Chronic low energy is a common, modern-day problem for many people. In good health, 3 pm would otherwise be a time of peak energy and performance but unfortunately for most, a nap is usually in order. When mid-day slumps replace youthful motivation, and strong coffee replaces your zest for life, you might be suffering from low thyroid.
If you visit your doctor to have your thyroid tested you might be told that Hashimoto’s is the “cause”. If this is the case, you will likely be told that your absent energy, moodiness, and other symptoms are just “part of the disease”. You will very likely be prescribed “thyroid hormone-replacement medication” and told that it is the only thing that can be done. 1, 2
There are a few big problems here though. First off, most studies have found that the use of thyroxine hormone replacement doesn’t provide much help at all, and even can make matters worse. The other problem is that the cause for Hashimoto’s is considered somewhat of a mystery, so the hope for a cure is unlikely. Not to mention, the current pathological explanation of Hashimoto’s is at best, misunderstood. All of this equates to unsuccessful treatment and a lot of frustrated, unwell, and tired people.
If you struggle with chronic fatigue, low thyroid, or Hashimoto’s, then you are likely wondering, why are these methods falling short? That’s a good question, allow us to elaborate...
The Misconceptions of Hashimoto’s
Most treatment modalities for hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s are built on a flawed understanding of what causes an underactive thyroid. Quickly, before we provide a more clear physiological explanation as to what is going wrong in the hypothyroid person, let’s discuss what’s wrong with the conventional view of the problem(s).
According to mainstream medicine, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is the number one cause of hypothyroidism. And according to the mainstream, Hashimoto’s is a condition where an abbarate immune system attacks the healthy tissue of the thyroid gland (by way of antibodies), which induces inflammation and therefore suppresses immune function. There are a few key problems with this explanation.
While it is true that inflammation to the thyroid gland would downregulate its function, it is not true that antibodies are the cause of the damage. The fact of the matter is, antibodies play a key role in the removal of cellular debris that accumulates when cells die or disintegrate. Any sort of intense cellular damage will cause a variety of "autoantibodies" to be produced. So the fact is, antibodies are not the cause of damage, they are the effect. This is why you will see elevations of antibodies in people with wasting diseases like diabetes or HIV. The wasting of muscle tissue will cause significantly elevations of antibodies to “clean house”. But again, the antibodies are not the cause, it is typically chronic stress that atrophies the body’s tissues, and antibodies are the result. 3
In summary, the conventional view of hypothyroidism points the finger at “autoimmunity” and “antibodies”. This view suggests that bacteria, viruses, or a food particles stimulate the immune system to attack, but in the process the immune system also confuses its own tissue (organ, muscle, joint, bone, nerve, glands, etc.) for the invader and begin attacking it too.
From this viewpoint, the “overactive” immune system will never stop attacking the body because it is simply abbarated. This viewpoint is very unphysiological and nearsighted at best. It also provides no cause for the problem and therefore no remedy other than to try to replace the function of your thyroid with hormone-replacement medication.
The Alternative View
There is another explanation for Hashimoto’s that is like the conventional view; however, it suggests that autoimmunity stems from a gut problem known as “leaky gut.” Leaky gut, or gut permeability, occurs when gut irritants (like gluten or carrageenan) or stress damage the cells that make up the gut barrier, which causes leakiness in the intestinal wall. This allows tiny food particles, bacteria or endotoxin into the bloodstream triggering an immune response with antibodies being produced.
This viewpoint is a bit more scientifically rational and at least provides a solution - reverse the leaky gut and use thyroid hormones in the meantime.
However, this viewpoint is not entirely complete either. In both the conventional and alternative views, they suggest that the immune system confuses its own tissue, specifically the thyroid, for bacteria, viruses, or food particles. But the truth is, the immune system does not get “confused”, it doesn’t attack its own tissue and studies have even found that people with autoimmunity have underactive immune systems. 4
A More Physiological Rationale for Hashimoto’s
Providing clarity to the confusion, we have to go back to a vital scientific fact made earlier; antibodies do not cause tissue damage, they clean up the mess made from it. In autoimmune Hashimoto’s, the immune system isn’t accidentally attacking the thyroid, it is protecting the body and allowing for regeneration by cleaning up the cellular debris from thyroid tissue that’s already damaged.
The fact of the matter is, our immune systems don’t confuse similar looking proteins for our own tissues, and our immune systems don’t attack our own, healthy tissues - it’s not that unintelligent. The reason the immune system makes antibodies is to clean up waste surrounding damaged parts that would be harmful to the body if they remained.
Completing the picture of Hashimoto’s we have to answer one more question - if the immune system isn’t attacking the thyroid, then what is? The answer to this question is stress.
The body requires biological energy known as ATP to support every single physiological process. Stress causes the body to rapidly deplete its energy, while impairing the further production of energy. This greatly throws off the body’s energy balance; the balance between the energy we make and the energy we use, creating an energy deficit.
By increasing our energy demands, and impairing the body’s energy supply, stress puts the body into a low metabolic state in attempt to conserve energy. This process isn’t immediately harmful, but if we stay in it for a long period of time (chronic stress), then it leads to the catabolism of our tissues during chronic stress because our bodies simply are not producing enough energy. In order to acquire that energy, the metabolism shifts into a state known as gluconeogenesis, which breaks down and converts the tissues (muscles, nerves, glands, etc) into sugar for energy.
Of the many tissues that are a target for energy during stress, the glands such as the thymus, adrenals and thyroid are at the top of the list. And just as mentioned earlier, when the thyroid is damaged it can’t function properly. Also, when the thyroid is regularly damaged by the catabolic hormones produced under chronic stress, antibodies elevate.
The true cause of hypothyroidism is not the medical definition of Hashimoto’s. Hypothyroidism has many causes, none of which include a confused immune system. Hashimoto’s is induced by a chronic state of stress, which results in an increase rise of stress hormones that cause damage and degradation to the thyroid gland and other bodily tissue. This is responsible not only for the rise of antibodies and inflammation but the many symptoms of Hashimoto’s.
If you are struggling with Hashimoto’s; then your body is incredibly stressed. This stress may be caused by environmental toxins (xenoestrogens), psychological stress, strenuous exercise, sleep deprivation, poor nutrition, or something else. But in any case, if you wish to think clearly, digest food, stay warm, sleep well, heal, reproduce, breathe properly, or do anything else associated with normal health, then your body needs energy!
Reducing stress is a multistep process; however, we strongly suggest the use of adaptogenic herbs like the ones you can find in Revitalize. These adaptogen herbs like Ashwagandha, Schizandra and others are proven to both reduce stress while enhancing energy production; the two main goals in treating Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. 5, 6
**This article is the sole opinion of the author and should not be considered a substitute for a professional medical opinion**
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