Of all the auto immune and endocrine disorders combined, the most common one I’ve seen is hypothyroid, and usually it is the auto immune variety known as Hashimoto Disease. Common symptoms include hair falling out, fatigue upon waking that does not improve as day goes on, weight gain, feeling cold all over, and headaches. These are the most common symptoms but there are others.
Auto immunity is difficult to catch right away. It is more commonly seen in women, and it is unclear whether this is simply because women report more of the symptoms, or because of the link with estrogen. Some theories for the causes are estrogen dominance, latent viral illness, adrenal gland weakness, and heredity. Estrogen can bind some thyroid hormone, making it unavailable to conversion.
Whatever the cause, it is also true that immune conditions often get triggered by stress — and this can be good stress or bad stress. Pregnancy, for example, is linked to a switch in immune cell regulation. But so is trauma, relationship or work stress, as well as so many life events that can just pull us into chaos.
Acupuncture and herbal medicine are very effective at managing immune cell regulation. Specific herbs that pull inflammation out of the tissues have been shown to be more effective than anti inflammatory drugs. Acupuncture has a regulating action on hormones due to its ability to balance the 2 nervous systems (sympathetic and parasympathetic). Especially in the case of auto immunity, a strategy is required to address the stages of hyper function and hypo function – as treating these incorrectly can make things worse.
I am now able to test thyroid hormones for my patients and I have also completed functional medicine training which allows me to prescribe nutrition, vitamins, supplements, and herbs. It is very important to understand not only thyroid, but how this can affect or is affected by other endocrine functioning, including adrenals, estrogen, and testosterone.