What Causes Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?
When people go to their endocrinologist and get a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s, it can be a very upsetting time. For some, they want basic answers to simple Hashimoto’s questions. They want to know how they got Hashimoto’s. But for many patients, the answers are vague and elusive. The most common answer to that question is that it is just genetic. This answer is easy, the doctor has no responsibility because he can’t change the patient’s genes, and the patient has no responsibility because they can’t change their genes.
Our current medical system loves this answer because it is disempowering to both the doctor and the patient. The reason the system loves it is because this puts the patient at the mercy of lifetime drug treatment for something that has no cure. Lifetime treatment is the goal for many drug companies (lifetime consumers).
So what about the question of what causes Hashimoto’s? This question is not asked because it is the doctor’s job to find the diagnosis then follow the standard of care. The standard of care for Hashimoto’s is thyroid medication. Hashimoto’s is an auto-immune disease and the problem is an immune problem, not a thyroid problem. The immune system is attacking the thyroid and the standard of care is to treat the side effect of a dysfunctional immune system and ignore the immune component. Our doctors are taught that someone smarter than them is going to solve the immune problem so they continue to follow the standard of care. Our doctors rely on research, funded by drug interest. It is no surprise that until there is a drug to treat the immune system no solution will be found.
When a Hashimoto’s patient finds a Functional Medicine doctor, the conversation and treatment is very different. Functional Medicine doctors are taught that every condition has a cause and every condition has a solution. They are taught that it is the doctor’s job to use his understanding of physiology and biochemistry to figure out the solution and the correct treatment. Functional Medicine is not a drug-based method of treatment. Functional Medicine doctors and researchers are getting to the root of the Hashimoto’s and autoimmune problem.
In Functional Medicine we are learning that every disease has multiple causes and those causes can be different for each person. In my practice I can have seven people with Hashimoto’s and they can have seven different reasons why they developed it. This is why it is so important to treat the person, not the diagnosis. Just the opposite of what our conventional doctors are being taught. This is how we can help people that could not previously be helped.
Since Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune problem, a Functional Medicine doctor wants to look at things that can cause the immune system to go haywire. Multiple factors can have an impact on the immune system. These can be grouped into two main categories, dysregulation and active antigen.
Dysregulation is when the immune system becomes stressed due to some dysregulation in the body; things like blood sugar imbalances, endocrine and immune imbalances, nutrient and dietary imbalances. Active antigen is when the immune system gets stressed due to some type of invader; things like undiagnosed parasite, molds, fungus, yeast, toxins like heavy metals, pesticides, food additives, and chemicals in the environment. Food sensitivities fall into this category as well things like gluten, dairy, soy and other foods that can trigger an immune response.
Genes are the key to health, not the enemy
Genetics is a factor in a functional approach to Hashimoto’s. Instead of using it as an excuse to do nothing, the Functional Medicine practitioner understands that the individual’s genetic traits are designed to help the patient survive and thrive in a particular environment. Understanding that each individual’s genetic traits don’t tell the patient they have to get Hashimoto’s, or any other disease for that matter. The genes are telling us that the lifestyle the patient is leading is not matching the lifestyle that the genes evolved to survive and thrive under. By understanding the individual genetic makeup, we can make changes to the lifestyle and change the genetic expression. To simplify, if Hashimoto’s and any other autoimmune disease runs in your family, it does not mean you have to develop Hashimoto’s. It means that your lifestyle does not agree with your genes.
Functional medicine is about lifestyle and working with your genes, not using them to disempower the patient or give doctors a scapegoat. By utilizing the latest in functional diagnostic testing and blending it with the wisdom of natural medicine, we are able to help people who could not previously be helped.