Category Archives: Hashimoto’s

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: We Can Win This Battle!

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Thyroid disease is an epidemic affecting up to 20 percent of American women. The most common cause of low thyroid today is an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Like all autoimmune disease, the main feature is the production of antibodies that attack the healthy tissue of the body. In this case, thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAb) and or thyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb) are created against the thyroid.

The roller coaster called Hashimoto’s — it’s not a fun ride.

Antibodies wage war against the thyroid, damaging follicles and spilling large amounts of hormone into the bloodstream. Patients experience symptoms of hyperthyroidism or too much thyroid hormone like sudden weight loss, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, high blood pressure and hot flashes. As levels of hormone clear from the blood and drop, patients experience low thyroid symptoms like fatigue, depression, weight gain, constipation and mood swings! This pattern repeats until thyroid hormone becomes depleted. Patients are often diagnosed in a low thyroid state.

How does it develop?

1) It’s in the genes. Certain genes in the body increase the chances of becoming autoimmune.

2) Triggers like poor diet, stress, toxins and illness can create negative changes in the microbiome. Friendly bacteria that normally support health become suppressed while opportunistic and pathogenic bacteria take center stage. This can lead to a whole host of health conditions including autoimmunity.

Chemicals and toxins can bind to body cells triggering the creation of antibodies. The immune system will attack the toxin and the cell it’s attached to.

Mistaken identity — The bacteria Yersinia Enterocolitica has been shown to provoke autoimmune attacks through a case of mistaken identity. This bacterium has surface peptides that look like receptors on the thyroid. They are similar enough that when the immune system goes after the Yersinia, it attacks thyroid tissue as well. (1)

Viruses like HTLV-1, enterovirus, rubella, mumps virus, HSV, EBV and parvovirus are all found to be linked with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. These pathogens promote inflammation, provoke overstimulation of the immune system and may create the same type of molecular mimicry seen with Yersinia. Research is still working on finding the exact mechanisms that trigger the self-immune attack in the presence of these viruses. (2)

Hydrogen peroxide is created in the thyroid to help convert iodine to it’s usable form. This can be inflammatory without adequate selenium levels to protect tissue by neutralizing free radicals. Selenium deficiency will increase cellular damage and set off autoimmunity. This is one of the reasons the thyroid is so susceptible to the development of Hashimoto’s.

Excessive iodine intake can fuel autoimmunity by causing even more hydrogen peroxide to be made. While deficiency can lead to goiter and low thyroid function, too much can make autoimmunity worse.

3) Leaky gut — the last straw! Tight junctions are like gates between intestine cells forming a protective barrier. Vital nutrients pass through while toxins and pathogens are kept out. Zonulin is a regulatory protein that triggers the temporary opening of these “gates” allowing certain molecules to pass. Gluten is a major trigger for Zonulin over-activity. So are conditions like parasites, candida and SIBO. Similarly, infections, toxins, stress and even a lack of vitamin D can all cause these tight junctions to become weakened and break apart. When the gates are left open large food molecules, pathogens and foreign particles pass into the body setting off a full-scale immune attack. Food intolerances are born, allergies, more inflammation and if you are predisposed-autoimmunity can ensue. (3)

Gluten and antibodies.
There is a clear link between gluten consumption and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. According to research, the structure of gliadin, a component of gluten, is very similar to thyroid cells. As leaky gut persists and the immune system tags gluten molecules for destruction, thyroid cells get destroyed too. The more gluten you eat, the more antibodies you will make and the more the thyroid will be attacked!

Patients arriving at my office often fall into one of these categories.
1) The patient has been told they have thyroid antibodies but wasn’t treated. Instead doctors advised to “watch” it allowing antibodies to run rampant.
2) The patient has symptoms suggesting Hashimoto’s but was never tested for antibodies.
3) The patient knows she has Hashimoto’s and was treated with thyroid hormone, but the antibodies and underlying condition was never addressed.

All of these scenarios fail the patient.

Antibodies are a sign of some over-activity or misfiring of the immune system that needs to be quieted. Allowing it to persist will only lead to more autoimmunity and more tissue destruction.

Physicians generally order a very limited thyroid blood panel excluding antibodies-mainly because they believe they are untreatable. This is false-we see them normalize all the time.

The standard of care suggests treating patients with replacement thyroid hormone only if the TSH or T4 level is low. I see patients with antibodies and normal hormone levels respond quite well with some form of thyroid medication. Often there is a reduction of symptoms as systems begin to regulate. This is only part of the equation however. Hashimoto’s is not a thyroid disease. It is an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. This is a very important distinction and one that must be made to fully understand the mechanisms at work and the underlying causes to successfully treat and reverse the condition.

Treatment strategies to tame the autoimmune response.

It’s essential to work with a doctor who understands the underlying causes.
Starting with a comprehensive blood panel is the first key element. Levels of TSH, free T3 and T4, total T3 and T4, RT3 and TPO and Tg antibodies must be measured. I also run a specialized test called the TRH stimulation test which allows me to cast a wider net. Even if the regular thyroid panel comes up normal, the TRH will often pick up on missed cases of hypothyroidism (4).

