Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disorder NOT a thyroid disease

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the thyroid. Let me repeat that: Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the thyroid. Unlike thyroid cancer, Hashimoto’s is NOT a disease of the thyroid but of the immune system. Without the immune attack, the thyroid would be fine!

Hashimoto’s affects the thyroid, a small but VERY important butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the base of the neck.

So, it stands to reason that the way to address Hashimoto’s is to heal the immune system. Sure, most of us will have to take thyroid hormones, because the attack on the thyroid reduces it’s ability to produce critical thyroid hormones. But replacing those hormones does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to reduce the attack. And if nothing is done, the immune system may very well destroy the entire gland or cause cancer, as the body tries to repair the damage over and over (every time our cells divide there is the potential for DNA errors, which increase your risk of cancer).  

Your endocrinologist probably won’t tell you this. They are trained to treat the thyroid – they know nothing about the immune system beyond a class they took back in med school, and certainly noting about healing it. And I have found that most doctors are really really reluctant to acknowledge the limits of their training and say “I don’t know.” Sad, but true. Instead, they’ll tell you that you’re fine if you’re labs are “right” and that there’s nothing else to be done. 

But what about your fatigue, depression, digestive issues, rising cholesterol, and weight gain? They’ll tell you to get more sleep, prescribe anti-depressants, acid-reducers, and statins, and “eat less and move more.”

Gee, thanks

There are good doctors out there. Endocrinologists and internists who look at more than just lab results and do more than white prescriptions, but they’re hard to find and even the good ones rarely have the time or training to really help people with autoimmune disorders. The science on this strange class of diseases has changed over the past few years, and the med schools haven’t kept up. 

It’s hard for them because treating autoimmunity takes a holistic approach, one that is at odds with the crisis management approach taught in medical schools. You have to realize that modern medicine grew out of saving people from immediate crises: bleeding wounds, broken bones, heart attacks, etc. These are called acute problems  – those that have an abrupt onset, progress rapidly, and are in need of urgent care. The kinds of problems that you deal with in an emergency room or via surgery. 

Hashimoto’s is a chronic illness. It develops slowly, over time. It’s often hard to pinpoint exactly when or how it started. Most people suffer symptoms for years before they get a diagnosis, much less find any relief. And most doctors will tell you that chronic illnesses cannot be cured, you can only manage the symptoms. 

Wrong.  

You can heal your body and reverse your Hashimoto’s disease. You can regain your energy, focus, and body. You can feel like yourself again and get your life back!

How? By healing your immune system and stopping its attacks on your poor thyroid. That’s not as hard as it may sound. It takes patience and an open-mindedness,  plus a willingness to challenge conventional health wisdom. I’m not saying you should reject all ‘conventional medicine’ – many people who reduce or reverse their symptoms still need thyroid hormone replacement and there’s no shame in that. But life can get better if you give yourself and your body the time and attention they deserve. Stay tuned we’ll delve into that in future posts.