Thyoid | Integrative functional medicine blog

How to tell if you have Hashimotos

If your doctor says you have hypothyroidism, this can explain why you might be feeling like crap, experiencing crazy weight gain, and your hair might be falling out in clumps, or your scared to brush your hair for fear of pulling more out.

But how do you know if Hashimoto’s (the auto immune form of hypothyroid) is causing your hypothyroidism?
So glad you asked!

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease, meaning the immune system is attacking and destroying the thyroid gland.

Hashimoto’s is responsible for more than 90 percent of hypothyroid cases. Chances are strong it’s the cause of your low thyroid function too.

Stay tuned to find out if your low thyroid is due to Hashimoto's or some other reason, such as toxins, adrenal fatigue, or possibly some other unlucky reason. Unfortunately, sometimes it does just happen. You know the saying, $#iT happens!

But if your doctor does not want to screen for Hashimoto’s or if you would like to be sure, here are some tips to help you figure out if you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.

You may ask, "why doesn't my doctor want to know if I have hashimotos?"

The answer is simple my friend. Because they don't care!

No really, they dont. And it's not necessarily that they don't really care or care about you. It's that from a treatment point of view they don't care because it is not going to change the treatment that they give you. It won't change how they dose your medications if you get any. Nor will it change (most likely) what medication they give you. So from that perspective, it makes sense.

I sometimes tell my own patients the same thing, but in a much nicer way. They may ask about a certain test and I tell them that for right now, I don't care about that test because it wont change treatment at this point.


From a Hashimoto's perspective you should absolutely care because there are a ton of things you can do to help. But thats another topic. Well, maybe not another topic but a different subject of this topic. Back on track!

You feel worse despite taking your thyroid medication
One of the most common signs of Hashimoto’s is you still have symptoms despite taking your thyroid meds. Or maybe your meds dont make any difference at all in how you feel.

In fact, your doctor prescribes ever increasing doses as your thyroid function deteriorates. You may even notice no difference if you forget to take your meds. Why don’t thyroid meds help in many cases of Hashimoto’s? Because the immune system continues to attack and destroy the thyroid gland even though the meds may make your TSH levels look normal.

You swing back and forth between low thyroid and high thyroid symptoms
Swinging back and forth between under active and over active thyroid function is another common sign of Hashimoto’s.

One week you suffer from fatigue, headaches, constipation, depression, and low libido. The next week you have insomnia, a racing heart, anxiety, and tremors. This is because a flare up that damages thyroid tissue causes excess thyroid hormone to spill into the bloodstream. You may be misdiagnosed with anxiety or even bipolar disorder. Or God knows what other condition. Or even worse, maybe they tell you it's all in your head.

If you run blood tests during these surges and crashes you will see TSH also peaks and drops. TSH may even test as normal for short periods as its moves between these swings. This can lead to a misdiagnosis if you drew your blood during that time.

You have pernicious anemia, celiac disease, or other autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s are the result of an imbalanced immune system. It’s very common for people with one autoimmune disease to develop more. This is because the imbalanced system becomes overly sensitive and loses tolerance to new tissues in the body. I tell this to all my patients, an autoimmune disease is not a disease of that system or organ (ie - thyroid, skin, nerves, etc.) it is a disease of the immune system that happens to attack that organ or tissues. And it can and most likely will spread!

If you have hypothyroidism and other autoimmune diseases, chances are you also have Hashimoto’s. Pernicious anemia (an autoimmune disease that causes B12 deficiency), celiac disease, or a gluten intolerance are all commonly linked to Hashimoto’s.

If you think you might have Hashimoto’s, see if any of these symptoms apply to you.

Under active thyroid symptoms
  • Feeling tired or sluggish
  • Feeling cold — hands, feet, all over
  • Require excessive amounts of sleep to function well
  • Weight gain despite adhering to a low-calorie diet
  • Gaining weight easily
  • Difficult, infrequent bowel movements
  • Depression and lack of motivation
  • Morning headaches that wear off as the day progresses
  • Outer third of eyebrow thins
  • Thinning of hair on scalp, face, or genitals, or excessive hair loss
  • Dryness of skin and/or scalp
  • Mental sluggishness
Over active thyroid symptoms
  • Heart palpitations
  • Inward trembling
  • Increased pulse rate, even at rest
  • Feeling nervous and emotional
  • Insomnia
  • Night sweats
  • Difficulty gaining weight
Confirming Hashimoto’s
Symptoms are important but a blood test provides the proof you may need to convince doctors or family members. Look for these markers: These are the tell-tale blood markers for Thyroid autoimmunity.

Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO Ab). In most cases of Hashimoto’s the immune system attacks TPO, an enzyme that triggers thyroid hormone production.

