Natural Treatments for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

You have a number of different natural treatments for Hashimoto's thyroiditis to choose from. This article covers a broad range of options to consider.  Hashimoto's thyroiditis is a type of autoimmune disease in which your own immune system attacks your thyroid gland and the hormones it makes. 

If you already have been diagnosed with other types of autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, type 1 diabetes, or Addison's disease (affecting the adrenal glands), your risk of also developing Hashimoto's thyroiditis may be increased.

The typical unwanted situation is low levels of thyroid hormones, but with higher levels of the hormone that the brain releases (TSH or thyroid-stimulating hormone) to tell your thyroid gland to work harder and make more thyroid hormones.

You need these hormone levels to be normal in order to keep your energy level, weight and metabolism and mood on an even keel. 

Basic Lifestyle Strategies

Discuss your current medications with your doctor

You may be surprised to learn that on top of other side effects, various drugs can impair your thyroid gland's ability to function. This is a partial list of potential drugs that can cause thyroid problems --

  • birth control pills
  • dopamine (neurotransmitter involved in Parkinson's disease among others)
  • bromocriptine
  • Glucocorticoids (dexamethasone, hydrocortisone - steroids)
  • amphetamines (stimulant drugs)
  • phenytoin (used for epilepsy)
  • carbamazepine (used for epilepsy, some psychiatric problem, and diabetic nerve pain)

It just makes sense to minimize the number of drugs that you take every day. Drugs interact with one another and every drug can cause its own side effects all on its own. Talk to your doctor.

Stop smoking

In case you are among the roughly 16% of the population in the U.S. who still smoke, this habit is very bad for your health. The health risks range from heart disease and stroke to cancer. But smoking can also affect your thyroid gland. 

If you have tried to quit smoking in the past but had trouble, consider trying a non-drug treatment like hypnosis.  It helps you re-program your mind to become a non-smoker and it can work very well.

Avoid radiation from x-rays, mammograms, dental x-rays and similar exposures

Radiation is also dangerous to your thyroid gland. Many diagnostic x-rays can unintentionally hit your thyroid gland in your neck and increase your risks for things like thyroid cancer. If you need one of these x-rays, make sure that the technician finds a way to protect your neck (where the thyroid gland is).

As your doctor to check your adrenal gland function as well

The adrenal glands are affected by stress so make sure they are not suffering from fatigue. Your doctor will know what tests may help you tell if this is a problem area for you. You need properly functioning adrenals for your body to deal properly with stress of all types.

Lower your stress levels

Make stress reduction and stress relief a cornerstone of your daily health routine. Practice meditation, yoga relaxation techniques and/or biofeedback. Keep a stress journal. Once you know what sets you off into a stress reaction, find ways to avoid the stressor or cope better.

Exercise more

Light to moderate exercise is a good de-stressor and helps your metabolism operate more efficiently. It improves mood, increases energy and acts as a natural pain reliever. Many experts say that just walking at least several times per week is a great health-promoting activity. 

Avoid plastics

There are many different toxic chemicals in BPA plastics that can leach into your food or drink. Avoid re-heating food in plastic containers. If you want to carry a bottle of water with you everywhere to stay hydrated, use a stainless steel one or one with a glass liner.

Filter your tap water

Install a filter on your tap (and shower) or use a filtering jug to avoid all of the harmful contaminants that tap water contains. Remember that you absorb toxins not only from your GI tract, but also your skin. You at least should avoid chlorine, fluoride, lead and other heavy metals.

Watch out for heavy metal exposure

These are metals like lead, arsenic, aluminum and mercury. Eat wild-caught dish, not farmed, and steer clear of sports drinks like Muscle Milk. Avoid eating canned foods whenever possible. Fresh or frozen is best.

Buy organic

Aim to buy organic where it makes sense, including food and clothing in order to reduce your exposure to chemicals every day in your food and drink and in the products you use. You would be distressed to discover that our bodies are already very polluted with environmental chemicals.

In the least, no one needs to eat nerve toxins -- but that is what most pesticides are. 

