Chronic pain is very common — almost 50 million Americans suffer from it. Conventional medicine tells us to take NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), however, research increasingly shows NSAIDs come with many risks. It’s better instead to look for root causes of pain, especially if you are working to manage Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
Many people use NSAIDs to relieve pain and inflammation. Common NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), naproxen (Aleve), Celecoxib (Celebrex), and diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren). Aspirin is an NSAID, but it does not pose the same risks for stroke and heart attack.
The liver metabolizes ibuprofen, which can cause lesions, liver failure, or jaundice with chronic use. The FDA has warned against NSAIDs because they increase heart attack and stroke risk.
When you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid, these are not the health challenges you need.
NSAIDs and leaky gut
A good reason to avoid NSAIDs is because they promote leaky gut.
Leaky gut is a condition in which the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged and too porous, allowing undigested food, bacteria, yeast, and other pathogens into the sterile bloodstream. This triggers inflammation and pain — the same thing people use NSAIDs to relieve — creating a vicious cycle.
Leaky gut is a primary root cause in autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s low thyroid. It’s important to repair leaky gut to tame Hashimoto’s flare ups, and you should avoid NSAIDs as much as possible.
So what is the option for pain then?
Address root causes of inflammation and pain
In functional medicine our goal is to address the root causes of inflammation and pain instead of only masking it with medication.
Many people find using functional medicine strategies substantially diminishes or eliminates their chronic pain.
Following are ways functional medicine can relieve pain and inflammation and also help you manage Hashimoto’s low thyroid:
Anti-inflammatory diet. Remove inflammatory trigger foods such as gluten, dairy, grains, legumes, eggs, sugar, and nightshades. An elimination and reintroduction protocol (the autoimmune paleo diet) has you follow the diet strictly for a period of time and then customize it depending on your food intolerances. This is a first step to managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid too.
Avoid nightshades. Nightshade vegetables can cause joint pain and inflammation. They include eggplant, potatoes (but not sweet potatoes or yams), peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, hot pepper products and pepper-based spices. Removing nightshades helps many people with joint pain, especially those with rheumatoid arthritis.
Turmeric and resveratrol. Each of these natural compounds is a powerful anti-inflammatory, but they are even more powerful taken together for pain and autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
Improve your posture. Spinal misalignment can cause chronic pain. Patients with chronic pain often have uneven pressure on both feet or eyes that don’t move in synchrony. Addressing these imbalances can help relieve pain.
Natural compounds that fight inflammation and pain. These include vitamin D, vitamins A, E, and K, and plenty of omega 3 fatty acids.
White willow bark is an herb with a long history of being used for pain relief.
Moderate to high intensity exercise can help reduce inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity. Just make sure to choose options that don’t worsen pain or inflammation.
Balance your blood sugar. Many people have blood sugar imbalances that cause inflammation, pain, and immune disorders such as Hashimoto’s low thyroid. Blood sugar dysregulation is also one of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Support SCFAs. Short chain fatty acids (SCFA) are produced by your “good” gut bacteria and help dampen inflammation. Eat plenty of produce, probiotic-rich fermented foods, and take supplements that support SCFA such as butyrate, Saccharomyces boulardii, Lactobacillus sporogenes, and DDS-1 Lactobacilli acidophilus.
Boost glutathione. Glutathione is the most important antioxidant in your body and helps with detoxification, immune function, and cell damage from inflammation.
The following nutritional and botanical compounds have been shown to support glutathione:
- Alpha-lipoic acid
- Milk thistle
- Gotu kola
- Reduced glutathione
- Oral and topical glutathione
These are a few ways functional medicine can help both relieve pain and inflammation and manage Hashimoto’s low thyroid. Ask my office for more advice.
How to learn if you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid
Many patients are not diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s until after several years and going through several doctors. It is a demoralizing journey richly illustrated in my book The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid Disease, through real-life stories from patients in my practice. Managing Hashimoto’s goes far beyond using thyroid medication as you must work to stop the immune system from attacking the thyroid. For more information on identifying and managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid, contact my office.
About Dr. Josh Redd, Chiropractic Physician — Utah, Arizona, New Mexico functional medicine
Dr. Joshua J. Redd, DC, MS, DABFM, DAAIM, author of The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid Disease, is a chiropractic physician and the founder of RedRiver Health and Wellness Center with practices in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. He sees patients from around the world who suffer from challenging thyroid disorders, Hashimoto’s disease, and other autoimmune conditions. In addition to his chiropractic degree, Dr. Redd has a BS in Health and Wellness, a BS in Anatomy, and a MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine. He speaks across the nation, teaching physicians about functional blood chemistry, low thyroid, Hashimoto’s, and autoimmunity. You can join his Facebook page here.