Our bodies are geared towards balance, or homeostasis. Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) represents a condition where our bodies are significantly out of balance. A holistic approach examines all of the body’s systems, as abnormal functioning of one or more of these body systems can contribute to FMS. A vital organ whose function should be further evaluated in anyone with FMS is the thyroid gland.
Millions of Americans are affected with a condition called hypothyroidism, which is an under-functioning of the thyroid gland. The most common cause of an under-functioning thyroid gland is due to a condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This autoimmune condition most commonly seen in women causes antibodies to be produced that can destroy the thyroid gland over time. In particular Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is associated with certain antibody tests as measured on blood work, including anti-thyroid peroxidase antibodies (anti-TPO) and anti- thyroglobulin antibodies. Research suggests that these antibody tests – if positive – can increase the risk of developing other inflammatory conditions, especially FMS.
In one study, forty six people that were diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis also tested positive for these antibodies. Of those approximately sixty percent of them were also diagnosed as having Fibromyalgia syndrome. What can we deduce from this study? If you are diagnosed with fibromyalgia syndrome, strongly consider having your thyroid function tests checked, and insist on having the above antibody tests checked. The data suggests that you may be at higher risk of developing FMS.
What can you do to optimize your thyroid function? First, be sure that you include iodine in your diet. As a nation, it is likely that millions of us are iodine deficient. Iodine is crucial for optimal thyroid function. Another trace mineral that you need to incorporate into your treatment regimen is Selenium. Both are important for optimal thyroid function.
In addition, if you are diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroid disease, especially if the above antibody tests are positive, also consider eliminating gluten from your diet. There is a connection between gluten and autoimmune thyroid disease. In one study, a random group previously diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis underwent biopsy of their small intestine to evaluate for possible gluten sensitivity. Approximately fifty percent of those who underwent biopsies demonstrated increased activity of their immune system which was attributed to be due to gluten. In another study from the Netherlands, the authors established a connection with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and celiac disease and recommended screening those diagnosed with autoimmune thyroid disease for celiac disease.
The holistic treatment of fibromyalgia should not just be geared towards the mitigation of symptoms. We must remind ourselves that our body is interconnected and the goal of healing becomes of restoration of our whole body back into balance. As this article points out, a close look at the thyroid is important.
by Dr. Rich Snyder, DO
- Bazzichi L, Rossi A et al. “Association between thyroid autoimmunity and fibromyalgic disease severity.” Clinical Rheumatology. 2007 Dec;26(12):2115-20.
- Hadithi M, deBoer H et al. “Coeliac disease in Dutch patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and vice versa.” World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2007 Mar 21;13(11):1715-22.
- Tagoe CE, Zezon et al. “Rheumatic manifestations of euthyroid, anti-thyroid antibody-positive patients.” Rheumatology International 2013 Jan 5 (Electronic Publication).
- Valentino R, Savastano S et al. “Markers of potential coeliac disease in patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.”European Journal of Endocrinology 2002 Apr;146(4):479-83.
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