Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a condition that affects the thyroid gland, causing difficult symptoms that affect many aspects of the patient’s life.
It affects 1 to 2% of the adult population in the United States.
Although Hashimoto’s thyroiditis cannot be fully cured, there are a lot of useful treatment options to be explored.
And as always, Mother Nature has our back, offering a variety of natural remedies that these patients are recommended to explore.
In the following article, we will explore the most popular natural remedies for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. We will explain how each one of them can help boost health and eliminate the symptoms among these patients.
How common is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, also known as chronic autoimmune lymphocytic thyroiditis, is an autoimmune disease. This means that the body’s own immune system is attacking the thyroid gland, leading to the underactive thyroid gland, or hypothyroidism.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is suggested to be the most common cause of hypothyroidism after the age of six in Europe and North America.
The incidence is estimated at 3.5 per 1000 per year in women and 0.8 per 1000 per year in men in the United States alone. Women are seven times [i]more likely to be affected by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis as compared with men, especially during pregnancy, although people of all ages, including children, can be affected by it.
Unfortunately, doctors are still unable to explain the exact chain of events that leads to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. For years now, genetics have been thought to have a certain role in the development of this condition.
Having a family history of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or other autoimmune diseases, and the presence of high serum of IgG antibodies are considered [ii]to be the strongest risk factors for developing this condition.
The symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
What is characteristic of this condition is that it develops gradually over the course of several years.
Years can go by until the patient's condition gets diagnosed. Hashimoto's thyroiditis causes symptoms that mimic those of an underactive thyroid. Among the most common symptoms there are:
- High cholesterol;
- Dry skin;
- Thinning skin;
- Difficulty concentrating;
- Unexplained weight gain;
- Cold intolerance;
- Irregular or heavy periods;
- Hoarse voice;
- Infertility issues, etc.
A goiter is one of the characteristic manifestations of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. It is described as a present swelling in the front of the neck.
Although the goiter itself is usually painless, a large goiter can lead to coughing, difficulty breathing, and difficulty swallowing.
Diagnosis and treatment
One of the best ways to detect the presence of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is through a blood test that will help measure the levels of TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) in the body.
If the TSH levels are high, that means that because the thyroid gland is underactive, the body is producing more TSH in order to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce the necessary amounts of the thyroid hormones. Blood tests can also be used to measure the levels of antibodies, other thyroid hormones, and cholesterol levels in the body as well.
In most cases of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, proper treatment is required in order to prevent potential complications such as heart failure, enlarged heart, anemia, obesity, etc. from happening. Untreated Hashimoto’s thyroiditis during pregnancy [iii]can lead to heart, brain, and kidney defects in the newborn. Levothyroxine, which is a synthetic version of the thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4), is the usual course of treatment [iv]for these cases.
Natural remedies for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
Taking levothyroxine can only do so much to repair the damage that has been done to the thyroid gland, but that is not enough.
Each patient is advised to pursue a series of lifestyle changes as a way to preserve their health.
In the following, we will discuss some of the most effective lifestyle changes that promise to help maintain the thyroid hormone levels at a healthy level and with that, eliminate the present symptoms due to Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
Consider a gluten-free and a dairy-free diet
One of the best things that you can do for your body is to change your diet into a gluten-free and preferably a dairy-free diet. Real improvements in terms of symptoms relief have been noticed due to a gluten-free and dairy-free diet.
The protein portion of gluten, called gliadin, has an almost identical molecular structure to that of the thyroid gland. When Hashimoto's thyroiditis is present, the body is attacking the thyroid gland, but it is also attacking the gluten proteins in the bloodstream, which only makes the symptoms worse.
There is a reason why gluten is considered to be one of the biggest autoimmune and allergen culprits. But so are the pasteurized and homogenized dairy products and unsprouted grains, which is why, in addition to going gluten-free, we recommend going dairy-free and grain-free as well.
This might seem like an overwhelming change in the beginning, but it is one that is strongly believed to have a positive impact on Hashimoto’s thyroiditis patients. Remember to take small steps and ask for advice from your doctor whenever you might need it.
Avoid fast food with added sugars
Added sugars and processed foods can increase the present inflammation in the body, and with that, to have a negative impact on your overall health.
The present inflammation, on the other hand, slows down the conversion of thyroxine (T4) to triiodothyronine (T3), causing symptoms such as weight gain, nervousness, blood sugar levels fluctuations, etc. to worsen.
Not to mention that processed foods with added sugars are often low in the essential nutrients, which makes them the biggest sources of the so-called "empty calories."
Make sure that you improve your diet to a level in which you intake lots of clean proteins, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Of course, you will also need healthy carbs as a primary source of energy, and you can still get them from the many foods that Mother Nature has to offer us.
Eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies
One of the best gut-friendly foods is, of course, fresh fruits and veggies.
They are filled with much-needed antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy carbs. Introducing a lot of fresh fruits and veggies can help with many health issues that have resulted due to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, but they can also help improve the overall health so it would be easier for the patient to overcome them, with a focus on Hashimoto’s thyroiditis itself.
The fiber found in the fresh fruits and veggies can aid the digestive health, which can help with nutrient absorption and prevent an allergic and/or autoimmune reaction from happening. In addition, your heart health will improve, your blood sugar levels will be better balanced, and healthy body weight will be supported, preventing the common complications that can result from Hashimoto's thyroiditis in the first place.
On the other hand, the present antioxidants will help reduce the inflammation in the body, while the vitamins and minerals will help prevent any deficiencies from happening, which can additionally worsen the patient's health. Include at least five servings of fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies in your diet to gain the most out of their beneficial effects.
