6 Root Causes of Hashimoto’s - Reversing Thyroid Autoimmunity

6 Root Causes of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – The Triggers of Thyroid Autoimmunity

The Importance of Finding Your Root Cause

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The idea of finding the root cause of your medical conditions is very appealing to many patients. 

After all, if you can find the thing that CAUSED your condition wouldn’t it then be possible to treat that problem and reverse your disease?

Well, yes and no. 

This idea is the idea behind finding the root cause of your specific case of Hashimoto’s. 

What you may not realize is that each person with Hashimoto’s has a slightly different disease state. 

What caused your condition may be different from what caused someone else’s Hashimoto’s. 

And that’s not all that is different. 

The severity of your disease is different, how you respond to various treatments will be different, how the disease manifests will be different, and so on. 

With this in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that there are many different diverse triggers of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. 

And, as an extension of this, we would expect that the treatments and therapies that work for one person may not work for another

This is exactly why you should care about the root cause of your Hashimoto’s. 

By finding the root cause you may be able to potentially reverse that condition and either put your disease into remission or halt its progression. 

Before we go further I should point out a big flaw in the theory of finding your root cause. 

The big flaw is that it doesn’t always work and that it’s not always possible to identify your root cause with 100% certainty. 

As you will soon find out, there are many potential triggers of Hashimoto’s and often people experience one or more triggers. 

If there are competing triggers then how do you know which caused the problem?

You can’t know for sure. 

Having said all of this, it’s still worth looking into your root cause for one important reason:

Your doctor won’t.

So as a patient with Hashimoto’s, your treatment options include taking levothyroxine for the rest of your life while your own body destroys your thyroid gland or at least attempting to treat the problem using various other treatments. 

I hope you choose the latter!


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6 Root Causes of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (These conditions CAUSE Hashimoto’s)

Let me point out a few important things here before we talk about the triggers:

The first is that we don’t actually know for sure what causes or triggers Hashimoto’s. 

We have a lot of evidence and scientific studies which suggest certain things can cause Hashimoto’s but we don’t know for sure. 

Having said that, I can tell you from experience that by focusing on these areas most people will see some improvement in their disease state. 

This improvement may be seen as a decrease in thyroid antibodies, a decrease in inflammation in the body, or an improvement in how you feel day to day. 

If you are someone who wants to wait for “concrete” data or science then you will probably be left sitting there twiddling your thumbs for quite a while. 

The reason is simple:

From the perspective of the scientific community, there isn’t a big rush to try and “figure” out Hashimoto’s. 

Doctors and researchers believe that autoimmune diseases can’t be treated and that by taking levothyroxine you’ve effectively solved the problem. 

If this doesn’t sit well with you, though, and you don’t want to sit by and watch your own body destroy your thyroid gland, let’s talk about some potential triggers of Hashimoto’s: 

#1. Stress (emotional, physical, and/or social)

The first is that of stress. 

Stress, in my opinion, is probably the single most important trigger of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. 

And by stress, I am referring to all types of stress. 

The most prominent include:

  • Emotional stress – This type of stress stems from issues such as the inability to draw clear boundaries in your life or stress from the impact of relationships. 
  • Physical stress – Physical stress includes things like exercise, trauma or accidents, intense workouts, and so on. 
  • Social stress – Social stress tends to be more mental in origin and can stem from anything that you perceive as pressure. This may include things like issues with your work environment and so on.

What’s very clear is that stress can have both a positive and negative impact on our bodies. 

It can be good if it’s applied in a measured and calculated way. 

But once you tip the scales and it becomes too much for the body, the consequences are profound. 

My experience suggests that major life events can have a dramatic impact on your health and can trigger the onset of all sorts of diseases including Hashimoto’s and other autoimmune diseases. 

Unfortunately, even if you find out that stress did, in fact, cause your Hashimoto’s, it’s one of those triggers that treating it may not reverse your condition. 

