Thyroid Part 4 – autoimmunity

20th June 2016 - 4 minutes read

In the last part of my series I was explaining how adequate nutrients – the raw material are vital for the production and functionality of thyroid and thyroid hormones. Today we will be looking into autoimmunity – why and how is our body attacking our own thyroid.

As I mentioned in earlier articles about 90% of thyroid issues is caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In this autoimmune condition the immune system is mistakenly attacking and destroying its own gland causing thyroid malfunction. So the problem is not the thyroid itself but immune function dysregulation.

Let’s have a closer look at what immune dysregulation is and what are the possible causes. One and probably the most important message I would like you to take home today is that about 70% of our immune system is located in our gut. And this is why digestive health plays such a crucial role in the development of autoimmunity.

There has been a lots of research into the causes of immune dysregulation and the latest theory is that for the autoimmunity to develop one needs:

genetic predisposition – the genes that can predispose autoimmune dysfunction are knows as HLA complex and can be easily tested.

trigger – such as infection such Helicobacter Pylori, Epstain-Barr virus or Lyme disease, toxins such as mercury or fluoride, food intolerances and partially digested proteins such as gluten or lack of certain vitamins such as vitamin D.

poor microflora

Any or these or usually a mixture of the above may then cause what is called intestinal permeability. Intestinal permeability or “leaky gut” is a malfunctioning protective barrier in our intestinal mucosa. This may cause foreign invader such as bacteria, viruses, partially digested food molecules to enter our bloodstream. This sets up a chain or poorly controlled reactions throughout the body including inflammation and antibodies production attacking and destroying various tissue such as the thyroid. This is why about 90% of people with hypothyroidism are producing antibodies to their thyroid tissue.

Unfortunately the conventional medicine doesn’t have effective treatment for autoimmune disease. The use of steroid and other medications to suppress the immune system doesn’t really address the underlying cause or the problem, which is the malfunctioning immune system.

One last thing very interesting to point out is that Hashimoto’s often manifests as “polly endocrine autoimmune pattern”. This means that in addition to having antibodies to thyroid tissue, it’s uncommon for Hashimoto’s patients to have antibodies to other tissues or enzymes in the body as well, which may present for example as Celiac disease, pernicious anaemia or type 1 Diabetes.

The good news is that there are laboratory tests available for pathogenic viruses and bacteria as well as antibodies, levels of beneficial bacteria, gut permeability, gluten sensitivity or vitamin D levels. If you have only been tested for TSH and T4 and been prescribed medication such as Thyroxine and still not feeling well, perhaps you belong among the 90% of Hashimoto’s patients and proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment would make a huge different to your health and wellbeing.

In my last part I will be looking into essential testing, so keep tuned in.

Meanwhile if you have any questions about the above or any other symptoms or would like to discuss any of your health concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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