The Link Between Hashimoto's & H. Pylori
While some people feel better after removing the common foods that are disruptive to Hashimoto’s such as gluten and dairy; this only partially alleviates symptoms that are still lurking “underneath the thyroid’s surface”. You may initially feel better, and your thyroid antibodies may drop to acceptable ranges, but inevitably what happens is that their health problems begin creeping back in. All of a sudden they notice that they become sensitive to nuts, fruits and eggs, and other healthier foods, even though they may be on a Paleo or Keto diet; which they initially started because they found out they were sensitive to dairy and gluten. Their symptoms returned because their gut was still harboring “bugs” that were unwilling to let go of their warm and comfy home, even though they weren’t being fed their favorite foods any longer.
Which Bug Offends the Thyroid Most?
It’s known as Helicobacter pylori (H.Pylori) which is connected to both Hashimoto’s and Graves’ disease and can even cause a new onset food sensitivities. We know that the three-legged stool of autoimmunity consists of the genetic predisposition, the triggers, and the leaky gut. All three are required to be present for the autoimmune condition to manifest. Eliminating the triggers and addressing the leaky gut is key to getting autoimmune thyroid disease in remission
Where Can Infections Live?
Infections can live in your gums, your sinuses, your thyroid gland, your stomach, your intestines, and anywhere in your body. These infections can contribute to the development of autoimmunity through various mechanisms, depending on where they decide to take up residence. The infections that live in the gut (such as H. Pylori), gums or sinuses can also contribute to intestinal permeability directly.
Getting to Know H. Pylori
H. Pylori is a 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. This bacterium can trigger an immune response and has been implicated in numerous autoimmune conditions, including Hashimoto’s. H. pylori has been implicated in ulcers and can contribute to low stomach acid, leading people to improperly digest their foods. In turn, the poorly digested foods are not broken down properly, and thus the person ends up with multiple food sensitivities as a result of this infection. Here’s an important point I want to make sure hits home: only a small percent, perhaps 5-10% of those infected will develop an ulcer with H. pylori. Others may have acid reflux, while as many as 50% may be asymptomatic! And, antibodies produced in response to H. pylori can cross-react with many normal tissue antigens, such as gut cells and even thyroid tissue. Meaning your thyroid is under constant attack if you are harboring H. Pylori in your gut!
Testing for H. Pylori
These are the top 3 methods as to which H. Pylori can be tested:
*Breath test – this will be positive only in severe cases.
*Blood test – these differentiate between past and current infections, so it leaves a large area of discrepancy when it comes to treatment and current diagnosis.
*Stool antigen test – I prefer this test which can uncover many low-grade infections as well.
When considering how to treat your autoimmune thyroid condition, please remember that it’s not just about treating the thyroid, but what has caused your thyroid to become imbalanced in the first place. My Naturopathic approach is to treat the root cause and in Hashimoto’s it usually involves healing the gut, removing toxins, and balancing hormones. They’re all linked.