Integrative and functional medical doctors have great success treating Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism with dietary modifications, gut repair, nutrition, and stress reduction. If you’ve been told that you should just live with Hashimoto’s, your doctor may not be aware of these natural treatments that help to retrain the immune system to live in harmony with the thyroid gland.
As we discussed in part 1 of this article, Hashimoto’s is actually an illness caused by misplaced immune attack of the thyroid gland. When considering treatment, it is important to evaluate all factors that may explain why the immune system is attacking the thyroid gland. Common underlying causes are: poor diet, chronic stress, inflammation, infection, leaky gut, liver dysfunction, digestive disorders, and exposure to environmental toxins. In addition, resorting to medications may only mask the symptoms instead of addressing the root cause of the problem.
“I have Hashi-What?!” (Part 1 of this article) discusses symptoms, lab tests, and the reasons why the immune system attacks the thyroid gland in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Don’t have Hashimoto’s disease? You may be interested in a related topic, “Natural Treatments Options for Hypothyroidism.”
Clean Up Your Diet So Your Immune System Can Rest
Implementing dietary changes helps address areas of improper nutrition, inflammation, gut dysfunction, and nutritional imbalances. It is important to consider an anti-inflammatory diet that will help heal the body from the inside out. Thus, it is vital to eliminate all gluten-containing and cross-reactive foods, as they suppress the proper function of the thyroid gland.
An anti-inflammatory diet will allow the body to normalize the thyroid hormones as well as blood sugar, leading to increased energy levels, improved clarity of thought, and normal metabolic processes. An anti-inflammatory diet should consist of:
- Non-starchy vegetables and fruits
- Lean proteins (nuts and nut butters, legumes, and organic, hormone-, antibiotic-free meats and fish)
- Adequate fats (cold-pressed olive, flaxseed and coconut oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, fish, and coconut milk products)
Environmental exposures can suppress thyroid function. Toxins that harm the thyroid include: heavy metals, pesticides, plastic compounds (dioxins, PCBs, etc.), and medications (antibiotics, NSAIDs and anti-inflammatories, diabetic drugs, statins, cholesterol-lowering drugs, etc.). All of these should be significantly reduced, if not completely removed, and exposures in the home, work, and the general environment should be minimized.
3 Natural Treatments for Hashimoto’s:
Nourish Your Thyroid and Immune System
If thyroid hormone levels are deficient, then your doctor may give you thyroid hormone supplementation to get your thyroid functioning better and get you feeling better. This might be done at the same time your doctor analyzes and addresses other underlying causes of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
If there are nutritional deficiencies, some dietary and/or nutritional supplementation will be necessary to ensure that the body has a plentiful supply of micronutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, iron, selenium, zinc, copper, vitamins A, B2, B3, B6, C, E, iodine, and the amino acid, L-tyrosine. Fatty acids and cholesterol are precursors to hormonal pathways, so it is vital to supply healthy and natural fats in the diet.
Lower Stress on the Thyroid
While nutritional modifications may be very helpful and will start you on the road to recovery, it is also important to address other non-physical stressors in the body, such as mental, emotional, financial, marital, familial, and other triggers. The thyroid is exceptionally sensitive and reacts to prolonged periods of stress. Therefore, creating ways to manage stress will help heal the thyroid and the whole body. The adrenal glands work hand-in-hand with the thyroid. They take the biggest hit with chronic stress and oftentimes healing the adrenals will uplift the thyroid gland. Relaxation techniques can reduce stress and may include deep breathing, meditation, visualization, affirmations, yoga, walking, Reiki, chiropractic, and more.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an illness brought about by misplaced immune attack of the thyroid gland. Symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, puffy face, constipation, and dry, thinning hair, among others. Your integrative medical doctor can develop a comprehensive treatment approach that will (1) calm down the immune attack, (2) lower antibodies, and (3) get you feeling better for the long run. As normal thyroid hormone regulation is re-established, it leads to positive physical and biochemical changes in energy and metabolic function, cognitive function, and sexual and reproductive function. If your doctors tell you that Hashimoto’s thyroiditis has no treatment, they may not know about these natural approaches.