred approach for most GP’s.
The second approach, which is my approach, integrates education, dietary guidance, and lifestyle changes of coarse Acupuncture, Chinese herbs & supplementation.
Here’s a small insight into what this includes:
Diet is perhaps one of the most effective ways to address immune function
and treat Hashimoto’s.
Because of the link between gluten sensitivity & autoimmune disease my first recommendation to go Gluten Free
This is often accompanied by going dairy free, as well which will further help to treat intestinal issues.
Basically, any diet that removes highly processed foods, gluten, sugar, and potential inflammatory fats will reduce your symptoms and help drop your antibodies.
Certain supplements can also be used to potentially improve thyroid disease and bolster the immune system.
One such example is the use of Vitamin D in patients with autoimmunity.
It is well known that people with low Vitamin D levels have an increased risk of developing autoimmune diseases, including Hashimotos’
Other nutrients such as Zinc, Selenium & Iodine will also be promoting thyroid production & peripheral thyroid conversion.
Like your diet, your supplement regimen should be individualized to your body and your needs. Taking too many supplements or taking the wrong type of supplements may actually be counterproductive.
One such example is the use of iodine in patients with Hashimoto’s.
Some cases of Hashimoto’s may actually be triggered by excessive iodine intake, so supplementing with Iodine may make your condition worse.
Because of this, it’s best to only supplement if you have a documented deficiency in a certain nutrient!
3. Stress Reduction
Eliminating stress is not always possible but adopting certain techniques may help improve your overall quality of life. If you can reduce the impact of stress on your body then you may be able to improve immune function through this way.
4. Evaluation of Gut function
Treating gut issues is another way to improve immune function. The gut plays a central role in immunity and because dysfunction of the GI tract may result in increased intestinal permeability.
Addressing issues such as IBS, IBD, intestinal permeability, SIBO, acid reflux, and intestinal dysbiosis are extremely important to long term thyroid function & overall health.
I’d like to close with an important list of blood tests you should be aware of & also know to request for when you have any queries about your thyroid health. These are as follows:
- Serum Thyroid Blood Panel: TSH, free t3, free t4, reverse T3
- Serum Thyroid Antibody Panel: Thyroid globulin antibody + Thyroid Peroxides antibodies