The Hormone Side to Hashimoto's
For those of you who may not know, Hashimoto's Disease is an autoimmune disease where the immune system creates antibodies (I call them 'killer soldiers') to attack the thyroid gland.
This condition often leads to hypothyroidism, especially if the many factors which affect immune system function are not evaluated and corrected.
The conventional medical world doesn't routinely check for Hashimoto's unless there are significant signs and symptoms which warrant testing. The problem is that up to one in four patients have thyroid antibodies but do not yet have symptoms. Wouldn't it make sense to screen everyone and catch the problem early so it can be corrected?! (yes, autoimmune diseases can be reversed!)
There are a whole host of factors that contribute to the development of Hashimoto's Disease. These things include:
Genes (but that counts for less than 5% of cases)
An unhealthy gut (85% of the immune system is in the intestines). This includes things like improper balance of good and bad bacteria and intestinal inflammation.
Food allergies (which can cause inflammation in the gut and elsewhere)
Having other autoimmune diseases (for instance having celiac disease increases the risk of developing Hashimoto's seven times)
Excessive iodine intake
Here are some others...
But did you know...
Another key factor affecting the immune system which can make autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto's worse is...hormone imbalance. Unfortunately, many health care practitioners never look for other hormone imbalances and only focus on checking thyroid hormone levels.
All of the hormones matter, but here are the main ones that are particularly influential:
Estrogen. Estrogen dominance can fuel autoimmune diseases in many women. In general, estrogen promotes inflammation and immune system up-regulation.
Cortisol. Low cortisol can fuel the onset and severity of autoimmune diseases, including Hashimoto's. Cortisol is a key hormone in keeping the immune system in balance. So, when levels of cortisol are low, the immune system can go into hyperdrive unchecked.
DHEA. Low DHEA levels can also make autoimmune diseases worse because it is another very important immune system regulator.
Testosterone. Testosterone is an anti-inflammatory hormone and helps to keep the immune system in control. For women who are on testosterone replacement, especially pellets, too much testosterone can actually raise inflammation and make autoimmune diseases worse.
For women with Hashimoto's, or any other autoimmune disease for that matter, the proper testing, supplementation, and balancing of hormone levels is vital to keeping the disease in check.
Is your doctor testing and properly addressing ALL of your hormone levels??