In treating Hashimoto’s I begin with healing the gut through the 4R approach. First remove anything that is negatively affecting intestinal health like gluten and other inflammatory foods, toxins, medications, infections, parasites, virus and bacterial overgrowth. Next replace hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes to aid digestion. Reinocculating the gut with healthy organisms can help regulate the immune system, and fortify the gut wall. Finally glutamine, DGL, aloe and zinc are key ingredients to repair, heal and energize the cells of the intestine.

Vitamin D is very tied to immunity and has been shown to fortify the intestine wall by strengthening tight junctions (5). Further studies find adequate D levels increase cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide or CAMP which is an antimicrobial and antibiotic we make internally (6)! Currently a blood level between 30-100 is considered to be in a healthy range. I find the higher end of the lab range is needed to support proper health. Many patients with antibodies come in with grossly low levels.

Selenium deficiency often plays a roll in autoimmunity. Supplementing with 200-400mcg per day has been shown to reduce thyroid antibodies.

Glutathione is the major antioxidant in the body and can help to further neutralize inflammation and free radicals.

Specialized treatments like UV blood irradiation can oxygenate blood, reset the immune system and kill off harmful bacteria, fungus and viruses that could have been part of the initial immune reaction. Transfer factors are another way to modulate the immune system by boosting the part that is deficient and quieting the part that may be over stimulated.

Is Hashimoto’s a Surgical Disease? you should know

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I recently learned that Dr. Ivan Guldvog, a surgeon in Norway is conducting a clinical trial on the effect of a total thyroidectomy for people with Hashimoto’s. A total thyroidectomy is a complete surgical removal of the thyroid gland. This procedure has traditionally been performed for people with Graves’ disease, large goiters, and for people with thyroid cancer, and results in a lifelong need for thyroid medications. (1, 2)

The procedure, like any surgical procedure, has many risks including bleeding, infection, a permanent hoarse voice, airway obstruction, and damage to the parathyroid glands, which can lead to hypoparathyroidism, a condition that can result in dangerously low calcium levels (hypocalcemia). A UK physician made headlines in 2015, speaking out about her life-threatening post-surgical experience with hypocalcemia. (2, 3)

Dr. Guldvog has performed 97 total thyroidectomies for patients with Hashimoto’s, and has reported positive results to date, most significantly:

  • The percentage of those reporting severe fatigue was reduced from 84% at baseline to 34% at 18 months.

  • Levels of TPO antibodies (thyroid peroxidase antibodies, the main antibodies found in Hashimoto’s) fell from 2,500 units/L to <500 units/L in the surgery patients versus about 3,200 units/L to 2,500 units/L among the patients treated with medications.

I had mixed feelings about this study, as a part of me was happy to see that Hashimoto’s was getting more attention from conventional medical physicians and that awareness around the struggles of patients with Hashimoto’s was increasing.

Dr. Guldvog has said “The fatigue experienced with Hashimoto’s disease is debilitating. People can’t work. Their quality of life is very poor. Medical treatments fail to relieve all the symptoms, but complete surgical removal of the thyroid appears to be curative in most cases. Hashimoto’s isn’t a disease that you die of, but it can make your existence miserable.”

I was also happy to see that this particular doctor was thinking beyond synthetic thyroid medications and focused on thyroid antibodies, when he stated “Thyroxine does not normalize symptoms or anti-thyroid peroxidase levels” during his presentation at the 2015 International Thyroid Congress.

However, I was also disappointed and concerned that thyroidectomy would become a standard recommendation for Hashimoto’s.

When I was a young pharmacist, I worked on a multidisciplinary team with a wonderful group of healthcare professionals: physicians, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, behaviorists, dental hygienists, occupational therapists and many others. This was before I knew I had Hashimoto’s, and during the time I was suffering with a horrible chronic cough (among many other mysterious symptoms). The cough was painful, uncontrollable, and sometimes resulted in me vomiting.It kept me in a constant state of worry. You see, it would pop up at very inconvenient times: like in the middle of the night when I was sleeping, and I would wake up choking, or in the middle of a presentation or work meeting, and I’d have to run out of the room and vomit into a garbage can… not pretty, I know.

I saw multiple doctors, had a battery of tests and tried every drug that was prescribed to me, from antihistamines to anxiolytics to acid blockers (this was after I had already tried every over-the-counter option). But the cough persisted, and now I had a cough, and medication side effects.

The only thing that seemed to help was taking a narcotic cough suppressant; phenergan with codeine. But I could only take it sometimes – codeine can be habit forming, and as a pharmacist, I knew that very well. And although I had a valid prescription for the cough syrup, I was also concerned that I would test positive at a random drug screen at work. It would be very awkward to explain to my boss and HR why I came up positive for a narcotic!

When I did take the cough syrup, I could only take it at night, because it made me too woozy during the day, and then I always felt hungover in the morning. So I saved it for emergencies.

I was desperate, and would have done anything to get rid of the cough. I once joked with my colleague at work that I was even willing to cut off my head if that would make the cough go away.

I thought that perhaps my tonsils were part of the problem. They always looked swollen and inflamed and I had read about tonsils contributing to a chronic cough. So I consulted with a surgeon to ask if my tonsils could be  a possible cause of my chronic cough. He said it was possible, and offered to take out my tonsils. But then I learned that a few months before I started my job, a social worker who had worked at the very center where I worked had died as a results of a tonsillectomy. She was in her 20’s (like me), and the people that knew her said she was one of the kindest souls they’d ever met. Her tonsillectomy was supposed to be “no big deal”, but she suffered from uncontrolled bleeding and was only found by her family when it was too late.

