Why Hashimoto’s Is So Much More Difficult to Treat than Hypothyroidism!
14 million people have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s in the U.S. I am one of them. I was officially diagnosed about 8 years ago. I believe I was suffering from it much earlier. My symptoms were going on for years and it took at least five doctors before I was even tested for autoimmune diseases. Looking back, I now realize that my symptoms were classic autoimmune thyroid disorder symptoms. Here are the common symptoms I was experiencing which you might recognize:
- cold hands and feet (even in steamy Florida in the summer),
- constipation and sometimes diarrhea (Irritable Bowel Syndrome),
- unexplained weight gain or inability to lose weight no matter how much you exercise or change your diet,
- a racing heart, and
- a whole series of more severe symptoms like
- chronic muscle pain,
- numbness in certain parts of the body,
- difficulty in regulating many of your internal systems including the nervous system, and
- food sensitivities leading to nutritional deficiencies which show up in many ways such as hair loss, brittle fingernails, and/or fatigue.
Good News and Bad News
My Hashimoto’s diagnosis was the reason I became a yoga teacher, a health coach, and a HeartMath practitioner. It is why I have spent thousands of hours researching autoimmune diseases. Ironically, I have come to feel blessed in getting this disease because it has been the reason behind so much of what I do and has given me a sense of my purpose in life.
With any autoimmune disease, it is recommended that you see your practitioner more frequently and get more than the routine tests. This week I got mixed bag results from my Integrative Medicine MD who said in many ways I was successfully managing my Hashimoto’s without thyroid medications due to all the dietary and lifestyle changes I have made. However, she did detect several numbers which indicated high levels of inflammation from antibodies attacking my thyroid. She did not suggest a thyroid medication because the medications are useful if your body is either not making the T4, or converting it to T3. In my case, my T4 and T3 numbers were within range. My problem was a high level of antibodies attacking my thyroid, which is a different issue that needs to be addressed in a different way.
The key to reducing your autoimmune antibodies is to improve your gut health. Just a refresher if you have not read much about autoimmune diseases and Hashimotos. All autoimmune diseases (there are now more than 150 of them that are being researched), share the following three root causes:
The 3 Root Causes of All Autoimmune Diseases
- A genetic predisposition
- A trigger or trauma or multiple triggers and traumas
- A digestive system that is being affected by Leaky Gut
There is not much I can say about genetic predisposition other than a genetic predisposition is not a “life sentence”, instead, it indicates you have the gene that could lead toward that issue. In other words, it means that you have a switch inside your body that can either be turned on or off depending on your lifestyle. This is known as epigenetics.
A trigger can be thought of as an event or multiple events that turn on the genes for the autoimmune disease. It could be physical or emotional stress; it could be a hidden virus or an overload of some toxin in your body, or hormonal changes (which is why more women are diagnosed with autoimmune diseases than men. Our hormones are always changing.)
Leaky gut is when the tight junctures (thin layer of cells in your lining) of the gut become more permeable allowing the food particles to enter your bloodstream and things within your bloodstream to enter your gut. Your gut and bloodstream are not supposed to interact in this way. When this occurs for many of the same reasons listed above and a few others listed below, your antibodies become over-active attacking your own organs.
- eating foods that are genetically modified
- overuse of antibiotics or over-the-counter medicines,
- hidden infections,
- mold or
- for many people, poor diet.
I have cleaned up my diet over the past eight years. I take more than a dozen high-quality supplements. I have eliminated most sources of toxins in my life. And with all my yoga and HeartMath, I have my stress well managed. Now I must “up my game” again. Next week, find out what I am doing now to stay my healthiest and stay encouraged in this setback in my Hashimoto’s Journey. I am also available to help you if you are struggling. Reach out.