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Autoimmune Thyroid - What is it?

Updated: May 19, 2022

Around 90% of underactive thyroid issues are due to an autoimmune condition which means that the body’s immune system is attacking the thyroid gland and enzymes producing thyroid hormone. This process is called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

If you have been diagnosed with under functioning thyroid and been prescribed thyroid hormone replacement but still feeling symptomatic, your symptoms may be caused by underlying autoimmunity. Although taking thyroxine will help boost thyroid hormone, it does not address the underlying dysfunction of autoimmunity.

If you have been diagnosed with under active and are experiencing the symptoms below, this could be affecting you.

· Difficulty losing weight

· Fatigue, sluggishness

· Cold hands and Feet

· Hair loss including outer third of eyebrow hair

· Low mood, depression

· On thyroid support medication but still have lingering symptoms?

· Constipation

One of the most common tests doctor will do is assess thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). If it’s high then this means that thyroid hormone is low and thyroxine is usually prescribed to help manage the low thyroid hormone output.

However, the reason that the thyroid is under functioning in the first place is something that is not so well addressed in conventional medicine. The GP should be able to test for antibodies against Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO antibodies) which when positive is a sign that your immune system is attacking production of thyroid hormone. You can also have this test done privately e.g through Genova Diagnostics for £150. Although there is currently no cure for autoimmunity, there is much that you can do using diet and lifestyle to help dampen down the dysfunctional immune response.

The best dietary protocol for autoimmunity is called the Autoimmune Paleo diet (AIP) and means avoiding gluten and dairy products, processed foods and refined sugars.

Using supplements such as Vitamin D and Omega 3 oils can help to reduce inflammation and balance the immune response.

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