The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck, produces an important hormone called Thyroid Hormone (TH). TH plays a major role in how our bodies function, and an imbalance in this hormone can impact our energy levels, weight, metabolism, heart rate, bowels, mood, cholesterol levels, bones, women’s menstrual cycles, and more.
When the thyroid gland malfunctions, the gland either becomes underactive causing it to produce fewer thyroid hormones (Hypothyroidism) or it becomes overactive causing it to produce more thyroid hormones (Hyperthyroidism). The conventional treatment for both an underactive or an overactive thyroid is medicines that either prod the thyroid gland to produce more hormones or prevent it from producing excess hormones as the case might be.
But have you ever wondered what causes our thyroid gland to malfunction? A glitch in the thyroid gland points to an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s in the case of hypothyroidism or Grave’s disease in the event of hyperthyroidism. Both these conditions are prevalent but Hashimoto’s is more common than Graves disease.
What is Hashimoto’s?
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease, which means the patient’s immune system is producing antibodies (Thyroid peroxidase and Thyroglobulin) against their own bodies, especially their thyroid gland. These antibodies start destroying your thyroid gland until it is unable to produce enough thyroid hormone to keep up with the demand of the body. This is when patients are typically started on levothyroxine.
If there's medication to plug the gap in the thyroid hormones being produced, then why do the symptoms worsen and people with Hashimoto’s continue experiencing weight gain, brain fog, fatigue, and more?
A huge contributing factor is a conventional treatment of just checking for TSH levels and treating the delta in the hormone levels with medication without really stopping to understand what could be causing the spike or the shortfall. And so Hashimoto goes undetected for years together until the symptoms worsen a great deal and start to interfere with everyday living!
Another lesser-known and understood cause is the adverse downstream effects of Hashimoto’s on the Mitochondria.
The Mito-Thyroid connection
So what do the mitochondria have to do with the thyroid? It’s common knowledge that Hashimoto destroys the thyroid gland, but did you know that it is also responsible for the destruction of another important structure present in every cell of our body – the mitochondria? Amongst other things, the mitochondria controls the optimal functioning of our body and they take their signals from thyroid hormone.
Now, imagine that your body is a car. Your thyroid gland is the gas pedal and your mitochondria are the engine. Under normal circumstances, when you press the gas pedal it sends a signal to the engine to work harder and put out more power. Now imagine that the engine is damaged and not working properly.
Then pressing the gas pedal for power is redundant. To get the car working again, we need to stop working on the gas pedal and fix the engine. Simply speaking, for someone with Hashimoto’s, it is not enough to treat the thyroid alone, there’s a need to fix and revive the mitochondria as well.
When the mito-thyroid connection is broken, there’s a whole host of symptoms that follow. And instead of working on restoring this connection, the patients are given thyroid hormones which may work in the short run but in the long run, the patient continues to experience fatigue, weight problems, brain fog, and hair loss – all of which are manifestations of unhealthy mitochondria.
Fatigue, brain fog, and weight gain are all issues stemming from a state of low energy, indicating that the problem lies with the reduced functionality of the “powerhouse of the cell” - the mitochondria.
What causes the mito-thyroid connection to break?
The research shows that Hashimoto’s disease happens because of the interplay between our genetics and our environment.
What this means is that the body’s unique genetic makeup makes it sensitive to certain environmental factors. And once it gets exposed to them, the body starts to produce antibodies which ultimately leads to the destruction of this mito-thyroid connection. There’s a trigger phase when the body is exposed to sensitive environmental factors and a continuation phase where the prolonged exposure to the environmental factors causes damage to the mitochondria which results in systemic inflammation and prevents the mitochondria from working optimally. Malfunctioning mitochondria further damage the mito-thyroid connection. So it’s an endless loop!
Triggers of Hashimoto’s
Food Sensitivities - Food sensitivities are different from food allergies in that the reaction time varies. With food allergies, the reaction to an allergic food is almost immediate. It’s very easy to identify the cause and effect. But in the case of food sensitivity, the reaction time is anywhere between 24 - 72 hours. So there’s no way you could attribute the headache you have today to the gluten you had eaten three days ago. The link is lost in the flurry of food activities that follow the consumption of sensitive food. Over a period of time, our body starts developing antibodies against these sensitive food particles and attacks the digestive system, which
causes what’s known as “leaky gut” – or a damaged gut lining through which the antibodies, viruses, and bacteria can pass. It is through a leaky gut that these food antibodies enter the body and move on to destroy other parts of the body like the thyroid, joints, et cetera. And this destruction is gradual, taking anywhere from several months to years until one day the thyroid gives up.
