Hashimoto's Disease

What Is Hashimoto’s Disease?

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis or Hashimoto’s disease, is an autoimmune disorder characterized by progressive destruction of the thyroid gland by anti-thyroid antibodies—such as thyroperoxidase (TPO)—that occurs over a period of months to years.1

This destruction causes a failure in the system that produces key thyroid hormones T4 and T3, and often leads to hypothyroidism—an underactive thyroid. Hashimoto’s disease is the leading cause of hypothyroidism in the United States, affecting more than 30 million Americans.

What Causes Hashimoto’s Disease?

Autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s arise when the body’s normal immune processes are impaired. The body begins to recognize normal proteins, such as food antigens, as “foreign invaders” and starts mounting an attack on tissues such as the thyroid gland.

Hashimotos Disease

One major contributor to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the abundance of environmental toxins—mercury, bromide, lead, perchlorate, and others—that are readily found in our food and water supply. These toxins can concentrate in the thyroid and trigger an autoimmune response that causes the immune system to attack they thyroid. Over time, the thyroid becomes compromised, resulting in decreased thyroid hormone production.2

In addition to the environmental toxins that concentrate in the thyroid gland, autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can also stem from the gut. Under healthy conditions, the gastrointestinal (GI) lining creates a barrier between internal and external environments. When the GI lining becomes impaired, however, toxins, food proteins, undigested food particles, and microbes can enter the body. Often referred to as leaky gut syndrome, this occurrence causes the immune system to go into a hyper-reactive state, producing antibodies like TPO that compromise the thyroid and lead to low thyroid hormone production.3

Other risk factors which can contribute to Hashimoto’s development include genetics, chronic stress, food allergies, and having another autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis (MS).

What are the Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease?

Hashimoto’s disease typically develops slowly; symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease tend to surface as hypothyroidism sets in and T4 and T3 production decreases.4

The most frequently experienced Hashimoto’s disease symptoms are related to the underactivity of the thyroid gland and include:

  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Depression
  • Muscle soreness or stiffness
  • Joint pain
  • Dry skin and brittle nails
  • Constipation
  • Increased menstrual bleeding

What are the Treatment Options for Hashimoto’s Disease?

Conventional treatment for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis consists primarily of thyroid replacement therapy using synthetic T4 medication. The problem with this form of hormone replacement is that T4 needs to be converted into its more bioactive form, T3, in order to activate thyroid hormone receptors throughout the body. Unfortunately, many people are unable to convert enough T4 into T3 to counteract their autoimmune disease state, allowing hypothyroidism and its accompanying symptoms to flourish.

Conversely, natural thyroid hormone medication, which uses natural desiccated thyroid (NDT), replaces both T4 and T3 hormones to bring the body back into balance.

A randomized, double-blind, crossover study, published in the European Journal of Endocrinology, compared the effect of combination therapy with T4 and T3 versus T4 monotherapy in patients with hypothyroidism. Patients on the combination therapy reported improved quality of life, and 50% of study participant preferred the T4/T3 combo.5

Where Do I Get Natural Thyroid Medication?

WP Thyroid® and Nature-Throid® are thyroid replacement medications, containing standardized (T4) and (T3) hormones, used to treat hypothyroidism naturally.

Both medications are available by prescription. Talk to your doctor to see if Nature-Throid® or WP Thyroid® would be right for you. To find a doctor in your area who is familiar with treating Hashimoto’s disease with natural thyroid medication, click here.

References

1. Shomon, Mary. “What is Hashimoto's Thyroiditis: Questions and Answers.” Verywell, 23 Aug. 2016, www.verywell.com.

2. Brent GA. Environmental exposures and autoimmune thyroid disease. Thyroid (2010) 20:755–61.10.1089/thy.2010.1636.

3. Fasano, Alessio. “Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Diseases.” Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Feb. 2012; 42(1):71–8. doi:10.1007/s12016-011-8291-x.

4. “Hashimoto's Disease.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 Sept. 2017, www.niddk.nih.gov.

5. Nygaard B, Jensen EW, Kvetny J, Jarlov A, Faber J. Effect of combination therapy with thyroxine (T4) and 3,5,3′-triiodothyronine versus T4 monotherapy in patients with hypothyroidism, a double-blind, randomised cross-over study. Eur J Endocrinol. 2009;161:895-902. doi:10.1530/EJE-09-0542.