Is Giving UP Gluten REALLY Necessary for Hashimoto’s Patients, or Just Fad Hype?

Unless you are newly diagnosed, chances are you have heard a lot about the connection between eating gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, oats) and auto immune diseases like Hashimoto’s.

You also have probably heard from your doctor, online nutritionists, and many mainstream media outlets and late night talk show hosts saying it is a lot of BS, and that you actually NEED gluten to be healthy.

So Who Is Right?

And also, just how strict do I really need to be? Can’t I have a little cheat? What if I don’t have any gut symptoms?

To find out the answer, I searched through research articles on PubMed. I already knew my stance on the issue, but wanted to make sure there was current research that supported it.

The September 2015 edition of the journal Gastroenterology  found high “proportions of patients with NCWS or CD develop autoimmune disorders, are ANA positive, and showed DQ2/DQ8 haplotypes”. (note- NCWS is non-Celiac wheat sensitivity.)

In the March 2015 journal Cerebellumgluten was further linked to neurological disorders such as gluten ataxia, where there were no gut symptoms whatsoever, and occurred most commonly in patients with Hashimoto’s and other auto immune diseases. Check out this quote from the study:

“As with celiac disease, patients with GA (gluten ataxia) are often found to have an increased prevalence of additional autoimmune diseases the commonest of which include hypothyroidism, type 1 diabetes mellitus and pernicious anemia. Gastrointestinal symptoms are seldom prominent and are not a reliable indicator for the presence or absence of enteropathy. In this respect, gluten ataxia resembles dermatitis herpetiformis, an autoimmune dermatopathy triggered by gluten where gastrointestinal symptoms are not prominent even in the presence of an enteropathy.” (parenthesis and bold added by me for emphasis and clarification)

Wow. That is pretty powerful. How many of you with brain symptoms has ever had your doctor consider a possible gluten connection?

Did you know that a study from 3 years ago showed an increased need for T4 in patients with atypical Celiac disease?

How about that the need for increased T4 dosage reversed when the patient adopted a gluten free diet?

This study was in the March 2012 journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Have you ever had your endocrinologist consider that this may be another reason your T4 is not working as it should, or did they ridicule you when you asked about it?

As far back as 1999, the Italian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology   concluded the following:

The prevalence of coeliac disease in patients with autoimmune thyroid diseases is significantly increased when compared with the general population (p = 0.009) but not with patients affected by non autoimmune thyroid disorders (p = 0.18). We suggest a serological screening for coeliac disease in all patients with autoimmune thyroid disease measuring anti-endomysial antibodies, considering that early detection and treatment of coeliac disease are effective in preventing its complications.”

I could go on and on with studies that show the connection between gluten reactions, both non-celiac and celiac, and auto immune diseases, but it would quickly turn into a book.

The 2013 study in the journal Brain and Nerve by Yoneda even showed connections between Hashimoto’s encephalitis and gluten ataxia, which caused not only thyroid symptoms but neurological symptoms.  Thus gluten intake actually triggered not only reactions in the thyroid but also the brain.

Ok, so there IS a connection, but can’t I have an occasional cheat?

I remember talking to my friend Dr Datis Kharrazian about this. My wife had gotten seriously ill from her thyroid and mine was wreaking havoc on my life as well.

He asked if we were gluten free. I told him “mostly, like 95%.”

His response was that there was no such thing as mostly gluten free…just like you could not be mostly pregnant…you either ARE or ARE NOT…

It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but it was what I needed to hear. He then told me something that the immunologists at Cyrex Labs confirmed when I had a consultation with one of their top doctors.

Just ONE exposure to gluten, one little bite of a “cheat”, could trigger an immune flare up that lasts 6 months to one year.

One year…that is HUGE.

I highly recommend that you go onto www.PubMed.org and search for yourself. The number of research studies is mind boggling.

Also check out www.CyrexLabs.com to read about the cutting edge tests that they are running for food reactions, environmental toxins, chemicals, metals, etc.

I hope this gives you some helpful info, and be sure to talk this over with your functional medicine or functional neurology practitioner for customized help.

You can follow me @drkirkgair or www.Facebook.com/ThyroidInfo

 

Could Cold Laser Be The Next Big Thing In Helping Thyroid Patients?

A lot has been written about the connections between Hashimoto’s and gluten, environmental toxins, leaky gut, etc. However, very little has been discussed about the potential use for Cold Laser therapy, even though several recent research studies found some promising results.

Hashimoto’s antibodies can lead to destruction of thyroid tissue, which can result not only in the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, but also changes in thyroid appearance on ultrasound, and the presence of abnormal blood markers.

Currently, most traditional medical treatments aim to control the symptoms or get the TSH and T4 into the medical normal range while often ignoring the underlying root causes and the destruction that occurs in the gland.

The exciting thing about these studies on lasers and their effects on the thyroid is that they appear to not only trigger tissue regeneration, they also seem to help normalize function and decrease the need for medications, without any side effects.

