Many have gone to conventional doctors to seek help for specific symptoms like brain fog and weight gain, only to be given limited recommendations such as “Perhaps you’re just getting older”, or just “exercise more and eat less”. They may be told there is nothing that can be done about the autoimmune attack on the thyroid.
Standard of care
Most endocrinologists focus on testing for low levels of TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) if known thyroid symptoms are present. The issue for someone with Hashimoto’s is that it is not a “preventative” test, and these patients may appear to have normal TSH levels and be told they are fine… for years.
T0, T1, and T2 are hormone precursors and byproducts of thyroid hormone synthesis. T4 is inert, but conversion to T3 (in the liver, kidneys, brain, and other organs) activates it in a highly regulated way. T4 is present in levothyroxine, the most prescribed thyroid drug however for many, their body is not able to make the conversion to T3.
If thyroid levels are deemed “abnormal,” levothyroxine (T4) is the thyroid hormone of choice prescribed to most people with Hashimoto’s. This medication is expected to address a patient’s symptoms, and patients are often told that they should begin feeling better in a few weeks. Once on this path only, a patient will likely have limited follow-ups focused primarily on the medication’s effectiveness at improving their TSH levels.
Treating the “whole” person
I look for the underlying cause to understand what triggered your condition, and what can exacerbate your condition. Then what interventions can make you feel better, reduce the attack on the thyroid gland, prevent you from getting another autoimmune condition, and get your condition into remission.
People with Hashimoto’s usually experience some level of nutrient deficiencies, food sensitivities, digestive issues, and infections. These symptoms are often caused by a diminished ability to absorb proper nutrients from the food we eat.
It is important to address the stress response and identifying the person’s unique triggers such as chronic infections, toxins, or traumas.
Appreciation of the person’s experience and always utilizing the person’s symptoms as a guide for adjusting treatment.
Utilizing comprehensive thyroid tests to determine a diagnosis and the need for thyroid hormone therapy. (other than just a TSH test)
Using optimal and functional ranges of thyroid hormones instead of outdated reference ranges.
Must Track thyroid antibodies every three months to see if the interventions are making the condition less aggressive.
Some people who have low T3 may benefit from T3-containing thyroid medications or natural desiccated thyroid medications (NP or Armour thyroid), which don’t require a person to convert T4 to T3 (a process that is impaired in many people with Hashimoto’s).
The use of Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) has shown great success with lowering the thyroid antibodies and thyroid peroxidase levels in someone with Hashimoto's. LDN is a safe, non-toxic, and inexpensive medication that helps regulate a dysfunctional immune system.
The biggest challenge with seeing a functional practitioner like me is that often my services are not going to be covered by insurance. This is because the recommendations, interventions, and tests recommended by Doctors like me are often considered “experimental,” and insurance companies are going to be very resistant in reimbursing them for their services. You need to be persistent and continue to push back. Your health is worth fighting for!