Hello everyone and welcome to the RHS blog. Today’s post is, yet again, devoted to thyroid patients and the link with inflammation. In this post we will break down a very interesting article that involved patients with hypothyroidism and how they were helped without thyroid medication! (As a side note, even if you are on the medication this is highly relevant to you).
Super Brief Recap: Hypothyroidism and the Autoimmune Link: Hashimoto’s
For those who may be new to the site or new to this whole hypothyroid thing, let me do a very brief breakdown. If you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, you have the autoimmune disease called “Hashimoto’s”. It causes over 90% of the hypothyroidism in this country, so if you don’t know how you got your hypothyroidism (like post-surgery), odds say it is highly likely you are hypothyroid because of an “autoimmune disease!” Famous other autoimmune diseases are like Rheumatoid arthritis where your immune system attacks your joints, Vitiligo where your immune system attacks your pigment cells, and MS where your immune system attacks the myelin sheath of your nerve cells. In this case, your immune system has attacked your thyroid gland.
General practitioners and endocrinologists alike do have fairly simple training when it comes to helping patients with hypothyroidism. Most patients are given a medication called “Synthroid” or the generic “Levothyroxine”. The problem arises when this medication fixes the blood test TSH but leaves you with thyroid symptoms such as being fatigued, difficulty losing weight, hair loss/thinning, depression, irritable bowel, etc…
The Article You Should Pay Attention To: Your Endocrinologist Probably Missed
There was an article published in 2010 in the Journal of Rheumatology entitled “Improvement of Thyroid Function in Hypothyroid Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis after 6 months of Adalimumab Treatment: A Pilot Study.”
In this study, they took patients with rheumatoid arthritis and hypothyroidism and treated them with an immunosuppressant drug and they found their thyroids functioned better! To quote the conclusion,
“Anti-[inflammatory] treatment improves thyroid function in hypothyroid patients with RA (especially in those who are L-thyroxine-naive and TPOabs-positive), providing further evidence that [inflammation] has a pathogenic role in thyroid dysfunction.”
Hold the presses! This article is saying inflammation has a role in your thyroid dysfunction. It is also saying anti-inflammatories have a role in your thyroid care! This is not standard care for an endocrinologist. Normal thyroid medication does absolutely nothing for your immune system dysfunction. There is no strategy for helping your immune system regain control and function properly. This is one of the biggest concepts I cover with my hypothyroid patients and a huge player in getting any thyroid patient better.
For those who like the pharmacology the drug they used is specifically a “TNF blocker”. TNF is an inflammatory cytokine. I hope to post an article soon exploring inflammation and how the C-reactive protein test for inflammation is good, but totally an incomplete way to assess inflammation. We now know there is a whole family of inflammatory cytokines such as TNF, NFkappa B, Interferon, IL-1, IL-6, and others. Testing just one of them (like C-reactive protein) and believing it is a thorough way to investigate inflammation in the body is about as laughable as testing just the TSH and saying you’ve thoroughly investigated the thyroid. (I recommend 9 tests for a thorough thyroid panel, which I have listed in several other articles).
In Closing, Let Me Give a Basic Review
- Your thyroid problem is caused by your immune system.
- Part of your thyroid care must involve a plan to help your immune system (an anti-inflammatory plan).
Patients often ask me what an “anti-inflammatory plan” looks like. Unfortunately, I can not give a super simple answer for that. I can tell you a natural TNF blocker like the one they used in the study is turmeric and I have had great success using turmeric in my office as an anti-inflammatory. Getting rid of food allergies, leaky gut, and chronic infections have also been a great way for many patients to reduce their inflammation. However, the point of this article is not to tell you exactly what to do for your inflammation. The point is to understand this must be part of your thyroid care. You must have at least some strategy for assessing and treating your rogue immune system that is driving your thyroid problem.
For more reading on inflammation and autoimmunity please check out our other blog posts.
Thank you for reading!