Nutritional Deficiencies: The thyroid gland requires certain specific nutrients such as selenium, iodine, zinc, magnesium, etc to function optimally and thrive. The food that we eat today is depleted of such vital nutrients thereby starving the thyroid of essential nutrition, which in turn leads to the development of Hashimoto’s.
Toxins - We’ve known about environmental toxins (mercury, lead, mold, chemicals, pollutants, pesticides, the list is endless) and their detrimental effects on our bodies for ages. Our body is equipped with an innate mechanism to detoxify but our modern-day toxic load is so high that our bodies simply cannot keep up. The thyroid is a delicate endocrine gland that is highly susceptible to toxins and chemical exposure with no system to effectively detox the chemicals that are bombarding our system day in and day out, the thyroid gland is affected leading to the development of Hashimoto’s.
Stress - Stress affects all spheres of life - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual and therefore it is considered to be one of the most potent triggers of diseases including Hashimoto’s. When a person is stressed, they release a hormone called cortisol which prepares the body to protect itself against the stressor. In such a situation, all other metabolic processes are stopped, all the energy is diverted to the muscle, and sugar levels spike. We’re meant to burn off the sugar spike by escaping the “danger” that the body perceives. But sadly, our modern stressors are mostly mental or emotional in nature and so the elevated sugar levels remain, causing inflammation. Chronic stress shuts down the production of thyroid hormones and it also inhibits the conversion of the T4 hormone to T3 which leads to the development of Hashimoto’s. Elevated levels of Cortisol also affect immunity levels causing inflammation which also leads to Hashimoto’s.
Infections: Our body gets exposed to several pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites on a daily basis. Thanks to our immune system, we are able to ward off these infections, most of the time. Other times, however, these pathogens will bypass our defense system and cause infections. This can be as simple as getting a common cold, a stomach bug or fever, or something more serious, like Hashimoto’s. One of the most important things that viruses do when they attack our body is to hijack our immune system; they do this by modifying the immune cells. This leads to the creation of antibodies that attack the thyroid and mitochondria, leading to Hashimoto’s disease.
Signs of Hashimoto’s
Many people with Hashimoto’s disease have no symptoms at first. As the disease progresses, people may experience one or more of the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Enlarged thyroid (or goiter) - Trouble swallowing or inability to breathe is a classic sign of Hashimoto's. Sometimes, an inflamed thyroid swells up causing it difficult to swallow or breathe sometimes.
Intolerance to cold - Sudden increased sensitivity to cold could indicate the presence of Hashimoto’s. A malfunctioning thyroid gland can slow down metabolism, which can lead to a drop in core body temperature
Sudden weight gain - Any sudden and inexplicable changes in weight could be an indication of Hashimoto’s. Hashimoto's leads to hypothyroidism, which slows down your metabolism, leading to weight gain.
Lethargy or Fatigue - We’ve already established that Hashimoto’s has an adverse impact on the functioning of the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cells, involved in the production of energy amongst other things. Malfunctioning mitochondria do not produce energy efficiently resulting in fatigue.
Constipation - Hashimoto slows the digestive system inhibiting the absorption of fiber which could cause constipation.
Dry skin - Dry skin is one of the most common symptoms of Hashimoto’s. When the thyroid gland slows down, it somehow impacts the functioning of the sweat glands and slows down the secretion of what’s known as the eccrine glands. This results in dry skin and other epidermal issues.
Hair loss - Hashimoto’s occurs as a result of inflammation in the body and inflammation adversely affects the impact of biotin which results in hair loss.
Heavy and irregular periods - Hashimoto’s is a function of hormone imbalance and an imbalance in one hormone has a domino effect on the others that could result in light, heavy or irregular periods in women often leading to fertility issues.
