Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

HASHIMOTO’S Disease

By Dr. Marie Pace, DNM, CNC, HHP

In October of 2004 I received a call from my dad. My mother’s hip broke; she had fallen and was in the hospital not doing well. Mom and Dad lived in Arkansas and I was down here in Louisiana, seemingly VERY far away. They both told me to wait and not come till the Thanksgiving holidays. My mom had been battling Lupus for the last 5 years… a very deadly disease in her case; it was basically destroying all of her organs. Her bones were so brittle she could hardly walk. She had been battling autoimmune diseases in her body for years, had severe osteoporosis, was pre-diabetic, overrun with fungus, and had high blood pressure. She refused all holistic help and only did what the medical doctors told her to do. At one point while I was doing my training as a holistic practitioner, she told me, “Marie, I know they’re killing me but I’m too scared to do anything else!”.

It was devastating to see my best friend suffer the last few years and now this. We got through Thanksgiving and something changed… she made a decision. Christmas morning that year I flew up to say goodbye. My dad and brother both knew that she was waiting on me to arrive before leaving. Christmas night right after I read to her… I literally watched her leave her body.

At the end of August 2005, Miss Katrina came for a visit and followed by Miss Rita. These two wild women (Hurricanes) gave my area of Louisiana a run for the money. My husband and I closed our business from August to mid-October that year to devote all of our time (24/7) helping our neighboring parish run shelters through both storms. It was emotionally and physically draining and at the same time spiritually uplifting to know that we were helping others.

That Christmas wasn’t much of a celebration. After seeing what others had gone through and running shelters for 2 storms… the idea of celebrating with “gifts” no longer important… “stuff” was no longer important.

Right after Christmas as we moved into the new year of 2006 my husband complained of a few sore throats. By October of that year his throat did not seem to heal but he had kept it to himself. Only after it became intolerable… he asked me to look at it. I almost fell over… but kept my composure in front of him… though I died a little inside.

We fought cancer hard… doing everything holistically, medically and spiritually that we could do. Even going to Mexico. We didn’t have insurance of any sort. It went into remission. It returned. It went into remission. It returned. Sigh… he finally gave up. January 2008 he came home from Mexico and made a decision. He asked me to be his sole caretaker.

On March 2, 2008 my son insisted that I get out of the house to take a break and get something to eat. I had not left the house for 3 months straight. (Our office was in our home at the time). It was raining that night and very cold. After eating pancakes (I was craving “comfort” foods), while my son was paying the bill, I told him I’d go get the car. I never made it. I walked in front of a truck leaving the parking lot and was run over.

I still remember the ambulance tech telling me, “you can make it” as I turned my head and saw my son sobbing on the bench in the ambulance. I made a decision at that moment. I didn’t leave. I was taken to the hospital where they told me both knees were broken. As they wheeled me into the X-ray room I remember thinking, “God… I can’t have broken legs I have to get back home to my husband.” The technician came out and was shaking his head. My knees were NOT broken.

I was taken home but couldn’t bend my legs as they were put into braces and stitched up. My son laid me on the couch in the living room. Exactly 6 hours later was when my husband left. 4:10am. Sigh…

Early 2009 I got a call from my brother in Little Rock. Sigh. My dad left. He had been struggling with heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

I had now lost 3 of the most important people in my life. My son and I were totally alone.

I distinctly remember sitting in my recliner in my bedroom at home with my heart racing so fast and my body shaking so hard I couldn’t stop the tremors. Scared me to death. My face had been swollen for days. I had trouble swallowing. My stools were loose and I felt exhausted. I could barely keep my eyes open. The pain in my body was horrible.

I had not been eating well with all the commotion going on in my life for the last few years. My gut was so torn up after drinking 2-3 pots of coffee daily to keep me going so I could work and help my husband. Drinking tons of coffee and eating fast food was certainly adding to my ill health.

(Side note: Funny thing… not a single client ever knew what was going on with me. As long as I was in front of a client, I could hold it together. That was literally at the time what saved me… helping others.)

I thought maybe something was going on with my thyroid … I ran a battery of tests on myself… and interestingly enough… my TPO Antibodies (thyroid antibodies) were activated… not high… but “doing something”. The range that the lab offers is 0-34. Mine were at 15. I waited a week and ran them again out of curiosity. They went up to 20.

