Hypothyroidism and Hashimotos
The thyroid is a vital hormonal gland located at the base of the neck. It is the master regulator to every system in our body because it determines our metabolic rate. Our cells are fuelled by the nutrients we eat which turns into energy (metabolism). This energy is how we produce hormones, detoxify, digest etc.
Both Hypothyroidism and Hashimotos cause systemic issues. Gut and hormone imbalances arise when an individual is metabolically unhealthy because every system slows down. Your stomach acid will be low, digestion will be slow, blood circulation will be reduced, liver will be sluggish, progesterone will be low, immune system will be suppressed, minerals will be imbalanced… you get the point.
This is what allows things like pathogenic bacteria, parasites and yeast to proliferate. This is why we suggest a pro metabolic way of eating with our clients because it is the only way to truly get down to the root cause. Killing these invaders may be necessary once they have already overgrown but they will keep coming back until metabolic health is restored.
Sadly, metabolic disorders like hypothyroidism and hashimotos are very common among our population but are often overlooked by conventional medicine.
What is Hypothyroidism?
It is an under-active thyroid which can be caused by stress, medications like birth control, environment, diet, gut infections, liver toxicity, genetics, age, nutrient deficiencies such as retinol, selenium, iodine etc. It is a commonly diagnosed condition where the thyroid doesn't produce nor release enough thyroid hormone. It can also be caused by hashimotos (read below).
When the gland is under functioning, there is a lack of T4 and T3 hormones in the blood which can cause an array of symptoms such as:
Hair Loss/Brittle Hair
Muscle Aches and Weaknesses
Dry Skin and/or Acne
Keep in mind, if you are taking thyroid medication, it not only is avoiding the root cause but it could be making your hypothyroidism worse. An increase in T4 without proper support for T3 production can cause T4 to move towards the reverse T3 pathway which inhibits thyroid function further. Furthermore, many people don't have the nutrient levels and mineral status to sustain an increasing dose of thyroid hormone medication. This results in them feeling even worse than they did before. This is due to the fact that increasing anyone's metabolic rate is going to increase the rate they use nutrients. An increased turnover of nutrients increases the amount needed to maintain adequate levels and a normal metabolic rate. Unfortunately, it is difficult to replenish nutrient stores when taking any pharmaceutical as they are very depleting.
This is why it is so important to test not just TSH but also T4, T3, Reverse T3, Anti TPO, Anti-TG, TSI Antibodies, your basal body temperatures and pulses. We want to decipher if antibodies are present and if it is a conversion issue or a production issue. If it is a thyroid conversion issue, a lot of the work that needs to be done is actually in the liver (and some in the gut). It's not really a thyroid issue. Getting enough bioavailable selenium and zinc in is so important when optimizing T4 to T3 conversion. We also run HTMA testing on most clients to get insight into their metabolism on a cellular level and specific mineral levels that are supportive for hypothyroidism and hashimotos. We see a slow oxidizer picture for 80% of the HTMA tests we review indicating an under-active thyroid and slow metabolism.
What is Hashimotos?
It is an autoimmune disorder causing inflammation of the thyroid gland. People often see the sides of their neck swell up. Hashimotos can cause your thyroid to under-produce thyroid hormone and become hypothyroid. The cause to hashimotos isn't necessarily a thyroid issue, it is more of an immune system issue. Basically your immune system is being hyper-stimulated to produce antibodies that are attaching to healthy cells in the thyroid and slowly destroying them. This is due to intestinal permeability (leaky gut). The symptoms of Hashimoto's are similar to the hypothyroidism ones above but the treatment focus is often a bit different. This is why it is so important to ensure you are testing thyroid antibodies and not just TSH. If any thyroid antibodies are present, then some level of hashimotos is likely present. GI Map and HTMA tests can not directly detect Hashimotos or thyroid antibodies but often give good indication as to whether an autoimmune disease is present through secretory IgA, different bacteria, heavy metals and mineral ratios.
How do I Heal Hashimotos?
The first step is repairing your mucosal barrier and removing the triggers that made it permeable in the first place. Please see our page linked above on leaky gut. The next step is healing any damage that has been done to the thyroid. If caught early enough, there might not to be a lot of thyroid specific repairing to do and you can mainly focus on the gut. If you have Hypothyroidism but no Hashimotos, then the majority of your healing needs to be done with your thyroid organ and metabolic health. Since the body is all connected, obviously gut and liver work is inevitable here too.
How do I Fix My Thyroid?
Shocker: You DON'T need celery juice! Honestly, the amount of oxalates in celery juice will end up depleting your minerals and slowing your thyroid down even more long term. We're not a big fan of any green juices- fruit juices are a much better option for your thyroid.
List of DO's:
Eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking
Eat regular balanced meals (saturated fat, animal protein and whole food carbohydrate)
Eat lots of shellfish like oysters for mineral content
Consider supplementing thyroid beef glandular if production is slow
Get 8-10 hours of sleep and go to bed before 10pm
Get natural sunlight in the mornings
Optimize digestion and your gut microbiome
Balance muscle meat out with dairy, bone broth, gelatin etc.
Get daily movement in
Provide your body with an abundance of natural sugars and carbohydrates (paired with protein)
List of DON'Ts:
Avoid thyroid suppressive supplements (melatonin, vitamin D, calcium, fish oil, iron, multivitamins etc.)
Limit polyunsaturated fatty acids (nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, seed oils, processed foods, corn, fish oil etc.)
Don't over-exercise or under-eat (most important)
Avoid over the counter drugs, replace with herbal medicine
Don't stress too much- take time off to relax!
These are just some baseline, general suggestions. When healing from any chronic condition like Hashimotos or Hypothyroidism, we recommend seeking professional help that is specific to your needs.
Is There a Link Between the Thyroid and Acne?
YES! If the thyroid gland is out of whack, whether it's hashimotos or hypothyroidism, it can wreack havoc on your skin. Acne is a reflection of any internal imbalance or dysfunction happening. The main ways an under-active thyroid can cause acne are through your liver, gut and hormones. For instance, a properly functioning thyroid will produce hormones that are used to convert cholesterol into progesterone. Without enough progesterone, you will get estrogen and androgen dominance causing acne. Since your thyroid controls the speed and function of your digestion and detoxification, a slow thyroid can also be at the root of these issues that are causing acne.
Hyperthyroidism is on the other end of the spectrum and is usually a result of an autoimmune disorder known as Grave’s disease. It is when your thyroid is over-active causing symptoms like; weight loss, increased appetite, heart palpitations, diarrhea, anxiety, insomnia, low heat tolerance etc. Both are problematic and have similar treatments but this is a lot less common than hypothyroidism and not something we work with often in our practice.
Check out our 1:1 membership to work with a hypothyroidism nutritionist and learn how to start supporting your specific thyroid condition today! We also offer our signature skin clearing program designed to get to the root of your health issues.