Let’s examine this further:

Imagine you are someone who developed Hashimoto’s after some stressful event in your life, say a divorce or a loss of a loved one. 

Knowing this doesn’t really help you because you can’t go back in time to undo the effects of this incidence. 

Whatever happened to your body triggered genetic changes which caused the manifestation of Hashimoto’s. 

Does this mean hope is lost?

Not at all. There are still things that you can do to increase how well your body TOLERATES stress but it’s unlikely that you will be able to completely eliminate stress from your life, especially in all of its forms. 

But if you believe that stress did trigger Hashimoto’s in your body then focusing on things like meditation and the use of adrenal supplements is a great option. 

Repeated bouts of stress can also cause flare ups in your Hashimoto’s

Time and time again I’ve seen people who develop Hashimoto’s due to something like divorce and then experience flare ups down the line as other stressful events occur. 

#2. EBV Viral infection

Another common trigger of Hashimoto’s (and other autoimmune diseases) is a virus known as EBV. 

EBV stands for Epstein Barr virus but you may know it as mono or infectious mononucleosis. 

The EBV virus is part of the herpes virus family and EBV especially is known to cause issues in the immune system (1). 

The EBV virus is particularly good at evading your immune system and once you get this viral infection it stays with you for life. 

The initial disease state is usually fairly mild and manifests similarly to that of strep throat. 

But once your body gets the virus under control it goes back and hides in your cells where it can come out again during times of stress or when the immune system is weakened. 

It’s sort of similar to chickenpox. 

Once you get chickenpox you are immune from getting chickenpox again but during stressful times in your life, the same virus can rear its ugly head and manifest as shingles. 

EBV doesn’t act in the same way but it is similar. 

Another problem with EBV is that not everyone who has the disease will develop Hashimoto’s and not everyone with Hashimoto’s will have been exposed to EBV. 

We know, though, that certain people seem to be more sensitive to the effects of EBV than others. 

And it’s probably these people who have an issue with it. 

Most people who are exposed to EBV have no problem getting the infection under control and never see or hear from the virus again. 

Others have a much more difficult time. 

These people may have a low grade EBV infection that sort of sticks around and causes issues as the virus smolders on in the background. 

Treating the EBV virus, in this case, can potentially have a positive impact on Hashimoto’s.

EBV can be treated with a combination of prescription antiviral medications or with over the counter antivirals.

I’ve seen variable success in treating EBV among Hashimoto’s patients. 

Sometimes the result is great and I see a huge improvement and other times it doesn’t seem to matter much at all. 

Testing for the EBV infection can also be tricky. 

Standard tests typically just tell you if you’ve been exposed to the virus but they don’t tell you WHEN it happened. 

And since up to 70-80% of people will be exposed to the virus at some point in their life, it can be hard to know when you were first exposed. 

Certain EBV viral titers can be used to tell you if you have a subacute infection, though, and these can be useful in certain situations. 

#3. H. Pylori bacterial infection

Other infections also have the potential to trigger Hashimoto’s but this one is a bacteria. 

EBV, a virus, is known to cause issues with the immune system, and a similar process can occur via certain bacterial infections. 

H. Pylori is one of those. 

H. Pylori is short for helicobacter pylori which is a bacteria sets that can set up residence in your stomach. 

H. Pylori is well known by the scientific community because it causes stomach ulcers. 

This bacteria prefers to live in a low stomach acid environment so anything that you are doing to your body to reduce the acidity in your stomach may create a breeding ground for this bacteria to thrive. 

Once an infection has taken root, this bacteria gets into your stomach lining and causes inflammation in the stomach wall. 

This inflammation is probably why infections with H. pylori increase your risk of developing certain types of stomach cancer (2). 

But in addition, and more relevant to our discussion is that an infection with H. Pylori also causes issues with the immune system. 

Infections with H. Pylori have been implicated in triggering Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and may also be associated with Hashimoto’s flare ups as well. 