Rely on probiotics
A study [v]from 2014, has revealed an existing link between hypothyroidism and small intestine problems. These problems would include an overgrowth of bacteria, including yeast, which can additionally cause the overall health to worsen. And here is where the helpful probiotics come to save us. No matter if you choose natural probiotics such as kefir, kombucha, yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut, or choose probiotic supplements, your gut and intestines will thank you for it.
Probiotics will help restore a healthy bacterial balance in the gut and the intestines, supporting the healing of the gut and with that, of the immune system as well. Additional positive effects will happen, as well. By improving your gut flora, you will be enhancing your digestion and nutrient absorption, reducing the present inflammation as a result of what your overall health will improve.
Take your supplements
Acquiring specific supplements is the next step that will help you boost and repair your thyroid gland function. Taking the right supplements can help with issues such as autoimmune reactions, stress, and irregular activities of the immune system that all have a certain role in causing the hypothyroidism symptoms.
Because Hashimoto’s thyroiditis often diminishes the body’s selenium supply, it is of vital importance to restore it by taking a proper selenium supplement. Supplementing with selenium will help balance the body’s thyroxine and triiodothyronine levels, as suggested [vi]by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Plus, taking selenium supplements during and after pregnancy has been shown[vii]to actually lower the risk of thyroiditis.
Vitamin B supplement, especially Vitamin B-12, has also been highly recommended to Hashimoto's thyroiditis patients. Vitamin B-12 can help with fatigue, which is often present due to hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's thyroiditis. In a study published [viii]in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, supplementing with Vitamin B-12 has helped Hashimoto’s thyroiditis patients to reduce their fatigue greatly.
Research has also suggested that more than 90% of the Hashimoto’s thyroiditis patients are Vitamin D deficient [ix]as well.
Vitamin D has been considered to be able to reduce the thyroid antibodies in patients who have been using levothyroxine, which is why it is of vital importance that these patients regularly introduce enough Vitamin D in their diet through natural sources and proper supplementation.
Reduce your stress levels
Stress is known to have many negative effects on our health, including our thyroid gland. A 2010 research has suggested that reducing [x]the stress levels have had a positive impact on autoimmune disease patients. Stress management has become a regular part of all multidimensional treatment approaches to resolving different health issues, including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Some of the most effective stress management techniques have been yoga, meditation, regular physical activity, and spending time in nature. Introducing these techniques into your routine can have a positive impact on many aspects of your life, focusing on your Hashimoto’s thyroiditis symptoms. Improved sleep, enhanced energy levels, and better concentration is just some of the many beneficial effects that you will get to explore thanks to these popular relaxation techniques.
Use natural herbs
Many natural herbs can be used in the management of Hashimoto's thyroiditis symptoms. One of the best herbs is probably Ashwagandha, which has been proven to be able to balance and normalize the thyroid hormone levels. Aloe Vera is another great natural remedy since it is packed with lots of nutrients such as selenium, zinc, and magnesium, but it also contains high levels of the amino acid tyrosine, which is a precursor for thyroxine.
Turmeric and its active component Curcumin has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, and antiviral properties, which are all very welcome in anyone who is struggling with an autoimmune disease, including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Apart from relying on levothyroxine for help, all Hashimoto's thyroiditis patients are strongly advised to pursue a series of lifestyle changes and use the natural remedies that have been proven to be able to help them.
From minimalizing the stress levels, improving the diet, and taking the much-needed supplements, to using natural remedies such as Aloe Vera and Turmeric, there are many aspects of the natural treatments to be explored with the hopes of eliminating the symptoms caused by Hashimoto's thyroiditis and improving the production and balance of the thyroid hormones.
[i] Hashimoto's disease. (2018, October 18)
Retrieved from https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/hashimotos-disease
[ii] Zaletel, K., & Gaberscek, S. (2011). Hashimotos Thyroiditis: From Genes to the Disease. Current Genomics, 12(8), 576–588. doi: 10.2174/138920211798120763
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3271310/
[iii] Levie, D. (2019). Mild maternal thyroid dysfunction during pregnancy and offspring neurodevelopment. Endocrine Abstracts. doi: 10.1530/endoabs.63.s16.3
Retrieved from https://www.endocrine-abstracts.org/ea/0063/ea0063s16.3
[iv] Yoo, W. S., & Chung, H. K. (2016). Recent Advances in Autoimmune Thyroid Diseases. Endocrinology and Metabolism, 31(3), 379. doi: 10.3803/enm.2016.31.3.379
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5053048/
[v]by Patil, A. (2014). The link between hypothyroidism and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 18(3), 307. doi: 10.4103/2230-8210.131155
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4056127/
[vi] Office of Dietary Supplements - Selenium. (n.d.)
Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Selenium-HealthProfessional/.
[vii], Drutel, A., Archambeaud, F., & Caron, P. (2013). Selenium and the thyroid gland: more good news for clinicians. Clinical Endocrinology, 78(2), 155–164. doi: 10.1111/cen.12066
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23046013
[viii]by Costantini, A., & Pala, M. I. (2014). Thiamine and Hashimotos Thyroiditis: A Report of Three Cases. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 20(3), 208–211. doi: 10.1089/acm.2012.0612
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24351023
[ix] Mackawy, A. M. H., Al-Ayed, B. M., & Al-Rashidi, B. M. (2013). Vitamin D Deficiency and Its Association with Thyroid Disease. International Journal of Health Sciences, 7(3), 267–275. doi: 10.12816/0006054
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3921055/