The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that five out of every 100 Americans over the age of 12 have hypothyroidism. The prevalence of this disease increases with age.(1) This makes hypothyroidism the most common disease arising from a hormonal insufficiency.(2) Gender is an influencing factor, as women are three to seven times more likely to develop hypothyroidism than men.(1) Known risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing this disease include having a family history of hypothyroidism and pregnancy.(1) Recent research by the British Medical Journal (2021) suggests that taking birth control pills, or oral contraceptives (OCs), may also increase the odds of developing hypothyroidism.(3)
In this episode of Functional Medicine Research, I interview Sally Norton in a discussion about how oxalates affect your thyroid and your health. We covered what oxalates are and how they can damage the body. We also discussed how oxalates affect gut health, liver health, thyroid health as well as all the symptoms and associated conditions connected to oxalates.
If you’re really struggling to get well, but your diet appears to be healthy, oxalates may be the missing link.
We have known since the early 1970s that infections can trigger autoimmune diseases and now we have an interesting hypothesis on the potential triggering of Hashimoto’s disease by COVID-19 infection.
A recent case study out of Singapore published in the Singapore Medical Journal entitled, “COVID-19 complicated by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis” presents an individual who developed Hashimoto’s thyroiditis after contracting COVID-19.
COVID-19 can cause a hyperinflammatory state in the body which is a potential recipe for developing autoimmune disease. The authors begin by pointing out the most current literature on COVID-19 connections to the autoimmune diseases antiphospholipid syndrome, autoimmune thrombocytopenia, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, and Guillain-Barre syndrome.
There have never been any studies on leaky gut and Hashimoto’s disease but now we have a new study on this connection. Leaky gut was something rejected by conventional medicine despite the fact that papers on leaky gut date back to the 1970s. For many years functional medicine practitioners have been testing for it and treating it which has helped many patients overcome their chronic illnesses. There are currently over 500 published scientific papers on leaky gut so there is no doubt it exists.
The connection between iodine and Hashimoto’s disease has been one of the most requested topics that I cover, so I’d like to present the research on this topic, so we can set the record straight. Please be aware that none of this is my opinion but rather a detailed analysis of what the scientific literature currently presents.
Your body has about 15 to 20 mg of iodine and 70 to 80% of it resides in the thyroid gland. Iodine is transported into the thyroid gland through the sodium-iodine symporter or NIS. The thyroid peroxidase enzyme oxidizes iodine which is then integrated into thyroglobulin resulting in the production of thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) regulates this process.
Your thyroid only needs 150 to 250 micrograms a day of iodine to function properly. Once iodine intake exceeds this range, hypothyroidism and autoimmune thyroid disease may occur in some individuals.
Your gut microbiota has an intimate connection with your thyroid including connections with hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s disease and Graves’ disease. In this research review I’d like to cover a recent paper entitled, “Microbiota and Thyroid Interaction in Health and Disease” published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism by Eleonare Frohlich and Richard Wahl.
The authors begin by stating that the gut microbiota can act on thyroid function due to the region of where someones lives, their diet including iodine intake, obesity, age, sex hormones, and how autoimmunity can impact the microbiota. I was impressed to see them state that the gut microbiota is linked to autoimmune disease, estrogen, iodine, and obesity. Estrogen can be a key factor in Hashimoto’s disease and a healthy gut is required for optimal estrogen metabolism and excretion through the feces.
They also mention the connection between the gut and the liver in relation to thyroid hormone metabolism in both these organ systems. Your gut is key to properly absorbing and utilizing the thyroid medication that you’re taking and they mention this as well.
In this episode of The Dr. Hedberg Show, I interview Dr. Izabella Wentz about her new book, “Hashimoto’s Food Pharmacology.” We had a great talk about Hashimoto’s disease, Dr. Wentz’s Hashimoto’s healing journey, foods that can help heal Hashimoto’s disease, green smoothies, bone broth, and some recipes that can help heal Hashimoto’s disease.
I highly recommend all of Dr. Wentz’s books and her new book will help you make food easier and healthier so you can heal your Hashimoto’s disease.
