Hashimoto’s disease, or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is one of the most common autoimmune disorders. It affects about five percent of the population, with rates five to 10 times higher in women versus men. Yet, this condition tends to be underdiagnosed and many women who undergo conventional treatment, may not find the recovery they desire.
In this two-part series on Hashimoto’s, I will cover Hashimoto’s in detail. Today, we will dive into:
Then, in Part 2, we will cover a functional medicine approach to Hashimoto’s healing. This is such an important topic, let’s jump in!
What Is Hashimoto’s Disease?
Hashimoto’s is an immune disease that affects the thyroid, a butterfly shaped gland in the throat that produces thyroid hormones necessary for metabolic function in every cell of the body.
Hashimoto’s is characterized by thyroid-specific antibodies that causes damage to the thyroid gland and ultimately hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid. Hashimoto’s may also cause subclinical hypothyroidism, where lab tests are within the conventional ranges, but hypothyroidism symptoms are still present.
Out of all cases of hypothyroidism, about ninety percent are autoimmune Hashimoto’s. Diagnosis relies on positive blood tests for thyroid peroxidase antibodies and/or thyroglobulin antibodies. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with Hashimoto’s between the ages of 45 and 60, yet the disease process often begins much earlier.
Those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis have a higher risk of developing other autoimmune disease, such as Celiac disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Symptoms
Unlike hyperthyroidism symptoms, where everything speeds up, Hashimoto’s symptoms are symptoms of low thyroid hormone, where everything is slowed down.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s may include:
Hashimoto’s And Thyroid Disease
From the functional medicine perspective, we want to go beyond diagnosis and understand the why behind a disease. A root cause understanding allows for personalized treatment that optimizes thyroid function for each individual.
To understand Hashimoto’s, we must understand the root causes of autoimmunity. Autoimmune disease results from an interaction between genetics and environmental factors. In autoimmune disease, there are three factors that must be present for disease to develop.
Please read Part 1 and Part 2 of my series on autoimmunity to learn more about this science. (Add links)
In the case of Hashimoto’s thyroid disease, common triggers and underlying contributors include:
While we might think of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis as a thyroid problem, it is really an immune problem and requires a deep dive into contributing factors and root causes. With a functional medicine approach, time and dedication to lifestyle change, Hashimoto’s can be halted and, in some cases, even reversed.
I’ll dive more into the functional medicine approach to Hashimoto’s in Part 2 of this series. If this article gave you a lightbulb moment regarding the symptoms you experience, please contact me to work together.
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