In Part 1 of this article, “How to Reduce Thyroid Antibodies“, I discussed why thyroid antibodies are so important as an early warning for Hashimoto’s, what their significance is in Hashimoto’s, how to test for them, and how to properly monitor them.
In my view, knowing your antibody numbers early on is a better screening test than knowing your TSH level. Thyroid antibodies are going to be the first indication of a thyroid problem in many cases. They can be elevated for as many as 10-15 years before a change in TSH is even detected. The presence of thyroid antibodies also means that there is an active destruction going on against your thyroid. The antibodies test is an easy test to do. Part 1 tells you what test you need to do and how to interpret the results.
I also discussed a tool you can use to help determine the aggressiveness of your condition. The Thyroid Event Amsterdam (THEA) Score is a score that can help assess how quickly Hashimoto’s can progress to hypothyroidism (or if you’re already there, to other kinds of autoimmune conditions).
The best way to reduce the aggressiveness of the condition is to reduce your thyroid antibodies.
We can make people feel better and even dramatically reduce their thyroid antibodies by removing their triggers. This is my favorite corrective action to take, as it is truly addressing root causes. This action is recognizing and removing the antigens or triggers that are setting off the autoimmune process in the first place. Additionally, in case root causes can’t be found or eliminated, there are other strategies that can be used to modulate the immune response against the thyroid that will be discussed in this article.
So, let’s begin with discussing triggers as the initial corrective action to take to reduce thyroid antibodies.
There is a lot of research relating to common triggers as well as anecdotal evidence (results that I have personally seen). I’ll review the most common culprits and how addressing these triggers may make you feel better as well as reduce your thyroid antibodies.
After I discuss common triggers, the next corrective action I’ll talk about will relate to reducing oxidative stress — specifically, utilizing antioxidants to reduce the oxidative stress in the thyroid gland. This is going to be very helpful for most people with Hashimoto’s.
The third action I’ll discuss is going to be oral tolerance. This is a strategy to help make a person’s body become a little more tolerant of itself.
The fourth action I’ll discuss is taking advantage of immune modulation. We know that the immune system is out of balance in Hashimoto’s and that there are certain substances that we can give to people to help balance things out a bit.
Finally, I’ll talk briefly about immune suppression and target removal.
Note that the further you get down this list of 30 actions, the more advanced some of the interventions can be — in particular, some of the immune modulation and suppression actions, but I include them for your information.
The mechanisms of corrective actions to reduce thyroid antibodies are:
- Trigger reduction
- Reducing oxidative stress (antioxidants)
- Oral tolerance
- Immune modulation
- Immune suppression
- Target removal
Let’s begin with the first one: trigger reduction.
Reducing Key Triggers
There are many antigens which have been identified as triggers of Hashimoto’s, including:
Toxins – Numerous environmental toxins have been found to be triggers, such as:
- Iodine excess
- Copper toxicity
- Mercury (amalgams)
- Other heavy metals
- Endocrine disruptors
- Nickel toxicity
- Breast implants
- Implant surgery
- Other surgery
Infections – Infections are common triggers and often are the issue if dietary interventions are not making you feel better. These are oral and gut infections, as well as a number of bacterial and viral infections, that are commonly seen in Hashimoto’s:
- Mouth Infections
- Abscessed teeth
- Root canals
- Gut Infections
- Other Infections
- Lyme disease/tick bites
- Viral Infections
- Epstein-Barr virus
- Hepatitis C infection (and treatment)
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
Emotional and Physical Stress – This can include emotional stress such as social rejection, life events (divorce, trauma), sexual abuse, etc. Physical stress can include blood sugar abnormalities, excess exercise, sleep apnea, sleep deprivation, etc.
Food Sensitivities – Gluten, dairy, soy, grains, eggs, and nuts/seeds/nightshades are the most common.
Blood Transfusions – We know when a person gets a blood transfusion, they are going to be exposed to antigens that were in the donor’s blood. Blood transfusions have been found to increase the rate of autoimmune disease, including Hashimoto’s.
