Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is also called chronic autoimmune lymphocytic thyroiditis, and is a type of hypothyroidism. This means that due to your body’s autoimmune response, your thyroid is underactive and not producing the hormones required to regulate the many important functions of your body. It’s important to know that your thyroid is a gland found at the base of your neck that is responsible for releasing the hormones that regulate your metabolism, muscle strength, body temperature and other important functions of your body. As you can see, because of its many functions your thyroid is key for your overall health. It is also something that can be supported through diet with the goal of optimizing your thyroid function. This is best achieved by working with a naturopathic doctor who can create a tailored dietary plan, which can support both your thyroid and your overall health goals.
Now, let’s understand more about Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
What Is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, or Hashimoto’s disease, damages your thyroid function. With Hashimoto’s, because it is a type of hypothyroidism, your thyroid is underactive and not producing thyroid hormones required by your body. Hashimoto’s is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in North America.
What Causes Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder. This means that your body’s white blood cells and antibodies attack the cells of your thyroid, mistakenly thinking they’re a threat. It is unknown exactly what causes this type of autoimmune disorder. Right now, scientists believe genetic factors may be involved.
Symptoms Of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
The symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are the same symptoms that accompany an underactive thyroid. These include:
- Dry or pale skin
- Hoarse voice
- High cholesterol
- Chronic fatigue
- Cold intolerance
- Irregular or heavy periods
It is also possible to develop an enlarged thyroid, known as a goiter, with this condition. A goiter can cause the front of your neck to become swollen, although it rarely causes any pain independently. As you can see, these are common symptoms of other disorders as well that can be difficult to trace back directly to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Plus, the disease progresses slowly and takes time to cause noticeable thyroid damage. As a result, you could have Hashimoto’s for many years before realizing or experiencing any symptoms.
Who’s At Risk Of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?
While the direct cause of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is not known, there are several risk factors that have been identified for the disease. If you have a family history of autoimmune diseases, you are more likely to develop the disease. For example, if anyone in your family has:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Graves’ disease
- Addisons disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sjögren’s syndrome
There is also a higher risk factor if you have been pregnant before.
Naturopathic Treatments For Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
Many nutritional factors play a role in optimizing thyroid function. This is especially true for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Research shows that one common, chronic factor in autoimmune response is a microbiome imbalance and resulting inflammation of the gut. This is where a naturopathic doctor comes in. We can help you address your microbiome dysfunction with nutritional therapies. Let’s dive into some common nutritional recommendations below.
1. Supplement With Selenium
2. Improve The Gut Microbiome
Studies have found a possible link that indicates the gut microbiome is an important environmental trigger for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In order to minimize this risk, your naturopathic doctor can work with you to recommend nutritional therapies like probiotics, and cultured foods, as well as diets lower in sugar, starch, and carbohydrates. This can help to decrease inflammation and balance immunity. Food allergy panels or an elimination diet can help to identify and eliminate food triggers to reduce inflammation. It’s also worth testing for celiac disease to determine if you should eliminate gluten.
3. Take Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that studies have shown is beneficial for thyroid function in subclinical hypothyroid patients. An adaptogen is a herb that works on several body functions at once to help balance out dysfunction and regulate the metabolic processes.
4. Supplement With Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is important for thyroid production, helps to improve cellular response to thyroid hormones, and boosts energy production in cells to help combat fatigue and other symptoms associated with hypothyroidism. Studies have shown that there is a prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency in hypothyroid patients and that taking a supplement leads to an improvement in their symptoms.
5. Supplement With Zinc
Zinc is beneficial for improving thyroid function and hormone levels because it works in tandem with your thyroid hormones. Specifically, thyroid hormones are required for the successful absorption of zinc. This is why if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, you’re likely zinc deficient since you’ll also lack the required amounts of thyroid hormones, which then accelerates the progression of symptoms. Zinc has been shown in studies to have a positive effect on thyroid function, especially if you are experiencing specific symptoms associated with hypothyroidism like hair loss. It has also been shown to drastically improve symptoms after consistent supplementation.
Book An Appointment With Annex Naturopathic
Naturopathic doctors can be a big help if you’re looking to support your thyroid naturally. We can create a customized nutritional plan to support your thyroid, which is incredibly important for the longevity of your overall health.