Hi, this is Dr. YiQiu Hu from MedRoyal.
Over the past years I have seen many patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. My typical first encounter with a Hashimoto’s patient goes something like this: the patient comes in and tells me her doctor put her on Synthroid. She has her labs checked every couple of months, and since starting the medication, she is always told her labs are normal. On paper, everything looks just fine. So she must feel fine, right?
When that Hashimoto’s patient first comes to see me, she also tells me a laundry list of symptoms – symptoms that are still present despite medication and “normal” lab results. She is tired all the time. She can’t get out of the bed in the morning. She can’t lose weight. Her hair is falling out. She either feels too cold or too hot – or both at the same time!
How can she still be experiencing symptoms of the disease if her lab results are normal?
To answer that question, let’s think about what happens in the body during Hashimoto’s thyroiditis:
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition in which antibodies attack the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is responsible for many of the body’s vital functions. It controls your body temperature, your energy level, your metabolism. If your thyroid gland is not functioning properly, your skin and hair health are also affected.
If you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, you were likely told you have a thyroid disease.
If you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, you have a diseased immune system, NOT a diseased thyroid gland. Your immune system is misbehaving, and your thyroid gland is the unfortunate target.
I will explain it like this:
Imagine you live in a house with a very sensitive security system. You also happen to have a racoon living under your house. Every day while you are at work, this mischievous little critter tries to sneak into your house through an open window or a crack in the floorboards. No matter how sneaky he tries to be, he always triggers the alarm. Every time your alarm goes off, security guards are summoned to your house to look for the intruder. They storm inside with no regard to your home. In their determined hunt for the intruder, they ransack every room, turning over sofa cushions, emptying drawers and cabinets, eventually leaving empty-handed as the racoon has scurried away to hide in the basement. Imagine, day after day, coming home from work to find your home completely trashed. What would you do? Would you keep cleaning up, keep buying new things to replace the broken ones, keep repairing the damage, day after day? Or, would you dial down the sensitivity of your security system and seal your house so that pesky raccoon cannot get in?
It’s the same story when it comes to Hashimoto’s. Replacing thyroid hormones in your body with thyroid medication is like buying new stuff for your ransacked home. While it may help you live more comfortably in your home from day to day, it is not a long-term solution. It is expensive, draining, and ineffective. It does not fix the root cause of the problem. Getting your immune system back in check by dialing down the security system prevents the security guards from storming into your home over a false alarm. And protecting your home from the invading racoon removes the triggers that cause autoimmunity to begin in the first place. These are the key steps in reversing autoimmune thyroid disease.
I hope this story was helpful in illustrating what is truly going on in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. If you have Hashimoto’s, you may feel discouraged because you still don’t feel any better with conventional treatment. I have been helping patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis heal their immune systems and identify their autoimmune triggers to reverse their thyroid disease and finally find relief from symptoms. I would love to help you too.
Modalities I use to treat Hashimoto’s thyroiditis:
Low dose naltrexone (LDN): if you have already tried it and didn’t notice an improvement, don’t lose hope. Many physicians do not realize LDN has different dosing schedules for different conditions. A person with fibromyalgia needs a different amount of LDN than a person with Hashimoto’s. If you have tried the conventional 1.5 mg to 3 mg to 4.5 mg dosing and didn’t notice any benefit, it might have been due to inappropriate dosing.
Thyroid hormone replacement: conventional lab testing is limited to TSH, T4, T3, and the occasional thyroid antibody check. I dive deeper with lab testing, examining important functional values such as reverse T3, T3 uptake, iodine levels, and specific thyroid antibodies to see a more detailed picture of what is going on in your body. Thyroid medication (Synthroid, levothyroxine, Cytomel, etc) is typically prescribed based on the three limited lab values listed above, which is why medication isn’t always effective at relieving symptoms completely. I take into account all lab values (even the normal ones) AND your symptoms when prescribing thyroid hormone replacement medication.
Fix the gut: the digestive tract is one of the body’s largest immune organs. If you have digestive issues or unidentified food intolerances, your immune system might be affected. Your gut also produces serotonin, an important mood-stabilizing neurotransmitter - untreated gut issues can also lead to anxiety and depression!
Fix the liver: a significant portion of inactive thyroid hormone becomes activated in the intestines and in the liver. Your other hormones (including estrogen) are also processed by the liver. Estrogen dominance, or an imbalance of estrogen compared to progesterone, is a known risk factor for developing autoimmune conditions. Detoxing
your liver to promote hormone metabolism supports healthy hormone balance and prevents worsening of autoimmunity.
Support the thyroid gland, adrenal glands, and balance hormones: the modern healthcare system likes to divvy up by body parts. For joint pain, we go to a rheumatologist. For brain issues, we see a neurologist. For thyroid issues, we see an endocrinologist. The human body is a complex organism with interrelated and interdependent organ systems. Each organ is deeply connected to other systems in the body. All organs, especially your thyroid and adrenal glands, must function optimally in order to feel your best.
Addressing food intolerances: Food sensitivity, as opposed to a food allergy, happens gradually and isn’t life threatening. Symptoms of a delayed food reaction can take up to 72 hours to appear. Food sensitivities may be caused by many factors such as stress, infections, overeating, artificial preservatives, and molds. Unidentified food sensitivities can then contribute to many chronic health conditions including: IBS, chronic fatigue, anxiety, headaches, chronic ear infections, eczema, insomnia, gut malabsorption, and many others! Having unidentified food sensitivities may also increase your body’s antibody production, causing autoimmune flareups and systemic inflammation.
Addressing inflammation: inflammation caused by antibodies can cause all kind of damage in the body. Not only will inflammation cause uncontrolled weight gain, it will also predispose you for potential heart and joint diseases. Addressing inflammation naturally will offset some of the negative effects Hashimoto’s has on your body.