Conventional medicine continues to treat Hashimoto’s disease without taking into consideration that it is an autoimmune condition. Shifting of the immune system is the underlying cause of the autoimmune disease when the body’s immune system becomes imbalanced. It is impossible to stop the autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland without understanding the fundamentals and re-balancing the immune system.
Two levels of immune response
The immune system is composed of white blood cells which build five different types of immune cells. One of those is a group of cells called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are then broken down even further into B- and T-cells.
The macrophages detect an antigen and activate the immune system by sending a signal to T-cells. The T-cells alarm the whole defence system and set up a two level response:
- Th1 response is an immediate immune system defence with the help of T-cells. The Th1 cells deal with acute infection like cold, flu or an infected cut. The T-helper cells notify the immune system about the invader such as bacteria that crossed the protective barrier and caused an infection. On behalf of T-helper cells, the cytotoxic T-cells and natural killer cells attack and kill the bacterial invader. The regulatory T-cells monitor the process. If the defense was successful and the bacteria was eradicated then T-suppressor cells stop the attack. Th1 dominance is also called a cell-mediated immunity and is activated when intracellular pathogens get inside the cells.
- Th2 response is a secondary delayed B-cell response, which gets involved when the T-cells cannot sustain the attack against powerful antigen or identify the invader. In this case, the immune system produces antibodies against the antigen and the body can overcome an infection much faster and more effective. The Th2 side of the immune system attacks extracellular pathogens or invaders that are found outside the cells in blood and other body fluids. It is also known as a humoral or antibody-mediated immunity.
In healthy individuals, Th1 and Th2 responses are balanced and switching back and forth according to the body’s requirements: it activates to eradicate the threat and then calms down until the next invader appears.
When the immune system becomes dysfunctional one of the Th1 and Th2 responses becomes dominant over the other and causing the development of chronic allergies, autoimmune diseases and recurrent infections. The more the relation of the Th1 and Th2 is out of balance, the more damage to the healthy tissue occurs and the more advanced the autoimmune disease becomes.
Suppressed Th1 and an overactive Th2 side of the immune system are implicated in a wide variety of chronic illnesses and the majority of autoimmune diseases. Organ specific autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, Hashimoto’s and Graves diseases are caused by Th1 dominant immune responses. On the contrary, systemic autoimmune diseases such as lupus and Sjögren’s syndrome, many cancers, viral infections, allergies, multiple chemical sensitivities, AIDS and asthma are characterized by Th2 dominant imbalance of the immune system.
Patients show negative effects caused by imbalance of both sides of the immune system Th1 and Th2 at the same time:
1. They overreact to the invaders on the side which is dominant
2. They under-react to those pathogens on the suppressed side
For example, if Th2 side of the immune system becomes dominant the person starts to over respond to allergens, toxins, normal bacteria and parasites and at the same time under respond to yeast, cancer, viruses and intracellular bacteria. The imbalanced immune system cannot control viruses and infections anymore which the individual had in the past and kept it in the dormant state. Those hidden pathogens become reactivated and cause chronic inflammation.
Modulations of the immune system
Suppression of the side of the immune system which is dominant and prevalently involved in the inflammatory process suggests that autoimmune diseases can be regulated and rebalanced. This approach opens the way for new treatment strategies for Hashimoto’s disease.
In fact, modulations of the immune system using pharmaceutical drugs such as different injectable interferon beta formulations and corticosteroids are the most widely used therapies that are prescribed for patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. They are mostly Th1 dominant and show positive results on repair of the damaged nervous system when the immune system gets re-balanced.
However, any pharmaceutical immuno-modulating drugs for multiple sclerosis can cause adverse side effects such as flu like symptoms, headaches, high blood pressure, visual disturbances and toxicity. There is also a danger that the immune system can be pushed too little or too much leading to negative effects. For example, the opposite side can become excessively dominant promoting development of other autoimmune diseases and health conditions. Long-term studies have reported hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, increased thyroid autoimmunity and Hashimoto’s disease in patients with multiple sclerosis who use interferon.
Do you need this test?
Relying on TSH test alone or a combination of TSH with T4 and T3 for a diagnosis and treatment is a mismanagement of Hashimoto’s disease. High thyroid antibodies are a reliable indicator for an active autoimmune process that can help to make an early diagnosis of Hashimoto’s even before onset of hypothyroidism.
It is absolutely necessary to establish Th1 or Th2 dominance of the immune system to create a most effective treatment in order to stop the attack on the thyroid, achieve the balance and prevent development of other autoimmune diseases.
Th1 and Th2 Cytokine Blood Test Panel determines which dominance the patient has and is the most important test for those who have an autoimmune disease including Hashimoto’s. These lab test results are the basis for any effective treatment plan where natural compounds are used to push the immune system in the opposite direction to balance Th1 and Th2.
Supporting the wrong side of the immune system can result in further destruction of the body’s tissue that might be under the attack and lead to development of other associated autoimmune diseases. Almost all organs and tissues can be targeted by an autoimmune disease.
The evaluation of the test results and choice of the appropriate botanicals should be done by a certified physician. True Health Labs can offer you a FREE labs explanation for many tests and provide you with qualified medical advice.
