Hashimoto’s thyroiditis treatment is a stepwise process that has to be broken down and analysed systematically. Often patients consider only one part of treatment, that is the thyroid medication. However, our thyroid specialists can help you recognize how to control thyroid disease long-term.
It is not recognised as a prescription but as a change in lifestyle that can restore energy and vitality. The Jeevam Health team aims to manage thyroid disease effectively by uniquely combining thyroid medication and functional medicine. Read on to understand how.
What is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition resulting in a reduced ability of the body to produce the thyroid hormone. Let us break this down into simple terms.
An autoimmune condition is one in which the immune system attacks the body tissues. In this case, it involves antibodies that act against the thyroid gland.
The presence of these antibodies results in an accumulation of immune cells in the thyroid gland. These changes indicate chronic inflammation. The ultimate result is that gradually it becomes more difficult for the thyroid gland to produce the thyroid hormone.
All cases of hypothyroidism are not autoimmune. It makes it necessary to identify autoimmunity by detection of antithyroid antibodies. They might be predictive of a host of other conditions later. These include celiac disease, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, psoriasis, arthritis, scleroderma, and several others.
Diagnosis of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
In most cases, an initial diagnosis requires checking the blood levels of T3, T4, and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).
T3 and T4 are the hormones produced by the thyroid gland. TSH is a hormone produced by the brain that acts on the thyroid gland to induce hormone production.
In cases of hypothyroidism, the levels of free T3 and T4 are generally low. The TSH levels are high. It means that despite stimulation, the thyroid gland itself is not able to produce hormones.
As Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is autoimmune, its diagnosis can involve the detection of antibodies as well. These mainly include anti thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies.
Sometimes you may be required to perform an ultrasound of the neck as well. It is a painless procedure to see the size and shape of the thyroid gland.
However, in the initial stages of thyroid disease, these hormonal changes might not be the same. The thyroid hormone levels can be higher than normal if tested at an early stage of the disease.
Root causes of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
A large part of formulating a treatment plan for any disease is understanding what causes it in the first place. In this case, this means understanding why is the thyroid gland not able to produce hormones.
Think about it as fixing a leak in your home. If you notice water damage you can initially plan to get the walls replastered and painted. But is this a sustainable solution? Definitely not. After a few weeks, the damage will be visible again. The only surefire solution is to find the leaking pipe and repair it.
The treatment of autoimmune thyroid disease follows a similar pattern. Taking medication will get your hormones under check. But until the antibody production is restricted, the damage will continue.
To understand how lifestyle adjustments can affect antibody production, the concept of leaky gut syndrome comes into the picture. Much like a leaky pipe would result in the dripping of water, a leaky gut results in the exudation of proteins.
When these proteins enter the blood circulation, they are recognised as foreign entities. These induce an inflammatory reaction with the formation of antibodies. As the proteins resemble the thyroid peroxidase enzyme, the antibodies attack the thyroid gland as well.
Following a thyroid diet plan helps to heal the gut and “repair” the leak. It results in reduced antigens in the blood and consequently reduced antibodies. It is why it is also called an antiinflammatory diet.
Treatment of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
The mainstay of hypothyroidism treatment remains conventional thyroid medication in most cases. These are primarily T4 supplements. The key is knowing how to make the medicine work optimally in each case.
It is why we at Jeevam Health follow a two-step process. In this approach, hormone supplementation only provides additional support. The foundation of treatment is addressing the root cause.
The first vital step in this process is making dietary changes. The treatment of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis requires the following of an elimination diet.
A mistake made by most people is that they cannot identify the unhealthy components in their regular diet. When we think of unhealthy food, we think only about junk food that is oily or deep-fried and sugar-laden carbohydrates.
Did you know that even the milk you use for your morning cup of coffee might be unhealthy for you? For some people, even the normal chapatis made of wheat can do more harm than good.
It teaches us an important lesson that a diet is not a matter of one size fits all. Irrespective of the advice you hear from others and the Internet, it cannot give you specific information about your body. For this, you need to undergo several forms of tests. These tests can assess the levels of various vital vitamins and minerals. They also detect heavy metals and toxins.
Advanced testing can also identify gluten sensitivity. Gluten has been identified as one of the most important triggers for inflammation and alteration of the gut microbiome. For those who cannot tolerate gluten, eliminating it from the diet can do wonders.
Overall, following an incorrect diet can lead to gut dysbiosis. Bacteria are present in the intestine to ensure the normal functioning of your digestive system. Consuming large quantities of processed foods, dairy products, or gluten can disturb this balance of healthy bacteria.
Gut dysbiosis can also worsen the symptoms associated with thyroid disease. It can result in mood swings, anxiety, and depression. The resultant alteration in bowel habits can cause diarrhea or constipation. These changes can also affect thyroid hormone levels.
Gut dysbiosis affects the absorption of nutrients and can lead to deficiencies. Hence, it is paramount to start improving gut health as soon as possible when treating an autoimmune condition.
The functional medicine approach at Jeevam Health takes all these findings into account. Patients are provided with a personalized hypothyroidism diet plan as per their test results and concerns. Ingredients not suited for them or that can induce inflammation are eliminated from the diet.
Lifestyle modifications include revamping not only your diet but also your daily schedule. Regulating sleep timings and incorporating exercise are vital components in this process. Practices such as yoga and meditation can be incorporated for stress reduction.
How do you know if a thyroid treatment plan is working for you?
A common complaint that many patients have following thyroid medication is that they do not “feel better”. What exactly does this mean?
Conventional medicine dictates that the efficacy of a medicine is assessed by the effect it produces in the body. For patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, this means that the dose of thyroid medicine is altered based on thyroid hormone levels.
Every few weeks or months patients are asked to get their T3, T4, and TSH levels checked. And the aim is to make sure that the hormone levels are in the normal range.
However, it is important to understand that not all patients with their hormone levels under check actually feel comfortable. The issues of weight gain, constipation, fatigue, dry skin, and more often remain constant.
This implies that simply working towards fixing hormone levels is not sufficient. Patients who work on incorporating lifestyle changes have a better quality of life.
For this several factors have to be addressed in the right balance. Dietary changes are often the first to be recommended. Simple changes like reducing processed foods help patients stay active. A moderate amount of exercise helps improve energy levels. Stress management also helps reduce resistance to the actions of thyroid hormones.
The aim of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis treatment is not just to get you healthy on paper. It is to allow you to live a life where you do not feel restricted by your disease. The right plan will not only regulate your hormone levels but also ensure that you live a better life.
To read more about the process, you can see the journey of a patient who developed hypothyroidism post-pregnancy. Our patients are living examples of how you can transform your lifestyle and overcome chronic issues like the inability to lose weight and lethargy. You can also read about others who joined the Jeevam family here.
Thyroid treatment seems daunting at the outset. However, consulting a thyroid doctor can help you go about it systematically. The aim of most people is to know how to cure thyroid permanently. But before that, the question should be if you are willing to commit to understanding the problem to find the most effective solution.
Want to cure Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and live a healthy life? Reach out to us.