Expert Guidance From Louise O’Connor - The Thyroid Naturopath { Discover More! }

What is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?

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What is HashimotosHashimoto’s thyroiditis is a chronic inflammatory condition affecting the thyroid, the small gland at the base of the neck.

This thyroid disorder was first described by the Japanese specialist Dr. Hashimoto Hakaru in 1912. Studies show Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is now the most common cause of hypothyroidism in developed countries, especially among women.

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, aka simply as Hashimoto’s or Hashi is an autoimmune thyroid disorder. These types of problems occur when the immune system specifically attacks the thyroid gland.

The autoimmune reaction associated with Hashimoto’s creates inflammation within the thyroid. The thyroid stops functioning properly, and in some cases the inflammation leads to destruction of the gland.

Hashimoto’s often gets called the invisible thyroid illness because “you don’t look sick”. But it’s REAL, and this debilitating autoimmune thyroid disorder can lead to symptoms such as heavy fatigue, depressed mood, increased sensitivity to cold, muscle weakness, difficulty losing weight, and memory lapses. The symptoms are similar to those commonly associated with hypothyroidism, and vary widely depending on the severity of the problem.

Hashimoto’s and Pregnancy

Optimal thyroid health is particularly important for women who are pregnant, or who are considering having a baby. For women with Hashimoto’s there is an increased risk of early miscarriage, or developing postpartum thyroiditis (PPT). PPT is the term used to describe autoimmune thyroid disease that occurs during the first year after delivery.

How to Diagnose Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Speak to your medical practitioner who can authorize a comprehensive blood test. Comprehensive testing is essential to properly diagnosis, and manage an autoimmune thyroid disorder.

Here’s 4 things you need to know;

# The tests that are included in a complete thyroid panel include TSH, free T4 (FT4), free T3 (FT3), reverse T3 (RT3), and thyroid antibodies.

# Hashimoto’s is associated with excess production of thyroid antibodies. Therefore a diagnosis can be made when abnormal levels of thyroid antibodies are measured within the blood.

# Along with testing make sure your medical practitioner orders a thyroid ultrasound to check for possible abnormalities within the gland.

# Treatment is thyroid hormone replacement. The drug of choice is titrated levothyroxine sodium, aka T4-only medication or simply ‘thyroxine’. There are alternatives such as Armour Thyroid (USP) and combined thyroxine (T4)/triiodothyronine (T3).

What Causes Hashimoto’s?

The cause of Hashimoto’s is very poorly understood. However, based on my own experience and research over the years I have identified some key reasons WHY autoimmune thyroid problems develop in the first place. For example, chronic infections, prolonged stress, low nutrient intake, gluten, adrenal fatigue, and thyroid disrupting chemicals are leading causes.

There is a high volume of blood washing through your thyroid. This makes the thyroid extremely susceptible to damage from environmental toxins or whatever compounds happen to be circulating in the blood. Damaged thyroid cells may be the spark that ignites an autoimmune reaction within the thyroid.

There’s a Clear-Cut Link Between Selenium and Thyroid Health

After iodine the next most important nutrient to aid thyroid health is selenium. Selenium acts as an important co-factor to the iodide peroxidase enzyme. This specialised enzyme converts thyroxine (T4) to triiodothyronine (T3). This enzyme therefore plays an pivotal role to regulate concentration of T3.

Did you know selenium also plays an important role in safeguarding the thyroid from environmental damage?

This trace mineral helps boost glutathione, a potent antioxidant that is highly active within the thyroid. Glutathione is naturally produced by the body by combining selenium with three amino acids sourced from dietary protein. These three amino acids are cysteine, glycine and glutamine.

The thyroid contains more selenium than any other body part. When a deficiency develops due to low dietary intake an individual is more likely to develop an autoimmune thyroid disorder. In fact, in regions of severe selenium deficiency there is a higher incidence of autoimmune thyroid disorders.

Research suggests selenium supplementation could be useful in combination with levothyroxine (T4) in the treatment of Hashimoto’s. Selenium is generally considered safe when taken as recommended.


References

Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the New Zealand Ministry of Health (MoH). Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand. Selenium. Page 221-227.2006. www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/selenium.htm

Drutel A1, Archambeaud F, Caron P. Selenium and the thyroid gland: more good news for clinicians. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2013 Feb;78(2):155-64.

Duntas LH. Selenium and the thyroid: a close-knit connection. 2010 Dec;95(12):5180-8.

Galofre JC, Davies TF. Autoimmune Thyroid Disease in Pregnancy: A Review. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2009 Nov;18(11):1847-56.

Lee, SL. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Drugs and diseases. Medscape. Updated: 2 March, 2018. Link

Mazokopakis EE, Papadakis JA, Papadomanolaki MG, et al. Effects of 12 months treatment with L-selenomethionine on serum anti-TPO Levels in Patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Thyroid.2007 Jul;17(7):609-12.

National Institutes of Health. Medline Plus. Herbs and Supplements. Selenium monograph. National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA. Reviewed October 12, 2012.

Saranac L, Zivanovic S, Bjelakovic B, et al. Why is the thyroid so prone to autoimmune disease? Horm Res Paediatr. 2011;75(3):157-65.

Spadaccino AC, Basso D, Chiarelli S, et al. Celiac disease in North Italian patients with autoimmune thyroid diseases. Autoimmunity. 2008 Feb;41(1):116-21.

Toulis KA, Anastasilakis AD, Tzellos TG, et al. Selenium supplementation in the treatment of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: a systematic review and a meta-analysis. Thyroid.2010 Oct;20(10):1163-73.

Turker O, Kumanlioglu K, Karapolat I, et al. Selenium treatment in autoimmune thyroiditis: 9-month follow-up with variable doses. J Endocrinol 2006 Jul;190(1):151-6.

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