Hormonal Shifts – Puberty, pregnancy and perimenopause are three of the most common times when a woman may be diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. Researchers used to think that pregnancy was a trigger because of fetal cells that got into the maternal thyroid gland; however, further research has shown that the babies’ cells within their mothers’ thyroids are actually protective!
So let’s start with a few of the most common triggers.
1. Removing Gluten
In 2015, I did a survey of my readers consisting of 2232 people having Hashimoto’s. In that survey, 88 percent of people felt better off of gluten and 33 percent had a reduction in their thyroid antibodies on a gluten free diet.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and processed products that may contain hidden traces of gluten. Along with dairy, gluten was a huge trigger for me. When I finally took the plunge and removed both from my diet, it took just 3 days for symptoms that I had experienced for almost 10 years to completely vanish.
There have been studies that have shown that people with subclinical hypothyroidism (remember my earlier discussion: stage 2 is where you start to see thyroid antibodies, and stage 3 – subclinical hypothyroidism – is where you’ll start to see an elevated TSH and some mild thyroid symptoms), showed improvements when following a gluten free diet for a year. In one such study, 71 percent returned to normal thyroid function; and 19 percent were able to normalize their thyroid antibodies.
Another note about gluten is that it is often the cause of intestinal permeability. (So, you have 2 of the 3 conditions necessary to develop Hashimoto’s.)
You can read much more about gluten here.
2. Removing Dairy
For me, getting off dairy meant no more irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, reflux and carpal tunnel. I’ve seen many success stories relating to clients and readers feeling better, even going into remission (Read Crystal’s Hashimoto’s Success Story about dairy) when they have removed dairy from their diet.
In my survey, 79 percent of respondents with Hashimoto’s felt better when they went off of dairy, and there was a 20 percent reduction in antibodies.
Limited studies are available on dairy proteins and Hashimoto’s, but to me, the proof is in seeing this lifestyle intervention making people feel so much better. Plus, it is an easy intervention to try. You can read more about removing dairy here.
3. Removing Soy
My clients and readers have reported an increase in palpitations, nervousness and thyroid antibodies after consuming soy.
In my 2015 survey, 60 percent of respondents felt better when they removed soy from their diet, and there was a 34 percent reduction in antibodies.
Studies have shown that soy intake can interfere with levothyroxine absorption. One study connected soy fed babies with higher rates of thyroid antibodies later in life.
I recommend skipping tofu, miso and soybeans in order to support your thyroid. Better yet, cut out all processed foods, as soy is often a hidden ingredient in these products!
4. The Paleo Diet – Removing Grains and Processed Foods
Two diets that I like for reducing thyroid antibodies and improving how people will feel are the Paleo diet and the Autoimmune Paleo diet.
Prior to these diets, I usually have people start by removing gluten. Removing one thing is just easier, and the removal of gluten often makes many people feel much better right off the bat. The Paleo and Autoimmune Paleo diets are increasingly more restrictive.
Keep in mind that the best diet for any given person will depend on what food sensitivities they have, as well as if they’re having issues with blood sugar, intestinal permeability, ongoing chronic stress, infections, or toxin exposures.
A Paleo diet eliminates all grains and all processed foods. After eliminating grains and processed foods, a Paleo diet replaces these with nutrient-dense foods thought to have been eaten during the Paleolithic Era: nuts and seeds, vegetables, fruit, and eggs. Meat, a caveman staple, is also allowed, as is fish and other meat products (organ meats).
Depending on the particular Paleo plan you are following, dairy may also be allowed, but I do not recommend it, as you’ve seen earlier it is a highly reactive food for most people. Other food items of controversy on a Paleo diet include eggs and sweet potatoes. Note that many people have food sensitivities to eggs, although I include them in my own diet.
While there aren’t studies that point to a Paleo Diet as a means to reduce thyroid antibodies, in my survey, 81 percent of respondents felt better on a grain free or Paleo diet. Corn, in particular, was noted as a large sensitivity.
And as mentioned above, 88 percent of those surveyed felt better on a gluten free diet.
A Paleo diet has helped many people with Hashimoto’s feel better by improving symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain, brain fog, bloating and gas.