It is estimated that up to 50% of the world’s population has been infected with this bacterium!

And your risk of developing this type of infection increases as you take drugs and therapies which lower your stomach acid. 

Even over the counter medications such as acid blockers can do this. 

And because thyroid patients tend to experience issues with low stomach acid due to their thyroid, you are already at an increased risk for developing this infection just because you have a thyroid problem. 

H. Pylori is similar but different to an infection with EBV. Yes, both pathogens cause issues with immune function but the primary difference between them is that it is possible to completely eradicate an H. Pylori infection. 

It can be somewhat difficult to completely eradicate an H. Pylori infection so the use of multiple antibiotics and other therapies are typically necessary. 

The good news, though, is that you can completely eradicate it. 

And the eradication of this infectious pathogen may help treat your Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. 

For this reason, it’s a very good idea to check for H. Pylori infection if you have Hashimoto’s. 

This is especially true if you are experiencing any sort of intestinal issue such as acid reflux or if you have taken acid blocking medications in the past. 

There are simple ways to test for H. Pylori including a breath test as well as a blood test (3) (though they differ in their ability to diagnose active vs old infections). 

Lastly, you should be aware that even if you eradicate an H. Pylori infection in the past it may recur throughout your life. 

This recurrence may be a source of flare ups and increased antibody production in certain patients with Hashimoto’s!

So if you have ever been treated for H. Pylori make sure you keep it in the back of your mind that it may recur and cause issues down the road. 

#4. Nutrient Deficiencies

You probably already know that nutrient levels play an important role in how your body functions. 

I’ve included nutrient deficiencies here not because I think that they directly cause Hashimoto’s thyroiditis but instead because they create an environment that makes you more susceptible to various other triggers. 

As an example, imagine that you have Vitamin D deficiency. 

Vitamin D deficiency by itself isn’t going to cause Hashimoto’s but a low vitamin D level can impair your immune system (4) which makes you more susceptible to triggers such as stress and/or infections. 

When your body is in an impaired state it may not be able to fight off autoimmune changes which it otherwise could. 

Make sense?

With that in mind, let’s talk about some of the most important nutrients and how they relate to both thyroid function as well as immune function. 

There are many but I want to hit on some of the most important:

  • Vitamin D – Vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common among the entire population but especially in those with Hashimoto’s. You can easily test for Vitamin D deficiency with lab tests and you should absolutely do this if you have Hashimoto’s. Once you find out you are deficient you can take a micellized Vitamin D supplement to increase your levels rather quickly. Normalizing your Vitamin D level will help your immune system function. 
  • Zinc – Zinc plays many important roles in thyroid function and immune function (5). In addition, many thyroid patients are zinc deficient. Testing for zinc deficiency isn’t very accurate so it’s often better to just supplement with zinc. Low zinc can impair immune function as well as impair T4 to T3 conversion
  • Selenium – Selenium plays an important role in reducing thyroid gland inflammation. In fact, low selenium may allow for thyroid gland inflammation to occur which sets you up for developing thyroid autoimmunity. Some studies (6) have shown that taking selenium by itself can even reduce thyroid antibodies! Taking selenium is easy and something that every patient with Hashimoto’s should consider. 
  • Glutathione – Glutathione is really an extension of selenium because your body cannot produce glutathione (7) if your selenium levels are too low. Glutathione helps reduce thyroid gland inflammation and can be used as a supplement in those who have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. 

Testing for nutrient deficiencies is something that every patient with Hashimoto’s should do!

It’s easy and relatively cheap to supplement as necessary. 

Please note, though, that testing for nutrient deficiencies is not always required!

Some tests as simply not accurate and basing your supplement decisions off of faulty tests will not do your body any good. 

When you look at the safety profile of these nutrients, it’s often better to just assume you are deficient and supplement accordingly. 

