by Laura Precourt
According to the American Association of Clinical Endo- crinologists, more than 27 million Americans suffer from thyroid dysfunction. Of the detected cases of hypothyroidism, more than half are due to an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s disease, a condition in which the immune system attacks and destroys the tissue of the thyroid gland. Most doctors don’t test for a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s, mainly because there is no drug to satisfy the condition, so they instead support the thyroid with medications such as Synthroid or Levo-thyroxine.
Although these medications may give temporary thyroid symptom relief and bring the low thyroid blood test back to normal, patients suffering with Hashimoto’s often have a constant changing of their medications and still continue to suffer with debilitating symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, depression, inability to lose weight, heart palpitations, constipation and more.
The question that’s not being asked is about the cause of the hypothyroidism in the first place. When someone has Hashimoto’s, it is important to realize that it is not really a thyroid problem, but an immune system problem affecting the thyroid; so long-term use of these medications and neglect of the autoimmune problem over time can create a primary hypothyroid condition, as well.
According to the book Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests Are Normal?, by Dr. Datis Kharrazian, the immune system problem is caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, which must be taken into account. Other factors need to be looked at such as diet, hormone imbalances, too much stress affecting the adrenal glands, insulin resistance which affects our body’s ability to balance blood sugar, and an imbalance of healthy gut bacteria. In addition to running the appropriate test to determine if someone has Hashimoto’s, all these other factors need to be evaluated and addressed, as well.
Treating hypothyroid without evaluating any lifestyle factors is like putting a Band-Aid over the check engine soon light in a car without addressing the cause as to why the light came on in the first place. If we keep putting a Band-Aid over the light, then eventually our car will break down. The thyroid is like a spark plug for proper energy production in a cell. It controls the energy, maintains body temperature, regulates growth and influences mood because it affects brain chemistry.
Getting proper testing and education on how to address diet, nutrition, exercise, sleep quality and stress is the only way to rebuild health and dampen the unhealthy autoimmune response in order to correct the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Dr. Laura Precourt, PScD, is owner of ReClaim Health, a concierge functional medicine practice in Plano. For more information or a personal consultation, call 972-985-9355, or visit ReClaimHealthNow.com.