I was conflicted and didn’t know what to do. I wanted to get rid of the cough and the surgeon seemed trustworthy, but I was scared. I spoke to one of my physician colleagues, and she said something very wise that I will always be grateful for: “If you consult with a surgeon, there’s a good chance that he’ll recommend surgery. When your main tool is a hammer, everything becomes a nail. Don’t be so quick to part with a body part. You have tonsils for a reason”.

 Her advice, and the tragic passing of the young social worker I never got to meet, solidified my decision against getting a tonsillectomy. And guess what? My chronic cough is long gone (almost 5 years), and I still have my tonsils. For me, eliminating dairy and gluten vanquished the cough within three days. I had suffered from it for 3 years, and thought I had tried ‘everything”!

And guess what? The same interventions also reduced my fatigue and thyroid antibodies.

Over the last seven years of researching Hashimoto’s, I’ve identified over 28 unique ways of reducing thyroid antibodies, and over a dozen methods for overcoming thyroid fatigue!

For some people, getting off gluten and dairy will completely reverse Hashimoto’s and its symptoms. For others, more interventions are needed, such as an autoimmune diet, treating infections, supporting the adrenals, healing the gut, addressing nutrient imbalances and getting rid of toxins. There are also supplements and medications that can suppress autoimmune symptoms and thyroid antibodies. My favorite supplements to use for reducing antibodies are Wobenzym or systemic enzymes , and I’ve also seen miraculous results with the use of low-dose naltrexone for autoimmunity.

Sometimes overcoming fatigue is as simple as taking one supplement, in the right dose. I’ve received so many thank-you notes, and random people have even given me hugs at conferences, after reading my article about Thiamine and Thyroid Fatigue.

Hashimoto’s and Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)

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When I was taking my pharmacy licensing exam after graduation, I remember thinking that I could never possibly know more than I did at that time, but I have learned so much more since then- learning is one of my biggest passions- and I’ve found that the more I learn, the more I want to learn. I’m proud to say that I’ve now been a pharmacist for ten years- I graduated from pharmacy school in 2006.  I hope to spend the next ten years learning even more!

I decided to become a pharmacist at age 16, because I was fascinated by science, chemistry and medicine, and because I wanted to help people for a living! I was a very determined and motivated student, but at one point, during my freshman year of my undergraduate studies, I almost gave up on my dream of going to pharmacy school … I didn’t know it at the time, but it was because of Hashimoto’s.

Without going into too much detail, one of the crucial defining moments in my disease development may have started during my undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois. Due to the communal living setting of dormitories (and less than stellar hygiene habits of most college students, myself included!), I had recurrent strep throat infections and even contracted mononucleosis, a viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), which is implicated in triggering many autoimmune conditions.

To add to the “perfect storm”, I received multiple courses of antibiotics, my first flu shot, and started birth control for menstrual cramps. At the time, my diet consisted of Easy Mac, soda, candy, Ramen noodles, carbs and the occasional rum and Coke. It is my belief that this combination had a profound impact on my gut flora, and thus weakened my immune system.

What is the EBV?

Epstein-Barr (EBV) is a virus that causes mononucleosis (also known as “Mono” or “glandular fever in the UK), a debilitating viral infection that is common among college students, and is also known as the “kissing disease”, because individuals are thought to be exposed to the virus through saliva of those who are infected.

While >90% of people worldwide have been exposed to the EBV, interestingly, the timing of infection seems to be very significant. Children in developing countries usually contract the Epstein-Barr Virus when they are under the age of 10, and this usually results in an asymptomatic infection – one that does not cause them symptoms. In contrast, in developed countries, where individuals are not usually exposed to the virus until they are in high school or college, the infection is asymptomatic only 50% of the time.

When the infection is symptomatic, the most common symptoms include fatigue, sore throat and swollen lymph nodes. Weight loss is also common. In some cases, the condition resolves in a few weeks, and the person goes back to normal. In other cases, the fatigue lingers, and the virus may contribute to the development of cancers, chronic fatigue syndrome and multiple autoimmune conditions, including Hashimoto’s.

A 2015 Polish study found the Epstein Barr Virus in the thyroid cells of 80% of people with Hashimoto’s and 62.5% of people with Graves’, while controls did not have EBV present in their thyroid cells. (1)

Specific immune cells known as CD8+ T cells are needed to fight off the Epstein-Barr virus, however, some individuals may have a low baseline level of these types of immune cells. CD8+ T cells decrease with age, are lower in women, and when vitamin D intake is low. (2)

When levels of these fighter cells are insufficient, the Epstein-Barr virus may take up residence in our organs (such as the thyroid) and essentially hijack the organ to help the virus hide and multiply.

Thus, it makes sense that people who are exposed to EBV in college are more likely to have problems – this is because by the time we reach college age, CD8+ T cells, the ones that fight EBV, have declined threefold compared with the number of cells we had in childhood.

Reactivation

The Epstein Barr virus creates a latent infection in the body, where it lies dormant until the right time, when it reactivates and awakens.

The reactivated virus has the potential to induce the production of thyroid antibodies and has been implicated in many debilitating autoimmune symptoms.

