So you’ve just heard back from the doctor… they say you’ve got a positive Hashimoto’s thyroiditis diagnosis. What does this mean for you?
First of all… What is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?
A Hashimoto’s thyroiditis diagnosis means that your immune system has developed a dysfunction, causing it to attack your thyroid gland. Hashimoto’s is the largest contributor to hypothyroidism, causing about 90% of adult hypothyroid cases. This is because the damaged thyroid isn’t producing enough thyroid hormones for proper bodily function.
As expected, any malfunction of the immune system can cause a lot of problems with your body and your mind, affecting your weight, metabolism, energy, sleep, mental health, focus, and even your memory (hello, brain fog).
There are several symptoms linked to Hashimoto’s, including dry skin, a puffy face, sensitivity to the cold, fatigue, sluggishness, infertility or miscarriage, unexplained weight gain, and constipation. Many of these symptoms are the same if Hashimoto’s ends up developing into hypothyroidism.
What causes Hashimoto’s?
There is no one single cause of Hashimoto’s, because our bodies, genetics, and lifestyles are so different. It’s not so much what causes it, as what contributes to your personal autoimmune problems. Some factors that might increase your risk of receiving a Hashimoto’s thyroiditis diagnosis, such as:
Genetics – One of the most common risk factors that can cause Hashimoto’s disease is your genetics, or family history. If someone in your family has gotten diagnosed with any autoimmune disease (such as sibling, parent, or grandparent), that makes you more susceptible to developing one as well.
Leaky Gut – We now know that 80% of our immune system resides in our gut, and research has shown that if you have an autoimmune disease, your gut has become leaky. Leaky gut basically means that your tight junctions are too loose, allowing food particles, toxins, etc. to leak out of your gut and gain access to your bloodstream. This results with your immune system recognizing a threat, triggering inflammation, and even mistakenly attacking your own tissues.
Toxins – Environmental triggers such as glyphosate also contribute to leaky gut, as well as toxic molds (mycotoxins), and heavy metals such as mercury and aluminum. We are exposed to heavy metals in different ways, such as mercury amalgam fillings, fish consumption, vaccines, and the environment. These toxins all cause massive immune system inflammation, which leads to further immune dysfunction.
Stress – Stress is rampant in our culture these days, and both emotional and physical stressors have been shown to trigger autoimmune disorders. Chronic stress leads to long term inflammation, which once again, can trigger autoimmune diseases. Additionally, once the autoimmune disease is triggered, stress will just make symptoms worse, leading into a negative feedback loop.
Treating a Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Diagnosis
There are many different treatment approaches to Hashimoto’s, from pharmaceutical medications, to herbal supplements, and lifestyle changes. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for this, and anybody who tells you otherwise doesn’t really understand bio-individuality. Your body will have the final say regarding what treatments work best for you, but these are some options.
Thyroid Hormone Replacement Drugs
The initial treatment that most doctors reach for is a replacement of the deficient thyroid hormones. It is a synthetic hormone that is similar to the one our bodies produce, and goes by the name lexothyroxine.
However, not everybody requires medication at all, and some people only need it for a temporary period of time until their thyroid starts balancing out again. If your doctor just wants to put you on medication and not address supporting your thyroid function or lifestyle changes, I encourage you to find a doctor who is motivated to get you off drugs and heal.
Whether or not you need thyroid medication to support your body while you work on helping your thyroid work better, it’s very important to implement some lifestyle changes.
In order to give your thyroid what it needs, it’s necessary to focus on getting the right nutrition into your body. This includes drinking more water, reducing stress, adding more fruits and veggies to your diet, swapping out toxic beauty products for clean products, and getting regular exercise.
Get More Nutrients
It’s super important to focus on nutrient dense food when you’ve got any autoimmune disease, especially with Hashimoto’s that tends to make us gain weight easily. Our bodies create new cells every day out of the foods we eat, and if we are only eating junk, we can’t expect our bodies to be able to make the highest quality cells from that.