You can read more about the Paleo diet here. This article discusses the benefits of the Paleo diet, how it differs from the Standard American Diet (SAD), the negatives relating to eating grains, and how to get started. You can even get some free Paleo recipes on the page!
5. The Autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP) – Further Restrictions
Although the Paleo diet has helped many people feel better and even recover completely, the Autoimmune Paleo diet (AIP) can be even more successful for some.
On a personal note, this was one of the key dietary protocols on my own healing journey. But it isn’t easy to just jump into, and I consider it a more advanced intervention.
In my survey, 75 percent of my readers and clients reported significant symptom reductions on an AIP diet, with almost 40 percent seeing a reduction in thyroid antibodies.
You can read an overview of the AIP diet, including the foods it allows and restricts, best practices and other information, here. The diet is more restrictive, so I generally suggest people go on the Paleo Diet first.
6. Addressing H. Pylori Infections
Chronic infections are the triggers that get the least amount of attention, yet identifying and treating them can result in a complete remission of Hashimoto’s. Additionally, some of the infections can be progressive, leading to more and more symptoms, if not identified and treated accordingly.
A variety of bacterial infections have been implicated in triggering autoimmune thyroiditis, including Helicobacter Pylori, the same bacteria that causes ulcers; Borrelia burgdorferi (associated with Lyme disease), and Yersinia enterocolitica.
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a gram-negative spirochete-shaped bacteria that burrows into our stomach lining and secretes urease, which neutralizes stomach acid. The byproduct of the urease and stomach acid is toxic to epithelial cells, as are the other chemicals produced by this bacterium, leading to damage to cells, a disruption of tight junctions, and inflammation.
When I initially removed gluten and dairy from my diet, I felt so much better, and most of my symptoms went away. But I still tested positive for thyroid antibodies, so I had to dig deeper into my other root causes. That ended up being gut infections! And yes, initially it grossed me out, but then I realized it was a common trigger.
In 2015, 80 percent of my clients who hit a plateau with nutritional intervention, and who took the gut tests that I recommended, tested positive for at least one gut infection.
I’ve had numerous readers and clients with Hashimoto’s report that their symptoms were greatly improved following treating the H. pylori Infection. Most of them showed a reduction in thyroid antibodies following the eradication of H. pylori. A few have even gone into Hashimoto’s remission!
You can read more about H. pylori infections here, including information on testing, antibiotics, and natural treatment options.
7. Eradicating Blastocystis Hominis
This protozoal parasite is one of the most common I have encountered in people with Hashimoto’s. It is especially prevalent in those clients who develop Epstein-Barr Virus. When I did my survey in 2015, some 35 percent of people had tested positive for “Blasto”.
It was also an infection that I had to deal with before I felt completely well.
Blasto often presents itself with the presence of hives and IBS, two conditions that are seen in Hashimoto’s. It has also been connected with intestinal permeability.
Eradicating this infection has helped many of my clients eliminate or reduce their IBS systems, food sensitivities, and thyroid antibodies. There is some research that details a reduction in thyroid antibodies after removal of the parasite as well.
8. Resolving SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)
SIBO is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. While this is not technically an infection, SIBO does have a bacterial component and can be a trigger, consequence, or exacerbating factor for Hashimoto’s.
According to a study published in 2007, SIBO can be present in up to 54 percent of people with hypothyroidism.
I have seen people with Hashimoto’s resolve symptoms like IBS, restless leg syndrome, low ferritin, and low B12 by treating SIBO; and in some cases, I’ve also seen thyroid antibodies get reduced — and even go away — with SIBO treatment.
Read more about the symptoms associated with SIBO, how you can do a breath test for it, and how to treat it, here.
9. Addressing Yersinia Infections
You may have never heard of this infection before, but its antibodies are found in people with Hashimoto’s fourteen times more often than in people without Hashimoto’s.
Yersinia membranes bind TSH. Remember I talked about molecular mimicry? Infections like Yersinia can induce antibodies against sites that recognize and stimulate TSH receptors. At least one study found that Yersinia antibodies were more prevalent in people with thyroid disease.
How do you contract Yersinia? It is an infection found in contaminated meat (commonly found in pork), poultry, dairy products and seafood.
