Hey there, this is Dr. Jason Shumard with Integrative Wellness Center of San Diego and the author of the Thyroid Epidemic. Today I have a very important topic, one of the most common things that I talked about in regards to our thyroid patients in our office, and is an autoimmune disease. You know, many people that are dealing with a thyroid condition, don’t even realize that their main underlying cause is typically an autoimmune disease, where the immune system is attacking and destroying and killing the thyroid, creating a condition called Hashimoto’s or creating a condition called graves disease. Now, the statistics tell us about 90 to 95% of all thyroid cases are due to this autoimmune disease.
Many times, in the traditional model, there’s not a lot of treatment options, because there’s really nothing that can be done through pharmaceuticals, which is typically going to be the treatment of choice for the traditional model. The good news is there’s lots of things that can be done, and the functional medicine or the functional health model, which is what we’re going to talk about today. But the common question that I get is, is there a cure for autoimmune disease? Well, the easiest and the shortest answer is no, there’s no cure for autoimmune disease because your immune system in this specific case is doing exactly what it’s supposed to be doing. See, the immune system’s job is to find foreign bodies, foreign objects, bacteria, viruses, environmental factors, chemicals, things that are not good for your body, it’s supposed to attack that specific molecule, destroy it.
Then create what’s called an antibody or a B cell or memory cell to remind itself of future problems in the future. So in this specific situation, when you’re dealing with an autoimmune disease, your immune system has been triggered or created to start attacking your own body. So in this scenario, we’ll talk about the thyroid, the immune system has been triggered to start attacking your thyroid. So eventually, over time, when enough tissue has been destroyed, the symptoms start to arise, and you don’t feel good. And in so many cases what will happen is they’ll give you a hormone to replace the ability of your thyroid to produce a hormone or any longer because it’s been destroyed. And now your thyroid on paper looks better, but you don’t feel better.
The reason why you don’t feel better is that the immune system continues to attack and attack until it gets worse. So you start developing maybe nodules, the risk of thyroid cancer destruction, the thyroid gets worse over time, and maybe thyroid removal may be required. If it’s in the opposite state of the grave hyperthyroid scenario, maybe you need potassium iodide or something like that. But these are all just treatments of the symptoms, and not addressing the cause, which in this specific scenario is the autoimmune immune system attacking the thyroid. Now on top of that, the other thing that can be very scary is as the immune system is attacking your thyroid, it starts to attack other areas of your body. So it can start to attack the joints, for example, increasing the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, it can attack your nervous system, increasing the chance of Ms.
It can attack multiple areas of your body, increasing the chance of fibromyalgia. It can attack your skin creating psoriatic arthritis, your pancreas type one diabetes, and on and on and on, there’s a diagnosis for every single tissue. So the tissue or the diagnosis is irrelevant because it’s the immune system that is the underlying cause. Now the question is, if there’s no cure for autoimmune, what can be done? Well, unfortunately, in the traditional model, the treatment is typically pharmaceuticals. And that’s going to be steroids, immune suppressors, and if you’ve ever known somebody who has been on those types of medications, or who’s been around them, it creates a lot of health issues, a lot of problems from long-term usage, usages, and unfortunately, it’s just not the best option.
So, in the functional health model, well, we’re going to look at, or number one, what are the areas in the body that are not functioning optimally, that could be triggering the immune system to attack your body, but also what other triggers are out there. Now, there are three triggers that I want to talk about first, that are common, but I refer to them as primary triggers. So these are ones that potentially could have started the rolling out of that immune system attacking your body. So the first one is, it can be hormone surges. So this is because thyroid conditions typically affect women, it can affect men but mostly women, and a female’s life, there’s going to be three times in their life where they’re going to have these hormone surges. The first one is the start of menses.
So we had that hormone surge, the start of menses, the second one is going to be childbirth. And this can be first, second, third childbirth, it doesn’t have to be the first one, the last one. And the last one is going to be menopause. These are going to be the three most common types of surges that happen hormonally speaking, and a female’s body. And these hormone surges can trigger the immune system to start the attacks on the body. And that can be anywhere in the body. But in this specific scenario, we’re talking about the thyroid. Now the second one, it’s going to be a common type of initial, primary attack is going to be genetics, obviously, we know that genetics can play a major role. And they increase the risk of predisposing the individual to have autoimmune attacks.
Let’s say mom had rheumatoid arthritis or dad had psoriatic arthritis, or there are other autoimmune problems in the family, it’s going to increase the risks. But the cool thing is, we can manipulate the genetics with something called epigenetics. And what epigenetics do is manipulate the way that genes express themselves through environmental factors, many lifestyle diets, you know, how the environment of the body is, and we can manipulate these genes that we can potentially suppress the way those genes are being expressed, and stopping the risk factor for future attacks and creating more autoimmune problems in the body. Pretty cool stuff. The third one, that’s the common one, we have hormone surges, we have genetics. And then we have something called leaky gut.
Now, leaky gut for those of you guys that don’t know what this is, because essentially, what happens is the environment inside your intestinal tract starts to get very disrupted, and the lining of the gut starts to thin. And as the thinning occurs, you start to get these microscopic holes in the gut lining, which now allows the internal gut function to go into the external so we can have, you know, bacteria and digested feces, we could have food, undigested food that starts to come through. And that’s what I really want to talk about in this specific situation. Because what happens is, due to leaky gut, you can start to create what are called food sensitivities.
Because these macromolecules start to go through the gut lining and to the immune system or into the bloodstream, the immune system sees it says that it’s not supposed to be there, and starts attacking it. And next thing you know, you start to develop a sensitivity to a specific type of food. Other things that could happen with this could be infection patterns, can create leaky gut problems, we can see, he can create leaky gut problems, foods, like whoops, these two O’s foods, things like you know, dairy, things like grains, things like gluten. You know, these things can start to disrupt the gut function and start to increase the risk of leaky gut. So these sorts of things can be primary reasons for someone developing an autoimmune condition.
And they can all be addressed, by the way, they can all be addressed, and to stabilize to start to halt or arrest or slowdowns in some cases, potentially stop the attacks on the body. Now, other types of things that could happen within the body can create these triggers. So let’s label these triggers. We can see the infection, we could see toxicities. As I mentioned, hormone surges. We could see blood sugar problems. We could see adrenal issues and a whole slew of other problems, right, I could sit here and probably write another list of another 20 to 30 things that can be potential triggers to the immune system attacking the body. This is how we are different from a functional model because we can address these things and it does not require pharmaceutical drugs.
Whereas the traditional model, the treatment of choice is typically going to be using pharmaceuticals and a functional model is more of a holistic lifestyle approach, using food and diet dietary protocols, nutrition nutrients, nutraceuticals supplements herbs that can help the body restore function. And when you restore function, you then are able to stabilize the immune system, stopping additional tax for the future. So this is really cool stuff. Obviously, you can’t cure it but there’s a lot of things that you can do to arrest the attacks and allow the individual to live the quality life they want to live again. Remember, the first thing is number one, autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s. And graves are the two most common causes of a thyroid problem. If you haven’t been diagnosed, it’s likely what’s your cause right now, and you’re not being addressed appropriately, which is why you don’t feel good.