Approximately 28 million Americans suffer from a thyroid problem of which 90% are due to the autoimmune disease known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Unfortunately, conventional medicine treats you the same way whether you have non-autoimmune hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s thyroid disease that has led to hypothyroidism.
One of the most important things to identify is the actual cause of your Hashimoto’s thyroiditis which heavily determines how it is treated. Pregnancy, gluten, vitamin D deficiency, cigarette smoke, leaky gut and infections are some of the many triggers of autoimmune thyroid disease.
Infections are by far the most overlooked aspect of the causes of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis not only in conventional medicine but in alternative medicine circles as well. The three most common infections involved in autoimmune thyroid disease include:
- Epstein-Barr Virus
- Yersinia Enterocolitica
- Helicobacter pylori
Most likely, your doctor has not checked you for these infections that can trigger autoimmune thyroiditis and drive the immune attack on your thyroid gland.
The Epstein-Barr Virus is the virus that cause mononucleosis also known as the “kissing disease.” It is transferred through saliva and most people get it when they are young. Normally, your body fights it off and your immune system keeps it at bay for life. However, in some individuals, there is a genetic deficiency in the immune system cells that control this virus resulting in reactivation and autoimmunity.
The Epstein-Barr Virus is best tested in the blood looking for signs of reactivation. I use a variety of herbs and supplements to deactivate this virus and help the immune system keep it at bay in genetically-susceptible individuals. Selenomethionine is a great anti-viral as well as monolaurin and vitamin C.
The second infection is Yersinia enterocolitica which you get from contaminated food or water. Usually, people who get infected think they have “eaten something bad” and fight it off with some diarrhea and stomach discomfort. However, sometimes it remains deep in the intestinal barrier triggering an autoimmune attack on your thyroid gland. The protein structure of yersinia looks identical to your own thyroid tissue so your body not only continually attacks the yersinia, but the thyroid gland as well.
Yersinia is also best tested in the blood as stool tests will often miss this infection. I use an herbal formulation along with healthy probiotics and saccharomyces boulardii to rid the body of this gut infection.
The third infection is Helicobacter pylori which is found in everyone’s stomach and it is a common cause of ulcers. When people get stressed, their immune system is suppressed and this opportunistic bacteria begins to grow triggering an autoimmune response against the thyroid gland. This is the most common infection involved in Graves’ disease however it can be involved in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis as well.
Helicobacter pylori can be tested through a breath test, in blood, or through stool analysis. I prefer the breath test as it is the most sensitive for this organism. If it is active, I use some excellent herbal formulations and supplements to suppress its growth. Mastic gum is a classic natural medicine used for H. pylori that has been shown to be effective for this bacteria.
If you have autoimmune thyroid disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves’ disease, it is imperative to have these three infections checked which could be driving the autoimmunity. Once these infections are dealt with, the immune attack on your thyroid gland can become balanced. If your doctor won’t test for these or doesn’t know how to effectively treat them, work with a functional medicine doctor who can help you address these common and overlooked infections. Your thyroid will certainly thank you for it.
About the Author:
Dr. Nikolas Hedberg is a Board Certified Naturopathic Physician, Chiropractic Physician and Diplomate of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition. He is the founder of the Immune Restoration Center in Asheville, NC where he helps patients worldwide with thyroid disorders, autoimmune disease, fatigue, weight gain, depression, hormone imbalances and digestive system problems. He is the author of the book The Thyroid Alternative and the upcoming book The Complete Thyroid Health & Diet Guide.
Sign-up for his free eCourse on “Thyroid Secrets: 5 Things Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You” at www.drhedberg.com.