Testing for viral reactivation may be done through your doctor.  You need to be sure to ask for the Epstein Barr Virus Early Antigen test, as this is a test that will let us know if the virus is actively replicating.

While eradicating the virus is much more challenging than getting rid of a bacteria or parasite, you can suppress the virus back into a dormant state by supporting your body’s antiviral defenses, or through the use targeted antiviral herbs or medications.

Additionally, animal fat and broths, soups and stews support the body’s ability to suppress the viruses. Monolaurin/lauric acid, one of the components of coconut oil, has been found to be active against the Epstein-Barr virus. Replication of many viruses including Epstein-Barr is inhibited by glycyrrhizic acid, an active component of licorice root. Quercetin and Coenzyme Q10 were also reported to be helpful in chronic fatigue syndrome because of their antiviral properties. (3)

Natural Antiviral Protocols for Epstein Barr may include the use of immune supporting mushrooms, Lomatium, monolaurin and colloidal silver. I recommend working with a natural health-care practitioner for specific dosing protocols.

Antiviral medications: some people with chronic fatigue induced by the Epstein Barr Virus have reported a major improvement in symptoms after taking the antiviral drug Valacyclovir. When taken for at least six years, this medication has also shown the potential of eradicating the virus from our bodies(4). Some individuals with chronic fatigue, which is often thought to be triggered by Epstein Barr and other viruses, have reported remarkable improvement in energy levels on antiviral medications.

Emerging research: Rituximab (brand name Rituxan), is medication used for rheumatoid arthritis and certain cancers.  A few research reports have suggested that this medication may also induce a remission of Hashimoto’s(5), Graves’ disease (including Graves’ associated eye disease) as well as an improvement in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which is often connected to EBV as well. (6, 7)

Perhaps this improvement in Hashimoto’s and CFS is due to the drug’s ability to destroy B cells, a type of immune cell that harbors the latent Epstein Barr Virus. (8)

Please note that Rituximab is associated with very serious side effects that have resulted in death and disability. Some examples include: heart attacks, immune toxicity, as well as reactivations of other viral infections, This medication is a chimeric monoclonal antibody, which means it’s made from crossing mice and human genes, and it destroys B cells, which can be infected with Epstein-Barr Virus . As a pharmacologist, I would not recommend this medication as a first line choice for most people with Hashimoto’s due to the significant associated risks.  There are much safer interventions, like the ones I mentioned above!

Beyond EBV

In reviewing health timelines of numerous people with Hashimoto’s, I’ve found that many of them, like me, will report getting EBV, then irritable bowel syndrome a few years later, followed by a Hashimoto’s diagnosis a few years after that.

I’ve found that many of these people, with a history of EBV in adulthood, also have the gut infection Blastocystis hominis, which has recently been connected to irritable bowel syndrome, hives AND Hashimoto’s. Interestingly, EBV is fueled by the amino acid arginine, while arginine depletion can cause Blastocystis hominis to be more pathogenic. In the last few years, I’ve noticed that getting rid of the Blastocystis hominis infection can help people to get their Hashimoto’s into remission. Read more about it in myBlastocystis article.

It took me a long time to get my health back, and so I hope that this article shortens the learning curve for you. I hope that this article was helpful, and most of all, I hope that you won’t let Hashimoto’s hold you back from your dreams.

Most Common Questions and Myths about Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s

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Like many people, my personal health crisis brought me here today. I was a high-flying advertising executive, had a knack for my trade (strategic planning), worked on Fortune 100 brands, covered the Asian region, lived in 6 different countries and was the go-to-person in the industry. I loved it and was addicted to it. Until a crisis struck.

Intensifying anxiety attacks, forgetting events that happened the day before, severe mood swings and sliding into depression landed me with a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Disease. My TSH, T3, T4 were within range but my TPO antibodies were over 1,000(norm is <30). Based on these, modern medicine only treats TSH, T3 and T4 and has no solution for the high antibodies that were a reflection of the raging inflammation in my body; I was therefore sent home with “we have no cure for you.”

It was the most lonely and helpless time of my life. Looking back at it now, it’s hardly surprising that my immune system is weak; in my tweens I lived through theChernobyl nuclear disaster and ate contaminated food for a week after the explosion. Due to a number of food sensitivities (mom had no idea), I suffered from chronic ear infections and eczema as a child and later severe acne, migraines and hormonal imbalance for early adulthood; all clear signs of chronic inflammation and a suppressed immune system.

As my advertising career took off, I was under chronic stress, worked 10-12-hour weeks and used to joke that “you sleep when you die.” Having lived in polluted Shanghai, China led to the high mercury and lead levels which I also had to battle to combat the recurring chronic case of Candida. Not surprisingly, all this led to an adrenal burnoutthat was only made worse by my intense and competitive athleticism.

In other words, I was an ideal candidate for an autoimmune disease.

Refusing to accept my disease, I went to a nutrition school to become a Certified Nutrition Coach, to really know how food can heal. I also dove into every thyroid book I could buy, sought answers from numerous endocrinologists, alternative healers and naturopaths to filter it all down to what’s critical in managing this complex condition.

Today, I feel better than ever before. Free of all symptoms of hypothyroidism, I have more energy than most 28-year olds, my skin is glowing, I have not had the flu or cold in 5 years, I sleep well and enjoy a wonderful equilibrium in my life.

