Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s) is the most common autoimmune disorder in the world affecting more than 10% of females and 2% of males causing hypothyroidism with fatigue, weight gain / difficulty losing weight, infertility, constipation, depression, anxiety and panic attacks, dry skin, dry hair, hair loss, swelling and more.
A study was completed on women in their 30‘s whose lab tests were showing a slowing of thyroid function because of Hashimoto’s but they were not yet bad enough to need medication – medically these patients are said to be ‘sub-clinically hypothyroid’ (Nordio & Pajalich, 2013). It’s important to acknowledge that whilst lab results may not have not declined enough to support medication the person could be experiencing the unpleasant symptoms of a slow thyroid (Davis & Tremont, 2007).
Often the thyroid slows over many years and from personal experience I know just how awful being sub-clinically hypothyroid can feel! Personally I thought I was a hypochondriac with an unconscious eating disorder when in my 30’s I experienced persistent weight gain, foggy brain, aching joints and profound tiredness. My doctor took a ‘watch and wait’ approach which I didn’t recognise until years later meant I was displaying the signs of early hypothyroidism with the lab tests to match but it was not yet bad enough to medicate.
The study tried a combination of nutrients, selenium and inositol, for 6 months with great results for these women with:
- reduced the antibody attack by the immune system on the thyroid – TPOAb decreased by 44% and TgAb decreased by 48%.
- improved thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels – 31%. TSH levels measures how much thyroid hormone the brain is telling the thyroid to make.
Plus the group reported feeling much better with a reduction in symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain/inability to lose weight, constipation, depression, anxiety etc
For me seeing that the patients reported feeling better means people getting their lives back! I am passionate about promoting the cause that people are not their lab test results.
So why is it significant that antibody attack was reduced? A study in 2012 found that the magnitude of the autoimmune attack influenced the quality of life of thyroid
patients. What this means is the larger the number of thyroid antibodies, the worse a person feels and the greater the negative impact on their ability to perform daily tasks (Watt, et al., 2012). So reducing antibody numbers may mean people feeling better.
And why is it important to improve TSH results? Medically it means staving off your need for medication or if you are on thyroid medication a reduced dosage (always in combination with your doctor). From my own experience with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism improving TSH levels gives a lovely boost of energy, relieves constipation and lifts mood!
So for those of you who are saying “show me the science”:
The study was published in the conservative medical publication, Journal of Thyroid Research. It was a double-blind randomised control trial over 6 months comparing the effects of:
- standard naturopathic treatment of selenium (in the form of selenomethionine)
- to combined treatment of selenium with inositol (in the form of myo-inositol).
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels
- Free T3 (active thyroid hormone – this is the stuff that makes you feel good!) and Free T4 (largely inactive thyroid hormone)
- Thyroid antibody levels: thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAb) and thyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb)
Patients were randomized into 2 groups with:
- Group A = 83 g selenomethionine/day
- Group B = 83 g selenomethionine and 600mg of myo-inositol
Thyroid Antibodies Results: At the end of the study whilst thyroid antibodies had reduced significantly in both groups:
- Group A (selenium only): TPOAb decreased by 42% and TgAb decreased by 38%.
- Group B (selenium + inositol): TPOAb decreased by 44% and TgAb decreased by 48%.
- Group A (selenium only): no change in the TSH level.
- Group B (selenium + inositol): TSH concentrations significantly decreased in combination treatment group by 31%!
How the Participants Felt:
- Subjective wellbeing evaluation revealed the Group B taking the combined treatment felt significantly more improvement in their wellbeing than group only taking selenium.
- So whilst both groups reduced their antibody levels only the combined treatment impacted on TSH. As well the combined treatment group felt significantly better than the selenium only group.
Is One Study Enough Evidence?
For me 1 study is not strong evidence. Ideally we need to see this study repeated a few more times with large numbers of people, placebo controlled as well as an investigation into if there are any side effects before we shout from the roof tops 🙂
But now I’ve said that I do want to share with you that there is already good evidence for the use of selenium in reducing thyroid antibodies in Hashimoto’s. (Toulis, et al., 2010). Plus we know that myo-inositol has a biological function in the thyroid in signaling TSH hormone (Nordio & Pajalich, 2013). And we also know that myo-inositol is beneficial in women with PCOS (Unfer, et al., 2012) which is a condition also commonly found with Hashimoto’s (Kachuei, et al., 2012).
If you’d like to discuss this study or how to feel better with either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or make an appointment at Mayfield Medical Connection (02) 4968 2157
Davis, J.D. & Tremont, G. (2007). Neuropsychiatric aspects of hypothyroidism and treatment reversibility. Minerva Endocrinology, 32(1), 49-65. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17353866
Kachuei, M., Jafari, F., Kachuei, A., & Keshteli, A. H. (2012). Prevalence of autoimmune thyroiditis in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 285(3), 853-856. doi: 10.1007/s00404-011-2040-5
Nordio, M., & Pajalich, R. (2013). Combined treatment with myo-Inositol and selenium ensures euthyroidism in subclinical hypothyroidism patients with autoimmune thyroiditis. Journal of Thyroid Research, 2013. Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/424163
Toulis, K. A., Anastasilakis, A. D., Tzellos, T. G., Goulis, D. G., & Kouvelas, D. (2010). Selenium supplementation in the treatment of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: A systematic review and a meta-analysis. Thyroid, 20(10), 1163-1173. doi:10.1089/thy.2009.0351.
Unfer, V., Carlomagno, G., Dante, G., & Facchinetti, F. (2012). Effects of myo-inositol in women with PCOS: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Gynecological Endocrinology, 28(7), 509-515. doi: 10.3109/09513590.2011.650660
Watt, T., Hegedüs, L., Bjorner, J. B., Groenvold, M., Bonnema, S. J., Rasmussen, Å. K., & Feldt-Rasmussen, U. (2012). Is thyroid autoimmunity per se a determinant of quality of life in patients with autoimmune hypothyroidism? European Thyroid Journal, 1(3), 186-192.doi: 10.1159/000342623