The most recent study comes out of the July 2015 edition of the journal Photochemistry and Photobiology.  In this study, the thyroid glands of rats were damaged with gamma radiation, and then were treated with low level laser of 632 nanometers for 6 sessions. The study concluded that the laser improved the rats thyroid function, liver function, antioxidant levels, and blood cell markers. No side effects were noted. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25975382 

The August 2014 edition of the journal Photomedicine and Laser Surgery found that cold laser treatment to patients with autoimmune thyroid disease significantly increased levels of transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1). (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25101534) Why is this important? The August 1991 edition of the Journal of Autoimmunity found that TGF-β1 could calm down and suppress auto immune attacks, and that it may even prove helpful in causing remission of Graves disease. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1777015)

Patients with autoimmune thyroid disease often have altered blood flow within the thyroid. The 2012 journal ISRN Endocrinology found that 10 laser treatments improved blood flow within the thyroid, as visualized with Dopplar ultrasound. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23316383)

But perhaps the most exciting study I came across was in the August 2010 journal Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. Patients were given 10 treatments over 5 weeks. They found that all patients needed less thyroid medication, including 47% who did not require any medication through the 9-month follow-up. Can you imagine being able to go 9 months without needing thyroid medication?

Furthermore, the medication dosage needed in the other participants decreased, and remained decreased even 9 months later. TPOAb (thyroid antibody) levels also decreased,  and thyroid tissue appearance improved on ultrasound. This means that thyroid tissue damaged by auto immune attacks was actually getting repaired with laser stimulation. Again, no side effects were noted. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20662037)

These are just a few of the exciting studies that support the use of lasers in thyroid disease, but the applications go even beyond just the thyroid. As far back as December 1993, there was a far reaching study from Japan in the Keio Journal of Medicine that found that laser therapy on cancer cells “inhibits growth and increases cell-specific destruction”, and that “other immune system-related diseases, such as atopic dermatitis, some forms of eczema, asthma and asthma-related ulceration, have responded well to” laser therapy. I found numerous other studies that also suggested that cold laser was effective even for helping with thyroid cancers. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8126975)

So let’s review what these studies found. Cold laser therapy was shown to:

  1. Reduce TPO antibody levels
  2. Reduce the need for T4 medications in a majority of patients, even 9 months after treatment, and eliminate the need in nearly half the patients in one study
  3. Increase the amount of cellular antioxidants such as glutathione
  4. Improve thyroid tissue and vascularization on ultrasound examination
  5. Increase levels of transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), which calms down the auto immune activity and may have the potential to cause remission of Graves’ disease
  6. Decrease the activity of inflammatory molecules such as nuclear factor kappa beta and interleukin 6
  7. Stimulate the repair of tissue damaged by the thyroid auto immune attack
  8. Have no side effects

These are all pretty powerful findings. I was surprised to find the data going back over 20 years supporting cold laser’s use on auto immune diseases, considering that most of us have never heard about it in mainstream media or from our doctors.

Obviously more studies are needed, but the current research suggests that lasers may provide significant help for the growing numbers of auto immune thyroid patients out there. Have any of you out there tried this therapy or heard about it from your doctor? If you have, please comment with what your results have been.

Please check out my facebook page at www.Facebook.com/ThyroidInfo, or follow me on twitter @drkirkgair.

This information is for informational purposes only and should not replace the diagnosis and treatment of your qualified healthcare professional. Do not undertake using a laser on yourself without proper evaluation and supervision of a licensed healthcare provider. As always, Dr Gair recommends that you seek the help of a healthcare professional trained in functional medicine and following their advice.

Anxiety? Panic Attacks? Depression? Recent Studies Showed Cold Laser Helped Patients and Had No Side Effects

So many patients come into my office complaining of “Panic Attacks”, “Anxiety”, “Depression.” For Hashimoto’s patients, these are very common to experience, and they can be extremely frustrating to manage.

Obviously optimizing thyroid function and making sure you have adequate free T3 and T3 uptake should be addressed in all depression patients. Also with panic attacks you should seek the help of a qualified psychologist and also rule out neurological problems or cardiac causes.

However, there are several recent studies that have shown Cold Laser, also known as low level laser or photobiomodulation, to be beneficial for not only mood and anxiety but also overall brain function.

In the 2009 edition of the journal Behavioral and Brain functions, they found that just 1 treatment with a cold laser to both sides of the head reduced depression and anxiety for several weeks.

“We gave one 8-minute treatment with NIR-PBM (cold laser) to 10 patients with major depression, including 7 with a history of substance abuse (6 with a past history of opiate abuse and one with a past history of alcoholism), and 9 with an anxiety disorder, including 3 with PTSD. We found significant reductions in both mean HAM-D (depression measurements) and HAM-A (anxiety measurements) rating at 2 and 4 weeks following treatment. At 2-weeks post treatment 6 of 10 of patients had a remission (a score ≤ 10) on the HAM-D and 7 of 10 on the HAM-A. We observed no side effects.” (parenthesis added by me for clarification)

Here is the link to that article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2796659/?report=reader

This is pretty exciting news, especially when you consider the other studies I have been writing about on my facebook page, www.Facebook.com/ThyroidInfo, that have shown that cold laser can increase serotonin levels in the brain, decrease inflammation, stimulate the formation of new brain cells, modulate the activity of glial cells, and even decrease thyroid antibody levels and normalize thyroid tissue on ultrasound.

So what does this mean for you? Well, the good news is that cold laser is something you can try that is inexpensive and has no side effects and may be able to help with these conditions. The bad news is that, although lasers have been around for over 40 years, they are still relatively in their infancy in Western Medicine.

I have been using them for over 11 years, but patients may find it challenging to find a well trained provider who knows how to use the laser properly.  A good resource to find one near you can be found at www.Erchonia.com. You can use their zip code search engine. Still, be sure to question the doctor to see if they are aware of this info and have completed training.