Natural Remedies for Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

Natural Treatment for Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

What is Hashimoto's Thyroiditis?

Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition where you exhibit signs of hypo (under active) thyroid.  A short list of possible symptoms includes:

  • low body temperature (a number of things including where you are in your cycle, using hormonal birth control, your stress level, etc. also impact your body temp, however, low body temp is a common symptom of Hashi's too)
  • brittle nails and hair
  • poor appetite
  • weight gain (despite low appetite)
  • fatigue
  • moodiness
  • heart arrythmia or heart palpitations
  • a rash known as pretibial myxedema (commonly associated with Graves' (hyper) thyroiditis, pretibial myxedema's also a possible symptom in Hashimoto's... I know from personal experience :))

How do you diagnose Hashimoto's Thyroiditis?

You cannot, I repeat, you cannot diagnose or exclude Hashimoto's Thyroiditis based on these tests (or any combo of these tests) alone:

  • T3
  • T4
  • free T3
  • free T4
  • reverse T3
  • TSH

I struggled for over 2 years to find a doctor that actually knew what tests to run to detect Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and those tests are for thyroid antibodies, namely:

  • anti-TPO (aka TPOAb)
  • anti Tg (aka TgAb)

TPO stands for thyroid peroxidase, which is an enzyme produced by your thyroid gland that helps make your thyroid hormones (T3 and T4).  When your immune system makes anti-TPO antibodies, it indicates an immune response to your thyroid gland most commonly either Hashimoto's (underactive thyroid) or Graves' (overactive thyroid) thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid).

Tg stands for thyroglobulin, which is a precursor of your thyroid hormones, T3 and T4.  High anti-Tg antibodies also indicate an immune response to your thyroid and are high in autoimmune thyroid conditions and sometimes when there's cancer of the thyroid.

These aren't the only two antibodies your immune system may produce for thyroid specific enzymes and proteins, but they're the two that need to be tested to determine whether you've got an autoimmune thyroid condition (either Hashimoto's or Graves') or if there's something else going on with your thyroid.

For me, on the other side of being diagnosed with Hashimoto's, as a patient, I would request my doctor run both fairly routinely just to keep track of disease progression.

Were I standing in my pre-diagnosis self, this is the single thing I wish I'd known back in 2016.  It would have saved 2+ years of frustration with doctors and weight gain (despite no appetite).

Natural Remedy:  The role of iodine in supporting Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (& the rest of your body)

Iodine is vital for your overall health, especially the health of your reproductive organs (breasts and ovaries for women, breasts and prostate for men) and your cardiovascular system.  It's also vital for healthy fetal development (in case you're pregnant).

To hear/read more about iodine and just how important it is for your health, check out this previous episode/blog post.

In case you're endocrinologist (or other doc) tells you to avoid iodine at all cost, do your research for yourself, here's a short list of great podcast episodes to get you started and by clicking that link above, you'll find a list of peer reviewed journal articles referenced in that link.

Natural Remedy:  The role of hormonal contraception in exacerbating Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (& other autoimmune conditions)

Dr. Noel Rose, one of the pioneers in the field of autoimmunity (and referred to as the father of autoimmunity), published many peer reviewed journal articles regarding the impact of endogenous estrogens and progesterone and xenoestrogens on the development of autoimmune conditions.

Mike Gaskins wrote the book on hormonal contraceptives (the ultimate xenoestrogen + xenoprogesterone) and the sordid history of the pill.

One of Dr. Rose's papers is linked in Rain Organica's community page (available to newsletter subscribers), so if you aren't signed up for the newsletter, sign up to access that page.  Feel free to Google search Dr. Rose, autoimmunity, and xenoestrogens for more resources.

In case you're wondering what to do for contraception, consider Rain Organica's course:  Fertility Awareness for Confident Contraception.

This self-guided program covers 12 proven & effective methods of fertility awareness for birth control and includes key considerations for you when selecting the method that's right for you and your body.

You'll also receive a year's worth of free charting support.

Natural Remedy:  The role of over exercising in exacerbating Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

Less is more when it comes to exercise (mic drop)

We could move straight on to the next topic.  To put a little more flesh on the impact of overexercising, here's the deal.

We live in a world where most of us are over stressed.  We're overworked, undernourished, and overweight.

While there's growing volume in the camp of over exercise creates excess stress within your body, it's still something that's not embraced by many HCPs.  An HCP will likely tell you to exercise more (multiple ones told me this for 2+ years before I finally found one that listens).

As someone who's had Hashimoto's for several years now, here's what I know.  When I overexercise (sometimes this looks like a single HIIT routine in a week combined with 4 days of moderate yoga, sometimes this looks like overdoing weightlifting in a week), it's common for Hashimoto's symptoms to present the next day.

The reason for this is because your body recognizes exercise as a stressor.  And, while exercise is vitally important to your health, it's imperative to listen to your body.

If you feel unwell after you exercise, you may be over-exercising.  This is something that Josh and Jeanne Rubin go into more in their restoring your metabolism course, and there's also plenty of info on Google about using biometrics like your body temperature pre- and post-exercise and your heart rate pre- and post-exercise to gauge whether your workout is too strenuous for you.

For me, that's too much to monitor on any given day, so I choose to listen to my body pre-workout and during my workout to gauge whether I'm likely to respond with symptoms after a workout, and yes, my workout routine looks different every week because I choose to customize it based on how I feel.

Final point here, if you're exercising and you think you may be overexercising, don't let anybody guilt you into believing you aren't exercising enough. 