“Ah, Ha!” … The GAME was on… I waited a week and ran the test again. This time they were at 23. I ran the test every week until it hit 34… it was fascinating…. It felt like I was watching something crawling UP in my body…

My first thought was, “DAMN!” this is Hashimoto’s disease. My second thought was, “I CAN BEAT THIS!”

I contacted one of my medical doctor friends who told me… “You know what this means? We probably just need to remove your thyroid gland”. With a smile on my face I told him, “Keep your grubby paws off my thyroid… I can fix this!” He grinned back…and I’m 99% sure he was thinking to himself “I’ll be seeing her on the operating table in 6 months”.

I read every book & study I could get my hands on. Most said it was an imbalanced or confused immune system, some said “buy my protocol and supplements”. Each and every one basically pointed to “an immune system that was overloaded and attacking the thyroid gland and slowly destroying it.” Well… that IS what it felt like. And yes… changing diet and removing toxins made sense to me… as a holistic practitioner myself I knew that toxins were involved. Other studies seemed to point to this being genetic and that I somehow “inherited” this “autoimmune” attack from my mother. I had a VERY hard time accepting that as true.

I’m a strong believer that cancer, diabetes, heart disease and autoimmune disease are NOT inherited but rather CREATED out of the bad habits that families share!

In my research I ran across a doctor who had studied Epstein Barr Virus. Remembering back into my childhood I knew I had Mononucleosis… so this little virus being a potential adversary in the fight to fix my thyroid problem… kind of made sense to me.

Problem was that NO ONE… and I mean NO ONE… had a medically workable, proven way to rid the body of the virus.

My business was starting to grow and I put most of my attention on helping others… that always made ME feel better. My son was wonderful and he became my business partner. We both started doing better… eating organic foods, nothing fried, working out at the gym, spending time together creating on the business… but we both continued to have a few health issues.

In 2014 I broke down and did a food allergy test on myself (I know, I know… healers tend to take care of themselves last!) and was stunned. I was HIGHLY allergic to dairy, eggs, wheat, pork, turkey, and chicken. When I finally removed those foods from my diet and started eating a whole food plant based diet… it was almost a miracle. My gut issues and skin issues vanished. Not in a few months… but in a few DAYS!

In 2015 I picked up a new book that was getting some buzz in the holistic field… MEDICAL MEDIUM By Anthony William. WOW! I read the book 3 times through in a matter of days. I was stunned to find this guy… this medical medium… this healer … pointing back to the EPSTEIN BARR VIRUS as the culprit to “autoimmune disease” and every illness that was seemingly incurable. I’m not going to say that I agree with everything he says. But DANG! This guy was on to something. I fully believe that he is going in the right direction. His protocol was based on sound advice… eat a whole food plant-based diet as the crux to the remedy, remove triggers, connect with your own spirituality and use natural substances to kill the virus & remove heavy metals. As a spiritual healer, Mr. William’s intuition and messages are workable and sound.

All those losses that I experienced and threats to my own and my son’s survival were the catalysts that pushed the Epstein Barr Virus to the front. Out of curiosity I tested 4 of the tests available at the time all this started and 2 of my titers were over 600 (they were supposed to be less than 18).

I use much of what I have learned from others and my own experience and research… bottom line… my antibodies are now normal. My thyroid is no longer enlarged. I have no nodules or cysts. I have no digestive issues since I follow a WHOLE FOOD PLANT BASED DIET. I don’t have the swings of energy or emotions that I was having. I have been able to lower my dosage of thyroid hormones. I no longer need testosterone and progesterone supplementation. My adrenal glands are working nicely. I do NOT have high blood pressure, diabetes or any other debilitating lifestyle disease. (Proof that my health issues were NOT INHERTITED from my mother and father.) My aches and pains only come from my work at the gym! I’m over 60 years old and feeling great.

Let’s take a few steps back and look at the history of HASHIMOTO’S, what are the possible “causes” of this disease, how it can make you feel and lastly… how to solve the problem holistically.

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How do you know if you have HASHIMOTO’S?

If your thyroid antibodies (TPO) are present or if you have nodules or an enlarged gland, you are having an autoimmune attack INVOLVING your thyroid gland. You will most likely be having wild “swings” up and down. This is indicative of HASHIMOTO’S THYROIDITIS. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis was named after the Japanese physician, Hakaru Hashimoto (1881 – 1934), who first described the condition in 1912.

