Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder in which your own body attacks your thyroid gland through antibodies. The symptomatology differs between individuals and is very wide and complex. It’s very easy to confuse the symptoms with those of other diseases. In general, changes in body weight, fatigue, diarrhea, constipation and worse tolerance to weather changes can be seen. This disorder is usually linked to other autoimmune diseases such as ulcerative colitis. The diagnosis is made through blood tests linked to symptoms and ultrasound of the goiter. The gold standard for the diagnosis is the thyroid biopsy although is rarely necessary. The common patient is a middle-aged woman that has been suffering for years with several inexplicable symptoms. The sensitivity of the blood tests is excellent, diagnosing the disease in 96% of suspected individuals. Although the prognosis is usually quite good (contrary to other autoimmune diseases), patients keep suffering from different symptoms despite the conventional treatment and their risk of developing thyroid cancer is increased by 300% in comparison to healthy people.
The characteristic goiter, which can be seen in many HD patients.
In order to understand how your thyroid gland works, we’re going to explain an easy example:
The thyroid gland produces several metabolic hormones such as T2, T3 and T4. These hormones interact with others in your body (insulin, cortisol, etc…) and need to be in constant balance. Because of that, the smallest imbalance can cause a variety of unrelated symptoms throughout your body. You feel your entire organism is going nuts!
Conventional treatment consists in lifelong use of Levothyroxine, with blood tests every 12 months in order to verify that the patient is using the adequate dose. In some cases, animal hormones have been used but there is divergence of opinions because the safety profile is not well established yet and the hormone proportion is not the same in animals and in humans.
Adding some measures that improve the symptoms and don’t cause adverse events seems reasonable in these cases. Below we present 9 science-based natural guidelines that seem mandatory for all hypothyroid patients:
- Run away from gluten! It’s estimated that almost 30% of Hashimoto’s patients are non-diagnosed coeliacs. In an internal study performed with 47 HD patients, 76% of them improved after eliminating gluten from their diet. Gluten elimination should be the first step implemented by every HD disease patient. In the case gluten avoidance is not enough, consider implementing a diet low in allergens, such as Seignalet’s diet. Remember that Seignalet was a French doctor that put almost 3000 autoimmune disease patients in remission using his ancestral diet. You can by his book here. Another interesting resource is the famous book about the Paleo Autoimmune diet, called “The Paleo Approach“.
- Reduce estrogen production: Many women consume too many carbohydrates. Remember that carbohydrates raise the estrogen levels in your body. Estrogens are famous because of their negative effect on thyroid function. Therefore, a low to moderate carbohydrate diet should be recommended for HD patients. Ideally exchange carbohydrates for healthy fats such as coconut oil or avocados.
- Avoid soy: Soy contains phytoestrogens that have important anti-thyroid functions and are related to thyroid cancer and Hashimoto’s disease in children. Furthermore, three different studies have shown the relationship between soy consumption and reduced activity of the thyroid gland.
- Supplement with iodine and selenium: Deficiency of this first trace element is the most common culprit of hypothyroidism in the world. During the last 30 years our consumption of iodine has dropped more than 300%. You can do a simple urine test in order to find out if you have a deficiency. If you do have iodine deficiency, consider supplementing but always be careful because excess iodine causes hiperactivity of the thyroid gland. You must always add selenium to iodine in order to decrease its toxicity. We recommend supplementing as there isn’t that much iodine in food. Kelp is a good source of iodine. There are some great supplements that mix them both. Here you can buy a great supplement that combines iodine, selenium and L-Tyrosine. Also consider increasing your fish, seaweed and shellfish consumption, as all of them are rich in iodine and selenium.
- Reduce your consumption of Goitrogens: They interfere in the thyroid activity. Mainly broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and cabbage have Goitrogens.
- Stay away from radiation: The Thyroid gland is sensitive to radiation so ask for a neck protector when doing X-rays. The protector is cheap and for sure worth it. Here you can buy your own protector, which is a good option as many hospitals still don’t use them.
- Avoid endocrine disruptors: Such as BPA, Bromines, etc… Avoid canned foods, soft drinks, plastic bottles, etc…
- Correct zinc deficiency: Zinc deficiency reduces the T4 to T3 conversion, which is something that you don’t want to be happening if you have hypothyroidism. One study found that correcting zinc deficiency results in improvement of autoimmune diseases. Research shows that zinc bound to picolinic acid is the most absorbable form. We recommend this supplement.
- Correct your Vitamin D levels: Vitamin D deficiency is linked to worse symptoms and outcomes in all autoimmune diseases. Three studies found out that Vitamin D supplementation improves symptoms and outcomes of hypothyroid patients. Ask your physician for a Vitamin D blood test. Sunbathe at least 15 minutes per day and eat oily fish such as salmon and trout. Consider supplementing as most people don’t have easy access to sunshine or Vitamin D rich foods. This one is the best Vitamin D supplement out there.
Summary of science-based natural treatments for autoimmune hypothyroidism:
- Strict gluten free diet, hypoallergenic diet when necessary. This book is a must.
- Reduce carbohydrates, Goitrogens and avoid soy/peanuts. Eat more healthy fats and fish, seafood and seaweed.
- Iodine urine test. If necessary supplement with iodine and selenium. Here you can buy iodine and selenium.
- Synthetic Levothyroxine with blood tests each 6/12 months.
- Avoiding endocrine disruptors and radiation.
- Supplement with zinc. We recommend this supplement.
- Supplement with at least 2000 IU of Vitamin D per day. This one is the best.
Conrad SC, et. al. “Soy formula complicates management of congenital hypothyroidism.” Arch Dis Child. 2004 Nov;89(11):1077.
Fort P. et. al. “Breast and soy-formula feedings in early infancy and the prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease in children” J. Am. Coll. Nutr. 1990 9: 164-167.
Hampl R, et. al. “Short-term effect of soy consumption on thyroid hormone levels and correlation with phytoestrogen level in healthy subjects.” Endocrine Regulation. 2008 Jun;42(2-3):53-61.
Messina, Mark, et. al. “Effects of soy protein and soybean isoflavones on thyroid function in healthy adults and hypothyroid patients: a review of the relevant literature.” Thyroid. 2006 Mar;16(3):249-58.