10. Mercury Removal – Dental Amalgams
Research has shown that mercury found in dental fillings does accumulate in thyroid tissue, and in one study, the removal of dental amalgams decreased thyroid antibodies in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis.
Amalgam fillings (usually referred to as silver but actually containing 50 percent mercury by weight) are the major source of mercury exposure, accounting for two-thirds of human mercury exposure.
Many of the symptoms of mercury exposure overlap with those seen in Hashimoto’s, including digestive issues, fatigue, joint pain and hair loss. You can read about one woman’s experience with amalgam fillings as her Hashimoto’s trigger, here.
If you have Hashimoto’s and amalgam fillings, I encourage you to take the MELISA (Memory Lymphocyte Immunostimulation Assay) test. This test can detect hypersensitivity to metals and environmental toxins to help you determine whether removing your fillings should be a priority.
Reducing Oxidative Stress (As a Mechanism to Reduce Thyroid Antibodies)
The next section covers a few ways to reduce oxidative stress. People with Hashimoto’s have increased oxidative stress, so this can be a beneficial strategy to reduce thyroid antibodies and feel better.
11. Iodine Restriction to Reduce Oxidative Stress
Iodine restriction has been shown to reduce oxidative stress, and according to various studies, some people have been able to lower thyroid antibodies by restricting their iodine intake. Take note, however, that others have reported that taking increased iodine has lowered their antibodies. This just underscores the point as to why finding root causes is so individualized.
In my survey, 356 people tried high dose iodine, and out of that group, 25 percent said that it made them feel better; and 28 percent said it made them feel worse. Forty-six percent said they saw no difference, although this doesn’t mean their thyroid antibodies weren’t affected in some way.
On the other hand, iodine restriction made 31.7 percent feel better and 7 percent feel worse. You can read more about iodine and Hashimoto’s here.
Iodine is a very controversial subject, but I put it out there just in case it can help you. Having said that, I’d start with removing common triggers before I look at modifying iodine intake. There are also other actions you can take that reduce oxidative stress that have had better results, such as taking selenium.
12. Selenium as an Antioxidant Manufacturer
Nutrient depletions are very common in Hashimoto’s, often due to intestinal permeability issues.
One particular nutrient that is depleted in Hashimoto’s is selenium. It is a trace mineral that is involved in the manufacturing of antioxidants like glutathione peroxidase. Glutathione peroxidase helps with the removal of the cells affected by oxidative damage.
A dosage of 200 mcg per day has been found to reduce thyroid antibodies in clinical trials. In some studies, selenium cut the antibodies significantly within six months.
In my survey, people taking a selenium supplement helped 63 percent of respondents feel better. Thirty-four percent saw no difference, while 3.5 percent felt worse.
I have found that when clients and readers take selenium supplements, not only can it lead to them feeling better, but it can also lead to a reduction in anxiety, antibodies and other symptoms.
Note that gluten and grain free diets are associated with deficiencies in selenium… another reason to focus on a healthier diet and supplementation when needed to ensure you address these common Hashimoto’s deficiencies!
You can read more about selenium here.
13. NAC to Strengthen Your Body’s Defense System
N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) supports healthy levels of glutathione, a key component of the body’s antioxidant defense system.
Research has shown that people with Hashimoto’s disease have lower levels of glutathione. In a study done in 2010, NAC and 15-Deoxy-Prostaglandin J2 (a fatty acid compound with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties) exerted a protective effect against autoimmune thyroid destruction in vivo. Significant associations were seen in the levels of glutathione, as well as TSH and thyroid antibodies. Researchers concluded that the maintenance of a minimal oxidative load was essential to safeguard thyroid cell function.
I have seen benefits using 1800 mg per day of N-Acetyl Cysteine, and recommend Rootcology’s Pure N-Acetyl Cysteine, which is free of potential reactive ingredients and harmful fillers. As an additional bonus, NAC is also associated with helping with heavy metal detoxification.
14. Thyroid Medications to Prevent Oxidative Stress
As you whittle away the triggers and root causes of why you are displaying unhealthy thyroid antibody levels, you and your clinician may also opt for thyroid medications as well as some of these other corrective actions below.
