Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: A Resource

By Dr Ernst
March 2, 2018

Despite being a very common condition (it is estimated that 80-90% of hypothyroid sufferers actually have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis), the majority of patients I treat are grossly misinformed.

They tend to fall into one of two camps: those who are told there’s no solution and they will feel terrible for the remainder of their lives, and those who are told it’s no problem and are given a prescription that is not only ineffective, but potentially dangerous.

Both wind up unsatisfied and coming to me, often as a last resort.

What is Hashimoto’s?

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition in which, like all autoimmune conditions, the body’s immune system attacks a particular organ or tissue–in this case, the thyroid gland. The thyroid can withstand a certain amount of abuse, but after 10 years or so of being attacked, it will significantly slow, or even stop, making hormones altogether.

Testing for Hashimoto’s

If you are experiencing symptoms of hypothyroid or Hashimoto’s and you go to an M.D., you will be tested for TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). The problem with testing for TSH is that it comes from the pituitary gland, not the thyroid. So your pituitary may be working perfectly, but when the TSH gets to your thyroid gland, nothing happens. It’s a bit strange that they test for that actually.

To test for hypothyroidism, it’s better to test for a hormone produced in the liver called rT3. That’s a topic all its own, so we’ll leave it at that for now. But if you want to test specifically for Hashimoto’s, you need to test for thyroid antibodies, which are Thyroid peroxidase (TPO) or thyroglobulin (TG).

Why suspect I might have Hashimoto’s?

The first symptom to appear tends to be just general fatigue. You might feel fine in the morning, but as the afternoon wears on, you become exhausted. This, however, could be any number of things that are not a thyroid condition. So also look out for anxiety, weight gain (or weight loss resistance), hair loss (particularly from the eyebrows), menstrual irregularities and easily feeling cold.


Some functional medicine doctors like myself will advocate taking a synthetic thyroid hormone while you take other steps to repair your thyroid naturally. They say this gives your thyroid a break and makes you feel better while you heal.

My view is that people do NOT generally feel better despite taking a thyroid medication, and the damage the medication can do to your body (particularly your gut) are not worth the small upside you might gain from it. If you choose to take a medication, please take the lowest possible dose and do it in conjunction with lifestyle and dietary changes.


The most common cause is leaky gut. This is when toxic food (pesticides, antibiotics-treated meat, hormone-treated meat, etc.), medications and gluten open up microscopic holes in the inner lining of your small intestine. Molecules of relatively undigested food leaks through these holes and directly into the bloodstream where it is viewed by the immune system as a foreign invader. After some time of this, the immune system becomes accustomed to attacking certain types of tissue and will then attack similar tissues within your own body. That’s a nutshell definition of an autoimmune condition.

Selenium and Vitamin D deficiencies have also been linked to autoimmune conditions. The reasons for this are still a bit mysterious, but we do know that there is a correlation. And we do know that Vitamin D does suppress immune response, particularly the production of cytokines–cells that cause an inflammatory response in the body.

Gluten is a big one. There is a study showing a whopping 40% overlap between those with a gluten sensitivity and those with a seperate autoimmune condition. That’s too much of a correlation to be a coincidence.

You can fix this

The bottom line is that you can fix this condition without medication. It takes work and commitment on your part, but it is entirely possible and I’ve seen it play out before my eyes countless times.

It is the same approach (more or less) anyone would take for any autoimmune condition. However, it is important you work with me, or another trained functional medicine practitioner, who can supervise and customize your approach for best results.

However, as a general overview and something I would recommend anyone with thyroid problems:

  • Take a selenium supplement, as a deficiency in this mineral commonly exacerbates the problem.
  • Take a Vitamin D3 supplement and/or get more sunshine in your life.
  • Eat organic fruits and vegetables, grass fed beef, free range poultry and wild-caught fish. Remove processed sugars and processed foods as much as possible. Remove gluten from your diet. This is your best chance to avoid or reverse leaky gut.
  • Reduce your stress. It could be exercising more, meditating, taking up a new hobby–or reviving an old one–getting a dog… it’s up to you. Stress activates cortisol and can cause adrenal fatigue, both of which have a negative impact on the thyroid gland.
  • Eat more healthy fats (avocados, nuts, fatty fish, coconut oil, etc.).
  • Eat anti-inflammatory foods, i.e., spinach, kale, collards, almonds, walnuts, salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, bok choy, celery, beets, broccoli, turmeric, pineapple (particularly the core that most people throw away), bone broth, chia and flax seeds, green tea….

Beyond that, we have to determine your personal health situation. We would look for any food sensitivities and remove them. We would look into your toxicity levels, particularly in the liver, and potentially implement detox protocols. We would test for any latent or long-term infections and address those as well.

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