In this post I’ll cover everything you need to know about ferritin and hypothyroidism. The ferritin test is a simple blood test and it is one of the most important tests you should have if you have Hashimoto’s disease, Graves’ disease, and hypothyroidism. Ferritin is a storage form of iron and the ferritin level test can tell you if your iron stores are low and need to be increased. The ferritin test is rarely ordered by conventional doctors so many patients are left with the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism when it is actually their low ferritin levels that are causing their health problems. The first issue with iron is that iron deficiency may be quite severe but blood markers such as hemoglobin and the red blood cell count may be normal. This leaves many patients, especially women, misdiagnosed as not having anemia.
One of the main priorities in my practice is to stay on top of the latest cutting-edge research in Hashimoto’s disease and thyroid disorders. My latest round of research reviews involved six clinical studies that examined inositol and selenium and how they conferred major benefits in those with Hashimoto’s disease and subclinical hypothyroidism. The highlights of each study are summarized in a table at the end of this article for ease of reference.
Can Genistein Help Heal Hashimoto’s Disease and Hypothyroidism?
In the fall of 2016, a study was conducted in China and published in the medical journal Immunobiology. The researchers looked at the compound genistein and Hashimoto’s disease to see if it affected thyroid function in patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The research paper was entitled, “Genistein improves thyroid function in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis patients through regulating Th1 cytokines.” To clarify, “Th1 cytokines” refer to a type of thyroid-helper cells that indicate how much inflammation there might be in the thyroid gland. In other words, they are markers of inflammation.
The results of this study were very exciting so you might want to pay close attention.
In this article I cover Hashimoto’s thyroiditis natural treatment including some basic supplements that can help heal Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism as well as some dietary strategies.
The thyroid gland, like any gland in your body, requires a number of basic nutrients to function properly. Every day your thyroid gland produces a certain amount of thyroid hormone that requires specific building blocks. If any of those building blocks are missing, your thyroid may not make enough thyroid hormone and you may suffer from common symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hypothyroidism such as:
- Weight Gain
- Hair Loss
- Cold hands and feet
- Brain fog
- Dry brittle nails and hair
- Muscle pain
Let’s talk about each nutrient that your thyroid needs and how to find out if you are deficient. It may be that you would benefit from some simple supplements for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hypothyroidism.
Is There a Connection Between Vitamin D and Hashimoto’s Disease? Does Vitamin D Supplementation Help Heal Hashimoto’s Disease?
Vitamin D has long been established in literature as a highly essential nutrient with benefit to the musculoskeletal system and bone density. It also functions in the body as an immunomodulator, facilitating normal immune system function and improving resistance against certain diseases.
Given this background, one has to wonder if a deficiency in vitamin D would be prevalent among individuals with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and if so, would supplementation with vitamin D help patients manage the disease or perhaps even prevent it?
I was pleasantly surprised to learn about some recent research on the positive effects of black cumin seed oil and Hashimoto’s disease. I’m always searching for compounds that can help my patients with Hashimoto’s disease and black cumin seed oil looks like a real winner. In this article I break down two promising studies on black cumin seed oil and how it can help autoimmune thyroiditis.
Aloe vera is one of the oldest medicinal plants we know of that was used by the ancient Egyptians who called it “the plant of immortality.” And 200 years ago Greek scientists considered Aloe vera a “universal panacea.” Aloe vera is technically named Aloe barbadensis and you most likely have heard of using Aloe topically for burns or internally for soothing an inflamed gut.
I’ve used Aloe vera over the years as one of the compounds in a gut-healing supplement I use for leaky gut, inflammatory bowel, SIBO, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome. It works extremely well at reducing inflammation and repairing inflamed and damaged mucus membranes in the gut and the urinary tract. I have also used it quite successfully with the bladder pain caused by interstitial cystitis.
The ketogenic diet is currently sweeping the internet and the diet book world as the best thing since sliced bread for everything under the sun. Unfortunately, you can’t eat bread on the ketogenic diet and it really can be difficult to follow for some people.
Since I work with many patients who have Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism, I wanted to investigate whether the ketogenic diet can cause hypothyroidism or decrease thyroid function. Let’s jump into the research and see what it has to say.
One of the most common questions I get is, “What are optimal Hashimoto’s thyroiditis antibody levels?” For years, many patients and clinicians have been chasing thyroid peroxidase (TPO) and anti-thyroglobulin (TG) antibody levels in an attempt to get them as low as possible or even undectable as a measure of success. This can leave many people frustrated and stressed about their condition. Some individuals feel that these levels should become undetectable in order to consider the condition in complete remission. But is this entirely true or necessary?
