Whenever I start working with a new client, I want to know their medical history — just like a doctor at a doctor’s office — because I’m looking for a few specific things like infections or parasites.
Scientists are discovering that parasites and untreated infections, including candida, Epstein-Barr virus, and Lyme disease, can be contributors or even the initiators of thyroid disease.
Let’s look at each condition individually and discuss what to do to heal:
If you’ve heard of Lyme disease before, you probably associate it with ticks. That’s because the bacteria that causes Lyme disease is often transferred to humans through tick bites. It’s found throughout the world and in the U.S. alone, it is estimated that more than 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year.
Many people get Lyme disease from the nymph or baby form of the tick, which is about the size of a poppy seed. Because the insect is so small, the bite is often painless and goes unnoticed.
Lyme disease is often called “the great imitator,” because its symptoms can mimic many other diseases, and it can be very difficult to diagnose. Patients are often misdiagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and even depression.
The difficulty in diagnosing the disease can lead it to go untreated for quite a while, and if it’s hard to diagnose, chronic lyme disease is even harder to treat.
Early Lyme disease symptoms may look like a flu-like illness (fever, chills, sweats, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea and joint pain). And while a rash shaped like a bull’s-eye is considered characteristic of Lyme disease, many people develop a different kind of Lyme rash or none at all. In fact, estimates suggest that anywhere between 30 and 80 percent of those infected never get a rash.
How lyme disease and thyroid disease are related
The longer lyme disease goes untreated, the more it spreads. It can infect every organ and system of the body. More importantly to this discussion, lyme disease can cause what’s known as a molecular mimicry autoimmune response.
In short, the lyme bacteria looks like thyroid tissue to the body’s immune system, and as the immune system works all out over time to eradicate the infection, it also begins to attack the thyroid. This autoimmune responses is thought to be one possible root cause of Hashimoto’s and other autoimmune thyroid conditions.
Fortunately, some research shows that once the infection is removed, the immune system calms down and slows or stops attacking the thyroid. That means it’s vital for thyroid healing to determine if you have an underlying infection, like lyme disease, and to treat it properly.
How to diagnose and treat lyme disease
As with almost everything regarding our thyroid health, the first step is to get more information and a clear diagnosis.
If you suspect you may have an underlying chronic lyme disease infection, you will first need to get tested. You can start with this free lyme disease quiz which helps predict the likelihood of an infection. Take your results with you to discuss with your doctor.
Your doctor can order a simple blood test to look for lyme disease, or you can get the test for yourself at a lab like this one.
Once you have a positive diagnosis, it’s important to work with a doctor who has experience treating chronic lyme disease. It’s difficult to treat, and doesn’t necessarily respond to the same treatments that early lyme disease might respond to.
You can also take your health into your own hands in partnership with your health team. Check out this great free video series on treating lyme disease to start.
You might also consider the Klinghardt Protocol at home, which starts by reducing your toxic burden and healthy diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes that are consistent with healing your thyroid as well.
How to prevent lyme disease
As you can see, lyme disease isn’t just the inconvenience of a tick bite; it’s a serious disease that can cause lasting effects and medical problems, so if possible, we want to prevent it for ourselves and our children.
Start by nourishing yourself to stay healthy. A little TLC goes a long way, not just for treating your thyroid.
Build up your body and your immunity with a healthy diet, stress reduction, and fewer toxins in your life, and your natural immune response will be stronger and better able to fight off infection.
Next, use a natural tick spray whenever you’re out in the woods or in areas with tall grasses:
- Fill spray bottle half full with distilled or boiled water (I used this one at home and this one in the little guy’s camp backpack)
- Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top.
- Add 10 drops of each essential oil: Rosemary, Clove, Cajeput, Lavender, Cinnamon, and Eucalyptus. This is the brand of oils I use for myself and my family.
Thankfully, both lyme disease and autoimmune thyroid disease are treatable, and I’ve seen many clients successfully treat and heal both and get back their body and their life!
If you have or suspect you may have a chronic Lyme infection, I highly recommend you check out this free lyme disease healing video series! It offers so much about Lyme disease and how to fight it naturally.
Infections can trigger autoimmune problems through what’s known as molecular mimicry.
Basically, it means that the microbe causing your infection — a virus or bacteria — looks like your own body tissue to your immune system.
Because it’s working so hard to fight the active infection, the immune system attacks anything that “looks” like infection, including your body’s own tissues, like your thyroid gland.
One of the most common infections linked to Hashimoto’s and autoimmune thyroiditis is the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV). Epstein-Barr is part of the herpes virus family and causes mononucleosis — commonly known as mono.
For most people who get EBV, the immune system fights it off, and then they develop a lifelong immunity to the virus, like with chicken pox.
But for a small percentage of the population, the virus hides in the thyroid gland, remaining active long after symptoms have subsided, and can eventually cause autoimmune problems as the immune system continues to attack, and attack, and attack.
Can treating EBV treat Hashimoto’s?
As you know, I’m a big believer that we must find and treat the underlying causes of our thyroid problems, rather than just attempting to mitigate the symptoms.
EBV is easily detected with a blood test, and if the virus is still active in your system, it means that your immune system is still actively trying to destroy it — and your thyroid.
