Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Disease
Oct 31, 2011 09:30PM
By Ken Howard, D.C.
According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologist, more than 27 million Americans, primarily middle-aged women, suffer from thyroid-related illnesses. Alarmingly, it is estimated that almost half of those go undiagnosed. Unfortunately, an underactive thyroid may cause every function of the body to slow down, including heart rate, brain function and metabolism.
For those who have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune condition in which the body attacks and destroys the thyroid gland, the journey to health can often be challenging. Under the current health care treatment model, it is all too common that patients are taking thyroid replacement medication to bring their thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels in line, but they continue to have all the symptoms they started with. How is it possible that TSH levels are normal, but symptoms persist? One answer may be that the wrong disease is being treated.
According to a 2003 report in ACTA Bio Medica, it is estimated that anywhere from 70 to 90 percent of those treated for hypothyroidism in the United States also have Hashimoto’s disease as the underlying cause. The standard treatment is to prescribe thyroid replacement hormone. Additional medications are then frequently used to treat associated symptoms such as depression, fatigue, constipation and low sex drive.
A simple blood test can determine the presence of Hashimoto’s disease. It’s also important to know the classic scenarios that most frequently go along with the condition. The most common is that a person that diligently takes their prescribed medication and is regularly monitored by their doctor continues to feel worse, even though their medication is being adjusted to keep their TSH levels within a normal range. The next most common scenario is one in which the person’s thyroid condition fluctuates between being overactive and underactive. These patients generally experience symptoms of both hypothyroid and hyperthyroid, leaving them feeling like they’re on a roller coaster. Even with normal TSH levels, the patient can be experiencing myriad symptoms.
Author and researcher Datis Kharrazian, D.C., D.H.Sc., points out that the problem with this traditional treatment of the thyroid ignores the real culprit, the immune system, which continues to run amuck. He describes new research suggesting that, while thyroid replacement hormone may be warranted if enough thyroid tissue has been destroyed, new treatment options for both hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease should focus on putting together the puzzle pieces of the malfunctioning immune system.
For doctors that apply a functional approach to medicine, advancements in technology, lab testing and nutriceuticals are new tools that can be used to assess and treat the immune system. Within the functional medicine treatment model, patients are assessed individually, so treatment protocols are all customized to restore balance to their specific situations. The functional approach maintains that if the immune system is healthy, the attack on the thyroid gland will slow down or stop and the disease will become dormant. According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, this is important because when a person develops one autoimmune disease, they are more likely to develop another, such as arthritis, Addison’s disease, celiac disease, diabetes, lupus or multiple sclerosis. To prevent further damage and to improve the patient’s quality of life, it is vital that the immune system is supported and brought back into balance.
Ken Howard, a board certified doctor of chiropractic medicine, with postdoctoral study in functional neurology, functional blood chemistry, functional endocrinology, autoimmune thyroid, the brain and neurotransmitters, and nutrition. He directs Med Alliance Wellness Center, located at 309 W. Silver Spring Dr., in Glendale. For more information call 414-961-7100 or visit MedAllianceWellnessCenter.com.