GAPS and Healing Thyroid Auto Immune Disease Hashimoto’s

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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
  • Concentration
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Hurting Hands
  • Wrists Hurting
  • Dropping Things
  • Eye Matter
  • Marital Relations (Low Libido)
  • Strength and Stamina
  • Energy Levels
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • 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:

 

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12 comments to GAPS and Healing Thyroid Auto Immune Disease Hashimoto’s

  • Monica

    Thanks reviewing this book. I’ve been meaning to read it. I have Celiac Disease and have been gluten free for 5+ years (although not dairy free until recently). I also have Hashimoto’s and have been on Armour for many years. Last year, I had adrenal fatigue and self-treated with hydrocortisone. I started GAPS in October to see if I could heal the remaining hypothyroid symptoms (many of the same ones you listed). I think I’ve seen improvement, but it’s subtle so I’m not sure. I appreciate you sharing your journey and continue to learn from your blog.

    [Reply]

    Starlene Reply:

    @Monica, your post makes me feel relief to know another person who is following the same path. Especially the part about AF and self-treating with HC. I had been interested in reading this book, having listened to the podcast with Sean Croxton on Underground Wellness, but then I found a doctor in Arizona who requires his patients to read this book. I like the idea of that – a doctor requiring his patient to learn about their disease. So I thought I would read the book to learn more, in case I wanted to see him, since my doctor is leaving the practice. I don’t see Dr. Kharrazian mention HC so I don’t know if I would feel comfortable seeing the doctor who uses his methods. Dr. Kharrazian does mention some very GAPS-type things, like he recommends broth and traditional foods, removing gluten, etc. I will share more as I read through. But so far it is very interesting reading. He says you can’t regrow thyroid tissue… but I wonder why not? If our body can regenerate itself, then why not thyroid tissue? I am curious if you had tests done before starting GAPS and were your antibody levels high? Dr. Kharrazian says people may be pleasantly surprised to find that they can lower or go off medication. Hopefully you will be one of those. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, and thank you for reading along with me. Warm regards, Starlene

    [Reply]

    Monica Reply:

    Starlene-I didn’t have any lab work done before starting GAPS. The last time I checked my antibody levels almost 2 years ago, they were high. I figured I’d do GAPS a few more months before testing. I’ve been working with Integrative Manual Therapists (IMT) this past year. They are able to test different supplements on me and see how my body reacts to them. I’ve been able to lower my thyroid dose twice this year, and I do believe the thyroid can regenerate itself. My sister, who has had a lot of IMT work done, has been able to come off all thyroid medication. I wish you all the best and continued progress in your health journey! Monica

    [Reply]

    Starlene Reply:

    Hi @Monica, I kind of wish I’d had some blood work done, just because I’m curious if my antibodies would have been higher before I started on GAPS. I bet when you do get some tests done that you will be pleasantly surprised. 🙂 That is great about your sister! I hope our thyroid can regenerate, that would be wonderful to be able to heal and not have to be on medication. I just hate being on medication.

  • Kristie

    You mentioned tumeric and I was trying to figure out if it was a good thing or not. You mentioned both TH-1 and TH-2 was dampened by it. I did not know if you meant the immune system was dampened or the dominant response was dampened. Would you recommend taking tumeric?

    [Reply]

    Starlene Reply:

    Hi @Kristie, thank you for asking this question. I see there was one more bit that I didn’t notice when I typed that in. I am going to paste in the section where he talks about this in his book, okay? As I read over it, I am not exactly sure what he is saying. It is a bit over my head! What do you think? Do you think yes or no? I will also update my post.

    IL = (interleukin)
    COMPOUNDS THAT DAMPEN IL-1 ACTIVATING TH-1 OR TH-2
    Boswellia
    Pancreatic enzymes
    Turmeric/Curcumin
    I always use immunological lab tests to determine whether a person is TH-1 or TH-2 dominant so that I know how to properly tame and support her overactive and poorly regulated immune system. So if she is TH-1 dominant, I prescribe compounds that stimulate TH-2, and if she is TH-2 dominant, I recommend compounds that stimulate TH-1. Because unstable blood sugar, adrenal dysfunction, and poor digestive health exacerbate autoimmune disorders, supporting the entire body is also integral to managing Hashimoto’s. Also, don’t forget that the first priority is to enhance T-regulatory cell function with emulsified vitamin D, fish oil, and glutathione cream. It’s important to add in the right combination of nutritional compounds, as determined by your health care practitioner, one at a time every three days to monitor response. How do I know if the protocol for immune modulation is working? Monitoring symptoms is important of course, but I also use blood tests to monitor cytokines and T and B cell populations along the way, too. They should begin to reach normal levels and antibody tests should become negative. That doesn’t mean the condition is cured, but it is dormant.

    Kharrazian, Datis (2010-02-02). Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? When My Lab Tests Are Normal: A Revolutionary Breakthrough In Understanding Hashimoto’s Disease and Hypothyroidism (p. 56). Morgan James Publishing. Kindle Edition.

    [Reply]

  • Thank you for posting this. Very interesting…I really want to get his book.

    [Reply]

  • Joyce Ann

    Just starting on this whole GAPS diet process to see if it will help kick my Hashimotos to the curb…thanks for all your information and reading and research!

    A friend also sent me Dr. Kharrazian’s book as a surprise, so I’m just starting it too!

    [Reply]

    Starlene Reply:

    @Joyce Ann, I absolutely believe GAPS will lower your Hashimoto’s antibodies and stop the attack on your thyroid tissue! I just read on the Yahoo Group GAPShelp that a GAPSter had antibodies in the 1000s range and now down to 150. I truly believe my numbers would have been way up there if I hadn’t gone off gluten and casein and done GAPS. Good luck. I’m glad you are reading Dr. Kharrazian’s book, too. It totally convinced me that I have to stay off gluten forever.

    [Reply]

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