Sometimes very simple tests provide a significant amount of valuable information when it comes to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. One simple blood test is the red blood cell distribution width or RDW test which is included in the complete blood count (CBC). A recent study found that patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis have higher levels of RDW.
In this episode of The Dr. Hedberg Show, I interviewed Dr. David Brady about the new GI-MAP stool test by Diagnostic Solutions Laboratory. We discussed many topics including autoimmune disease, stool testing, stealth infections, gut infections, the gut microbiome and much more. This is the stool test I use in my practice to identify bacterial dysbiosis, viruses, parasites, yeast, and overall digestive health.
In this episode of The Dr. Hedberg Show, I interviewed writer and thyroid advocate Rachel Hill of The Invisible Hypothyroidism. We discussed Hashimoto’s disease, hypothyroidism, and many connections to these illnesses.
Rachel suffers from thyroid issues herself so we can learn a lot from her about her personal experiences. I urge everyone to listen or read and connect with her through her website and social media which I have linked to at the end of the transcript.
In this interview on The Dr. Hedberg Show, I had a great time talking to Shannon Garrett about Hashimoto’s disease.
We started by talking about Shannon’s personal journey with Hashimoto’s disease. And then we got into how stress triggers Hashimoto’s disease as well as emotions and early adverse life events in childhood and how they connect to autoimmune disease as an adult.
What is Hepatitis C?
The Hepatitis C Virus infects the liver and it can spread to other body tissues such as the thyroid gland. Once inside the thyroid gland, it multiplies and may cause Hashimoto’s disease. Hepatitis C has also been found to trigger arthritis, diabetes, autoimmunity to the liver, Sjogren’s syndrome, and autoimmunity to the kidney. Chronic infection of the liver causes liver cirrhosis and even liver cancer.
Epstein-Barr Virus or EBV is a herpes virus (Herpes 4) that is significantly connected to Hashimoto’s disease and many other autoimmune diseases. It is the most common infection I see in my patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Testing for Epstein-barr virus is fairly straightforward but treatment can take a long time.
Discovered in 1982 in those with gastritis and ulcers, Helicobacter pylori or “H. pylori” is one of the most common infections connected to Hashimoto’s disease and also Graves’ disease for that matter. Like Yersinia enterocolitica and Epstein-Barr Virus infections, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can be triggered by H. pylori through a process called molecular mimicry which basically means that the infection looks similar to your thyroid tissue so the immune system attacks the infection and the thyroid gland.
The gut-thyroid connection is one of the most important and overlooked aspects of healthy thyroid function. Did you know that many diseases can be traced to a breakdown in the gastrointestinal tract? 70 percent of your immune system resides in this area – your gut, and the GI tract has many important functions for your health including digestion, nutrient absorption, elimination, detoxification, hormone metabolism and energy production. 99% of the neurotransmitters in your body are actually created in the intestine (part of your GI tract), and every brain chemical known as a neurotransmitter is found there. This means the GI tract, or gut, plays a very important role in achieving optimal thyroid health.
The ferritin test may be the most important blood test you ever get, especially if you have a thyroid problem.
When I began my training in the diagnosis and management of internal disorders immediately after graduation, one of the first things we studied heavily was blood chemistry analysis. My teachers always stressed the importance of taking a careful look at iron levels in the blood and a rare test known as the ferritin test.
What is ferritin?
Ferritin is an iron-containing protein and is the primary form of iron stored inside your cells. Even though there is a small amount of ferritin released into your bloodstream, it is an accurate marker of how much iron is actually stored in your body. Iron is primarily stored in your liver, muscles, spleen and bone marrow but if you have too much it can accumulate in your organs and the brain.
Understanding the importance of gluten and Hashimoto’s disease may be the key factor in healing your thyroid.
The Link Between Gluten and Hashimoto’s Disease
Has your doctor talked to you about the link between gluten and Hashimoto’s Disease? Hashimoto’s Disease is an autoimmune condition that causes 90% of all cases of hypothyroidism. Gluten is a combination of proteins found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley, spelt and many others. Ongoing scientific research indicates that there is a dangerous link between eating foods that contain gluten and Hashimoto’s disease.
The hard truth is that gluten and Hashimoto’s Disease are a destructive combination. If you have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, you need to completely avoid gluten to avoid triggering autoimmune attacks on your thyroid gland. However, you may not have to avoid gluten forever but this depend on a number of factors.
