The Other Thyroid Disease
The other thyroid disease is Graves’ disease. Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s disease both are autoimmune diseases affecting the thyroid gland. An autoimmune disease is a state of your immune system that is sensitized to your own body. Your immune system produces antibodies that attack and destroy cells and tissues in your body. These antibodies are called autoantibodies. In Hashimoto’s disease, you develop hypothyroidism. This results in a decrease in thyroid hormones. In Graves’ disease, you have overproduction of thyroid hormones. The autoantibodies attack the pituitary gland causing an increase in thyroid stimulating hormone, TSH. The thyroid stimulating hormone causes the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormones.
The signs and symptoms of Graves’ disease are; insomnia, hand tremor, hyperactivity, hair loss, excessive sweating, heart palpitations and the characteristic bulging eyes as well as many other symptoms.
Conventional medicine does not have a clear understanding of what causes autoimmune diseases. The main culprits are combination of genetic and environmental factors. Recent research indicates that increased intestinal permeability, leaky gut, is the main factor in developing autoantibodies. Our intestines are designed to absorb nutrients that the body needs and eliminate all sorts of things we may consume that can potentially harm the body. With leaky gut disease we absorb a lot of these harmful elements from our food as well as undigested proteins. Within the wall of our intestines is an area called gut associated lymphatic tissue, GALT. This area that contains 70% of our immune system. As these undesirable proteins go through this area, our immune system sensitizes antibodies against these proteins. Unfortunately, these antibodies are sensitized to our own body proteins. There are a number of mechanisms that cause leaky gut disease. This explanation goes beyond the scope of this article.
Over 50 million Americans have an autoimmune disease. It’s one of the top 10 causes of death in women over the age of 65. The 2nd highest cause of chronic illness in women in the United States. There is more than 100 different types of autoimmune diseases that have been identified. In 2001, the treatment for autoimmune diseases was greater than $1 billion. However, that’s only including 7 of the hundred autoimmune diseases. Men also develop autoimmune diseases.
Conventional medicine treats autoimmune diseases with immunosuppressant drugs. This method of treatment does reduce the symptoms of autoimmune diseases; however, these drugs leave us vulnerable to bacterial and viral illnesses as well as an increase in incidence of cancer.
From a functional medical standpoint you don’t treat autoimmune diseases. I know that sounds a little strange. With a detailed history, examination and laboratory findings, we identify patterns which lead us to the underlying cause or causes. A protocol is developed to address the underlying causes of the autoimmunity. I cannot make generalized statements of treatment protocols as every person is unique. All factors of lifestyle are examined, and specific recommendations are given to improve them. The use of nutraceuticals and medical foods are often needed to improve physiological functions.
In functional medical treatment you are involved in your treatment. You can start to improve your health by changing certain lifestyle factors. These are some recommendations.
1. Improve your diet. Eliminate processed foods, wheat, and dairy. Eat only whole foods.
2. Exercise daily for 20 minutes. It can be a different exercise each day but you have to enjoy the exercise. It could be as simple as stretching, yoga or walking.
3. Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
4. Investigate stress reduction techniques. This is crucial! Count your blessings.
5. Foundational nutrition now includes a multivitamin, EPA DHA= fish oil, probiotic, vitamin D, I also add magnesium. All of these have to be high quality. What I would consider professional grade. If you would like to know where to get supplements of this quality contact, me at my office. I do not sell supplements out of my office.
If you try to implement one or more of these you will start to see an improvement in your general health. As a side note, if you take the passive root of just taking supplementation, I wouldn’t expect to see dramatic changes. It requires a reevaluation of your lifestyle.