#5. SIBO/SIFO (bacterial/fungal overgrowth syndromes)

What we are really talking about here is your gut and this should come as no surprise to you right now. 

Your gut is the site of immune system regulation and it is really the front line between you and the outside world. 

We’ve already touched on many aspects of gut function and how they lead to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis through our discussion on H. Pylori and stress. 

Here we are discussing what is known as overgrowth syndromes that occur in your intestinal tract. 

Specifically, we are talking about intestinal bacterial overgrowth as well as fungal overgrowth. 

SIBO stands for small bacterial intestinal overgrowth and SIFO stands for small intestinal fungal overgrowth. 

What happens in these conditions is this:

At any given time, you have various types of bacteria in your gut. 

And these bacteria communicate with your immune system, they provide nutrients for your body, help to manage your hormones, and much more. 

What you may not realize, though, is that your ACTIONS can impact these bacteria. 

Doing things like eating unhealthy foods, undergoing stressful situations, killing them off by using prescription antibiotics or herbal antibiotics, taking stomach blocking drugs, and more, can all negatively impact these little bacteria. 

These things change the environment in your gut which allows the overgrowth of certain species of bacteria and fungus

It’s not always “bad” bacteria either! Even an overgrowth of “good” bacteria can cause issues. 

These issues include problems with immune function and inflammation which can then cause problems with autoimmunity (8). 

This problem is exaggerated in thyroid patients because low thyroid conditions slow down intestinal motility. 

As you slow down the speed of your intestines this increases your risk of developing SIBO (9).

You can test for these overgrowth syndromes and treat them as necessary. 

Treating and/or normalizing your gut bacteria won’t necessarily “cure” your Hashimoto’s but I have seen significant improvement in most patients who improve their gut. 

Right now traditional doctors are not as aware of these overgrowth syndromes so you may need to see a gastroenterologist to get tested and treated for them. 

#6. Gluten sensitivity (Celiac & NCGS)

And I’m not just talking about Celiac disease, though that would be included in here as well. 

What I am really talking about are those people who cannot tolerate gluten. 

Really what you need to know is that gluten can cause inflammation in both the gut and the body if you are someone who is sensitive to it. 

This inflammation then causes problems in the lining of your gut and leads to something called increased intestinal permeability or leaky gut. 

Gluten causes damage to the lining of your intestines which are there to protect YOU from foreign objects getting in. 

As the damage increases, larger particles of bacteria can enter into your bloodstream and then interact with your immune system. 

This series of steps can then lead to autoimmunity due to something called molecular mimicry. 

A lot of people misunderstand the difference between Celiac disease and non celiac gluten sensitivity. 

Non celiac gluten sensitivity, or NCGS for short (10), is more of a gluten allergy or intolerance than it is an autoimmune condition like Celiac disease. 

In Celiac disease, your immune system creates antibodies to gluten which causes inflammation and damage throughout the body. 

In NCGS, your body has a difficult time managing gluten and responds to gluten with inflammation, diarrhea, constipation, visceral hypersensitivity, and immune disruption. 

It’s not a true autoimmune disease but it’s still a problem in processing gluten and it should be taken seriously! 

Right now it’s very easy to diagnose Celiac disease but diagnosing NCGS can be somewhat difficult (11). 

The good news is that you don’t really have to worry much about diagnosing. 


Because it’s incredibly easy to treat the problem by simply taking gluten out of your diet! 

Because the prevalence of gluten issues is so high among patients with Hashimoto’s, I can’t really think of a reason NOT to do a trial run of removing gluten from your diet

Removing gluten from your diet for 90 days is a great idea and may dramatically help improve inflammation and immune function in your body. 

Wrapping it up

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can appear to be a mysterious disease but it doesn’t have to be. 

While it may not be possible to cure or reverse your condition, there are things that you can do which can have an impact on your disease state. 

By doing some digging into your root cause you may be able to uncover what triggered your immune problem. 

