Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of low thyroid or hypothyroidism in the developed world. Conventional thought is that this condition is ‘idiopathic', which just means that there is no known cause.
The latest science, however, indicates that there are causes as well as factors that can make symptoms worse. Knowing what factors are relevant to your condition is crucial to getting you symptom-free.
The conventional treatment of Hashimoto’s involves pharmaceuticals. Symptom-suppressing pills do not get you ‘better’ they are simply an attempt to shut off the mechanism that is causing your symptoms.
Getting you symptom-free requires identifying and removing factors that are making your condition and overall health worse. These factors can be things like viruses, bacterial infections, environmental toxins, poor diet, and hormone imbalances.
A Potential Cause of Hashimoto’s
Epstein Barr Virus
A potential cause of Hashimoto’s is the Epstein Barr viral infection. The Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), once contracted, lies dormant for months (sometimes decades) and then progresses to a stage where it causes symptoms.
EBV is the same virus responsible for the disease called ‘mono’, most commonly infecting people around high school and college age with symptoms of severe fatigue, swollen lymph glands, and sore throat. Approximately 90% of us have been exposed to this virus.
Once contracted the virus may lie dormant permanently or it may wait until our immune system is suppressed by stress, poor diet, toxin overload, emotional or physical trauma or a combination of many factors.
Once the immune system can no longer control the virus, EBV can travel upwards to the thyroid initiating an inflammatory cascade responsible for damaging and altering the thyroid.
In 2015 a study found that 80% of those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis had EBV in their thyroid cells and 62% with Grave’s disease had EBV in the gland.
The reason why some people develop Hashimoto’s and others never do depends on many factors. Many of these factors are related to the immune system’s ability to protect against this aggressive virus.
The majority of us have EBV, but most are asymptomatic unless our immune system is bombarded or weakened in some way. In this scenario, when Hashimoto’s is finally diagnosed, the virus has moved into the thyroid and is now causing chaos at that location.
Factors Involved in
During pregnancy, hormone changes are drastic and the body now is allocating hormones, nutrients, and energy to different regions of the body. This significant stress can cause the virus to move and reproduce, thereby moving into a full-blown Hashimoto’s status.
Eating a diet rich in refined sugar and processed foods can weaken your immune capability. A poor diet can also contribute to inflammation and other disease processes. There are also 'healthy' foods that are known to 'feed' viral infections and make them worse.
Emotions have a direct effect on our physiology by altering neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, hormones, and immune regulatory molecules. Emotional trauma (past or present) can cause accumulated dysfunction in our autonomic nervous system
Chronic stress, sleep deprivation, substance abuse and overmedicating are factors that establish a pro-viral environment. Self-care is a much-neglected element to overall health and will be instrumental in recovery.
Stress places a strain on our bodies ability to function properly. The way we consistently feel and think can weaken or strengthen the body’s ability to fight a viral infection, which in this case, has a direct effect on the progression of Hashimoto's
Your body can reach a threshold where it can no longer process the vast amounts of chemicals we are exposed to every day. Heavy metals are some of the worst toxins because they greatly strengthen viruses as well as cause damage independently.
A Potential Cause of Hashimoto’s
Those with chronic EBV problems often have coinciding infections. These viruses can include streptococcal infections, H. Pylori, and other herpes family viral infections.
It is quite common for someone with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis to also suffer from chronic sinus problems and urinary tract infections due to chronic strep overloading.
Strep is also the culprit behind a recurrent sore throat and constant abdominal bloating. Cystic acne can also be attributed to a chronic streptococcal infection. As the Epstein Barr virus flourishes, the co-infections tend to increase as well.
H. Pylori is also another common co-infection which is associated with stomach ulcers and GERD(gastro-esophageal reflux disease) symptoms.
Functional Medicine & Hashimoto's
As you can see from a brief discussion of just a few of the possible causes and factors involved in Hashimoto's, this condition is complex in nature.
The scope of functional medicine serves this condition well as it uses the latest diagnostic testing and genetic data to confirm what factors are making your condition worse so we can pinpoint our treatment.
Functional medicine utilizes lifestyle and dietary interventions but also uses nutritional medicines and targeted treatments intended to work with your body. Our initial appointment is (at least) an hour long, giving you the opportunity to fully explain your symptoms, health goals and ask any questions you may have.
If you have 'tried everything' and are still suffering from symptoms due to Hashimoto's, it may be because there are overlooked factors that are compromising your health.