When I started college, I began working out twice a week by attending a Pilates class at the local Y.  It was a 60 minute class, and I was pretty religious about making it twice a week.  Within 6 months, I'd dropped two pant sizes and started to really develop some much needed tone and definition.  This particular class wasn't an insane Pilates class, it was the classic Pilates mat exercises.  That's it.

While I've turned into a yoga junkie since college, Pilates twice a week was all I needed to drop weight, drop inches, and get definition.   Okay, now I'll get off my soap box :)

Natural Remedy:  The role of sleep in supporting Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

Sleep is so important to calming our stress response and supporting your body in dropping out of fight-or-flight and back into its rest-and-digest state.

It's also important when you sleep, which is something I'd never really considered until picking up Dr. Marianne Teitelbaum's book on Healing the Thyroid with Ayurveda.

Ayurveda is in many ways a common sense science that was thousands of years ahead of its time (Western science is just catching up in many aspects of ancient Ayurvedic wisdom).

Ayurveda defined times of day and night as governed by one of three specific energies, the energy of:

  • building, replenishing, and nourishing
  • transformation and metabolic processes including repairing and detoxifying
  • movement and elimination

In Ayurveda, a 24-hour period is broken down into six 4-hour windows of time:

  • 6 am to 10 am and 6 pm to 10 pm is the building, replenishing, nourishing time of day
  • 10 am to 2 pm and 10 pm to 2 am is the transformative time of day
  • 2 pm to 6 pm and 2 am to 6 am is the movement and elimination time of day

Because so many repair and detox processes occur during the 10 to 2 window, being asleep during this time allows your body to focus on these processes, and so by shifting your sleep time to be asleep during this window, you're aiding your body.

Western science is beginning to catch up with this, and for more on circadian rhythms and overlap with the Ayurvedic times of day, check out this article.

Natural Remedy:  The role of Ayurveda in supporting Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

Kate O'Donnell describes Ayurveda in this way.  Pretend you are rowing your boat in a river. 

Imagine you're rowing against the current.  How long will it take you to fatigue?  How long until you feel ready to give up?  How far will you go?

Now, imagine you're rowing with the current.  How long will it take you to fatigue?  How long until you feel ready to give up?  How far will you go?

Your body is the boat.  You (your mind, your ego, you) are the rower.  The river is nature and life. 

As much as we as a race struggle to rise above nature and separate ourselves from nature, we are part of nature.  And, Ayurveda recognizes this connection and provides guidance to help you align your lifestyle and your diet to support your body's natural processes.

I fought against the natural flow of my circadian rhythm for decades.  Even as a child, I would find a way around bedtime and routinely stayed up until 1 am or 2 am in the morning (which is probably why I liked staying at my grandma's so much because she went to bed late :). 

That carried into adulthood, and as strange as it sounds, modifying my bedtime was one of the first changes I made after being diagnosed with Hashimoto's.

And, it had a profound impact on reducing the severity and frequency of my symptoms.

Natural Remedy:  The role of diet in Hashimoto's thyroiditis

For whatever reason (and there are about a thousand theories on this), gluten tends to exacerbate Hashimoto's thyroiditis and autoimmune conditions in general.

If you aren't already gluten free, try eliminating wheat, barley, and rye from your diet for 30 days and see how you feel.

If you love microbrews (for me, I was most gluten sensitive back when I had Lyme disease, and beer especially... like 1 sip of beer would trigger some major symptoms for the next day or three), Omission makes the best gluten free beer...

(technically gluten reduced as FDA doesn't allow anything made with barley, wheat, or rye to claim gluten free, that said Omission's beer meets gluten free levels of less than 20 ppm and there's a batch tracker on their website where you're able to enter the manufacturing date of your brew and track the gluten levels in that batch). 

Their secret to the great flavor is that they use barley (instead of rice or some other gluten free grain) and then enzymatically digest the gluten out of the beer.

NOTE:  Contrary to the glowing review here for Omission, Rain Organica is not affiliated with Omission, I just really love their beer.

Natural Remedies for Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

Just to briefly recap what we talked about in this episode/post:

  • Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune thyroid condition that causes an underactive thyroid (which may or may not show up as abnormal test results in your T3, T4, or TSH levels)

  • to diagnose Hashimoto's thyroiditis (or other autoimmune thyroid condition) requires a blood test for the thyroid antibodies:  anti-TPO and anti-Tg
  • to support your body in optimal wellness when you've been diagnosed with Hashimoto's thyroiditis:
    • be sure you're getting sufficient amounts of iodine in your diet
    • avoid overexercising
    • avoid gluten (try a 30-day gluten free diet just to see if this helps you feel better... you'll know within 30 days :)
    • get enough sleep (at least 7 hours, 8 to 9 hours is better)
    • go to bed by 10 pm (or as close to 10 pm as you possibly can)
    • stop hormonal contraceptives (in case you need an alternative form of birth control, check out Rain Organica's program Fertility Awareness for Natural Contraception)

Which one of these tips is most helpful for you? 

Brandy Searcy founder Rain Organica

About the Author

Brandy's a formulation scientist and self-proclaimed health geek who loves hiking, gardening, bird-watching, and body boarding. 

Her struggle with acne during her teens and 20s led to a holistic and healthy approach to skincare, embracing skin as an organ to be loved and cared for rather than a canvas to wage war on. 

Since 2008, she's been developing all-in-one products for a simple routine at home, & Rain Organica started when her backpacking friends asked for a portable skincare routine to keep their skin healthy & happy on and off the trails.

You can try Rain Organica for yourself with The Essentials Kit, a complete skincare routine in just 3 steps.

Brandy's LinkedIn Bio

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