Hashimoto’s (also called Hashi’s) is an “autoimmune” problem. In the medical field they look at it like this: Either the protein in your thyroid called “thyroglobulin” is being attacked or activated or the thyroid enzyme “peroxidase” is being attacked or activated. Holistically we know that when either antibody is being activated it is in response to a viral overload! Both situations can result in thyroid cells being destroyed over time, so you can vacillate between hyper symptoms due to the dumping of thyroid cells in your blood (anxiety, higher heart rate, etc.) and hypo symptoms due to having less thyroid (fatigue, depression, sluggishness. Having enlarged, non-cancerous thyroid nodules are common.

Many medical doctors miss this when doing testing. They either don’t bother to test the antibodies or they mis-read the results. Holistically if your antibodies are present above 10 then they are “doing something”. Most doctors rely on the lab’s range of 0-34 to determine whether or not to officially diagnose you with this disease. Holistically that is waiting too late. If the antibodies are over 10 then you have something going on. If there are cysts or nodules… something is going on. That something is inflammation and most likely caused by a viral overload.

Your immune system is your defense against invaders. It is your internal army and has to clearly distinguish friend from foe — to know you from others. One school of thought in the medical field is that autoimmunity occurs when your immune system gets overwhelmed and starts to attack body parts or systems. and your own tissues get caught in friendly cross-fire. Your body is fighting something — an infection, a toxin, an allergen, a food or the stress response — and somehow it redirects its hostile attack on your joints, your brain, your thyroid, your gut, your skin, or sometimes your whole body.

Another interesting hypothesis in the holistic field is… instead of your immune system “attacking” your own body… maybe it’s protecting your body from invaders! In most cases the Epstein Barr Virus is still present from a much earlier activation. There are now links showing a direct relation between Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) and both MS (multiple sclerosis) and LUPUS and all other “auto-immune” type diseases in the body.

Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) belongs to the herpes family of viruses. It is sometimes referred to as Human Herpes Virus-4 (HHV-4). Viruses are tiny parasites that enter our cells and reproduce, potentially damaging or killing our cells along the way.

EBV infection can be subclinical, which means that a person is carrying the virus but does not have overt symptoms, or it can be clinical and cause infectious mononucleosis. Getting an EBV serum blood panel done might help. Sadly most medical doctors are not taught how to read the results for a correct evaluation. They rely on the lab to determine for them as to whether or not the virus is still active. We now know that if ANY of the EBV titers are positive … you have an active issue in your body. Please note that even if your EBV titers are normal… that does NOT rule out chronic Epstein Barr Virus being present in your body… if anyone in your immediate family had Mononucleosis… if you ever had herpes cold sores, shingles, strep throat… then you HAVE Epstein Barr Virus in your body… hidden deep in your organs.

EBV has also been linked with chronic fatigue syndrome, an illness characterized by severe to debilitating fatigue that impairs daily function and is often made worse by exertion, exercise, headache, sore throat, and other stresses. It may be accompanied by enlarged, painful lymph nodes; sore throat; headache; painful joints; abdominal pain; muscle pain; low-grade fever; and cognitive difficulty, especially difficulty concentrating and sleeping.

Conventional approaches (standard medical) don’t have a method for finding the insult (virus, toxin, etc.) that is causing the problem. Functional medicine (Naturopathy, Holistic, or Natural medicine) DOES provide a number of answers!

In this country, autoimmune diseases, when taken all together, are a huge health burden. They are the eighth leading cause of death among women, shortening the average patient’s lifespan by eight years. The annual health care cost for autoimmune diseases is $120 billion a year representing nearly twice the economic health care burden of cancer (about $ 70 billion a year).

Honestly I don’t care which viewpoint is taken (an autoimmune attack where your body is attacking itself or if it’s the EBV that is causing the issue)… the bottom line is NO DRUG WILL FIX THE SITUATION IN YOUR BODY! The ONLY solution is going to be found in your diet and lifestyle.

Probably 75% of my clients that are on Synthroid or Levothyroxine have either conversion problems (sluggish liver) or Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis and have never been diagnosed by their regular medical doctor properly… and therefore are NOT getting “treated” correctly!

Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease (like all other autoimmune diseases) is ultimately caused by a chronic virus in your body.

Often, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is mild and can go undetected for a number of months or years. Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause of primary hypothyroidism in the United States. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis affects approximately 15 million women in the United States, most presenting with Hashimoto’s in middle age. The onset of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is slow and insidious, with gradual progression over time. This means that many people with early Hashimoto’s are not even aware of the problem, as they do not have any symptoms of hypothyroidism. The symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis are initially mild, but as the disease progresses over a lengthy period more symptoms become apparent.

