Hashimoto’s disease is not only a thyroid disease. This autoimmune disease often affects your brain. Many individuals with this disease still suffer with brain-related symptoms even when their thyroid hormone levels are optimal. Your symptoms may not be related to your levels of thyroid hormone at all. In many instances, symptoms attributed to thyroid hormones are actually problems that originate in the brain. 

Do you have Hashimoto’s and experience?

  • Brain fog 
  • Fatigue 
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability 
  • Low motivation 
  • Insomnia 
  • Poor short-term memory 

These problems are “brain problems.” Even digestion problems can originate in the brain. The most important nerve for healthy digestion is the vagus nerve and it originates in your brain. We now know that Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia rates are higher among people with Hashimoto’s. 

Hashimoto’s is NOT just a thyroid disease

Hashimoto’s occurs because your immune system is diseased; your thyroid is an innocent target of the diseased immune system. The root cause is a poorly regulated immune system and the thyroid is the organ that is being attacked and destroyed. 

As a functional medicine doctor, I understand and appreciate the how different body systems can influence each other.  With Hashimoto’s, there are several systems that can be affected. These systems include the immune system (autoimmunity), the hormone/endocrine system (thyroid gland) and the nervous system (brain). Traditional medicine only recognizes the thyroid, so the only solution provided is thyroid hormone medication. The immune system is completely ignored. If the brain is considered at all, the damage that is occurring will not be recognized or addressed but psychiatric drugs may be offered. 

Functional medicine doctors know that Hashimoto’s not only affects the thyroid but is also affects the brain. Many people mistake their brain inflammation and brain damage with hypothyroidism or an imbalance of their thyroid hormones. 

The inflammation that occurs with Hashimoto’s can cause the following brain problems:

  • Leaky blood-brain-barrier…yes, you can have a leaky gut and a leaky brain, they often occur together. A leaky blood-brain-barrier also increases the risk of developing brain autoimmunity. 
  • Inflammation in the brain triggers the immune cells of your brain (microglia) to become overactive and increase nerve cell damage. 
  • Decreased, imbalanced or less effective nerve chemicals (neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine and GABA). This can cause depression, anxiety, irritability and insomnia. 
  • Accelerated brain degeneration and increased risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. 

If you have Hashimoto’s disease, getting your thyroid hormone levels optimized is not enough. You have an autoimmune disease and this disease can affect other parts of your body beyond the thyroid gland. You must get your immune system working better, which means a better regulated immune system. You need to support and protect other systems like your digestive system and your nervous system. The more we learn about Hashimoto’s and other autoimmune diseases, the more we see the need to protect the rest of the body. With what was once considered only a “thyroid disease” we now see as an “immune system disease” and “neurological disease.” 

Not to make less of the thyroid damage, but it just might turn out that the thyroid is the least of our concerns with Hashimoto’s.

Thyroid hormones can be balanced and maintained with medication if needed. What we don’t have is a medication to replace a damaged brain. Hashimoto’s also increases your risk of developing other autoimmune diseases; many of which are significantly more devastating. 

Hashimoto’s strikes at all 3 of your major regulating systems. Your immune system, nervous system and endocrine system (hormones).

If you have Hashimoto’s disease or any autoimmune disease, it is in your best interest to care for your body as the whole. 

The purpose of functional medicine is: 

Understanding how the body works, knowing how and where to investigate health issues, knowing what to look for, understanding the significance of what is found and creating a plan of action to reverse and correct the root cause the health problems.

My wish for you…health, happiness and a better quality of life! 

If you would like more information about functional medicine and integrative medicine or Dr. Sexton go to www.napervilleintegratedwellness.com

Do your own research, inform yourself and ask lots of questions. When collecting information, you MUST consider the source. There is no shortage of false, misleading, outdated, profit-driven and utterly biased information in healthcare today; even from the most respected sources and organizations. 

This approach to healthcare is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate, or prevent any disease. This article is for information purposes and is not a substitute professional healthcare services. Contact our office for more information.