Thyroglobulin antibodies (TGB Ab). You should also test for antibodies to TGB, which the thyroid uses to produce thyroid hormones.

Thyroid stimulating hormone antibodies (TSH Ab). This test can identify Graves’ disease (hyperthyroidism), although sometimes TSH antibodies can be elevated in Hashimoto’s. On lab tests, this marker is often labeled thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI). If your autoimmune thyroid condition is advanced, you have multiple autoimmune diseases, and/or you react to bioidentical thyroid meds but not synthetic, you may also have antibodies to T4 and T3.

When your test comes back negative despite massive symptoms
Don’t despair if your test comes back negative even though you have all the classic symptoms. Because the immune system and inflammation wax and wane, you may have had your blood draw during a time the immune system is not attacking the thyroid gland. However, if your test is positive this confirms Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and that the immune system should be a target for therapy.

Knowledge is power, and you're just a little more powerful now. Dont forget that a thyroid test is not just TSH, there are generally 10 thyroid number I run and sometimes 11.

Managing Hashimoto's is about managing an autoimmune disease. A properly trained and certified Functional Medicine practitioner should be able to help. Psst ! FYI - we also do online consultations.

I'm Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!

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AIP diet and Hashimotos Thyroiditis

We are continuing our short blog series on “food is medicine” with another study to show to powerful effects a diet can have on your health.

A recent
study showed a low-carbohydrate, whole foods diet low in inflammatory foods significantly decreases thyroid antibodies — the marker for autoimmune thyroid disease, or Hashimoto’s.

Let me make a side note and be clear about something. Even though Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is often called an autoimmune thyroid disease. It is not a disease of the thyroid. It is an immune disease that affects the thyroid. There is a difference!

Hashimoto’s occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland; it is the cause of about 90 percent of hypothyroid cases. This study is further evidence you can profoundly influence autoimmune Hashimoto’s through diet and lifestyle interventions.

In the three-week study, almost 200 people with Hashimoto’s were divided into two groups.

One group followed the low-carbohydrate study diet while the other followed a standard low-calorie diet.

The results were significant: Levels of several different thyroid antibodies that serve as markers for Hashimoto’s
dropped between 40 and almost 60 percent! This group also lost a little weight, not really the important part, but a nice side benefit.

Meanwhile, the group that followed a low-calorie diet
saw antibody levels go up between 9 to 30 percent!

What the study group ate to tame Hashimoto’s

The study designers chose a curious route for their research in having their subjects follow both a low-carbohydrate, anti-inflammatory diet as well as a diet low in goitrogens. Goitrogens are compounds that lower thyroid function and are found in raw cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.), soy, and other foods. So for my patients (and others) that will only eat broccoli or cauliflower because they don’t LIKE other veggies, CUT IT OUT!

Before people understood the mechanisms of autoimmune
Hashimoto’s, it used to be the rule of thumb was to avoid goitrogenic foods.

However, through the evolution of functional medicine, we have learned most people with Hashimoto’s can safely eat normal amounts of cruciferous vegetables. In fact, they contain many beneficial nutrients as well as fiber. People with unresolved small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or genetic difficulty metabolizing sulfur may not do well with these vegetables. So we don’t know how subjects would have fared in this study had they included these vegetables.

Soy, on the other hand, has been shown to lower thyroid hormone levels in studies
and is best avoided by those with Hashimoto’s.

The study diet that improved Hashimoto’s
Here is the diet the study subjects ate that lowered their thyroid antibodies:

  • Low carbohydrate diet that was 12 to 15 percent carbohydrates, 50 to 60 percent protein, and 25 to 30 percent fats. (Most people eat a diet that is at least 50 percent carbohydrates.)
I often hear the argument, “but don’t I need to eat carbs?” That’s what the food guide pyramid says right?! pppppppfffffftttt!

  • Lots of DIFFERENT vegetables. Research shows a diet high in veggies improves immune health through its impact on beneficial gut bacteria.

  • Lean meats and fish.

  • No goitrogens: cruciferous vegetables (which, if not eaten to excess, improve beneficial gut bacteria), canola, watercress, arugula, radish, horseradish, spinach, millet, tapioca, and nitrate veggies, NOT nitrites.

  • Eggs, legumes, dairy products , bread , pasta, fruit, and rice. Remember, this is what was done in the study. This is not necessarily what I would recommend and each person is different.
  • In functional medicine we know gluten and dairy exacerbate autoimmune Hashimoto’s for the most part. Eggs, legumes, and grains are inflammatory for many people as well. People with poor blood sugar stability may need to limit their fruit intake.

This study backs up and is very similar to my previous post on the AIP diet. Check that post out too. So there you have it. More evidence that food is medicine.