Some of the symptoms and signs of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis include:

 Fatigue & Exhaustion

 Unexplained Weight Gain

 Anxiety & Depression

 High Blood Pressure

 Bloating

 Periods of Sweating, Weight Loss, and Irritability

 Muscle Spasms

 Sore Throat & trouble swallowing food or pills

 Rashes , acne, dry skin

 Sinus issues, allergies

 Headaches

 Infertility in Women

 Insomnia

 Forgetfulness

 Constipation

 Intolerance to Cold

 Swelling in the Front of the Neck

 Tender and stiff muscles

Hashimoto’s normally involves a slow and steady destruction of the thyroid gland eventually resulting in the thyroid being unable to produce sufficient thyroid hormone. This “destruction” is either inflammation from your immune system “attacking” the gland or the gland itself creating a barrier between it and the offending viral attack from Epstein Barr Virus. During this process there can be periods where the thyroid seems to come back to life, even causing temporary hyperthyroidism.

This cycling between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism is one of the characteristics of Hashimoto’s disease. During this cycling back and forth, symptoms will vary too with alternating periods of anxiety, insomnia, diarrhea and weight loss may be followed by periods of depression, fatigue, constipation and weight gain.

Getting your autoimmune disease under control and destroying the virus is extremely important. If left unhandled, your body will really start to revolt and create another autoimmune issue somewhere else in the body or worse… develop cancer cells running rampant in the thyroid gland.

Role of Selenium in Hashimoto’s

Selenium is an essential trace element that inhibits the oxidation of lipids (fats) and works synergistically with vitamin E to assist in the production of antibodies and maintain healthy liver, pancreas, thyroid, and heart function. It also serves as an antioxidant by activating glutathione peroxidase, an antioxidant enzyme that protects cell membranes from free radicals.

Selenium is second only to iodine in terms of thyroid support. The thyroid gland itself contains more selenium by weight than any other organ.2 Selenium is necessary for the conversion of T4 into T3, the more active form of thyroid hormone. Without selenium, there would be no T3 and your cells and tissues would begin to malfunction.

In addition to its role in producing T3, selenium is also a potent antioxidant that protects your thyroid cells from oxidative damage. Without optimal levels of selenium, iodine, as it’s incorporated into thyroid hormone, can actually damage the thyroid gland.

Selenium deficiency is not thought to be common in healthy adults but is more likely to be found in those with digestive health issues causing poor absorption of nutrients, such as Crohn’s or celiac disease, or those with serious inflammation due to chronic infection.

It is thought that selenium deficiency does not specifically cause illness by itself, but that it makes the body more susceptible to illnesses caused by other nutritional, biochemical or infectious stresses, due to its role in immune function.

It has been verified many times that many (not all) people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in the United States are deficient in iodine. However, if they are deficient in iodine then they are almost sure to be deficient in selenium also. Selenium is what the thyroid uses to manage H2O2. If a client runs into problems when taking iodine it is low selenium that is causing these bad reactions, not iodine! Think about it from an evolutionary standpoint. If soil is low in selenium it is very likely to be low in iodine. If soil is low in iodine it is very likely to be low in selenium. As people evolved and moved around the world, they had to be able to adapt to either low selenium and iodine or higher selenium and iodine. What they did not typically have to deal with was high iodine and low selenium. That is until some “smart people” started increasing one without increasing the other. I have yet to read of a bad reaction to iodine if the person was first started in 200 mcg per day of selenium as L-selenomethionine and THEN increasing the iodine.

Dr Elias E. Mazokopakis from Greece reports in 2007: Selenium (Se) supplementation in patients with AITD (autoimmune thyroid disease), including HT (hyperthyroidism), seems to modify the inflammatory and immune responses, probably by enhancing plasma glutathione peroxidase (GPX) and thioredoxin reductase (TR) activity and by decreasing toxic concentrations of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and lipid hydro-peroxides, resulting from thyroid hormone synthesis. In Conclusion: Selenium supplementation is a prerequisite in all patients with elevated anti-thyroid antibody levels and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Iodine deficiency is a health risk and supplementation is beneficial, realizing that selenium must be started first to avoid aggravating the auto-immune thyroid disease. Selenium is inexpensive and readily available as a supplement in tablet or capsules. Usual dosage is 200-400 mcg/day of seleno-methionine. (This is the form of selenium we use in our office at That’s Health).