Watch your exposure to chemicals

Chemicals surround us and we are affected by them every day through the choices we make about our personal care products, home cleaning products, washing detergent and fabric softener, and more. Buy makeup and toiletries from cruelty-free companies (http://www.peta.org/living/beauty/beauty-without-bunnies/).

Make them yourself using tried and tested traditional recipes.Make your own effective cleaning products using ingredient you normally have in your pantry, like vinegar, lemon, baking soda, and so on. It’s easy, fun and cheap, and better for people and pets.

Also be aware that many people do not realize that their homes (or workplaces) are contaminated with molds and mold toxins. These are incredibly dangerous items in themselves. 

Consult an expert to decontaminate any serious mold problem (you sometimes can ask to use a natural anti-mold product like thyme oil to clear the damaged part of your house. For your clothes, know that borax can mold-inhibiting capabilities also.

Dietary Changes

Avoid heavily-processed foods that include artificial colorings, flavorings and preservatives. Adopt a clean eating lifestyle in which you cook yourself from scratch using only fresh ingredients.

Some diets that might help include:

  • Autoimmune/anti-inflammation
  • Autoimmune Paleo
  • Leaky Gut
  • Gluten-free

Avoid sugar, salt, carbohydrates and any highly-refined foods like white flour. Also avoid caffeine, alcohol, corn (even corn sugar is dextrose, common food sweetener), GMO foods and cold cuts.

Many autoimmune conditions, including Hashimoto's thyroiditis are triggered by food items that may or may not have had anything to do with the original cause of the problem. These foods to considering eliminating on a trial basis for a few weeks could include at least:

  • Corn
  • Egg
  • Wheat
  • Yeast
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, peppers are in the list along with the nightshade plant known as tobacco)

There are many dietary dos and don’ts to help your thyroid health, so if you’ve been feeling sluggish and miserable about your weight, it might be time to take control of what you eat.

Try Alternative Therapies

Try acupuncture or acupressure

These healing modalities from China have been used for more than 3,500 years to offer relief from a range of conditions by balancing energy and helping to unblock its flow to restore health. Gentle massage of the neck area might also stimulate the gland. Find a good acupuncturist to start.

There are many different types of acupuncture. They are similar in that they look at you as a whole person who needs energy re-balancing using the very fine needles that they insert into acupuncture points on the body. Many times you may just want an experienced practitioner in your local area.

Try aromatherapy

Aromatherapy uses essential oils extracted from plants to heal in various ways. The essential oils are made from leaves, seeds, flowers and more. They are distilled down to enhance the healing essence of each botanical.

Cedar wood, lemongrass and peppermint are all good choices. Inhale the oils, or use for massage. But, if you are sensitive to environmental odors from synthetic or natural chemicals, this may not be a good option for you.

Try hot and cold compresses

Alternating them on the front of your neck is believed to help stimulate the thyroid. Decide which temperature may help you the most.

Try Homeopathy

Homeopathy for a chronic condition like Hashimoto's thyroiditis requires consulting a well-trained homeopathic practitioner. Some of these practitioners are MDs and NDs (naturopaths) who got additional education on using homeopathy properly. Others are well-trained non-physicians.

This problem is really beyond what you should try to do with self-care homeopathic remedies available at the health food store. Get individualized care from a qualified provider and see if it can reverse the symptoms that you experience.

Conclusion

Be aware that you even have natural options for replacing thyroid hormones.

Instead of the commonly-prescribed synthetic hormones like Synthroid, there are animal-derived thyroid replacement choices like Nature-Throid or Armour Thyroid. Sometimes these are better tolerated than the conventional Synthroid-types of treatment.

Autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto's thyroiditis can really cause a lot of different symptoms and health problems. Work with your doctor and other providers to develop the best treatment plan for your own needs and wants. It is possible to feel much better and get this situation under control.

About the Author Kris Greenway

Natural Wellness Zone is a blog discussion of approaches to self care using complementary, alternative, and integrative therapies that make sense to help people dealing with a range of health challenges. Kris Greenway is a fellow patient who has researched and found more natural ways to deal with a long list of health problems, including type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, leaky gut, and arthritis. She includes information and updates from expert physicians to educate people about their natural wellness options.

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