Some important nutrients for thyroid health include selenium, zinc, iron, omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils, and vitamin D. A diet that focuses on lots of veggies, good quality meat, and healthy fats can really help prepare your body for internal healing.
Coconut is often called a ‘miracle fruit’ because of its countless beneficial properties. These health benefits are present whether it’s eaten raw, as coconut oil, or as coconut milk. When it comes to your thyroid, the fatty acids in coconut oil can nourish your thyroid and boost your energy, helping to stimulate metabolism to manage your weight. It is also amazing as a chemical-free makeup remover!
Avoiding gluten is really important if you’ve gotten a Hashimoto’s thyroiditis diagnosis. I always encourage my coaching clients with any chronic illness to give up gluten, because gluten is highly inflammatory. Inflammation is what anyone with a chronic illness, such as Hashimoto’s, is consistently fighting against.
In addition to the inflammatory properties, the gluten protein also has a similar structure to the thyroid, which can lead to a molecular case of mistaken identity- so every time you eat gluten, those molecules escape into your bloodstream, trigger an immune response from the immune system.
This response causes the immune system to not only attack the gluten, but the thyroid as well because they “look alike”. Healing your gut is important to reduce this from happening, and you can’t heal your gut while still eating gluten.
If you are really wanting to take hold of a Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis diagnosis, it’s really important to avoid BPA in the products you use, particularly with your water or juice bottles. BPA, or bisphenol A, is often used in making plastics, and is an endocrine disrupter. It mimics estrogen in the body, causing hormonal changes and even leading to the development of cancer.
Your endocrine system is the collection of glands that produce important hormones in your body. These hormones help regulate metabolism, sleep, reproduction, sexual function, mood, and more. Those are very important bodily functions to risk just for the “convenience” of plastic bottles!
It’s just as easy to get a stainless steel water bottle or glass water bottle that you can refill and take with you on the go, and then you won’t have to worry about whether or not your beverage is contributing to your thyroid dysfunction.
Use Essential Oils
Essential oils seem to be a buzzword these days, and have been scrutinized along with the “crunchy moms” for having an oil for everything… but the thing is, herbs are medicine, and they are incredibly powerful.
Essential oils aren’t just good for relaxation and massages; they have also been shown to help with dysfunctional thyroid symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, joint pains, muscle weakness, anxiety, depression, and digestive issues because they easily absorb into the skin.
If there was a superhero among the essential oil world, there’s no doubt it would be frankincense. It not only helps reduce stress and repairs dry skin, but it’s also shown to stop cancer cells from growing. Frankincense also showed promising results in treating people with chronic inflammatory conditions. It can be mixed with a carrier oil and used in skincare routines, or diffused in the air (it has an amazing smell!)
Rosemary essential oil is very helpful if your Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis diagnosis has you struggling with hair thinning and hair loss. It’s helpful to rub it on your scalp to help with hair thinning or adding to homemade shampoo or conditioner!
Lemongrass is one of the best essential oils you can use for your thyroid condition, because it’s highly anti-inflammatory, and can help with inflammation and joint pain, digestive issues, headaches, and dry skin. It has a wonderful, uplifting smell and I enjoy putting it directly on my thyroid as not only a benefit for it, but also as a perfume!
What I’m trying to tell you here, is that getting a Hashimoto’s thyroiditis diagnosis is not the end of the world. Is it scary? Absolutely. Does it mean you need to change? Yes, if you want to heal. Is healing possible? It is, and I am proof of that.
Sure, it’s not always easy… but I can tell you one thing; your health is worth it.
If you’re struggling with what to do next, contact me for a health coaching consultation, and let me help you make a plan!
I am not a doctor and this information should not be considered medical advice. This website is educational and intended to empower you to do your own research and be your own advocate. You should seek the advice of your own medical professional for your own situation.