Inflammation: Hashimoto’s or non-autoimmune hypothyroid of any cause
Inflammation is a healthy and positive response of your immune system to counter the infectious problem of a virus, bacteria or fungal excess. It can also be activated by an irritant (picture a splinter in your finger) or damage to your cells from an injury.
But in thyroid patients, whether with 1) insidious Hashimoto’s disease, or 2) non-autoimmune hypothyroidism of any cause, the inflammation response can become chronic and problematic! And while many thyroid patients may be clear they have inflammation, others may have it with no clue! The latter is common.
The following article was written by thyroid patient Mary, plus more contributions by Janie A. Bowthorpe, M.Ed., to help you become informed and pro-active about this potential problem.
It’s all too common for thyroid patients to find themselves with high levels of inflammation as discovered by certain lab work, such as a high ferritin (iron goes into storage when inflammation is present). For most of us, this is the best away to find inflammation. Or a positively high C-Reactive Protein (CRP), but sometimes it’s good even with inflammation.
Why is chronic inflammation a concern?
- Chronic Inflammation can spread and affect far more than a localized area. And sometimes that spread can have serious results.
- Chronic inflammation can also result in dampening of your HPA axis (meaning you won’t signal your adrenals well to produce cortisol).
- Chronic inflammation can result in higher blood pressure, allergies, joint pain, heart problems, harmful swelling, bone loss, lowering of iron and so much more that is negative to your health and well-being.
- Chronic inflammation can also raises the protein hepcidin, which inhibits iron circulation, and the latter means iron will go into storage, plus your reverse T3 goes up, making you more hypothyroid.
- Hashimoto’s-caused inflammation from the attack on the thyroid raises the risk of awakening other autoimmune diseases.
What lab work do I need if I haven’t proved inflammation yet?
Patients first start with the ferritin lab–that can go higher even in the presence of small inflammation, but will go even higher the longer and stronger the inflammation is going on (usually ~90’s or above for women; ~120’s or high for men), i.e. your body will push iron into storage, pushing it higher and higher in response to inflammation. Other inflammation labs are CRP (C-Reactive Protein) and ESR and can be ordered from Ulta on the Recommended labwork page without a prescription. CRP is also helpful with infection-caused or antibody-caused inflammation, and ESR is helpful to show chronic inflammation. But most find their inflammation with the ferritin test–it’s that sensitive.
Supplements to take to lower proven inflammation (and we often need more than the bottle says)
- Selenium: But test your levels first, just in case a methylation problem has made it high.
- Ashwagandha: studies show this herb, which is the most important herb in Ayurveda medicine, can lower inflammation. Some take 2-3 caps, but we start low at first to make sure there is no reaction. It can also calm. It may increase thyroid hormones after 8 weeks at 600 mg. In some, not all, it can activate the immune system, so watch if you have an autoimmune condition. More here.
- Bioflavanoids (flavonoids): Quercitin is one example. Can also be found in the pulp of fruits. More here.
- Serrapeptase: anti-inflammatory properties. Also known to break down scar tissue, help brain health. FYI: It can thin your blood. More here.
- Glucosamine and chondroitin: well known combination that are anti-inflammatory. Especially helpful for arthritis. More here.
- Lactoferrin (found in breast milk, supplements, and even colostrum supplements)
- Pau D’Arco tea: #3 here.
- Ginger: a natural way to lower inflammation. Janie used it to remove tendonitis in her fingers caused by being on nothing but T4
- Turmeric (though it’s high in oxalates, so if you have an oxalate issue the way Janie often does, you can go for straight Curcumin, which is within turmeric and gives the anti-inflammatory properties. Take iron with it, as it will lower iron without the iron supplements
- Guggul (note that this can also increase thyroid hormone production)
- Chinese Skullcap: The active ingredients found include natural anti-inflammatory flavonoids and flavones. The flavonoids baicalin, baicalein and wogonin, have potent anti-oxidant properties.
- Cat’s Claw: From a vine and definite anti-inflammatory. More here.
- Boswellia (Frankincense): a tree with anti-inflammatory properties in the resin. More here.
- DHA/EPA fatty fish oil (Janie takes this, 3000 mg daily)
- Holy Basil (but be careful as it can lower cortisol)
- Berberine can help lower blood sugars and clear inflammation. (I, Janie, use it when I eat carbs to lower blood sugar which helps lower insulin)
- Bromelain: from pineapple. More here.
- Cilantro: Those little green things you see in salsa. lol. More here.
- Reishi Mushroom: Go here
- Black Seed Oil: Lots of articles and studies out there, including this.
