As Naturopathic doctors, we strive to uncover and treat the reason why a person has a symptom or disorder. It is often not enough to just provide a diagnosis. Working to remove the barriers to a healthy body will lead to less symptoms, less medication and a healthier future. So what are the possible reasons for thyroid conditions and auto-immune diseases such as Hashimoto’s?
First of all, gut health. This is where I start because it is one of the most common places for the immune system to be triggered. A chronic, low grade inflammatory response to certain bacteria, yeast, parasite or lack of good flora can be enough to launch an immune response. An over-simplified way to explain this is the immune system is busy reacting and it makes a “mistake” leading to a response against our own body tissue such as the thyroid. SIBO, candida, dysbiosis, H. pylori, poor beneficial bacteria, Celiac disease, low stomach acid, and low digestive enzymes can be chronic conditions that will trigger. Sometimes there can be a particular food sensitivity but often it is the flora.
We also look at exposures and the ability detoxify. Mold exposures such as living in a water damaged building at any point in life up to now is actually more common that you’d think. Sometimes it is obvious - mold in the shower or on windows, curtains, or walls. Other times, it is simply living in an old home, basement suite or even a new build (think of the rain in Vancouver while building and sealing up!). Mold releases mycotoxins which are tiny particles that get stored in the body. Combine the exposure with difficulties detoxifying and excreting (ie constipation) and this can push the body towards auto-immunity. Other exposures can be heavy metals from dental amalgams, growing up near or around industry, farms, pesticides, old homes with lead paint. Mercury, lead, aluminum and other metals store away and affect cardiovascular health, the hormone system, nervous system and brain health and immune system.
Another avenue to explore is chronic infections such as Lyme disease and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Lyme is caused by several different infections carried by the tick vector. Having mononucleosis in your youth may mean you still carry the EBV which causes it. Studies show a correlation to EBV and Hashimoto’s and many people will describe flares of sore throat and fatigue in times of higher stress or depletion. While more difficult to test and diagnose, it is possible to do so through private labs. Treatment can be successful at eradicating these infections once diagnosed, often antibiotics or antivirals are prescribed.
Starting the journey towards root cause is exciting. It takes time and patience to run through this extensive list but with a good history intake by your Naturopathic doctor, we should be able to pick an ideal place to start. Everything can be tested with labs to confirm or rule out a diagnosis . See examples of lab reports here.