Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: functional medicine treatment approach

As a follow up from my previous article on this topic, I now want to share with you a functional medicine approach to treating Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

How autoimmunity occurs

Remember that Hashiomoto’s thyroiditis is an auto-immune condition where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. How does auto-immunity occur? The proposed mechanism of action is through three conditions[1] that contribute:

1. Genetic predisposition: genes can be turned on and off through lifestyle habits. This “epigenetic” effect means that you can carry genes for a particular condition (such as diabetes) and effectively “turn off” these genes from expressing through eating clean, raw foods. This case is demonstrated by the work of Gabriel Cousens, M.D. at his Tree of Life Foundation clinic in Patagonia, AZ where they filmed “Raw for 30 Days.” (http://www.treeoflifefoundation.org/service/reversing-diabetes-2/)

2. Intestinal permeability (a.k.a. “leaky gut”) in which the intestinal lining allows for unwanted proteins to easily enter the blood stream that stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies directed to “self” target tissues; in the case of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, antibodies are directed to attack thyroid gland tissue.

3. Unhealthy bacterial population in the wall of the lower small and entire large intestine, which are damaging to the intestinal wall. There are more than 500 bacterial species there, and many of these are unhealthy, competing with the healthy ones known to heal the intestinal lining (such as pro-biotics lactobacilli and bifidobacterial. These healthy bacteria secrete short chain fatty acids that have been proven to heal a damaged intestinal lining.

Dietary recommendations for reversing autoimmunity

Even a healthy food can trigger autoimmunity. A common food is wheat and other grains (spelt, barley, rye, triticale, kamut, farro, durum, bulgar, and semolina. Here are grains that do NOT contain gluten: oats (unless contaminated with other grains in manufacturing), brown and wild rice corn, amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa (“keen-wah”), millet, sorghum, teff, and montina (a.k.a Indian rice grass).

Consider doing a simple targeted “food elimination” experiment. Begin by eliminating gluten (breads, pasta, cereals with wheat flour) for 4 weeks; then reintroduce gluten food products back into your diet for at least 3 days and watch for a recurrence of symptoms. You may have an answer quickly with some symptom involving your skin, joints, pains, sleep, mood, or energy level. Then, do the same with foods containing dairy, peanuts, soy, eggs, corn, and even with refined sugar foods (the top 7 allergy-causing foods).