Hashimoto’s Vs Hypothyroidism
Hashimoto’s is typically described as hypothyroidism. However, this is not entirely accurate. Hashimoto’s can cause hypothyroidism. However, there is more to explore when it comes to the butterfly-shaped gland that sits in the middle of your neck.
What is Hashimoto’s: let’s unlock the word autoimmune. Autoimmune is when the body starts to attack itself or make antibodies against itself. This is the case with Hashimoto’s. Your body makes antibodies that start to attack the butterfly-shaped gland, and when this happens white blood cells (WBCs) (U.S.HHS, n.d.) accumulate in the thyroid. The result is usually an underactive, damaged thyroid that can no longer make the correct amount of thyroid hormone for the body to function properly. Thyroid hormones are necessary for all organs of the body.
Causes of Hashimoto’s can vary, from an immune response, genetics, viruses, toxin build-up, and damage from certain chemicals and medications. What next? More than a replacement of thyroid hormone, synthetic or natural, is needed to manage Hashimoto’s. Managing daily stress and inflammation of the body is essential for proper thyroid function. Including proper conversion of inactive thyroid hormones to active thyroid hormones. If there is not a proper amount of free T3 and Reverse T3 cellular function is impaired.
Hypothyroidism is defined as the failure of the thyroid gland to produce sufficient thyroid hormone to meet the metabolic demands of the body (Gaitonde et al., 2012). Untreated hypothyroidism can contribute to hypertension, dyslipidemia, infertility, cognitive impairment, and neuromuscular dysfunction (Gaitonde et al., 2012). Hypothyroidism can be caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, but it can also be caused due to an issue somewhere between the hypothalamus and the thyroid gland.
Thyroid Hormones and the Body
Heart: thyroid hormones have a permissive effect on catecholamines. It increases the expression of beta-receptors to increase heart rate, stroke volume, cardiac output, and contractility (Shahid et al., 2022). Thyroid hormones are essential for proper cardiac function.
Lungs: thyroid hormones stimulate the respiratory centers and lead to increased oxygenation because of increased perfusion (Shahid et al., 2022). For proper lung functions and oxygenation throughout the body thyroid hormone is vital. In turn, the body’s organs will be closer to performing optimally.
Skeletal muscles: thyroid hormones cause increased development of type II muscle fibers. These are fast-twitch muscle fibers capable of fast and powerful contractions (Shahid et al., 2022). To ensure the body’s muscles contract and relax properly a balanced thyroid is necessary.
Metabolism: thyroid hormone increases the basal metabolic rate. It increases the gene expression of Na+/K+ ATPase in different tissues leading to increased oxygen consumption, respiration rate, and body temperature. Depending on the me tabolic status, it can induce lipolysis or lipid synthesis. Thyroid hormones stimulate the metabolism of carbohydrates and the anabolism of proteins. Thyroid hormones can also induce the catabolism of proteins in high doses. Thyroid hormones do not change the blood glucose level, but they can cause increased glucose reabsorption, gluconeogenesis, glycogen synthesis, and glucose oxidation (Shahid et al., 2022).
Growth during childhood: In children, thyroid hormones act synergistically with growth hormones to stimulate bone growth. It induces chondrocytes, osteoblasts, and osteoclasts. Thyroid hormones also help with brain maturation by axonal growth and the formation of the myelin sheath (Shahid et al., 2022).
Stress and the Thyroid
Decreased glutathione levels appear to be a distinctive parameter related to the activation and development of oxidative stress in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, as oxidative stress is associated with a thyroid hormone deficiency, inflammation, and autoimmune parameters (Kochman et al., 2021). Stress from free radicals, or unbound electrons circulate in the body having a damaging effect. It is important to look at the diet, supplements, and daily stress for optimal thyroid functions, but also overall health.
Functional medicine is a form of medicine that addresses stress on the body and immune system. It is not only daily stress but the stress we encounter from our environment and the toxins that potentially surround us. Decreasing stress, inflammation, and toxins in our daily life leads to a healthier version of ourselves.
Kiara Poloney, LMT, FNP-C
Gaitonde, D. Y., Rowley, K. D., & Sweeney, L. B. (2012, August 1). Hypothyroidism: An update. American Family Physician. Retrieved April 11, 2023, from https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2012/0801/p244.html
Kochman J, Jakubczyk K, Bargiel P, Janda-Milczarek K. The Influence of Oxidative Stress on Thyroid Diseases. Antioxidants. 2021; 10(9):1442. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox10091442
Shahid MA, Ashraf MA, Sharma S. Physiology, Thyroid Hormone. [Updated 2022 May 8]. In:
StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK500006/
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (U.S.HHS). (n.d.). Hashimoto's disease - NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved April 11, 2023, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/hashimotos-disease#whatis.