Low Thyroid Symptoms in Women are Widespread
Thyroid symptoms in women are sadly prevalent today. In general, women are more vulnerable to thyroid disorders than men for a variety of reasons. It is estimated that as many as ten percent of women suffer harmful effects from underactive thyroid, a condition also known as hypothyroidism.
Thyroid symptoms in women are more frequently caused by the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Up to ninety percent of all cases of hypothyroidism are caused by Hashimoto’s Disease, an autoimmune disorder that is about seven times more likely to affect women than men.
I was recently interviewed by Diana Bowman on Thyroid Nation in a discussion about Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism
Diana : Hi everybody! Welcome to the third week, episode three, of Thyroid Nation Radio Talk Show Live and Podcast. I’m Diana Bowman, founder of thyroidnation.com.
Tiffany: And I’m Tiffany Mladinich [SP] of gratefulgarden.biz.
Diana: Also known as Diana and Tiffany, bringing you the voices of thyroid advocates, clinicians, bloggers and thyroid thrivers everywhere. In just a few minutes, we’ll be talking live with Dr. Nikolas Hedberg [SP]. I know that, I for one, am really excited. We’ve had kind of a working relationship, Dr. Hedberg and I, over the last, I don’t know, seven or eight months. I have lots of articles of his on my site, which are fabulous. Tiffany, I’m excited. Are you excited?
In this video I answer the question, “What Causes Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?”
Well, welcome everyone. This is Dr. Nik Hedberg, and today I’m going to be talking about all the different causes of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. So Hashimoto’s thyroid disease is the most common autoimmune disease in the world. And it’s also the number cause of hypothyroidism in the world. One of the things about Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is that conventional medicine doesn’t really recognize Hashimoto’s thyroiditis as a major problem. And what I mean by that is that if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the treatment is going to be the same for you if you just have hypothyroidism and don’t have an autoimmune disease.
The connection between the thyroid and hair loss may not be immediately clear. But hair loss, sometimes known as alopecia, is one of the classic symptoms of low thyroid or hypothyroidism, along with fatigue, weight gain, constipation, depression, muscle or joint pain, sensitivity to cold and a number of other problems.
The link between a low functioning thyroid and hair loss, and all the other symptoms named above, is that they are all related to a decrease in energy production or metabolism. The thyroid gland produces hormones that control metabolism. When your thyroid gland is damaged, either by an autoimmune disorder such as Hashimoto’s Disease or any of the other many causes of hypothyroidism, it does not produce an adequate supply of the hormones your body needs to produce energy necessary for normal bodily functions.
Below is a transcript of the video on Herbal Medicines for Thyroid Disorders:
I want to welcome everyone. This is Dr. Nikolas Hedberg and tonight we’re talking about herbal medicines for thyroid disorders. Let’s go ahead and bring out that slide show.
Thank you everyone for coming. We just started doing these webinars a few months ago and I’m going to be doing more and more of them. I think that these are great way to educate everyone on different topics.
Okay. Well, welcome, everyone to this Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Webinar. This is Dr. Nik Hedberg, and tonight we’re talking about Hashimoto’s Thyroid. Like I was saying previously, last year I did a lot of teleconferences, but I wanted to open it up, so you could have some visuals as well so you could see some PowerPoint slides. I’m going to talk a little bit and go through the slides and then we’ll do some questions at the end. You can do that by just typing your questions into the chat window on the little Start Meeting screen that you’ll see on the right, and then I’ll be able to answer your questions that way.
Are You Aware of Thyroid Disrupting Chemicals?
With approximately 100,000 chemicals in commercial use today and approximately 4,000-6,000 new chemicals produced each year, it is no wonder we are becoming so sick. Eighty percent of these chemicals have never been tested for human safety or their effects on the unborn. There are many chemicals known as thyroid-disrupting chemicals (TDCs) that can also be classified as endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
These chemicals can affect normal production of thyroid hormone, its circulating levels in the blood and can harm hormone receptors preventing hormones from binding and doing their job. These chemicals have received more press as of late due to their effect on the developing brain leading to impaired cognitive function and behavioral problems. Thyroid hormone directly affects genetic expression requiring proper communication within each cell. It is thus hypothesized that TDCs can alter gene expression.