Studies have shown that in euthyroid and subclinical hypothyroidism, (remember, as discussed earlier, this happens during stages 2 and 3 of hypothyroidism, with stage 2 being the “early warning” stage), thyroid medications such as levothyroxine can reduce thyroid antibodies.
The downside is that some medications have been shown to cause oxidative stress themselves. In particular, there is one study relating to the increased risk of lung cancer. You can read more about this study, as well as my interpretation of its results, here. You may also be interested in downloading my free eBook on optimizing thyroid medications.
15. Photobiomodulation (Use of Low Level Laser Therapy)
Low level laser therapy has shown to be capable of reducing about 50 percent of thyroid antibodies over the course of 10 targeted treatments. It directly reduces oxidative stress in the thyroid gland.
In one study in Brazil, all patients who received low level laser therapy were able to reduce their levothyroxine dose, while 47 percent were able to discontinue it and have normal thyroid function during the 9-month follow-up.
This and other research on the use of laser therapy can be found here. Presently, this therapy is still considered experimental, but progressive practitioners are starting to use it.
16. Myo-Inositol to Reduce Oxidative Stress (And Anxiety, Too)
Research has shown that anxiety, depression and a general feeling of being “unwell” are early signs of an autoimmune attack on the thyroid, and can be correlated to thyroid antibodies, even when the TSH number is still normal.
The most common type of anxiety disorder reported in people with thyroid antibodies is obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
OCD is also more common in Type A personalities (like me and many other pharmacists; and likely many of you out there too), so my own OCD tendencies definitely used to flare up with rising thyroid antibodies and then reduce as my antibodies dropped.
Research has found that Myo-Inositol can help with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), OCD and anxiety. As an added bonus, Myo-Inositol has been found to reduce TPO antibodies, reduce TSH, and also balance blood sugar.
In a study that combined treatment using Myo-Inositol and selenium, researchers found that the combination resulted in decreased TSH, TPO and TG antibodies, as well as improvements in thyroid hormones and a feeling of personal well-being.
Please note, if you have kidney disease or are taking diuretic medications or herbs with diuretic properties, please check with your practitioner before taking Myo-Inositol. During one of my guinea-pigging adventures, I decided to try Myo-Inositol while trying an antiviral protocol that included Cleavers, a diuretic herb… and almost fainted. Myo-Inositol may not be properly cleared when the kidneys are overworked, such as in kidney disease or while taking diuretics. #thingsIlearnedthehardway
Oral Tolerance Strategies (To Reduce Thyroid Antibodies)
Now, let’s talk about how focusing on addressing oral tolerance can help reduce thyroid antibodies. Oral tolerance is basically inducing immune non-responsiveness through introducing an antigen by the mouth.
17. Thytrophin PMG as a Decoy
I’ve seen people reduce their thyroid antibodies by taking this supplement. While it doesn’t address a root cause (trigger), it seems to help minimize the effects of the immune system attacking itself.
According to the manufacturer of this supplement, Thytrophin acts like a decoy of sorts. It seems to distract the immune system from your thyroid gland while you work on addressing triggers, intestinal permeability, and all of your other root causes. It may prompt the immune system to attack the Thytrophin PMG versus its own thyroid gland, and allow the thyroid tissue to regenerate.
18. Moducare to Address Adrenal Balance
Moducare is a supplement that helps promote a normal balance of the adrenal hormones (our stress response), such as cortisol. When the adrenals are out of balance, the rest of the body quickly follows suit. This is especially significant for Hashimoto’s patients because stress is often a major contributing factor, and the adrenals and immune system work so closely together.
Moducare contains natural plant sterols and sterolins that balance Th1 and Th2 cytokines or helper cells, which strengthens cellular immunity and overactive immune responses. You can read more about the research behind Moducare on the Moducare.com site. One study found that participants taking Moducare maintained a healthier immune response, thought to be related to addressing cortisol levels.
Readers and clients have been able to improve their adrenal function, as well as reduce antibodies, using Moducare.
19. LDN (Low Dose Naltrexone) to Stabilize Immunity
In my 2015 survey, 38 percent of respondents that tried Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) felt better. But the amazing stat related to these individuals is that they had spectacular results. Of those that felt better, 48 percent were able to reduce thyroid antibodies, 61 percent saw an improvement in mood, 66 percent had more energy, and 40 percent had a reduction in pain.
The theory about how LDN works is that it likely increases endorphin activity, and may also increase the number of endorphin receptors and/or the sensitivity of the receptors. All of these activities can result in stabilizing the immune system.
Many people have been able to eliminate their symptoms and reduce the dosage of their thyroid medications using LDN. I’ve seen women with thyroid antibodies in the 1000s IU/mL range that were able to reduce them down to about 100 IU/mL!
LDN is not a supplement and requires a prescription, and as with many things, it won’t work for everyone. At the beginning of my own thyroid journey, I tried using LDN just briefly, but it didn’t make me feel well, and I became very irritable, so I had to stop using it. To learn much more about LDN please go to this article.
Immune Modulation Strategies to Reduce Thyroid Antibodies
20. Systemic Enzymes
Systemic enzymes act as natural immune modulators, helping to bring our immune system into balance.
There has been a lot of research done on systemic enzymes coming out of Europe. There, the enzymes are a popular pain medication alternative for arthritic diseases and inflammatory conditions such as Hashimoto’s.
Systemic enzymes can reduce antibodies to both foods and the thyroid by breaking down circulating immune complexes that are formed in autoimmune diseases. They can also aid in tissue repair by reducing inflammation.
One particular blend of systemic enzymes, *Wobenzym, was the subject of a study that found that when given with levothyroxine, Wobenzym resulted in a greater reduction of thyroid antibodies than in those patients only given levothyroxine. Those patients taking Wobenzym also had a reduction of thyroid symptoms, a normalization of their thyroid ultrasound, and a reduction in inflammatory cells found in the thyroid.
For more info on the above research utilizing Wobenzym, please review the article here.
21. DHEA to Increase Stress Tolerance
Our body’s adrenal response is very tied to our immune health, and low levels of the hormone DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) may predispose some individuals to developing autoimmune diseases. Plus, chronic stress leads to a reduction in DHEA.
That’s why I have a lot of information on the topic of stress and adrenal support in my first book, Hashimoto’s Root Cause as well as an entire chapter on Adrenal Recovery Protocols in my book, Hashimoto’s Protocol.
Stress management techniques are helpful in supporting our adrenal stress response, as is supplementation. I have found that DHEA supplementation can be very helpful.
DHEA supplementation increases stress tolerance, lowers the cortisol/DHEA ratio, and protects against cortisol-induced cellular damage. It also has effects on the immune system, increasing Th1 and decreasing Th2 cell production. It may be an effective immune modulation strategy for reducing thyroid antibodies as well.
In one study, DHEA was given to women with premature ovarian failure and Hashimoto’s, and those taking the DHEA, showed a reduction of TPO and TG antibodies.
Please note, while this hormone is available without a prescription in the United States and some other countries, I always recommend using it under the supervision of a practitioner due to potential side effects (cystic acne galore) and contraindications (like a history of certain cancers).
I tried Anatabine for three months several years ago when I was in the middle of my root cause search, and it actually lowered my TPO antibodies by about 50 percent. (I didn’t have any more TG antibodies at the time).
Unfortunately, it was subsequently removed from the market, but I include it here in case it makes its way back. The manufacturer had been marketing it as a supplement but made drug like claims about the supplement, so they were disciplined by the Food and Drug Administration. The last I heard (as of 2014), the manufacturer was trying to make anatabine into a pharmaceutical.
This supplement could be a helpful tool in reducing inflammation and antibodies while searching for your root cause as to why your immune system is imbalanced. It is made from a naturally occurring alkaloid found in the Nightshade plant family (which oddly includes tobacco). Read the article here for the story about that, as well as other info regarding anatabine.
In a study conducted with euthyroid patients with Hashimoto’s, the results showed a statistically significant reduction in Thyroglobulin antibodies with the use of Anatabine. Fifty percent of patients reduced their antibodies by at least 25 points, while 25 percent reduced their TG antibodies by at least 100 points.
