Why Naturopathic Doctors Check Your Thyroid Antibodies
By Dr. Tamar
If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, you were likely prescribed Synthroid or Levothyroxine and sent on your way. Other than periodic adjustments to your medication dosage, that was likely the extent of your care. However, many people on thyroid medication still don’t feel their best – the brain fog, fatigue, joint pain, and other symptoms may still be there. Part of it may be due to having an unaddressed autoimmune thyroid condition. While hypothyroidism without autoimmune dysfunction is a thyroid-specific problem, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an immune system dysfunction that doesn’t originate in the thyroid itself.
Did you know that the majority of people diagnosed with hypothyroidism (about 80-90%) actually have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis? And that those with one autoimmune condition are more likely to go on and develop other autoimmune conditions down the road?
How Our Approach Is Different
While in most cases you will have to stay on some medication (Synthroid, Levothyroxine, or Natural Desiccated Thyroid), naturopathic doctors (NDs) look beyond replacing hormones that are low in order to address the immune dysfunction that is occurring. Up to 10 years before actually needing medication, we may see antibodies to the thyroid (TPO and/or anti-TG) show up in the blood. Typically, the worse the elevation in antibodies in your blood, the more severe your symptoms tend to be. The latest research suggests that the antibodies are the result of tissue destruction in the thyroid, NOT the cause of it. What causes the tissue destruction is the immune dysfunction, with the elevation of specific immune cells called T helper cells (TH1 and TH17 cells) leading the way.
Naturopathic treatment of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis starts by treating the gut. Since a big part of your immune system is in the gut, and it is situated one cell away from the contents of your intestine, what you eat and the health of your gut will affect the health of your immune system. Your ND may recommend some dietary changes to support the immune system in your gut. You will also likely be recommended certain supplements, including selenomethionine, Vitamin D, and myo-inositol, to help bring down antibodies and decrease damage to your thyroid. Stress management will be considered in your plan, since the stress hormone cortisol can disrupt your immune system’s proper functioning.
As always, your treatment will be tailored to your needs and your particular situation. Our naturopathic doctors can monitor you and order the blood work needed to individualize your treatment plan to your needs.
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