In Hashimotos, the reason why your thyroid has slowed down the production of thyroid hormones is due to the immune system mistaking thyroid tissue for something foreign, resulting a degree of damage and impairing its function.
It is also important to note that for some individuals who have Hashimotos they may experience swings into an overactive state, known as thyroiditis or a temporary thyroid storm which can mimic Graves disease. The main symptoms associated with this are heart palpitations, hair loss and anxiety.
There are a number of reasons or ‘triggers’ for why our body develops Hashimotos:
Chronic viral infections: Research suggests that certain viruses can trigger autoreactive cells in the body which modify the normal immune response, resulting in the immune system mounting an attack on the body’s own tissues. Certain viruses such as Epstein Barre stay in the body for life which can explain the chronic nature of autoimmune diseases and the flairs associated long term.
Exposure to heavy metals:
In today’s modern living environments we are exposed to a number of heavy metals which have been found to accumulate in the thyroid gland over our lifespan. These toxic substances residing within our cells trigger our immune system to mount an attack, resulting in thyroid tissue being damaged. The main heavy metals which have been associated with Hashimotos are mercury, cadmium, lead and aluminium.
Poor gut health: If there is any damage to the intestinal barrier it can become permeable which means that foreign substances that should be contained within the digestive tract can end up passing more easily into our body and thus activating the immune system. Dysbiosis of the gut microbiome can also impact the body’s ability to absorb nutrients essential for thyroid and immune health.
Other autoimmune conditions: Many people who struggle with an autoimmune condition will develop a second or third autoimmune condition. Hashimotos is commonly co-found with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Coeliac disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, and Vitiligo. Research has found a common genetic predisposition in coeliac disease and autoimmune thyroid disease which further supports the idea that environmental triggers are the main cause of autoimmunity.
Radiation exposure: Studies of those surrounding the Chernobyl, Nagasaki and Hiroshima sites have shown a positive relationship between radiation and nuclear exposure with the development of thyroid conditions. Medical exposure of radiation has also shown to damage the thyroid for certain at risk individuals.
The varying triggers highlights to us that the best way to treat Hashimotos is to not only enhance your thyroid hormone production but to identify your specific trigger and support your immune system. The good news is that herbal medicine, diet and some lifestyle adjustments can make the world of difference for your symptoms and the severity of Hashimotos.
If you would like some help finding out if you have Hashimotos or already have a diagnosis and want some help managing the condition, please book in a consultation and we can begin our work together.