Posted on Mar 03, 2020, 5 p.m.
Article courtesy of: T. Hertoghe, MD, author of “The Hormone Handbook”
What is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder is one where the immune system functions improperly and makes antibodies against some of its tissues. In Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, antibodies attack fragments of the thyroid and immune cells (mostly lymphocytes and macrophages) concentrate in the thyroid gland. Two main types of thyroid antibodies can be found in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: those against thyroid peroxidase and those against thyroglobulin. Thyroid peroxidase is an enzyme that prepares iodine to be incorporated in the amino acid tyrosine to produce thyroid hormones. Thyroglobulin is the molecule on which thyroid hormones are stored in the thyroid gland.
*Note: This article was edited on 3/26/2020 to reflect the changed dates of the event.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis needs treatment
Many physicians seem to think that the presence of antithyroid antibodies in human bodies is in most cases harmless, as long as the antibodies do not excessively stimulate thyroid function, causing hyperthyroidism, which is a rare occurrence. The thought, proceeding from an apparent lack of specific complaints or physical signs, that Hashimoto’s thyroiditis requires only minimal surveillance and not treatment may be now outdated by new scientific evidence. One of the USA’s major health- and practice-related medical journals, Townsend Letter, is publishing an article in April 2020 that contains a review of the scientific literature on Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The data shakes the actual belief and creates legitimate concern for patients with Hashimoto’s disease if they are left untreated. The adverse cardiovascular effects of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis particularly sounds an alarm bell in the head.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis may weaken the heart and arteries
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis may facilitate lipid disorders. Indeed, blood checks of lipid levels in patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis show not only significantly higher levels of total and LDL cholesterol, but also higher levels of triglycerides and lower levels of the protective HDL cholesterol, compared to levels in individuals without the disorder. The level of homocysteine, an amino acid associated with higher risks of atherosclerosis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and other disorders, is also more than 20% higher in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis patients. Human arteries also seem to suffer from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, with a higher degree of arterial stiffness and atherosclerosis. The risk of coronary heart disease is 40% higher in patients with this disorder, and the risk of myocardial infarction has been reported to be twofold higher in these patients compared to healthy controls. The risk of spasm of coronary arteries, a major cause of heart attacks in women, is up to five times higher in patients with high levels of antithyroid peroxidase antibodies. Moreover, the risk of pulmonary hypertension is three times higher, and that of stroke 10 to 30% higher, in patients with this autoimmune disorder.
How to treat Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
These findings raise serious concerns and suggest that patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis need to be treated, even if they seem symptomless. The treatment should be aimed not only at reducing the levels of antithyroid antibodies to undetectable or near undetectable levels but also at opposing any adverse cardiovascular effects. Two nutritional therapies known to protect the heart and arterial system have been shown to be efficient at reducing antithyroid antibodies by 20-30% each: selenium and vitamin D at high doses. Dietary interventions, such as high consumption of fatty fish and low consumption of carbohydrates, are also known to protect the heart and arteries and to reduce the likelihood of finding antithyroid antibodies. What about hormone therapies? Testosterone therapy in men and thyroid treatment in both genders have been reported to be able to protect the heart and arteries and reduce antithyroid antibodies by up to 50%: In which patients do nutritional and hormone treatments work better? The answer is patients with lower levels of these nutrients and hormones. “Lower levels” means levels below the average level, not necessary below the lower reference limit.
To get practical information and references on the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune thyroiditis, read the article “Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, a Common Disorder in Women: How to Treat It” in the Townsend Letter April 2020 issue.
To access the relevant data on autoimmune thyroiditis, its association with various diseases, and its therapy, search the website of the International Hormone Society for the section on Evidence-based hormone therapies.
To get practical and in-depth training on the treatment of autoimmune thyroiditis and other thyroid disorders and come attend the hormone therapy workshop in Orlando on August 21-22, 2020. Check out the Evidence-based hormone therapy workshop here, which will be available at the A4M 28th Annual Spring Congress being held in Orlando, Florida on August 20-22, 2020.
Thierry Hertoghe, MD is the President of the International Hormone Society. Born in 1957 and he practices lifespan/reversing aging medicine and hormone therapy. He represents the fourth consecutive generation of physicians who have worked in the field of hormone therapy, where he practices medicine with a team of experienced doctors in Brussels. He is an internationally known authority in medical therapies oriented to correct hormone deficiencies, reduce aging or even on some aspects reverse aging and possibly extend lifespan. He is the Author of various well-referenced medical books, including the international bestseller Hormone handbook and the Atlas of endocrinology for hormone therapy, Testosterone, the therapy for real gentleman, the Textbook of Reversing physical aging (volume 1: the head and the senses), the Textbook of lifespan and anti-aging medicine, the Textbook of Nutrient therapy, the Hormone Solution, Passion, sex, and long life, and the Oxytocin adventure, among others.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.