The placebo effect is a target of scorn but research shows it has become more effective in recent years, particularly in the United States, where some drugs in clinical trials barely outmatch placebos. This is actually good news for people with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
Fortunately, researchers have also studied how and why the placebo effect works.
By embracing the mystery of the placebo effect, you can use it to improve the results of your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism strategies.
What is the placebo effect?
In a study, one group of subjects is given a new drug or procedure and a different group is unknowingly given a sham. Then the results are compared. Sometimes, the placebo works as well or even better than the real treatment. This is a source of consternation for drug makers who spend millions developing a new drug, particularly for depression or pain.
1: Use the power of belief to enhance placebo effect in Hashimoto’s low thyroid management
Your beliefs and expectations play a significant role in how you may respond to something. When subjects are told their pain will drop before receiving a placebo drug, it does. Likewise, when they are told they will experience more pain with a procedure, they do, even though pain delivery was actually not increased.
Brain scans show brain activity corresponds with the expected outcome, even though neither pain relief nor increased pain was delivered.
One reason it’s believed placebos work is because positive expectations release endorphins, which diminish pain, and dopamine, the “reward” brain chemical. Endorphins dampen inflammation and both endorphins and dopamine help relieve pain.
Spend time daily reminding yourself why you’re on your Hashimoto’s low thyroid protocol and the positive things you expect to gain from it. Visualize feeling and functioning better.
2: Seek care and company to enhance placebo effect in Hashimoto’s low thyroid management
Researchers believe the increased attention, concern, and care during studies are also why the placebo effect has become stronger in trials. Study subjects receive an increased level of interaction that positively impacts their health.
Seek out support, care, and nurturing during your Hashimoto’s low thyroid management journey. This can be from a practitioner, through body work, or in a support group or class. Include plenty of in-person social time as it is better for you than online socializing.
3: Practice positivity and gratitude to better manage Hashimoto’s low thyroid
Negativity is stressful and inflammatory. Doctors report that patients who are angry, don’t believe in their treatment, or who do not have the support of their friends and family may not experience good results.
However, the Hashimoto’s patient who expects the best, educates themselves about the diet and supplements, and enjoys working with their practitioner experiences better results.
Spend some time each day thinking positive thoughts about your Hashimoto’s journey and what it involves. Keep a gratitude journal and note your progress.
Remember, it’s about the placebo effect and not superstition
Although we’ve all heard miracle healing stories, don’t pin your hopes on a miracle when working to manage Hashimoto’s. Most things in life require hard work, patience, and persistence. The placebo effect by itself is estimated to work between 18 to 80 percent of the time, which is a wide spread to count on.
Functional medicine is about creating new habits as much as it is about restoring thyroid function. By using the best the placebo effect has to offer, you are laying the groundwork for a lifetime of more positive outcomes and better thyroid health.
Ditch the diet sodas if you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid
Diet soda is commonly consumed because people think it’s better for them, and the soda industry spends millions of dollars to keep this belief alive. Research, however, shows a different story — diet sodas can make you fat and are dangerous for your health. If you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid, make sure to leave this chemical concoction out of your diet. Why? The artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas confuse the body and skew its ability to process sugar and carbs. This metabolic confusion increases hunger and cravings for sugar. Also, artificial sweeteners upset the balance of gut bacteria, promoting the bacteria that store fat, which can lead to obesity, diabetes, and inflammation. When managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid, you want to keep your health as balanced as possible. Diet sodas can work against you in this regard.
Diet sodas pose bigger risks than obesity with Hashimoto’s low thyroid
The health risks associated with diet soda are far more serious than obesity. The main sweetener used in diet sodas, aspartame (which goes by the friendly sounding names Equal and NutraSweet), is associated with numerous cardiovascular conditions, including stroke, heart failure, and heart attack. A 9-year study of almost 60,000 women showed those who drank two or more cans of diet soda per day were 50 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular disease. Moreover, aspartame overstimulates brain chemicals that over time can lead to depression, migraine headaches, and seizures. The other artificial sweeteners in diet sodas — saccharin, neotame, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium — are linked to increased risk for heart disease and other health problems. Aspartame is not without controversy. Over the years, it has been associated with myriad health conditions, including brain tumors, birth defects, cancer, and memory loss, and is the culprit in numerous health complaints to the FDA. Yet industry science touts its safety. Nevertheless, plenty of sound science links aspartame with a variety of health risks. Because the immune system and the thyroid are integral to all aspects of health, do not create unnecessary problems with diet soda. Managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid requires attention to diet and lifestyle and lowering overall inflammation.
Fruit juice is not a healthy option when you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid
Sadly, fruit juice is not a healthy option in place of soda. Fructose is just as fattening and inflammatory as sugar or chemical sweeteners. Drinking too much fruit juice puts you at risk of heart disease and diabetes. The spikes and drops in blood sugar from products like fruit juice may also trigger flares of Hashimoto’s low thyroid. It is better to consume whole fruit so that you also benefit from the fiber, enzymes, minerals. Likewise, chewing reduces your appetite because it tells your brain you’ve eaten. However, don’t over indulge in high-glycemic fruit, as it’s still high in sugar. This can make managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid more difficult. Many people are addicted to diet soda. You may have to wean yourself gradually if you’re one of them. Begin by exchanging some of your diet sodas with sparkling water with lemon or lime juice, or even just filtered water. Often a craving for a sweet drink just means you’re thirsty and can be quenched with water. With practice, you will begin to prefer whole, healthy, unsweetened foods and drinks, largely because they make you feel better. People who adopt at least a whole foods, gluten- and dairy-free diet, and create habits that promote well being and balanced immunity, often report significant reductions in thyroid symptoms and increases in well being and function. These gains make diet soda lose its appeal. Ask my office about transitioning to a whole foods autoimmune diet so you can feel and function your best with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
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.