Hashimoto's thyroiditis is a common cause of hypothyroidism. However, the education and treatment you get from your doctor might not be enough or accurate.
Originally Posted August 2016
Updated September 2019
The reality is that without knowing what’s truly going on in your body and what are the real causes behind your symptoms, you risk undergoing the wrong health approach.
An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Up to 60 percent of these people are unaware of their condition. One in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime. So it makes sense to shed some light into the matter and start with the basics.
What Are The Symptoms Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?
It’s possible to have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis for years without experiencing a single symptom. But there are hallmark signs and symptoms and it’s important that you know what they are, because the sooner you recognize the symptoms, the sooner you can receive effective treatment.
Every patient’s experience with the disorder is different. You might have preponderantly skin issues and hair loss, another might experience more fatigue, irritability or depression. Some of the most common symptoms to look for are: fatigue, weakness, weight gain, hair loss, constipation, sensitivity to cold, dry hair and skin, depression, irritability, abnormal menstrual cycles, sensitivity to cold, muscle cramps and aches, memory loss, decreased libido.
What Causes Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?
There are a number of conditions and factors that can contribute to the development of Hashimoto’s.
Dysfunctional Digestive System
If you have an autoimmune disease you might also suffer from “leaky gut.” This is a condition where the tight junctions that typically hold your gut lining together have become loose. This is allowing undigested food particles, microbes and toxins to escape your gut and enter your bloodstream. These particles are recognized by your body as foreign invaders, sending your immune system into high alert and triggering a rise in inflammation. This continual strain on your immune system eventually causes it to go haywire, and it ends up attacking your own tissues by mistake.
Gluten can also contribute to the development of an autoimmune disease by damaging and inflaming the digestive system and stressing out your immune system. It is a major contributor to leaky gut, because gluten triggers the release of zonulin in your intestines, a chemical that tells your gut lining to “open up”. The gluten protein has a similar chemical structure to some of your body’s tissues (specifically your thyroid). This can lead to molecular mimicry, where your body mistakes your tissues for gluten and attacks them.
Hidden and undetected infections with bacteria like E.coli, mycoplasma or Borrelia (causing Lyme), viruses like Epstein Barr, Herpes Simplex 1 and 2, and other toxins can contribute to the development of autoimmunity. The chronic infections cause an imbalance in the immune system called a TH1 to TH2 shift. This results in dysfunctional immune system that is less able to fight invading organisms but is more likely to attack the body. Screening for pathogens is essential in any autoimmune healing protocol.
It is known that stress disrupts immune function and with autoimmunity that is the last thing you want! Chronic stress leads to long-term inflammation that never really shuts off. Once the autoimmune response is present, immediate stress only exacerbates it.
Toxic overload should be carefully considered in any autoimmune disease. Many autoimmune patients are sensitive to mycotoxins – compounds produced by toxic molds that wreak havoc on the immune system. Heavy metal toxicity is also common and should be considered. Heavy metals can accumulate in vital tissues (brain, bone, liver, etc), disrupt organ function, displace nutritional minerals from sites of biological activity, disrupt enzymatic activity and create biochemical imbalance.
What is The Right Treatment for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?
Having Hashimoto thyroiditis and taking medication for your thyroid is a classic example of conventional medicine treating the disease of a particular organ by just covering up the symptoms. Additionally, if you suffer from an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto and other multiple autoimmune conditions, you will see an endocrinologist for Hashimoto’s, a dermatologist for psoriasis, a gastroenterologist for ulcerative colitis, celiac or Crohn’s, and so on. You will see several different specialists, each of whom will prescribe a different medication and most likely, none of them will look at how to balance and support your immune system, and get to the root cause of your illnesses.
The first thing to understand about autoimmune diseases is that they are a disease of the immune system. If you have an autoimmune disease, it means that your immune system began attacking your own tissues, in the case of Hashimoto’s, it attacks your thyroid. So in order to treat, prevent, and reverse autoimmune disease you’ll need to get your immune system back under control.
By proactively treating Hashimoto’s disease early in patients who show any level of antibodies, it may be possible to stop the progression of the disease, save the thyroid from further damage. The following treatment options should be considered and implemented by a knowledgeable thyroid doctor.
- Scientific studies have shown that selenium deficiency can play a role in Hashimoto’s disease. Taking selenium supplements can often reduce antibody levels, though selenium should not be use as a replacement for thyroid medication
- Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) has also shown to be very effective for autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s, by lowering the anti-thyroid antibodies – learn more about LDN here
- Due to its immune-modulating properties, gamma globulin, either given intramuscularly or intravenously, can be very beneficial
- Identifying and treating intestinal inflammation, any chronic viral or bacterial infection that may be the underlying cause of the immune dysfunction can also reverse the disease.
Learn more about the proper diagnosis and treatment of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in this interview with Dr. Kent Holtorf.
Finding a Knowledgeable Thyroid Doctor
Unfortunately few doctors understand the importance of treating the immune component of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or the importance of addressing the underlying cause.
At Holtorf Medical Group, our physicians are trained to provide you with cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments to properly diagnose and treat Hashimoto’s. If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, but aren’t getting the treatment you need, call us at 877-508-1177 to see how we can help you!
1. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Understanding Local Control of Thyroid Hormones: (Deiodinases Function and Activity).” https://www.nahypothyroidism.org/deiodinases/
2. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Thyroid Hormone Transport.” https://www.nahypothyroidism.org/thyroid-hormone-transport/
3. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Diagnosis of Hypothyroidism: Are we getting what we want from TSH testing?” https://www.nahypothyroidism.org/how-accurate-is-tsh-testing/
4. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Why Doesn’t My Endocrinologist Know All of This?” https://www.nahypothyroidism.org/why-doesnt-my-doctor-know-all-of-this/
6. LDN Trust. “Conditions that are helped by Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN).” https://www.ldnresearchtrust.org/conditions
How HMG Has Helped Others: Patient Testimonial
I’ve been to so many doctors I can’t count them. No one helped. After only 2 visits with Dr. Blakely, based on my lab results, she ordered my new, compounded prescriptions. One is slow release T3. I didn’t even know such a medication existed. The first night I took it I slept much better than I had anytime in the past 4 months. Now after 3 nights I’m beginning to feel I might get my life back. It’s been 35 years of insomnia for me, 35 years of struggling night after night, fighting the lack of energy during the days. I’m so thankful for Holtorf Medical Group and Dr. Blakeley. Not only is my sleep 90% better, she also prescribed compounded hormones. I can feel my libido returning after 2 years of missing in action. This is life changing for me. For the first time in years I feel there’s hope, that my Hashimoto’s won’t rule my life, that I’ll again be able to work out, make plans to attend important family events, and most of all, think about going on overnight outings. It’s a miracle that a simple medication can have such profound effects and that Dr. Blakeley took the time to review my history and symptoms so well she was able to hit the mark spot on. I’m so grateful. – Glenda-Lee H.