Thyroid problems in women is what I dedicate my life to. I own a coaching practice Thyroid Diet Coach focused on teaching people with thyroid conditions how to self-heal with dietary and lifestyle changes.

It’s ironic but true: my disease became my destiny.

Like with most things in life: there is no black or white. With new and complex conditions like a compromised autoimmunity, there are only many shades of grey.

I was compelled to write this article as I get daily emails and calls from people stating the things they have done and how frustrated they are with the results.

Let’s get right into them.

1. “I don’t have Hashimoto’s, only hypothyroidism.”

Have you been tested to rule out Hashimoto’s?

Most people have not.

Doctors don’t like to test for the TPO and TGB antibodies as there is no medication to reduce the autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland. 90% of people with hypothyroidism have it due to Hashimoto’s disease.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition. This means that the immune system gets mutated and starts attacking the thyroid – which causes hypothyroidism.

70% of your immune system lives in your small intestine (duodenum).

This is important to know as in the case of Hashimoto’s, it is the digestive tract that needs your help and not the thyroid alone.

2. “I’m already off gluten, dairy and soy but…”

But, you are still not feeling good, right?

It’s great that so many of us make these life-altering nutritional changes. For many, however, they do not produce desired results and this is when frustration and doubt step in.

If you have Hashimoto’s Thyroidistis and/or any other autoimmune condition, chances are that you have had digestive issues or infections that triggered this condition a long time ago. Integrative doctors say that we walk around with Hashimoto’s for an average of 8 years before getting diagnosed.

During this time, the digestive tract lining gets damaged by the food we do not tolerate well (see more on this below), pathogenic bacteria, yeast overgrowth (aka candida), and parasites. Any of them can be the trigger for an autoimmune condition.

So yes, gluten, dairy and soy are considered big food triggers but for many people there may be more. Read on.

3. “I eat really well.”

This is one of the first sentences that I hear from people who contact me. It’s not surprising. After all, if they did not eat well and have love and appreciation for good food and nutrition, they wouldn’t be searching for diet and thyroid-related solutions.

There are a couple of challenges with this belief: what does “eating well” really mean? Many people would perceive, for example, protein powders, to be healthy food. In my practice I see amazing results every time I switch a person from the miracle product marketing claims to real, unadulterated and whole food.

However, the bigger issue is this: for people with autoimmune conditions it is not so much about what we eat but what our body does with the food we eat.

Take eggs as an example. They are one of the superfoods, in fact they are so rich in nutrients that we can survive eating them and nothing else. However, if our body does not tolerate eggs well they become a toxic substance that will inflame the immune system even further.

Sadly, the list of “good foods” that many people with autoimmune conditions cannot tolerate is long and can include nuts, seeds, nightshade vegetables, legumes, and grains.

A simple elimination diet would help reveal what food a person is reactive to. For a person with an autoimmune condition, it is of paramount importance to remove food that causes digestive distress.

4. “I’m already a vegetarian.”

I know I’m not going to get in good books with the vegetarians here but if you want to heal yourself, you need to remain open-minded.

Please bear in mind that I’m a big proponent of bio-individuality which honors the distinct nutritional needs of every human being. I’m not saying everybody needs to eat meat. I’m saying: listen to your body if it needs meat.

Sadly (or not), I found many of my ex-vegetarian clients turn a corner with even small amounts of animal proteins in their diet. This is why:

VITAMIN B12 and IRON – you probably know this part already. We get plenty of vitamin B12 and iron from meat. Both Vitamin B12 and iron are key in converting the T4 to T3.

GLUTAMINE – provides cells in the digestive tract with a vital source of energy that is required for regulating their production. Its role in re-building and strengthening the gut lining is critical.

TYROSINE – is also the precursor amino acid for the thyroid gland hormone thyroxin, and a defect in this may result in hypothyroidism.

5. “I’ve stopped eating goitrogenic vegetables.”

This is another highly controversial topic. It is true that food high in goitrogens will inhibit the thyroid gland’s ability to uptake iodine to produce the T4 hormone. This can be highly frustrating as this food includes some of our all-time favorites like cabbage, broccoli, spinach, Brussels’ sprouts, kale, collard greens, etc.

Here is the good news: when cooked, these vegetables lose 70-80% of their goitrogenic properties. Let’s remember that when we have Hashimoto’s, our primary focus should be restoring our digestive tract and detoxifying the body – as they were the original triggers of this condition. Omitting these vegetables completely will not address this concern.

These vegetables are richer in vitamins and minerals than any other of their distant veggie cousins. As it stands, most Americans are undernourished, taking out food like these will further make us rely on supplements – which is not the way we should be living and healing.

Lastly, goitrogenic vegetables are rich in a substance called DIM (diindolylmethane) which is key in liver detoxification as well as elimination of mutated estrogen metabolites. Most pre-menopausal women I work with have some level of estrogen dominance which is barely surprising given the estrogenic cocktail of skincare products, cleaners, packaging and food we live in today. Keeping a healthy balance of estrogen, progesterone and thyroid hormone is key not only to the overall hormonal balance but also to the immune system.

6. “I lost my thyroid, is there anything that I can do?”

The short answer is: absolutely YES!

