By Josh Redd, DC on February 4, 2020
If you think you may have Hashimoto’s you’re not alone! Statistics vary, but it’s estimated about 20 million people in the United States have hypothyroidism, the vast majority of them women — one in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder in her lifetime, and about 10 times more women than men develop hypothyroidism. What’s worse is that many people have symptoms of hypothyroidism but go undiagnosed because they either don’t seek treatment or they are not properly evaluated and or diagnosed.
Additionally, 90 percent of cases of hypothyroidism are caused by Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. The vast majority of the people with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism are not tested for Hashimoto’s. Why? Because it does not change treatment in the standard health care model, which consists of thyroid medications and monitoring levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).
However, it’s actually vitally important to accurately screen for Hashimoto’s because having one autoimmune disease significantly raises your risk for developing subsequent autoimmune diseases. In fact, in our practice, we found almost 50 percent of our Hashimoto’s patients tested positive for neurological antibodies.
You may think all you need to do is take thyroid hormone medication and you don’t need to worry about your condition anymore. While medication is often necessary, it’s important to take a deeper interest in your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism because every cell in the body depends on thyroid hormones to function properly.
Although you may take thyroid hormone medication, you still need to manage your autoimmune Hashimoto’s in order to best support healthy function of your thyroid. Consider the things that can go wrong in the following systems in the body due to thyroid hormone imbalances:
Brain: Low thyroid hormones slow down brain function and accelerate brain degeneration, causing brain fog, fatigue, depression, low motivation, and other brain-based symptoms.
Bones: Your bones need sufficient thyroid hormone to regulate calcium and bone formation.
Gut: Chronic constipation is a common symptom because low thyroid slows gut motility. This in turn increases the likelihood of gut infections, gut inflammation, food intolerances, and other gut issues.
Sex hormones: In women, low thyroid hormones prevent the proper synthesis and metabolism of estrogen, which causes hormonal imbalances. It can also lead to insufficient progesterone activity. In men, hypothyroidism has been shown to lower sex drive and sperm count and cause impotence. In both genders, low thyroid reduces levels of proteins that bind to hormones for transport throughout the body, which contributes to hormonal imbalances.
Liver and gallbladder: These organs are vital for healthy detoxification. Low thyroid function causes both to become sluggish and cause gallstones. Because inactive thyroid hormones are converted to active forms of thyroid hormone, a sluggish liver can also further perpetuate low thyroid hormones.
Fat burning: If you’re like many people with hypothyroidism, weight gain and weight loss resistance are problematic issues. That’s because low thyroid hormones slow down metabolism, shuts down cellular receptor sites for fat-burning hormones, and stalls muscle building.
Blood sugar: Low thyroid causes slowed uptake, poor utilization, and inefficient elimination of glucose by the cells, all of which makes people more prone to blood sugar crashes. Symptoms can include brain fog, irritability, light-headedness, and adrenal fatigue.
Cholesterol: Low thyroid can cause unhealthy cholesterol markers, such as high triglycerides, high cholesterol, and high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. This is because low thyroid causes a person to make fat more quickly than it’s burned.
Stomach acid: We are conditioned to think of stomach acid as bad and the cause of heartburn and acid reflux, but the truth is sufficient stomach acid prevents acid reflux in most cases and is vital to healthy gut and immune function. Low thyroid hormone inhibits the production of stomach acid. This can cause numerous gut disorders as well as poor protein absorption.
Heart: Low thyroid hormones can lead to high levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which increases the risk of heart disease, dementia, and neurodegenerative diseases.
By managing your autoimmune Hashimoto’s, you can bring your thyroid hormones into balance. This will improve your overall health and well being as your body’s cells are replenished with the thyroid hormones they need for improved function.
If you would like to manage your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and lower your risk of developing future autoimmune diseases, please contact my office.
Josh Redd, MS, DABFM, DAAIM, is a chiropractic physician and author of the Amazon bestselling book The Truth About Low Thyroid. Dr. Redd owns seven functional medicine clinics in the western United States and sees patients from across the country and around the world who are suffering from challenging autoimmune, endocrine and neurological disorders. Dr. Redd also teaches thousands of health care practitioners about functional medicine and immunology, thyroid health, neurology, lab testing, and more.