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I've expressed before here on my blog the disappointment I've felt that GAPS hasn't healed me fully. I'm reading yet another book, and I think I've found the reason why. First, I didn't think I had Hashimoto's Disease, and breathed a sigh of relief at not having an autoimmune disease. I don't know why I thought this. Maybe because my antibodies were so low, or maybe my doctor told me so. This is so confusing because I've recently learned if you have any antibodies that means you have Hashimoto's. In fact, according to this new book I'm reading you might have no antibodies and may still have Hashimoto's. How confusing is that? Not to cause further confusion, but apparently the same is true for Graves' Disease. If you have any antibodies, you have the autoimmune disease. So it looks as if I have both! And it looks like the “cure” is addressing the immune system.
So, in a nutshell, to my limited understanding, Hashimoto's Disease is an autoimmune disease the antibodies of which attack your thyroid. That might not be correct but so far that's what I am understanding. There are certain things that must be done to support and heal the immune system; removing offending foods is mandatory. When you remove offending foods, the antibodies settle down and stop attacking (killing!) your thyroid tissue. Chronic stress is another factor.
In connecting the dots, this seems to me the reason why I started to feel so much better once I started GAPS, because I dropped gluten and casein from my diet, two triggers for Hashimoto's. If I had tests done back then I probably would have had high antibodies. When I removed the offending foods from my diet, the antibodies settled down and stopped attacking my thyroid, and therefore my hypothyroid symptoms decreased and I felt better. However, removing gluten and casein does not cure the disease. Add to this the chronic stress I've endured in the past year, and now I know why simply GAPS didn't heal me 100%. I am waiting on pins and needles for Dr. Natasha's new book to come out which will address autoimmune diseases. I know she has said just do GAPS, that the diet won't change, but I want to learn more of the hows and whys, like she explains in the Gut and Psychology Syndrome book.
In beginning to learn about thyroid disease and all the symptoms, I was surprised to recognize many of my symptoms (over half!) which improved or completely disappeared within the first six months were symptoms of thyroid disease. Here is the list that I detailed indicating improvements in my six month anniversary post. I've bolded the ones that are specifically listed on the Stop the Thyroid Madness site. Also, I must say that some of these are gone completely and have never returned, like the foot pain. Also, some of these symptoms have returned, but nowhere near as bad as they were before starting on GAPS.
- Foot Pain
- Stiff Back
- Sleeping Better
- Brain Fog
- Lost Words
- Hurting Hands
- Wrists Hurting
- Dropping Things
- Eye Matter
- Marital Relations (Low Libido)
- Strength and Stamina
- Energy Levels
- Allergies and Asthma
- Appetite Decreased
- No Longer Overeating
- Skin Tags
- Road Rage (Extremely crabby, irritable, intolerant of others)
- Blood Sugar Leveled Out
- Hot Flashes
- Weight Loss
- Bloated Stomach
- Swollen Ankles and Fingers
- Lower Back Pain
In his book Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? When My Lab Tests Are Normal: A Revolutionary Breakthrough In Understanding Hashimoto's Disease and Hypothyroidism, Dr. Datis Kharrazian states there is “overwhelming evidence establishing a link between gluten intolerance and Hashimoto’s disease”.
When I started GAPS, as instructed by Dr. Natasha I removed all gluten from my diet. Dr. Kharrazian says:
It is not uncommon to see major resolution of hypothyroid symptoms just by following a gluten-free diet. However, avoiding gluten does not cure the disease. It simply helps tame the immune system so it stops attacking the thyroid tissue. (p. 32). Morgan James Publishing. Kindle Edition.
I also removed dairy (except for butter) from my diet (oh dear, I wonder if I need to remove butter altogether).
Many clinicians find removing casein, the protein molecule in all forms of dairy, is also integral to thyroid health. There is not as much research on casein intolerance as there is on gluten intolerance, however anecdotal evidence strongly suggests a diet that is not only gluten-free but also dairy-free promises the best results in managing Hashimoto’s. (p. 32). Morgan James Publishing. Kindle Edition.
…if a person with a gluten intolerance or celiac disease eats gluten regularly, her immune system is kept on a constant red alert, toiling virtually nonstop. Here’s how it sets the stage for Hashimoto’s: When immune antibodies tag gluten for removal, they stimulate the production of antibodies against the thyroid gland as well (again, because they are both so similar in structure). In other words, every time gluten is ingested, the immune system launches an attack not only against gluten but also on the thyroid gland. What’s worse, the immune response to gluten can last up to six months each time it’s ingested. (p. 31). Morgan James Publishing. Kindle Edition.
I advise my patients with Hashimoto’s to give up gluten completely if they wish to preserve their thyroid gland. Eating just a little bit is not OK, since even a small amount will cause irreversible thyroid tissue death. I also remind them to avoid cross-contamination in restaurants, packaged foods, and their own kitchens.(pp. 31-32). Morgan James Publishing. Kindle Edition.
A variety of tests exist to identify gluten intolerance and celiac disease, including EnteroLab’s. However one should approach these tests with some skepticism. Sometimes the immune system can be so worn out that, even though it is attacking gluten, the total number of antibodies being produced is extremely low. As a result, test results may look negative, when in fact gluten intolerance is raging on. The best test is the elimination/provocation diet, in which gluten is removed from the diet for two weeks, and then reintroduced while the person monitors her reactions.(p. 32). Morgan James Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Here are a few other things I found interesting while reading the first three chapters of this book:
- Do not take iodine if you have Hashimoto's
- Vitamin D deficiency is very serious if you have Hashimoto's
- Supplement with 4,000 to 5,000 IU a day of cholecalciferol (I am using this product because my D levels were below the range and my doctor prescribed that I take 20,000 IU each day: Carlson Ddrops 2000 IU, 10ml). Avoid ergocalciferol, which has been shown to be ineffective at raising serum vitamin D levels.
- It's important to learn if you are TH-1 dominant (too much natural killer and cytotoxic T-cell activity) or TH-2 dominant (too much B-cell activity) because some products cannot be used if you are one or the other. For example, if you are TH-1 dominant then you should avoid use of echinachea because it will worsen your autoimmune condition. If you are TH-2 dominant, caffeine will worsen your condition. Therefore, it's a possible clue if you feel better with caffeine that you are TH-1 dominant (although he says using this as a diagnosis tool is tricky since caffeine stimulates the adrenals which would make you feel better).
- If you are TH-1 or TH-2 both conditions can be helped with the use of probiotics, Vitamin A, Vitamin E and colostrum.
- COMPOUNDS THAT DAMPEN IL-1 ACTIVATING TH-1 OR TH-2 : Boswellia, Pancreatic Enzymes, Turmeric/Curcumin. (update: I modified the wording on this because of a question asked by Kristie in the comments, and added in another quote from the book to help clarify).
- “Producing gluten antibodies may simply be from a leaky gut, and the person may be able to safely eat gluten again after repairing the digestive system.” (p. 31). Morgan James Publishing. Kindle Edition.
I plan to share more as I read through the book. If you want to learn more, here are some links with a link to the book at Amazon: