Some diseases have the coolest names. Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis just rolls off your tongue even if your severe fatigue leaves you wanting to blame Dr. Hashimoto for this disease named after him. This malady gets quite a bit of press in the natural world and rightfully so as the high prevalence of this disease in women frustrated with inadequately treated hypothyroid symptoms.
Despite the fancy name, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis simply means that a person’s immune system decided to make antibodies which attack their own thyroid. With this ongoing inflammation and destruction, patients sometimes have a sense of swelling in their thyroid (which is found in the neck). Generally, The majority of sufferers experience no physical sensations until the gland is so damaged that hormone production drops. Then they experience symptoms such as fatigue, depression, constipation, dry skin, hair loss, and weight gain.
The sanity of your immune system turning its guns on your own thyroid gland seem questionable. This does not happen without a combination of genetics and environment- or nature versus nurture, as we know it. In this case the nature of one’s genetics puts them at risk for autoimmune disease. Then some environmental trigger such as a food, a toxin or an infection can push the immune system over the edge. This may happen when leaky gut allows the food antigens or gut bacteria to move out of the protective area into the mucosal area where the immune system gets worked up. Again, the immune system attacks the foreign material and then the antibodies cross react with thyroid gland. The antibodies can attack either TPO (thyroid peroxidase) or TG (thyroglobulin) proteins in the thyroid causing damage.
While conventional medicine just focuses on replacing the decreasing levels of thyroid hormone, functional medicine goes two steps further. First, we search for the environmental triggers so we can help the patient remove them. At times, the antibodies diminish and the damage can stop. If the thyroiditis is caught early, sometimes the thyroid recovers and medications can be avoided. Second, we use both T4 and T3 combinations rather than just T4 pharmaceuticals to treat when needed. More on this will come in future articles.
Functional medicine once again works at helping patients live healthier more abundant lives after conventional medicine gave up on helping with root causes.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.