Guest Author - Colleen Forgus
Hashimoto’s Disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to produce a specialized type of white blood cell that attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. In 1921 a Japanese surgeon named Hakaru Hashimoto was the first doctor to recognize the disease, thus it was named after him.
Hashimoto’s may be slow to develop, without any noticeable symptoms being recognized for several years. Women are more likely to develop the disease than men. And while it may affect people at any age, it is more likely to occur in women in their thirties and forties. While most estimates suggest approximately two percent of the population may have Hashimoto’s, some doctors believe as many as ten percent of the population may actually suffer symptoms associated with thyroid antibodies.
The presences of thyroid antibodies in the blood indicate a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease. Doctors need to test for TPO and thyroglobulin antibodies. Many doctors will not make the diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease unless the TPO antibodies are greater than 34 international units and the thyroglobulin antibodies are greater than 115 international units. However, the presence of any thyroid antibodies should be treated like those with Hashimoto’s. Treatment when the antibody levels are low can prevent the disease from progressing and causing further destruction to the thyroid.
Finding the correct medication to treat Hashimoto's Disease is controversial - even among doctors.
Patients treated with thyroid hormone derived from porcine desiccated thyroid (such as Armour) may find improvement initially, but eventually may feel worse. Since the body’s immune system is attacking thyroid hormone, it will also attack the porcine glandular thyroid hormone, which is virtually identical to the patient’s own thyroid hormone. However, many patients feel better on an higher dose of Armour.
Snythroid, synthetic T4, is a second option. The absence of T3 may prove problematic for some patients. Other patients do just fine with Synthroid.
A third option is compounded synthetic T4 and T3. Dr. Starr starts his patients on low doses of synthetic hormones: 19 mcg of T4 and 4.5 mcg of T3. As long as the patient is tolerating the hormones, he has his patients increase the dose of T4 and T3 each month, until the average dosage of 114 mcg of T4 and 27 mcg of T3 is achieved.
People suffering from Hashimoto’s disease may initially develop symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as nervousness, hyperactivity, or heart palpitations. This is usually short lived as the thyroid gland continues to be attacked by the antibodies. Ultimately the patient develops the classic symptoms of hypothyroidism such as fatigue, cold intolerance, and weight gain.
In addition to thyroid medication, patients suffering from Hashimoto’s need to address nutritional issues that commonly accompany the disorder. Iodine deficiency is most always involved. Hashimoto’s patients may be intolerant of iodine initially, it is best to start with a very small dose and increase gradually over time. Gluten intolerance and adrenal fatigue should also be addressed for patients with Hashimoto’s.
Dr. David Brownstein suggests the following supplements for patients with autoimmune thyroid disorders: Selenium: 200-400 mcg per day; Vitamin C: 3,000 – 5,000 mg per day; Vitamin B-12: injected form – 1,000 – 5,000 mcg per day for 30 days; Magnesium: 200-400 mg per day; Vitamin B-6: 50 mg per day; Cats Claw; 600 – 900 mg per day; L-Carnitine: 1 – 2 gm/day. In addition, Dr. Mark Starr suggests addressing yeast overgrowth in the body.
Please discuss any of these suggestions with your own physician.
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