So I'm curious about something, with an autoimmune based disease, in this case, thyroiditis, it's the immune system getting triggered by some type of external stress and creating the attack on the body. So isn't the use of hormone replacement and beta blockers just a band aid solution? Doesn't anyone actually look at what might be causing the immune system to attack in the first place? Does anyone have any information on appropriate testing for this answer, life style changes, diet, or supplements to take for this problem?
And does anyone have success stories about lowering antibodies with Selenium?
Since being on selenium, Vit C and Vit D my antibodies went from over 1000 down to 518 over the course of a few months. Not sure if that is a good indicator or not though. I've been told by the docs that those antibodies can change from day to day. A lot of docs won't even test for them after the first time.
I have also heard low-dose naltrexone is a good option for modulating the immune system. Have thought about trying it.
The gluten free diet is very popular for Hashimotos (and autoimmune disease in general) right now. However I get mixed reviews on this. One doc told me...you HAVE to go gluten free. Another doc said - based on testing - you don't have to go gluten free...it won't make any difference for you. Another doc said - you can try it and see how you feel and if you don't feel any better there is no need. Another doc said - go back on gluten...I want to do some further testing there. So that's where I'm at with it right now - back on gluten.
I am finding out that this a very complicated disease and there are many many treatment approaches which makes it very confusing, frustrating, time consuming and expensive for us patients. And because it's a common disease and many of us are desperate to find help and the magic solution, we get suckered into all these different approaches and medical opinions. One doc told me I had "unstable T3"...another "an acute antibody attack"...another "too high of hormone dose (but it's not typical to go that hyper)"...another "hashitoxicosis"...another "hot" hashis.
GREAT---that really helps me out a lot! I have 4 different diagnosis! Thanks!
Once the body has "decided" that an organ is foreign, and produced antibodies to destroy it, there really is nothing to be done, but treat the resulting symptoms. Type I diabetes, gets insulin, celiac gets a gluten free diet, Pernicious anemia gets vitamin B12, etc. In the case of Hashimoto's, it's necessary to treat the hypothyroidism that is the ultimate result.
As to the gluten free diet - yes, some swear by it (mostly naturo-pathic doctors and chiropractors, following a particular protocol); my doctors have told me that there's no need to go that route, because the only ones that benefit are those that are allergic to gluten. Chrisin is right - there are many patients desperate to get well, and far too many, doctors waiting to relieve them of their money.
I've been taking selenium for nearly 3 years and it's done nothing to lower my antibody count; HOWEVER - selenium *has* been shown to aid in the conversion of T4 (storage hormone) to the usable T3 hormone. I continue to take it for that reason, and I do find that when I take it consistently, my Free T3 levels tend to be higher than when I haven't taken it.
I've never heard of using naltrexone to treat autoimmune disease. Can't really see a benefit to it, but will do some research on it.
My mother and i have both lowered TPO antibodies eating brazil nuts (around 4 a day). To note: the selenium content may contain much more or much less than the estimated 50 mcg per brazil nut.
There are a number of human clinical trials published in medical journals that shows selenium lowers thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAb). Selenium works at the genetic level to reduce levels of antibodies that attack the thyroid gland. A Chinese study on laboratory mice, published in the July 2010 Endocrinology Journal, determined that the trace mineral inhibits the genes that produce the attacking antibodies.
Human clinical trials :
Greece - October 2010 - Thyroid Journal. In this study, participants who received selenium supplementation for 3 months demonstrated significantly lower TPOAb titers and reported a greater sense of well being and improved mood than those who did not receive selenium.
Crete - 2007 Thyroid Journal. This study reported a 21% reduction in TPOAb after 1 year of selenomethionine supplements (200 mcg per day).
Turkey - 2006 Journal of Endocrinology. This study showed a 30% decrease in anti-thyroid antibodies after 3 months of 200mcg per day of L-selenomethionine supplementation for in women with Hashimotos Thyroiditis. The starting average TPOAb was 803 and after 3 months the average was 572.
Germany - 2002 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. This study showed 40% reduction in antibody levels after selenium supplementation with 9 of 36 (25%) patients completely normalizing their antibody levels.
An opposing study - 2008 Thyroid Journal, reported no immunological benefit of selenium in patients with moderate disease activity (in terms of TPOAb and cytokine production patterns) may not (equally) benefit as patients with high disease activity. *
* Note: this study used sodium selenite. Inorganic forms of selenium such as sodium selenite are not as absorbed well as organic forms.
The efficacy of selenium is increased by vitamin E and other antioxidant nutrients which promote glutathione peroxidase activity. Glutathione is the most important antioxidant in the body and also regulates the actions of lesser antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E. If the levels of glutathione are too low in the body, other antioxidants are unable to do their job.
Selenium absorption is decreased by high doses of vitamin C, zinc, and heavy metals. Prolonged intakes of selenium at 1000 mcg or higher may cause selenosis (selenium toxicity). Recommended to not exceed 400mcg of selenium daily.
I believe the immune system is being triggered by many things...some external, some internal. Stress has been implicated as a precipitator as have physical trauma and exposure to environmental toxins, just to name a few. The jolt to the immune system is often uncontrollable or may have disappeared years before thyroid symptoms appeared. Controlling the immune system is in its infancy at best...basically all we really understand about it at the moment is how to turn it off completely (as in the case of transplants). Unfortunately, completely shutting it down leaves one vulnerable to all sorts of foreign proteins, some much more dangerous than thyroid antibodies.
I also have taken selenium for a long time because the enzyme (5' deiodinase) that catalyzes the conversion of T4 to T3 is a selenium-based enzyme and seen no change in my antibodies. My opinion is that selenium is only useful if there is a deficiency to correct.
I was also gluten free for about a year...no difference in the way I felt or the antibodies. I agree with cristin's assessment...if testing reveals celiac or wheat allergy or if you just feel better gluten free, then, by all means, eat g/f. However, I wouldn't do it in hopes of it curing my autoimmune disease.
I think another very important question is "Just how much value is there in LOWERING antibodies?" Nothing even purports to eliminate antibodies, so are we not just prolonging the process of the thyroid dying off by lowering them? The disease actually becomes much more stable once the thyroid has for all practical purposes "died".
So, since there is no accepted way to treat autoimmune disease (though, as Barb pointed out, plenty of theories and more than enough doctors happy to relieve their patients of their paychecks), hormone replacement is all we have. It's a bit more than a bandaid...hormone replacement doesn't just hide symptoms, it actually replaces what your body can no longer produce and contributes hugely to overall health. Not ideal, but it works...
Thanks everyone for that information -VERY helpful and interesting! So, just to add to this question, I just found out that I'm pregnant with my second baby today -and I was supposed to pick up my new prescription of PTU 150/mg a day, tomorrow!
With my first baby, although I didn't have my levels tested after month 3, I believe I went into remission during pregnancy and had a horrible attack right after delivery. So the question is, should I take PTU's during pregnancy, or is it a bad idea to start taking a med for the first time during pregnancy? How often should I get my levels tested? THANKS!
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