I want to empower you with some understanding why that is so:

a. Even if you lost your thyroid, the meds you are taking depend on your gut and your liver for proper break-down and absorption.

b. If you are only on synthetic T4 (like Synthroid), your body still depends on the health of your liver to convert the inactive T4 hormone to the active T3 hormone utilized by your cells.

c. If you have/had Hashimoto’s Disease, you have an autoimmune condition. Why would removing the thyroid gland stop this immune mutation? This is why 50% of people with Hashi’s develop other, often far worse, autoimmune conditions like MS, fibromyalgia, lupus, RA and so many more (it’s a pandemic now).

In all three points, nutritional changes can make a huge difference. Starting with cleaning up your gut and liver to maximize the thyroid medication utilization to preventing other autoimmune diseases from developing.

It’s true that once you have Hashi’s you have it forever – this includes me. But, you can get to a place of remission, be symptom-free and live a full and awesome life.

Women with PCOS Often Have Hidden Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Thyroiditis

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In traditional medical thinking, PCOS is thought of as mainly a “blood sugar problem” or a “hormone problem.” But what many women may not be aware of is the link between PCOS and autoimmune conditions. More and more research is showing that PCOS is often associated with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis or hypothyroidism.

I have addressed this in other articles, however its worth mentioning again. If you suffer with fatigue, weight gain, anxiety, depression then you need to have your thyroid antibodies tested…… regardless of what your TSH looks like. One of the biggest pitfalls you might be making is not having your doctor evaluate your Thyroid antibodies.

When the right tests are done–TPO antibodies and TGB antibodies— a woman suffering with fatigue, depression, anxiety, weight gain, irregular menstrual cycles or unexplained miscarriages, will often find out she has Hashimoto’s. If she takes the necessary steps to properly manage the Hashimoto’s and low thyroid function, she will often find herself able to get pregnant.

I came across a study that shows many women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) (ovarian Cysts) have a Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Thyroiditis, which if you don’t already know, is the number one cause of hypothyroidism.

Here is the breakdown of the study.

It’s purpose was investigate the prevalence of autoimmune thyroiditis in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). There were 175 women with PCOS and 168 women who did not have PCOS in the study.

The PCOS patients were characterized by an increased LH/FSH ratio, low progesterone, elevated testosterone and a high prevalence of hirsutism (facial hair), but no differences in estrogen levels were found.

In addition, 27% of the PCOS women had elevated thyroid-specific antibodies as compared to only 8.3% of the normal women. Elevated antibodies suggest an aroused immune system that is causing inflammation.

Thyroid ultrasound showed that 42.3% of PCOS women, but only 6.5% of the controls, had thyroid tissue images typical of autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s Disease). The PCOS women also had higher levels of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) than the non-PCOS women, suggesting that the PCOS thyroid is not as successful in making enough thyroid hormone.

The importance of the thyroid hormone for the adequate functioning of multiple organ systems within the body cannot be overstated. The production of adequate quantities of thyroid hormones is necessary for normal fetal and neonatal growth and development, as well as proper functioning of adult organ systems, cardiovascular system, lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, and the neuromuscular and skeletal systems.

A major effect of abnormal thyroid levels is changes in ovulation and menstruation. Ovulation may be impaired by changes in the production of: sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), estrogen, and androgens.

Early stages of thyroid dysfunction (before symptoms are obvious) can lead to subtle changes in ovulation and endometrial receptivity, which then may have profound effects on fertility.

Bottom Line:

This study suggests that 3 to 4 of every 10 PCOS women have impaired thyroid function, due to autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s Disease).

(I suspect these numbers would be greater if BOTH antibodies were evaluated)

An important component of your PCOS treatment is to get a thorough thyroid evaluation.

(It’s much more than just a TSH and a T4)

As I’ve said before, just taking birth control pills or Synthroid is not the answer to PCOS or Hypothyroidism.

Here’s The other Alarming Facts that were revealed by this study.

Alarming Finding #1

Goiter was linked with having PCOS— specifically, 24% of the 77 PCOS patients had a goiter that no doctor had found before.

Apparently, no doctor thought it possible that these PCOS patients might have a thyroid problem. For me, this fact in itself is troubling finding.

Alarming Finding #2

Seventy-two of the PCOS patients had their TPO antibody levels tested. And the mean level of TPO antibodies was 216. That’s two times the limit of 100. 2X the cut-

Thirty percent of PCOS patients had positive Hashimoto’s antibodies. They met that criteria for Hashimoto’s. 30% of those PCOS patients had Hashimoto’s but no one knew it.

Why does this connection between PCOS and Hashimoto’s matter?

Hashimoto’s will complicate your ability to become pregnant and Hashimoto’s is going to complicate you being able to maintain a pregnancy. This means miscarriage.

If you suffer from PCOS and Hashimotos your condtion must be manaaged differently. Get my FREE guide that explains why woman continue to suffer with Fatigue, Weight gain, Hormone imbalances, Fertility, and depressison, depsite taking Thyroid Hormone Replacement. Fill out your name and email in the box to the right.

28 Things Spoonies Wish Others Would Stop Saying to Them

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In 2003 writer Christine Miserandino published an article on her blog “But You Don’t Look Sick” called “The Spoon Theory.” In the post, she recalled a dinner conversationwhere she explained to her roommate what living with lupus was like. Miserandino used spoons to measure her energy level and ability to carry out daily tasks. After the article was posted, many individuals with chronic illnesses like lupus began using the term “spoonie” to identify themselves.

