Have you been diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid condition, like Hashimoto’s and been told elevated thyroid antibodies are just something you have to live with? Do you have a low level of antibodies that doctors have told you is no big deal unless they get higher, or are you someone who feels off but has never had anyone check their thyroid antibody levels? This post goes through why thyroid antibodies are important, the effect they can have on your thyroid and your body, and most importantly how you can lower them naturally!
Antibodies are an important part of our immune system. They are proteins that circulate in our blood to help attack foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, or allergens that make us sick.
An example of when antibodies can become problematic, are autoimmune diseases, like Hashimoto’s. In the case of these autoimmune diseases, our antibodies lose the ability to distinguish our body’s cells from foreign invaders. This results in antibodies attacking our own organs. In the case of Hashimoto’s, the thyroid gland gets attacked. The thyroid antibodies responsible for this are anti-thyroid peroxidase (TPO) and anti-thyroglobulin (TGO), and they can end up compromising thyroid function over time.
These antibodies can damage the thyroid gland, as they accumulate over time, causing it to not be able to produce thyroid hormone as effectively. This affects many different reactions in the body, which is why you may feel wide spread symptoms like fatigue, constipation, anxiety and depression, cold intolerance, pain, hair loss, and difficulty losing weight. For many women, it’s also a cause of missed menstrual cycles, and reduced fertility.
When many of my patients bring back labs that other doctors have ordered for them, the antibodies are missing. Labs that can indicate Hashimoto’s include high TSH, potentially low FT3 and FT4, and elevated thyroid antibodies, TPO and TgAb. The presence of these antibodies is what separates autoimmune Hashimoto’s from non-autoimmune hypothyroidism. I like to check antibody levels for my patients multiple times, because my goal is lower them.
What happens next? Most patients are put on thyroid medication, but they still aren’t feeling better, and their antibodies are still hanging around at the exact same levels. I don’t like this, because the presence of these antibodies means potential long term damage to your thyroid over time.
This is why I always focus on getting those antibodies down! The good news is that it’s very possible, and that it’s possible to do this naturally.
Stress is something that can exacerbate almost every factor that contributes to autoimmune disease. It can increase inflammation, disrupt the gut microbiome, and throw off the immune response all together. For many patients, reducing their stress is the most difficult part of their health journey. We are all human and have to get through life, and in some cases we aren’t able to get away from stressors like work or even our families. The most important thing we can do is try to improve the way we respond to stress. Shifting your mind frame and approaching your day from a place of joy and gratitude alone can be so powerful. In addition, I ask each patient to at the very leas
t give themselves 10 minutes of self care or stress-reduction each day. This can be a quick yoga flow, a short walk outside, a guided meditation, a bath, coloring, literally anything! Start small and be consistent, remember anything is always always better than nothing.
I have talked about the connection between gut health and autoimmune disease progression a few times on the blog. There is a major relationship between the intestinal microbiome (our gut bacteria and the environment around them), and our immune system. When there is an imbalance in the flora in the gut, there can be imbalances in the immune system as well. What can you do about this? Taking a probiotic is an obvious option, but you can also increase your intake of fermented foods! I also tell my patients to try to increase their intake of fiber, and to diversify their diet as much as possible. These last two things help make sure you can feed all the different strains in your gut and promote as much diversity as possible!
I hate to be a bearer of bad news, but we live in a completely toxic world! I’m constantly explaining this to my husband, my sisters, and my parents, and they probably think I’m insane, but I just care about them, and I care about my patients! When it comes to autoimmune diseases, there is increasing evidence showing the relationship between certain environmental exposures and and increased antibody production. There is also research showing how a many environmental toxins found in house hold items like cleaning products, plastic bottles, and personal care products can affect our endocrine system, aka our hormones, and our immune system. If you have an autoimmune disease, it’s extra important that you try to minimize these exposures as much as possible.
Although inflammation is necessary for healthy immune function, it can become a real problem when it becomes something more chronic, especially in the case of autoimmunity. Inflammation can be a major trigger for autoimmune flares. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet, limiting stress, and incorporating anti-inflammatory agents like curcumin can be really helpful.
Underlying infections, like EBV, might be contributing to the rise in your thyroid antibodies. If you suspect this could be you, ask your doctor to get tested for hidden chronic infections.
I hope you found this post helpful! The main thing I want to get across is that lowering your thyroid antibodies is possible, I’ve seen it first hand. Don’t lose hope, and don’t let anyone tell you it’s not possible. It takes time, it takes motivation, and it takes being willing to make long term changes in terms of diet and lifestyle, but it’s worth it.
For a complimentary 15 minute phone consultation, or to learn more about my services visit www.DrNikkaKananiND.com.
Wishing you health and wellness,
Dr. Nikka Kanani