If you do have active EBV, then a logical first step is to cure the infection to help slow down the autoimmune response. Of course, you should always work with a health professional before adding supplements to your routine, but supplements that fight EBV include vitamin C, selenium, Reishi mushroom extract, curcumin, and Zinc.
Talk to your doctor about EBV
If you have Hashimoto’s or thyroid and other autoimmune conditions, it’s worth requesting a blood test for EBV from your doctor or ordering a blood test yourself. Only when we have all the information can we approach our healing at the root causes.
Any one of these triggers could easily go undetected or misdiagnosed in the course of regular doctor’s visits; they require specific testing to uncover. In other words, your doctor has to be looking for these problems if he wants to find them.
Several years ago, research started popping up about the connection between thyroid disorders and H. Pylori.
At the time, I was overwhelmed with just getting through the day with Hashimoto’s and was doing all I could do to support my body at the foundational level.
I kept this information in my back pocket as something a person should investigate if they aren’t finding healing after taking all the necessary steps to live and eat in a nourished way.
Flash forward to this winter – my family got hit with some crazy stomach bug and after my intestines were literally emptied by this thing, I found myself dealing with a bout of major constipation. Have you ever dealt with constipation for 17 days? I did. And, I wanted to die – it was so uncomfortable and I wasn’t sure why nothing I did to alleviate it would work. So, I got in with my doc who suggested we test for a host of yeasts of bacteria including H. Pylori.
While my test came back negative for H.Pylori, it did show another little invader had come to live and grow in my intestines. So, we’re dealing with that but what’s more common, is for there to be H. Pylori – as usual, there’s nothing common about me!
So, let’s look at H. Pylori, which is something many people with thyroid imbalance are also dealing with.
What is H. Pylori?
Helicobacter Pylori is a bacterial infection that causes ulcers. The reason it’s associated with autoimmune diseases is because of a theory called molecular mimicry. The theory suggests that some bacteria have evolved to look like other cells in our body to the immune system.
The most well-known instance of molecular mimicry is Streptococcus pyogenes—the bacteria that causes strep throat. If strep throat goes untreated, it can turn into rheumatic fever, because the body’s immune system starts to attack the cells of the heart valves—which, to it, look like Strep.
So, it’s suggested that because H. Pylori looks like other cells in your body, it can actually trigger (or aggravate) autoimmune thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s, and Grave’s disease
H. Pylori is easy to get, too. Most transmissions occur orally, and children are most susceptible to it—but if you give them a kiss after they’ve got it, you’ve got it too. You can also contract it from contaminated dental equipment, contaminated water and food, and even animals.
And, it’s incredibly common. One study put the infection rate in industrialized countries at 20–50%! Many of the symptoms are common digestive troubles including heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux, and ulcers.
How to test for and treat H. Pylori
While H. Pylori is a stubborn infection to treat, it’s relatively easy to test for. Your doctor can order a blood test, stool test, or even a breath test to check for H. Pylori. You can also order your own tests from reputable labs if necessary.
I did a stool test.
My doc finds that running a stool test and sending it to two different labs is best for finding out what’s living in your gut. He explained that each lab is good at picking up different types of organisms and unfortunately, there isn’t a lab that is great at giving one comprehensive set of results. Argh. But, it was well worth getting the tests done for sure.
Once you determine that you do have an H. Pylori infection, treatment can be intense. Western medicine will prescribe a course of two or more antibiotics, plus a proton pump inhibitor, as well as good old Pepto Bismol. *wide eyes*
If you decide to treat with antibiotics, be sure to also take a probiotic that can survive alongside the antibiotics in order to help balance out your gut.
Many standard probiotics can’t withstand any antibiotic and sometimes confound the treatment. Work with a health coach or functional practitioner to create a supportive plan for your gut during treatment.
Here is a list of suggestions from my doctor: (as always, check with your personal physician to make sure any supplements recommended are safe for your body and unique needs)
- Oregano Oil
- Licorice Root
- Aloe Vera Juice (this is my favorite brand!)
Combined with an anti-inflammatory diet, these supplements can help eliminate infection. But whatever protocol you choose to follow, be aware that your entire family should be tested and treated for H. Pylori, because the risk of reinfection is high.
It’s quite common for people with thyroid conditions to have parasitic infections, and this can create a host of confusing and challenging symptoms.
A weakened immune system, poor hygiene, poor sanitation or raw foods that haven’t been cooked or cleaned properly can cause a parasite infection.
By far, one of the most thorough articles I’ve read on the topic as it applies to the thyroid sufferer is by Dr. Eric Osansky.
In his article, he discusses the most common types of parasites and what you can do to rid yourself of them. Check out Dr. Eric Osansky’s article here ->
And if you’re already diagnosed and looking for a good parasite cleanse, I recommend this one. BUT make sure you speak with your doctor first to make sure this cleanse is safe for you and your unique needs.
The good news is that once diagnosed properly, many of these infections and viruses can be addressed with simple herbal and supplemental protocols.
Ok, whew! I know that was a long one but sooooo important. Stay tuned for our next coaching session where we end food confusion for good!