Natalie van Scheltinga, who has Hashimoto’s thyroid disease and fibromyalgia, started the Facebook page “Spoonies for Life” in February. It’s become a community for spoonies everywhere to connect and share their stories. “We can find some comfort with each other and know we are not alone,” van Scheltinga told The Mighty.

In addition to lupus and fibromyalgia, chronic illnesses include Lyme disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and diabetes, among others. Many chronic illnesses are considered invisible and therefore difficult for others to understand. This, unfortunately, leads to some awkward, uncomfortable, sometimes downright insulting moments.

So, The Mighty teamed up with Spoonies for Life and asked their community what they wish others would stop saying to them with regard to their chronic illness. Here’s what they had to say:

1. “Stop being a hypochondriac.” — Amanda Ward

hypo

2. “If you eat all organic foods and a balanced diet, you won’t need to take medications.” — Caroline Freeze Shank

3. “Get more exercise.” — Betina Jackson

exercise

4. “Oh I know someone who had that, but they’re fine now!” — Nina Leach

5. “Why don’t you want to go out?” — Connie Elliott

6. “You don’t look sick.” — Jessica Lynn Palombo

look-sick

7. “Have you tried thinking positively?” — Amorie Spangenberg

8. “You were home all day… so what did you actually do around the house?” — Christie Pollock Taylor

9. “You can’t feel bad all the time. It must be in your head…” — Norma Conti Mcdonald

head

10. “I know how you feel.” — Estelle de Mol

11. “Oh, but you’re too young for that.” — Megan Geromichalos

12. “My 4-year-old daughter often says to me, ‘Mommy, I wish you weren’t so tired all the time.’ That kills me.” — Liz Brown Culver

tired

13. “If you’d just lose weight your problems will go away.” — Paula Cohen

14. “When older people say, ‘Oh, you have achy joints? Wait ’til your my age!’” — Sunny Rene Banks

15. “Just push through it.” — Heather Lauren

push

16. “Have you asked your doctor for better pain meds?” — Norada Thomas

17. “There’s always something wrong with you.” — Nichole Mack

18. “From my husband: ‘When do you think you’ll be ready to work again?’ (Never)” — Penny Yale Wood

work-again

19. “Well, you do take a lot of pills!” — Sandra Beutels

20. “You get a disability check? Why? You look fine.” — Renee Thomas

21. “Oh, I hurt too! My (insert body part) is killing me.” — Kris Whitaker

body-part

22. “I’ve just been down with a flu, so I know!” — Silje Liv

23. “I had someone who is supposed to be a friend say, ‘You are stronger than you think.’ This really made me ill. As a spoonie we all know the struggle, fighting day after day for years. We are strong but they will never know our fight. Some days I think I will never survive, when every part of my body hurts.” — Marsha McMahan

stronger

24. “I saw you out of your wheelchair yesterday, so why do you need it today?” — Joy Quinn

25. “You should go off all of your meds and detox.” — Veronica Belback

26. “You don’t look like you’re in pain though.” — Paula Woods

pain-though

27. “As someone with epilepsy I hate when people tell me, ‘Oh I understand, my dog has seizures.’ While I love my dogs, I do not like my struggles being compared to that of a dog.” — Keti Theon Kharis

28. “Have you tried (insert treatment they found in a generic internet search)?

Thyroid Symptoms and Solutions

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Thyroid Disorder Complications

When Your Thyroid Goes Awry

Does fatigue drag you down day after day? Do you have brain fog, weight gain, chills, or hair loss? Or is the opposite true for you: Are you often revved up, sweaty, or anxious? Your thyroid gland could be to blame. This great regulator of body and mind sometimes goes haywire, particularly in women. Getting the right treatment is critical to feel your best and avoid serious health problems.

What Is the Thyroid Gland?

Thyroid Disorder Complications

The thyroid is a butterflyshaped gland in the front of the neck. It produces hormones that control the speed of your metabolism the system that helps the body use energy. Thyroid disorders can slow down or rev up metabolism by disrupting the production of thyroid hormones. When hormone levels become too low or too high, you may experience a wide range of symptoms.

Symptoms:

Changes in Energy or Mood

Thyroid disorders can have a noticeable impact on your energy level and mood. Hypothyroidism tends to make people feel tired, sluggish, and depressed. Hyperthyroidism can cause anxiety, problems sleeping, restlessness, and irritability.

Changes in Heart RateChanges in Heart Rate

Thyroid hormones affect nearly every organ in the body and can influence how quickly the heart beats.Health Tips for Women – Thyroid Symptoms and Solutions. People with hypothyroidism may notice their heart rate is slower than usual. Hyperthyroidism may cause the heart to speed up. It can also trigger increased blood pressure and the sensation of a pounding heart, or other types of heart palpitations.

Feeling Too Cold or Hot
Feeling Too Cold or Hot

Thyroid disorders can disrupt the ability to regulate body temperature. People with hypothyroidism may feel cold more often than usual. Hyperthyroidism tends to have the opposite effect, causing excessive sweating and an aversion to heat.

Hair Loss

Hair loss is another sign that thyroid hormones may be out of balance. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause hair to fall out. In most cases, the hair will grow back once the thyroid disorder is treated.

