Recently, I got a message from one of my clients. Her latest blood tests showed that her thyroid antibodies were now within a normal range. It was such great news and a testament to the hard work that she’s done in making the necessary dietary and lifestyle changes as we worked to identify and address the root causes of her Hashimoto’s. Definitely time for celebration and a bit of a happy dance!
But it also brought up a curious statement from her – her GP had told her when she was first diagnosed that she would have Hashimoto’s for life. And I was stunned. Well, stunned and irritated that some conventional practitioners still believe this. A little bit of research confirmed that this is still a widely held belief – in particular, that your antibodies will remain high forever.
The truth is that your antibodies will remain high if you don’t address the cause of the inflammation. Remember that antibodies are created in response to a threat perceived by your immune system. As long as the threat is there, your immune system will do its job to counter it.
For many people their antibodies will remain high (and they will continue to have Hashimoto’s) because conventional treatment is generally limited to supplemental thyroid hormone. While this may alleviate some symptoms, it doesn’t address the source of the inflammation. And one of the truly troubling consequences of not addressing the root cause is that there is a 30% chance of developing yet another autoimmune disorder.
So, the reason why many people will continue to have Hashimoto’s for life is not because it’s irreversible – it’s because the root causes are not addressed – so yes, it will continue. But it doesn’t have to.
What steps do you need to take to address high thyroid antibodies?
In order to combat antibodies, you need to address the cause of the inflammation that creates them - remember that the antibodies result from the natural behaviour of your immune system. While the root causes of inflammation can be highly individual, there are a few general steps that you can take. One of the main causes of inflammation is exposure to toxins.
- Identify and replace any personal care products (shampoo, cleanser, etc) that contain chemicals that can trigger your immune system. Click here for a helpful database.
- Identify and replace any household cleaning products that contain chemicals that can trigger your immune system. Click here for more information.
- Reduce your consumption of processed foods. Many of these foods contain artificial flavours and colours that your immune system may see as threats. Many processed food products also contain preservatives that can trigger an inflammatory response.
While you are reducing your toxic load, you can also take steps to improve your body's ability to detoxify. Before you embark on any detox cleanse, it's important to ensure that you can eliminate toxins efficiently (ie address any issues with constipation and urination.
- If you have problems with constipation (less than one bowel movement a day), try increasing your fiber intake (more fruits and vegetables would be a good first step). You may also try taking a quality magnesium citrate supplement.
- Make sure that your are drinking enough water for adequate urination. Your urine should be a pale yellow colour. However, relying on the colour of your urine may be a problem if you are taking a B vitamin (especially B2) as it can produce a bright yellow colour. Rule of thumb - drink more water. Most of us are dehydrated.
Another source of toxins that is generally ignored is stress. Although our bodies are well adapted to counter occasional episodes of high stress, there are significant consequences to chronic high stress.
Chronic stress will cause hormonal imbalances that can impact all organ systems, including not only detoxification but all of the systems that support detoxification. These include digestion and absorption of essential nutrients and the healthy functioning of our immune system. I discuss ways to address stress here.
The next steps require the help of a qualified functional medical practitioner.
- interpreting the results of functional tests such as comprehensive blood tests (including full thyroid panel), comprehensive stool analysis (to assess the status of your gut health), hormone testing, testing for heavy metals and other toxins.
- selecting the appropriate supplement to address your root causes.
- choosing the appropriate lifestyle and nutritional changes to help you address your root causes and helping you achieve them.
In summary, there are ways to address and heal your Hashimoto's - you do not need to spend your lifetime suffering from the symptoms. However, there is no quick fix or magic pill that will do the job. Chronic disorders such as Hashimoto's develop over time and as a consequence of many lifestyle choices (in combination with genetic predispositions). But if you are willing to make the necessary changes, healing can occur.