Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, also known as AutoimmuneThyroid, is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States, and people all over the world suffer from this particular type of thyroid disease. Simply defined, Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Thyroid is the result of the bodies own immune system becoming dysfunctional and beginning to attack and destroy your own gland.
The fundamental thing to understand from a patient perspective is that Hashimoto’s is an immune problem not a thyroid problem. The immune system is destroying the gland, and that is the reason the thyroid is producing less hormone.
The standard treatment of Hashimoto’s disease is to give a synthetic or even natural thyroid hormone replacement, and then alter the dose until the TSH drops below a certain level. At this point the condition is considered managed well. This type of approach gives little thought to the patients symptoms, or how the patient is actually responding. As soon as the lab numbers come back “normal”, any remaining thyroid symptoms get attributed to something else.
Consider depression that is caused by decreased thyroid function.
Depression is a possible symptom of hypothyroidism. So if the thyroid panel moves into the normal range, and the depression remains, you end up at a psychiatrist, or with a prescription for an antidepressant. Are you depressed or still suffering from the original thyroid symptoms, This is the problem with giving replacement thyroid hormone and ignoring the real problem.
Now compare Hashimoto’s disease to a leaky bucket
If we had a bucket full of water that was slowly leaking we could take two approaches. We could try to pour water into the top as fast, or faster than the water is leaking out. Or the second option, and obviously the wiser and better long term solution would be to repair the leak while we were keeping the bucket full.
When Hashimoto’s is treated with only a thyroid replacement hormone, it is like putting water into the top of the bucket.
The immune system is destroying the gland, and producing less thyroid hormone, so we are going to dump thyroid hormone back into the blood stream, but completely ignore the leak, which is the immune attack in this case.
So if you suffer with Hashimoto’s disease, and you are faithfully taking your thyroid replacement every day, ask yourself “what about the immune attack,” How much more thyroid cells are going to be destroyed if the immune system isn’t specifically addressed,
Modulating and calming the immune system is certainly difficult. It requires the doctor to step back and look at the big picture. Immune triggers must be identified and dealt with in systematic manner. Then immune system must be ‘dissected’ and looked at from a functional perspective in terms of overall immune configuration and in terms of immune dominance. It is this approach that is required to slow and repair the leak, instead of just dumping water in the top.