Swelling in the NeckSwelling in the Neck

A swelling or enlargement in the neck is a visible clue that something may be wrong with the thyroid. A goiter may occur with either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Sometimes swelling in the neck can result from thyroid cancer or nodules, lumps that grow inside the thyroid. It can also be due to a cause unrelated to the thyroid.

Weight Gain or Loss

An unexplained change in weight is one of the most common signs of a thyroid disorder. Health Tips for Women – Thyroid Symptoms and Solutions. Weight gain may signal low levels of thyroid hormones, a condition called hypothyroidism. In contrast, if the thyroid produces more hormones than the body needs, you may lose weight unexpectedly. This is known as hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is far more common.

Other Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism can cause many other symptoms, including:

  • Dry skin and brittle nails
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands
  • Constipation
  • Abnormal menstrual periods
  • Muscle weakness or trembling hands
  • Vision problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Irregular menstrual periods

Thyroid Disorder or Menopause?

Thyroid Disorder or Menopause

Because thyroid disorders can cause changes in menstrual cycle and mood, the symptoms are sometimes mistaken for menopause. If a thyroid problem is suspected, a simple blood test can determine whether the true culprit is menopause or a thyroid disorder or a combination of the two.

Who Should Be Tested?

If you think you have symptoms of a thyroid problem, ask your doctor if you should be tested. People with symptoms or risk factors may need tests more often. Hypothyroidism more frequently affects women over age 60. Hyperthyroidism is also more common in women. A family history raises your risk of either disorder.

Thyroid Neck Check

A careful look in the mirror may help you spot an enlarged thyroid that needs a doctor’s attention. Health Tips for Women – Thyroid Symptoms and Solutions. Tip your head back, take a drink of water, and as you swallow, examine your neck below the Adam’s apple and above the collarbone. Look for bulges or protrusions, then repeat the process a few times. See a doctor promptly if you see a bulge or lump.

Diagnosing Thyroid Disorders

If your doctor suspects a thyroid disorder, a blood test can help provide an answer. This test measures the level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), a kind of master hormone that regulates the work of the thyroid gland. If TSH is high, it typically means that your thyroid function is too low (hypothyroid). If TSH is low, then it generally means the thyroid is overactive (hyperthyroid.) Your doctor may also check levels of other thyroid hormones in your blood. In some cases, imaging studies are used and biopsies are taken to evaluate a thyroid abnormality.

Graves’ DiseaseGraves Disease

The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease. This is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the thyroid gland and triggers the release of high levels of thyroid hormones. One of the hallmarks of Graves’ disease is a visible and uncomfortable swelling behind the eyes.

Hashimoto’s Disease

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s disease. This is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the thyroid gland. The result is damage to the thyroid, preventing it from producing enough hormones. Hashimoto’s disease tends to run in families.

Other Causes of Hypothyroidism

In some cases, hypothyroidism results from a problem with the pituitary gland, which is at the base of the brain. Health Tips for Women – Thyroid Symptoms and Solutions. This gland produces thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which tells the thyroid to do its job. If your pituitary gland does not produce enough TSH, levels of thyroid hormones will fall. Other causes of hypothyroidism include temporary inflammation of the thyroid or medications that affect thyroid function.
Hyperthyroidism can also result from thyroid nodules. These are lumps that develop inside the thyroid and sometimes begin producing thyroid hormones. Large lumps may create a noticeable goiter. Smaller lumps can be detected with ultrasound. A thyroid uptake and scan can tell if the lump is producing too much thyroid hormone.

Thyroid Disorder Complications

When left untreated, hypothyroidism can raise cholesterol levels and make you more likely to have a stroke or heart attack. In severe cases, very low levels of thyroid hormones can trigger a loss of consciousness and life-threatening drop in body temperature. Untreated hyperthyroidism can cause serious heart problems and brittle bones.

Treating Hypothyroidism

If you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, your doctor will most likely prescribe thyroid hormones in the form of a pill. This usually leads to noticeable improvements within a couple of weeks. Long-term treatment can result in more energy, lower cholesterol levels, and gradual weight loss. Most people with hypothyroidism will need to take thyroid hormones for the rest of their lives.
The most common treatment for hyperthyroidism is antithyroid medication, which aims to lower the amount of hormones produced by the thyroid. The condition may eventually go away, but many people need to remain on medication for the long term. Other drugs may be given to reduce symptoms such as rapid pulse and tremors. Another option is radioactive iodine, which destroys the thyroid gland over the course of 6 to 18 weeks. Once the gland is destroyed, or removed by surgery, most patients must begin taking thyroid hormones in pill form.

Surgery for Thyroid Disorders

Removing the thyroid gland can cure hyperthyroidism, but the procedure is only recommended if antithyroid drugs don’t work, or if there is a large goiter. Surgery may also be recommended for patients with thyroid nodules. Once the thyroid is removed, most patients require daily supplements of thyroid hormones to avoid developing hypothyroidism.

What About Thyroid Cancer?

Thyroid cancer is uncommon and is among the least deadly. Health Tips for Women – Thyroid Symptoms and Solutions. The main symptom is a lump or swelling in the neck, and only about 5% of thyroid nodules turn out to be cancerous. When thyroid cancer is diagnosed, it is most often treated with surgery followed by radioactive iodine therapy or, in some cases, external radiation therapy. source