Dr. Vlada Korol: Discussing the underactive thyroid
Dr. Vlada Korol’s interview with Izabella Wentz, PharmD, pharmacist, Hashimoto’s patient and author of the new book “Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause”.
Discussing the underactive thyroid
Vlada Korol: What is hypothyroidism and what are the symptoms of it?
Izabella Wentz: Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone. Symptoms may include weight gain, feeling tired, forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, constipation, infertility, depression, hair loss and intolerance to cold.
VK: What causes hypothyroidism?
IW: Worldwide, iodine deficiency is the main cause of hypothyroidism, however in the United States and most of Europe, 90-95% of cases of hypothyroidism result from Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune condition where the thyroid gland is being attacked by the immune system.
VK: In school, we learned about various thyroid test panels, and how the screening test did not always tell the whole picture. How does one find out she has a thyroid condition or Hashimoto’s?
IW: Most people go undiagnosed for many years because symptoms are so unspecific! Thyroid screens are not usually a part of the standard blood work done by physicians. Patients should ask their physicians to run a thyroid panel that includes: TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), Free T4, Free T3, and thyroid antibodies. Although the TSH test is most frequently used as a screening test, it may not tell the whole story. The antibody test is key to figuring out if one has Hashimoto’s.
VK: How many people are affected by Hashimoto’s in the US?
IW: Hashimoto’s affect 5% of people in the United States. Women tend to be disproportionally affected, with 4 women for every one man affected. The incidence seems to increase with age, with peak incidence around puberty, pregnancy and menopause.
VK: What is the standard treatment for Hashimoto’s?
IW: In the case of low thyroid function, prescription medications are needed to provide supplemental thyroid hormones. Some of the more commonly used prescription medications include Synthroid, Armour thyroid, Tirosint and Levoxyl. It is important to be taking an adequate dose of medication and to follow up with you physician for blood work. Sometimes the need for medication may change and the dose will need to be adjusted. These medications have what we call a narrow therapeutic index, which means that they must be dosed very carefully. Too little or too much can have huge consequences.
VK: I know that getting a medical diagnosis can be really difficult to deal with. How did it make you feel? Or Tell me your story with Hashimoto’s.
IW: I was in complete shock when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s in 2009. Here I was, a health care professional, eating well, not smoking, exercising…I wondered how I could be sick when I was seemingly doing everything right? I was started on thyroid medications to address the lack of hormone, but felt like the medications did not address the root cause of my condition. I wanted to find out what I could do to reduce the immune system’s attack on the thyroid gland. Over the last three years I have been researching and testing a variety of lifestyle interventions in their ability to reduce the autoimmunity.
VK: What can you share with us?
IW: Basically, something, somewhere is causing the body inflammation and revving up the immune system causing it to attack the thyroid. Toxins, infections and certain foods act as triggers, while other foods and some supplements can reduce autoimmunity.
For example, although Iodine is recommended for cases of Iodine deficiency, most people with Hashimoto’s do not have Iodine deficiency, and taking Iodine can make Hashimoto’s worse. Studies have found that rates of Hashimoto’s tripled after the iodization of salt! So limiting Iodine is often helpful for Hashimoto’s for people with adequate or high iodine levels.
Gluten: People with Hashimoto’s often have intolerance to foods that contain large proteins such as gluten (the protein found in wheat products), dairy, soy or eggs. Doing an elimination diet to figure out which food you are sensitive to can help identify which foods need to be removed so they stop causing inflammation.
Selenium is a trace element that is often deficient in those with Hashimoto’s. A dose of 200 mcg per day has been found to reduce anti-thyroid antibodies.
Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory supplement that can reduce the autoimmune attack on the thyroid as well. It has also been found to be helpful in rheumatoid arthritis, another autoimmune condition. I know that Kedvon carries Curcumax Pro which is a well-absorbed form of curcumin.
What’s really exciting is that people (including myself) have been able to reduce or eliminate thyroid antibodies through lifestyle interventions!
Where can people get more information?
There is so much more! I also developed a specialized approach to discover the root cause of the immune imbalance. I have written a 300+ page book on this topic that I hope will spread awareness about lifestyle interventions for Hashimoto’s and other autoimmune conditions.
Different interventions work for different people, and I hope that this article and my book will encourage others to find the root cause of their condition.
You can check out my website www.thyroidlifestyle.com for my blog, and my book “Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause” is now available on my website and Amazon.com!