Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the thyroid gland. It can cause hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, or both.
Hashimoto’s is not reversible, but there is evidence that a proactive approach to diet and lifestyle may help reduce many symptoms.
When Hashimoto’s leads to a permanent decrease in thyroid function, the typical treatment includes supplementing with levothyroxine, a synthetic thyroid hormone.
Hashimoto's disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid gland. As with other autoimmune diseases, there is currently no cure for Hashimoto’s disease, and it cannot be reversed. There is evidence, however, that a proactive approach to diet and lifestyle may help reduce many symptoms.
Hashimoto’s disease is a chronic medical condition in which the immune system attacks healthy thyroid cells and gradually destroys the thyroid gland. This affects the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones that help control metabolism, growth, development, and maintenance of many bodily tissues and functions.
In the earliest stages of Hashimoto’s the inflamed thyroid gland may produce excessive amounts of thyroid hormones, causing hyperthyroidism, or high levels of thyroid hormones. Eventually Hashimoto’s may damage the thyroid gland enough to cause hypothyroidism, in which the gland can’t produce enough thyroid hormones to maintain normal metabolic function. When this happens, the treatment includes supplementation with levothyroxine, a synthetic thyroid hormone. (Source)
The thyroid is a small gland in the front of the neck shaped something like a butterfly. The thyroid is an endocrine gland, meaning it produces hormones that travel to, and have influence on, other parts of the body. The thyroid produces two hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), that regulate metabolism — the complex chemical reactions that power all the work our bodies do. (Source, Source)
How does the thyroid gland know how much of its hormones to produce? Like other endocrine glands, the thyroid participates in a feedback loop, in which hormone levels are monitored and adjusted as needed. The other members of the thyroid’s feedback loop are the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. (Source)
The hypothalamus is an almond-sized area of the brain that is responsible for keeping all of the body’s systems in balance, a condition known as homeostasis. (Source)
When the hypothalamus senses a need for T3 and T4 hormones, it releases a hormone of its own called thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH). This hormone doesn’t work directly on the thyroid, however; it is destined for the pituitary gland.
The pea-sized pituitary gland is located very near the hypothalamus. In fact, the two are physically connected by a structure known as the pituitary stalk. (Source)
The pituitary gland produces several different hormones, including thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). When the pituitary gland receives TRH from the hypothalamus, it releases TSH. The TSH then makes its way to the thyroid gland, stimulating it to produce T3 and T4. (Source)
In Hashimoto’s disease, the thyroid gland is impaired and cannot respond properly when it receives TSH from the pituitary gland. When this happens, lab results will usually show elevated TSH levels — that’s the pituitary gland trying to signal the thyroid to release its hormones — and low T4 levels. (Source)
Hashimoto’s disease usually progresses very slowly, and may not cause noticeable symptoms for many years. Eventually, if the thyroid gland is damaged enough, it will stop producing adequate amounts of its hormones permanently. The resulting hypothyroidism will begin to interfere with normal metabolic function, producing predictable symptoms.
Those symptoms may include:
Neurological and mental symptoms that may arise include:
Hashimoto’s disease is irreversible, and the treatment for hypothyroidism caused by a damaged thyroid gland is supplementation with levothyroxine, a synthetic thyroid hormone.
However, some studies have suggested establishing a normal thyroid level may not relieve all Hashimoto’s symptoms, and some persistent symptoms may be related to the presence of autoantibodies. (Source)
This means it may well be possible to mitigate Hashimoto’s symptoms through diet and lifestyle changes that are focused on reducing inflammation and avoiding autoimmune triggers.
Measures that may help reduce Hashimoto’s symptoms include:
While there is currently no way to reverse or cure Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, it may be possible to reduce symptoms with an anti-inflammatory diet, lifestyle changes, and stress reduction. When Hashimoto’s progresses to a permanent decrease in thyroid function, though, the standard treatment is supplementation with levothyroxine, a synthetic thyroid hormone.