23. Vitamin D – An Easy Immunity Booster
If you live in a northern climate and don’t spend much time outside on a daily basis, you are at risk for Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency (due to lack of sun exposure, using sunscreen, or poor dietary intake) is associated with improper immune function.
Vitamin D deficiency is also more commonly found in people with Hashimoto’s. Sixty-eight percent of my readers with Hashimoto’s reported also being diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency—and this deficiency has been correlated with the presence of antithyroid antibodies.
One study found that 92 percent of Hashimoto’s patients were deficient in vitamin D, and another 2013 study found that low vitamin D levels were associated with higher thyroid antibodies and worse disease prognosis.
A more recent study showed that vitamin D supplementation reduced thyroid peroxidase antibody levels in patients with autoimmune thyroid disease.
Vitamin D supplements can improve our mood and can help us reduce thyroid antibodies. I’ve personally found that most of my clients who are in remission from Hashimoto’s keep their levels of vitamin D between 60-80 ng/ml.
You can read about vitamin D, and the benefits of sunshine, here.
24. IVIG – An Expensive Option… but Try Camel Milk!
IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin) therapy has been shown to suppress thyroid antibodies by using immune cells isolated from blood donations.
Unfortunately, it is prohibitively expensive, has a difficult route of administration, and may cause side effects. So, it is usually reserved for a serious condition called Hashimoto’s Encephalopathy, a life-threatening illness where thyroid antibodies attack the brain. Most of the research available on IVIG is related to Hashimoto’s Encephalopathy.
I do want to point out a “poor man’s IVIG”, though, and that is camel milk! It’s much easier to administer.
Camel milk also contains immunoglobulins that can modulate the immune system. You can read more about how camel milk may potentially reduce thyroid antibodies, here.
25. Plasmapheresis – Plasma Exchange
If you have Hashimoto’s, your plasma contains thyroid antibodies that attack your body’s immune system. A machine can be used to remove the affected plasma and replace it with healthy plasma or a plasma substitute. This is called plasmapheresis or plasma exchange.
Plasmapheresis is known to be effective at removing thyroid antibodies, but it is expensive and carries other risks with it. The benefits of this treatment are also temporary and are typically used in emergency situations (thyroid medication overdose, amiodarone-induced hyperthyroidism, Hashimoto’s encephalopathy, etc).
26. Plaquenil – Used in Many Autoimmune Diseases
Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) is a medication that was originally used to prevent or treat malaria. However, during World War II, it was found that this medication was also effective in treating the symptoms of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.
Thyroid dysfunction and antibodies have been frequently associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Plaquenil reduces lymphocytes, the production of auto-antibodies, immune mediators, cytokines, and NK cell activity; and inhibits antigens presenting to B cells, dendritic cells and monocytes.
In one study, treatment with plaquenil significantly decreased the DNA-hydrolyzing activity of thyroid antibodies. Patients with hypothyroidism have a higher level of DNA-hydrolyzing IgG antibodies. Usage of plaquenil resulted in a reduction in these antibodies, as well as improvements in thyroid hormone production and elevated functional activity of the thyroid gland. Plaquenil also improved the clinical state of the patients.
Plaquenil is currently in clinical trial relating to reducing thyroid antibodies, so I will update you all later on the findings.
Please note, this drug does have a lot of potential side effects including: irregular heartbeat, mental/mood changes (anxiety, depression, hallucinations), shortness of breath, blurred vision, arm/leg/back pain, fatigue, and chest discomfort. It may rarely cause serious eye problems, muscle/nerve damage, seizures, or serious allergic reactions. If you have diabetes, your doctor may need to adjust your diabetes medication.
27. Rituximab for Addressing Epstein-Barr Reactivations
Epstein-Barr (EBV) is a virus that initially causes mononucleosis (also known as “mono” or “glandular fever” in the UK), a debilitating viral infection that is common among college students and is known as the “kissing disease” because individuals are thought to be exposed to the virus through the saliva of those who are infected.
The Epstein-Barr virus creates a latent infection in the body where it lies dormant until the right time, when it reactivates and awakens. The reactivated virus has the potential to induce the production of thyroid antibodies and has been implicated in many debilitating autoimmune symptoms.