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HASHIMOTO’S AND GRAVE’S DISEASE

Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism results from the production of antibodies that destroy thyroglobulin and/or the enzyme thyroid peroxidase.  Thyroglobulin is a protein used by the thyroid gland to produce the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. Thyroid peroxidase is an enzyme in the thyroid that assists in the production of T3 and T4.

Grave’s disease, on the other hand, causes an autoimmune hyperthyroidism.  Grave’s disease is actually the most common cause of hyperthyroidism.  The excessive thyroid activity of Grave’s disease is the result of autoantibodies to the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) receptor.  The TSH receptor antibodies activate the TSH receptors and stimulate the thyroid to produce excessive amounts of thyroid hormone.

Thus, the key difference between the autoimmune thyroid disorders Hashimoto’s and Grave’s disease lies in the action of the autoantibodies that are produced. 

-Hashimoto’s autoantibodies decrease precursors necessary for thyroid hormone production, thereby eventually causing hypothyroidism. 

-Grave’s disease autoantibodies stimulate TSH receptors, thereby increasing thyroid hormone production and causing hyperthyroidism.

SOLUTIONS

In the holistic field we offer a few points that SHOULD be done with anyone who has an autoimmune disease involving the thyroid or if you have a low functioning thyroid gland. All points are important… do not just pick and choose:

1. Ensure that you are getting a proper amount of Selenium to reduce antibodies and normalize TSH and support Free T4 and Free T3. The best way naturally to handle this is to eat a single BRAZIL nut daily and include eat lots of whole food FRESH fruit and veggies including cantaloupe, oranges, grapefruit and lime, mango, prunes, cherries, peaches, apple pears, Brussels sprouts, lima beans, navy beans, green beans, cabbage, asparagus, zucchini, bell peppers, and eggplant. Personally my body doesn’t digest nuts well so I supplement with the proper form of selenium (getting the proper form as a supplement is KEY).

2. Avoiding DAIRY, EGGS & GLUTEN is VITAL. Researchers have found that organ-specific auto-antibodies (such as thyroid antibodies) will disappear after 3- 6 months of a gluten, dairy & egg free diet. If you also have joint inflammation, skin rashes (eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea), respiratory congestion, brain fog, fatigue, migraines or memory loss then you should also be off these foods. Ideally eat a WHOLE FOOD PLANT BASED DIET – avoid all animal products and by-products! I strongly encourage clients to do a FOOD ALLERGY TEST in our office to check for any IgG (Immunoglobin G) response to foods that your body is having.

3. Support the adrenal glands & Ferritin levels – get your adrenal glands working at optimum through proper saliva testing and nutritional supplements. Trying to increase thyroid hormones when adrenal function is low is asking for a disaster and you will feel worse. Based on proper testing… supplement with natural bio-identical hormones (estrogens, progesterone, Dhea, Pregnenolone, Cortisol, etc.) and only use NATURAL DESICCATED THYROID (NDT) such as ARMOUR, NP Thyroid or other. Low Ferritin levels can cause: palpitations, loss of sex drive, hair loss, foggy thinking, achiness, easy fatigue, faster heart rate, legs burning after working out, depression, etc. and make cause your body to feel worse even on proper dosages of natural desiccated thyroid hormones!

4. Cleanse the body – through proper diet & supplementation to remove heavy metals and viruses.

5. Remove stress – stress build-ups over time or acute is deadly and creates an acidic body that becomes overloaded with toxins and imbalanced nutrients. Meditating daily, removing difficult people from your life, spending time with those who encourage and enhance you, are all very important in removing stress. This step is KEY. You can eat right and supplement and exercise but if you live or work in an unhealthy environment you CAN’T get well!

6. Exercise daily… even if it’s only for 10 minutes a day (ideally 30-60 minutes). Get that heart rate up. Yoga, light weights, speed walking are all great.

7. Meditate daily. Meditation and prayer are BOTH important and each offers different healing effects in the body and mind. Do both. A great app for your phone to use is: INSIGHT TIMER

8. BUY & Read my book on WHAT’S HEALTH to get the latest info on how to achive true health and balance in your life!

Eating right, moving right, removing stress and toxins from the body and connecting with your spiritual nature are all vital to you recovering your health!

FURTHER READING:

Is the TSH test Reliable? https://thatshealth.com/2018/12/05/is-the-tsh-thyroid-test-reliable/

 

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