Thyroid Conditions (including Hashimoto's)

Does the following story sound familiar?

"I've been hypothyroid for many years. My doctor put me on thyroid hormones (Levothyroxine or Synthroid) and monitors my TSH every year. (S)he says that my thyroid is normal now, but I still have a lot of symptoms and feel like crap. I have constipation, brain fog, low energy, depression, and crappy skin. I don't know why I feel so bad because my thyroid labs are normal."

Unfortunately, this story is very, very common. Here's a few reasons why:

  • Most hypothyroidism is caused by an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto's

    • That means that most hypothyroidism isn't a thyroid problem, but an immune problem

    • In order to fully heal, you need to treat the immune system and inflammation

    • Food sensitivities (including to gluten) are common in Hashimoto's patients

    • Hashimoto's is a lifelong condition- but it can be put in remission and symptoms dramatically improved

  • TSH isn't the only test for the thyroid, so your doctor most likely has an incomplete picture of your thyroid health

    • A complete panel should include:

      • TSH

      • Free T4

      • T4 (Total)

      • Free T3

      • T3 (Total)

      • Reverse T3

      • T3 Uptake

      • Free Thyroxine Index

      • TPO Antibodies

      • Thyroglobulin Antibodies

    • I run the above (a complete thyroid panel) on every patient in my office.

  • Inflammation is common in hypothyroidism.

    • CRP is a test that is run to look for inflammation, but like TSH, it isn't the end-all-be-all test for inflammation. Even if you have normal/low CRP you almost certainly have inflammation if you're hypothyroid!

What are the symptoms of Hypothyroidism?

Common symptoms of Hypothyroidism include:

  • Constipation

  • Fatigue

  • Brain-fog

  • Inability to lose weight

  • Cold hands and feet

  • Slow metabolism

  • Dry skin

  • Hair loss

You may have all of these symptoms or only a few.

What are the causes of Hypothyroidism?

Common causes of hypothyroidism include:

  • Autoimmunity (90% of cases)

    • Things that affect the immune system in a negative way can cause autoimmunity or exacerbate it-

      • Infections (viruses, parasites)

      • Gut dysbiosis (including SIBO and candida)

      • Toxic burden (ex. endocrine disruptors)

      • Tissue damage (from an injury or surgery)

      • Stress

      • Poor sleep

      • Diet

        • ​​​Inflammatory potential of foods​​

        • Nutrient (vitamin, mineral) deficiencies

It is not uncommon to see people with multiple things going on that are contributing to their thyroid problems.

Can a diet control my thyroid condition?

Yes!... Kind of. Diet has a powerful role to play in treating or managing a thyroid, but it is often not enough to treat the big triggers (like infections). That is why I usually recommend a combination of diet, herbs, and vitamins to manage Hashimoto's and hypothyroidism.

Diets that can help thyroid conditions (and that I have worked with) include:

Can Hashimoto's be treated naturally or cured?

Hashimoto's can be put into remission and it's progression can be slowed or stopped. However, If you are on thyroid hormone replacement you will most likely need to stay on that for the rest of your life.

I have seen great changes in my thyroid patients over the years. Hashimoto's in particular responds very well to dietary changes, herbal medicine, supplements, vitamins, and life coaching. I feel very lucky to be able to help people with this condition every day at my office in Chapel Hill.

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