A 2015 Polish study found the Epstein-Barr virus in the thyroid cells of 80 percent of people with Hashimoto’s and 62.5 percent of people with Graves’, while controls did not have EBV present in their thyroid cells.
Rituximab (brand name Rituxan), is a medication used for rheumatoid arthritis and certain cancers. It may have positive effect on Hashimoto’s as well. A few research reports have suggested that this medication may also induce a remission of Hashimoto’s and Graves’ disease (including Graves’ associated eye disease), as well as an improvement in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which is often connected to EBV.
Please note that Rituximab is associated with very serious side effects that have resulted in death and disability, so again, it’s not my first choice! For more information on the Epstein-Barr Virus, please review this article.
Immune Suppression as a Strategy to Reduce Thyroid Antibodies
28. Corticosteroids for Immunosuppression
Prednisone and prednisolone are common corticosteroid drugs used for immunosuppression. Limited studies have been done relating to the use of steroids in extreme cases of Hashimoto’s encephalopathy, as well as one study relating to pregnant women going through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). IVF is the process by which an egg and sperm are manually combined in a laboratory dish after extraction of the egg and retrieval of the sperm sample.
In the IVF study, the presence of thyroid antibodies was associated with decreased rates of pregnancy and live birth, and the use of low dose prednisolone helped those women with thyroid antibodies have greater success when going through IVF. Generally, immune suppression steroids can reduce thyroid antibodies, but in my view, only for short-term. When you withdraw the steroid, the thyroid antibodies can flare back up again.
Nonetheless, it could be useful in certain cases.
Target Removal as a Strategy to Reduce Thyroid Antibodies
Having your thyroid surgically removed eliminates thyroid antibodies… as there is nothing left to attack. However, removing the thyroid does not remove the autoimmune disease. I’ve seen countless times when people have had their thyroid glands removed due to thyroid disease (most commonly Graves’, nodules and thyroid cancer, though occasionally Hashimoto’s as well).
I generally do not recommend this strategy for Hashimoto’s. There are so many other ways to feel better with it. In some cases, people with co-occurring Hashimoto’s and thyroid cancer may wish to follow this approach. Nonetheless, I still recommend working on all the other interventions mentioned above to prevent the progression of autoimmunity. Read my article about thyroidectomy for Hashimoto’s for more information.
30. Stem Cells – An Emerging Solution?
Stem cells have recently become a potential option for people with autoimmune disease. In stem cell treatments, one will receive an infusion of cells that can go to fix a damaged organ. In the case of Hashimoto’s, some have reported a reduction of thyroid antibodies and thyroid tissue regeneration. Please note, using donor stem cells may actually increase the risk of autoimmune disease, while using your own stem cells has been reported to help autoimmune disease.
In the future, I will write more about the possibilities relating to stem cell use.
Final Thoughts – You Can Reduce Your Antibodies!
I often receive messages from readers who say that they’ve tried everything and are hopeless. I want to let you know that there is a hope and that there are so many strategies that can help. I’ve highlighted just 30 of the 100+ strategies I’ve identified with my clients over the last few years.
As you can see, there are many interventions and corrective actions that you can currently take to reduce your thyroid antibodies and feel better. And there are other strategies that are still emerging. Some focus on root causes and others do not. I share strategies in my weekly newsletter, be sure to subscribe HERE.
If you have a genetic predisposition, close relatives with Hashimoto’s, and/or symptoms, consider starting by getting your thyroid antibodies tested. (Better yet, get the full thyroid panel.)
If you are just starting your Hashimoto’s journey, I suggest you begin at the top of this list, implementing some healthier dietary strategies and choices. Think in particular about food sensitivities. My 2015 survey consistently shows that dietary changes and the removal of food sensitivities can make people feel better, faster… and reduce their thyroid antibody levels.
Bump up your Vitamin D, remove fluoride, evaluate the non-thyroid related medications you take that may be affecting your thyroid, and look around to clean up your environment from endocrine disruptors.
Take one step at a time. The good news? Many of these steps will make you feel better very quickly!
Remember to check back with me on a regular basis to keep up-to-date on emerging research. Print off this info and discuss with your physician, too.
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