Brain fog - Brain Fog is described as a group of symptoms including low energy, forgetfulness, sleepiness and difficulty focusing. Thyroid hormone regulates metabolism in every organ of the body, including the brain. When thyroid hormone is low, it can have cognitive implications such as brain fog
Dr. Anshul Gupta’s Protocol for reversing Hashimoto’s
In the previous sections, we have explored the real reason why people are suffering from Hashimoto’s - dysfunctional mito-thyroid connection. We also saw that there are various
ways in which this connection can be broken, like consuming processed food; nutritional deficiencies; and exposure to toxins, stress, and infections. They trigger an autoimmune reaction which leads to the destruction of our mitochondria and thyroid. The thyroid hormone levothyroxine, which is the conventional way of treating Hashimoto’s, does not address this broken connection, which is also why so many people continue to suffer. Conventional medicine currently does not have any way to stop the autoimmune process, so the destruction of the thyroid and the rest of the body continues, leading to more symptoms.
My research has led me to create a simple 3- step process that’ll help heal your Hashimoto’s from the inside out. This program focuses on first identifying the triggers driving Hashimoto’s, addressing those triggers followed by rejuvenating the mito-thyroid connection.
Step 1: Identify your triggers
Functional Medicine is all about addressing and treating the root cause of a condition. It’s no different in the protocol that I’ve developed. The first step in reversing Hashimoto’s lies in identifying the factors that trigger the immune system into producing antibodies against the thyroid gland. This could be anything from food sensitivities, stress, past infections, and nutritional deficiencies to Toxins. There are a bunch of different ways to identify the root cause. Typically the process entails a detailed evaluation of your history, questionnaires, blood tests, stool tests, and so on.
Step 2: Regenerating Thyroid and Rejuvenating Mitochondria
Diet plays a huge role in shaping our health and it’s the first line of defense in reversing any condition. Step two is a research-based Mito-thyroid diet that helps regenerate the thyroid and rejuvenate the mitochondria. The diet entails eliminating inflammatory foods such as gluten, soy, corn, dairy, etc, and including foods that help in revitalizing the thyroid and the mitochondria such as Non-starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds, good fats, and proteins. Nutraceuticals or supplements complete the picture and form an integral part of the information. Some of the supplements prescribed include Selenium, Zinc, Magnesium, B12, and iodine.
Step 3: Removing the toxicities
While the mito-thyroid diet helps the body and gut heal and support the functionality of the thyroid, certain toxic elements in the form of stress, toxins, and infections hinder the process and continue to be a burden on the immune system. Addressing these toxicities is key to reversing Hashimoto’s as they not only improve your current symptom but also safeguard the thyroid from further damage. In this step, we optimize the various detox channels and build your immune system from the ground up so these toxicities no longer affect your thyroid.
Removing Stress Toxins
Stress is not only the trigger of your Hashimoto’s but is also responsible for the ongoing damage, so until we stop this damage to the mito-thyroid connection you are not going to feel better. Some of the strategies for combating stress include deep breathing, meditation, walking, adaptogens such as Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and Bacopa
Removing Environmental Toxins
Our bodies have built-in detoxifying mechanisms, but due to the increasing number of toxins in our environment, they can get overburdened and ultimately give up. For those with Hashimoto’s, this is even more problematic because their detox channels are already not working perfectly and get overburdened more quickly than usual. Because of this, we have to help them detox in a gentle, gradual way; going too fast is likely to cause an unpleasant reaction. In this case, the health of the liver, kidney, lymph nodes, and other detox pathways are evaluated and optimized for effective detoxification.
Removing Toxins from infections
The best way to fight infectious pathogens is by keeping the immune system healthy. Some strategies for boosting immunity include a clean diet ( the mito - thyroid diet is hugely beneficial in this case), good sleep hygiene, managing stress, a healthy gut (about 80% of our immunity cells reside in the gut ), and targeted supplements - Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Omega 3, Probiotics, etc. As mentioned previously, sometimes you will need more advanced treatment for chronic infections like EBV, parasites, Candida, and Lyme disease. The advanced protocols must be carefully monitored by a trained Functional Medicine provider, for if not used properly they can cause significant reactions.
Hashimoto’s is a condition that affects several facets of life and there are several contributing factors that cause this condition to happen in people. It can be treated naturally by changing diet and lifestyle. Working with a certified Functional Medicine practitioner will yield the best results.
I have helped several of Hashimoto’s clients to get better by using this protocol. If you need my help to get your Hashimoto’s under control, you can get in touch with me at
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