How to re-balance immune system in Hashimoto’s disease
Beyond thyroid replacement therapy there are no other treatments for Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism in the conventional medicine. Any type of thyroid medication may not work because it does not address the cause of the Hashimoto’s disease which is an overreaction of the immune system. With time many Hashimoto’s patients do not see much difference compared to being on T4-only medication, using desiccated thyroid or a combined T4 and T3 therapy because the autoimmune attack and destruction of the thyroid gland remain in progress and put them at the additional risk to develop another autoimmune disease.
When used correctly nutrition and natural compounds such as botanicals can be a very powerful tool in re-balancing the Th1/Th2 and at the same time having a gentle effect on the immune system without typical side effects of pharmaceutical synthetic drugs.
Proper nutrition, supplements and natural compounds that have been chosen by a qualified specialist who uses an individualized approach and considers the state of YOUR immune system can provide you with the improvement of thyroid immunity and many other health benefits.
Compounds that stimulate Th1 and will improve condition of Th2 dominant person and worsen those who have high Th1:
Astragalus Echinacea Garlic
Licorice with Glycyrrhiza Melissa officinalis (lemon balm)
Beta-glucan, Maitake, Reishi and Shiitake murshrooms
Astragalus Ashwaganda Panax ginseng
Chorella Grape seed extract
Compounds that stimulate Th2 and will improve condition of Th1 dominant person and worsen those who have high Th2:
Caffeine Green tea extract Quercetin
Pine bark extract White willow bark Lycopene
Resveratrol Pycnogenol Curcumin
According to Dr. Datis Kharrazian, about 90% of his patients with Hashimoto’s disease show domination of Th1 over the Th2 where natural killer cells over react and attack healthy thyroid tissue. However, it can affect every individual differently. Some patients with Hashimoto’s can also have Th2 dominance or both Th1 and Th2 suppressed or overactive.
For example, if both Th1 and Th2 are high and T-suppressor cells are low it indicates that the body is currently defending an attack against antigen, which is preventing the autoimmune mechanism from being efficient in its deactivation.
Every Hashimoto’s patient needs a different treatment approach depending on which side of the immune system is dominated. However, there is a general nutritional approach to regulate the immune system suitable for all types of immune imbalances in Hashimoto’s disease:
- Get a proper diagnosis. Many people do not know that their hypothyroidism is autoimmune and is caused by Hashimoto’s disease. Standard thyroid tests and TSH normal range can be tricky and do not provide you with the correct diagnosis.
- Enhance the function of regulatory T cells which balance the activity between T-helper cells (Th1 and Th2) and T-suppressor cells by keeping vitamin D at the optimum levels and maintaining healthy gut flora.
- Reduce inflammation by increasing intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Most damages in autoimmune diseases are caused by a low-grade chronic inflammation which is driven by both B- and T-cells. Another benefit of increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids is that they have also been shown to help balance the Th1 and Th2 systems. Cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, halibut and trout have a high fat content and the highest concentrations of DHA/EPA.
- Remove all the dietary triggers of autoimmune disease such as gluten, iodine, foods promoting the dominated side of the immune system and preventing you from healing leaky gut. There are also a variety of foods which you can consume every day without knowing that it worsens or improves your autoimmune condition.
- Watch this FREE Presentation that can help you to identify what causes your immune system imbalance and stop hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease at the source. Since our immunity depends on the healthy digestion going this route has shown great results for those who have Hashimoto’s, Grave’s, celiac or systemic autoimmune diseases and multiple food allergies.
Vitamin D drops 2000 IU by Biotics, 1 oz. Each drop contains 2000 IU of vitamin D in the emulsified form of cholecalciferol that increases the absorption. Recent studies show that Hashimoto’s and pain patients have increased requirements for vitamin D and can safely use daily doses between 4000 and 10000 IU.
Mixed EFAs oil by Biotics, 8 oz. One tablespoon (14 ml) contains on average: 1,282 mg of Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) rich in omega-3 and 5,191 mg of linoleic acid rich in omega-6 from Walnut, Hazelnut, Sesame and Apricot Kernel Oils (cold pressed).
Optimal EFAs oil Caps by Biotics, 120 Caps a balanced mix which contains an optimal ratio of the highest quality fish, flaxseed and borage oils and provides omega-3, 6, and 9 essential fatty acids.
PB 8 Pro-Biotic Acidophilus by Nutrition Now, 120 Caps, 14 billion good bacteria
Do you like what you read? Would you like to get more information about dietary triggers, gut health and chronic inflammation in Hashimoto’s disease? Subscribe to the Outsmart Disease thyroid blog updates and get your FREE e-mail course Hypothyroidism Diet Guide.
1.Why do I still have thyroid symptoms? When my lab tests are normal: A revolutionary breakthrough in understanding Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism by Dr. Datis Kharrazian, Morgan James Publishing, 2010
2. What your doctor may not tell you about autoimmune disorders: the revolutionary drug-free treatments for thyroid disease, lupus, MS, IBD, chronic fatigue, rheumatoid arthritis, and other diseases by S.B. Edelson, D. Mitchell, Hachette Digital, Inc., 2003
3. Fats that heal and fats that kill: The complete guide to fats, oils, cholesterol, and human health by Udo Erasmus, Book Publishing Company, 1993
4. The interferon beta therapies for treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: are they equally efficacious? A comparative review of open-label studies evaluating the efficacy, safety, or dosing of different interferon beta formulations alone or in combination. Ther Adv Neurol Disord. 2011 Sep;4(5):281-96.