I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be Healthy, be happy

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A new "treatment" for Hashimoto's thyroiditis?

This is a special edition extra content vlog post. Specially directed at those “subclinical” hypothyroid hashimotos sufferers.

Today we are talking about some really cool research that has come out from the “European review for medical and pharmacological sciences. 2017; 21 (2 supplements);51-59.

So here is the big news……

They found that myo-inositol and selenium supplementation can help restore thyroid function.

Did you get that? Should I repeat it?

They found that myo-inositol and selenium supplementation can help restore thyroid function.

Inositol is used for a variety of different uses. Among them it is often used for diabetic nerve painpanic disorder, anxiety, high cholesterol, insomnia, cancer, depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or ADD. Some people also use it for autism, promoting hair growth, psoriasis, and treating side effects of medical treatment with lithium.

That seems like some pretty good reasons to consider taking
inositol. Now you make ask, but Dr. Craig, the study was done with “myo-inositol”.

Your right. While there are different types of inositol available (or what they call isomers), myo-inositol is the most common one. So if you buy a
quality inositol supplement you are pretty safe in assuming that you are getting them myo-inositol version. This also happens to be the most researched version of inositol as well.

And for anyone struggling with thyroid issues or has done any research on the issue they already know that selenium is a very important supplement for thyroid function.

So here are the results of the study.

There was 168 patients in the study aged from 22 to 62 years old. The patients TSH numbers ranged from 3-6 mlU/L. They also demonstrated elevated TPO and/or thyroglobulin antibodies but they had normal FT4 and T3 levels. So they were considered subclinical.

These patients were separated into 2 groups. Group one got 83 mag of
selenium, and group 2 got 600mg of inositol and 83 mag of selenium for 6 months.

Both groups noted a significant reduction in TSH levels and an increase in thyroid hormones such as FT4 and T3 (a good thing) . In addition, both groups also showed a decrease in TPO antibodies but only the group that was taking the inositol showed a decrease in thyroglobulin antibodies. Thyroglobulin antibodies are antibodies against your storage form of thyroid.

Increasing thyroid hormones and improving function can have a wide effect on your body. Some of the indirect positive effects this can have on your body include improving cardiovascular function, whether its a lower blood pressure, heart rate or more elastic blood vessels. It can also help improve digestion and increase your metabolism helping with weight loss and energy levels.

There are a lot of other factors that should be looked at when dealing with autoimmune issues. Functional medicine practitioners (or at least some) are specially trained to help you improve health by improving function.

So there you have it, a pretty exciting yet simple study that was done using supplementation to improve health without the use of drugs or medications.

I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy.

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Best relaxation recordings - DO THEM NOW!

Battling the scourge of Adrenal fatigue!

4 stages of adrenal fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is one of the most rampant issues that I see in my office. While generally not present as a stand alone issue, it has a very far and wide reach to your over all health.

Below I have listed and given you links to some of the recordings I often use for my own patients. So if you have any of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue listed below, scroll a little farther, click on a link and do a little relaxation to start yourself on the way to healing.
Adrenal fatigue symptoms:

  • Blood pressure:  High or low blood pressure.
  • Food cravings and weight changes:  either salty or sugary, but usually salty.
  • Energy:  Or lack there of.
  • Emotions and coping ability:  nope. Not there either. Short fused, ready to blow, can’t cope with any excess stresses in life.
  • Thinking:  brain fog, not feeling like yourself, feeling disconnected, can’t concentrate or think.
  • Immune response:  Getting sick a lot, not getting over being sick fast, or just being sick all the time.
  • Sleep:  Having a hard time falling asleep or having a hard time staying asleep. Or even sleeping well but then waking up and still being tired.
  • Hormones/Libido:  Poor sex drive, mood swings, irregular cycles, perimenopause like symptoms.

Guided Imagery - Guided imagery meditation is a gentle but powerful technique that focuses and directs the imagination in proactive, positive ways.

Guided Relaxation - Guided meditation is a process by which one or more participants meditate in response to the guidance provided by a trained practitioner or teacher,[1] either in person or via a written text, sound recording, video, or audiovisual media[2][3][4] comprising music or verbal instruction, or a combination of both.

Guided Meditation - Guided meditation is a process by which one or more participants meditate in response to the guidance provided by a trained practitioner or teacher, either in person or via a written text, sound recording, video, or audiovisual media comprising music or verbal instruction, or a combination of both.

Grounding - Grounding connects you to the energy of the earth or attempts to anyway. It is said to aid in healing and is a great way to connect with nature when you can’t be there in person and free your mind.

Calming your body - Pretty self explanatory.

Anchoring - Anchors are mental objects you associate with a particular state of mind, in this case meditation. By remembering the anchor you automatically recall the state of mind with which it is associated

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