- Astaxanthin is know to lower all sorts of inflammation
- Vitamin D can help lower inflammation to a degree
- Aloe Vera
- Slippery Elm
- Pink Rock Rose
- Also, note that pre-existing inflammation can exacerbate methylfolate supplementation in those with MTHFR gene mutation.
But what about the cause of inflammation?
We as patients figured out that taking supplements to lower the inflammation is half the plan. We also need to see if we can find and treat the cause. Here is a list of causes to explore:
- Being on nothing but T4-only, which leaves too many with hypothyroidism
- Still being hypothyroid due to being underdosed even with T3 in one’s treatment
- Chronic life stress which raises cortisol. High cortisol can equal inflammation.
- Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (liver labs like ALT would reveal this)
- Autoimmune triggers like foods you eat, infections
- Bacterial imbalance or overgrowth (Sibo or dysbiosis)
- Bacterial infection, such as H. pylori (if you have low iron, check into this!)
- Lyme disease
- “Hidden” food sensitivities or allergies Ask your doctor to test you for this
- Gluten intolerance or Celiac (can do with Hashimoto’s, but can also be separate)
- Thyroiditis and/or the attack on your thyroid like Hashimoto’s (see this book)
- Yeast/Fungal overgrowth, such as Candida
- Mold exposure (can cause Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome aka CIRS)
- Parasites (Your doctor can test you for this)
- Underlying viral infection
- Low cortisol (as confirmed by saliva testing, NOT blood)
- Mixed high and low cortisol (saliva testing can show this)
- Heavy Metal Toxicity (Hair testing from Direct Labs, 3rd one down on list, can help detect what you are high in)
- Inflammatory bowel diseases
- Hidden or exposed tooth infection (this happened to Janie Bowthorpe under an older root canal)
- MTHFR mutation or other methylation issues (which causes those high levels of certain metals)
- Excessive consumption of high oxalate food
LOOK TO YOUR GUT IF NOTHING ABOVE FITS
A healthy human body is estimated to contain ten healthy bacteria for every 1 cell–and there are billions of cells! The presence of beneficial bacteria is essential to maintain health, particularly of the GI tract, and to prevent pathogenic bacteria from taking up residence. Fermented foods and drinks can help populate and maintain the presence of these beneficial bacteria. Good probiotic supplements can help as well.
- Increase healthy fats and cut bad fats. Consume fats that are rich in omega-3, not omega 6 or 9, including meats from healthy animal sources (that is, from grass-fed, not feed lot meats). And though coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil are also good fats, they have only minimal omega-3 by the way. Avoid pro-inflammatory fats from oils that are rich in omega-6 such as safflower, sunflower, corn, peanut and soy.
- Address food allergies or intolerances–this is ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT IF YOU HAVE HASHIMOTO’S, too. For some people, the gluten-containing grains wheat, barley and rye or even any grains cause an autoimmune response, leading to inflammation. For others, dairy, eggs, soy, nuts, nightshades and even meats can be problematic and will cause inflammation. EnteroLabs offers sensitive stool testing for food allergens, which many patients report being the most accurate. Cyrex laboratories also specializes in gluten sensitivity blood tests. However, the sure-fire way to know is to conduct a strict elimination diet, such as this one. Intolerances and/or allergies are mentioned in the book Hashimoto’s: Taming the Beast for those with the autoimmune disorder.
- Eliminate or greatly lower refined sugars from your diet, since they increase insulin resistance, weight gain, and inflammation, and can contribute to candida yeast overgrowth. Natural sugars, such as fresh fruit, raw honey, and maple syrup may be beneficial. Be cautious of over-consuming high oxalate foods since they can trigger pain and inflammation. MODERATE TO LOW EXERCISE CAN DRAMATICALLY LOWER INFLAMMATION And if you have low cortisol, don’t push yourself; gentle movement can help, along with being in tune to your body’s limits. Heavy exercise can harm.
An Important Note: Low Iron with high ferritin = Inflammation
Sometimes this condition of low iron with high ferritin has a fancy-dancy, scare-mongering name called Anemia of Chronic Disease (ACD) or Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA). But honestly, that high ferritin with low iron just represents inflammation, as your body is thrusting iron into storage in the presence of inflammation, so as not to feed the inflammation. Still very important to lower the inflammation….the retest your four ion labs to see if you need to now raise your serum iron, which is impossible to do with inflammation pushing iron into storage.
Have Hashimoto’s? Get those antibodies DOWN! https://stopthethyroidmadness.com/ldnNeed to do inflammation labs? Go here and order your own!