And even if you don’t discover the trigger of your particular disease, you will not have done any harm along the way!

Changing up your diet, taking supplements, checking for things like gluten sensitivity as well as other bacterial or viral infections are easy to do and only have the potential to help your overall health. 

A word of warning, though, before you undertake this journey:

You will most likely have to do this alone! Do not count on your doctor to have the necessary knowledge or ability to help you at every step. 

Most conventional doctors are more interested in MANAGING Hashimoto’s with thyroid medication than they are digging deep to try and reverse it. 

Unless you have a very knowledgeable doctor who is willing to work with you, it will be up to you to do a lot of the research. 

Luckily, I have tons of information to help you along the way!

Now I want to hear from you:

Were you aware of these triggers of Hashimoto’s?

Do you have an idea of what you think may have triggered Hashimoto’s in your body?

Have you attempted to treat any of these conditions?

If so, how did it work out for you?

Leave your comment or questions below! 

#1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28376031/

#2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33287914/

#3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/h-pylori/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20356177

#4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31323357/

#5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29324654/

#6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11932302/

#7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21782571/

#8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33224194/

#9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24944923/

#10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25642988/

#11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4488826/

what actually causes hashimoto's thyroiditis?

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About Dr. Westin Childs

Hey! I'm Westin Childs D.O. (former Osteopathic Physician). I don't practice medicine anymore and instead specialize in helping people like YOU who have thyroid problems, hormone imbalances, and weight loss resistance. I love to write and share what I've learned over the years. I also happen to formulate the best supplements on the market (well, at least in my opinion!) and I'm proud to say that over 80,000+ people have used them over the last 7 years. You can read more about my own personal health journey and why I am so passionate about what I do.

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61 thoughts on “6 Root Causes of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – The Triggers of Thyroid Autoimmunity”

  1. Were you aware of these triggers of Hashimoto’s?
    No, I am newly diagnosed, so this was great information! I remember getting EBV and now I need to go find my records and see if it might correspond with when I became ‘hypothyroid’… seems plausible for me!

    Do you have an idea of what you think may have triggered Hashimoto’s in your body?
    I do not, but I do notice a ‘thyroid storm’ the second half of my cycle each and every month. Have you ever heard of ovulating as a stressor that might lead to a flareup? I am fighting a diagnosis of PMDD, which doesn’t quite check off the symptom list for me the way that Hashimoto’s seems to fit me like a textbook, but the Dr doesn’t think that having a 2 week flareup every month seems like anything but PMDD.

    Have you attempted to treat any of these conditions?
    Not yet. I went to the health food store and bought vitamins today and I’ll research eating this week so I can attempt to rework my diet… eek! This all seems so daunting, but then, so does having my thyroid kick my butt!!!

    • Hi Kayla,

      It can definitely be daunting when you look at it in the beginning but the prospect of spending the rest of your life feeling terrible should be even more daunting! That’s why it’s so important to learn this information for yourself.

  2. Your website, products, and advice has helped me manage my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis for years. I avoid gluten, artificial colors and flavors. I’m selective of the products I buy and use. I don’t want to undo the progress I’ve made by introducing something with little track record. Enter COVID and the controversial vaccine. I’m waiting as long as possible, but with FDA approval imminent, I’ll be forced to take the vaccine or be fired. I thought the J&J vaccine was the lesser of all evils, but I’m blood type A with iron/clotting issues. I haven’t had a cold in years and no flu shots either as I didn’t want to stimulate my immune system. Your thoughts, please? I trust your advice.

    • Hi GP Moody,

      There will definitely be a small risk to anyone with Hashimoto’s who takes the vaccine. The vaccine is designed to stimulate the immune system and there will be a small number of people with existing autoimmune diseases who take it and have some issues related to this. You need to weigh the pros vs the cons both in terms of your own autoimmune disease and the potential personal benefits of the vaccine. In some cases, it may be worth the small risk if it means being able to see family members, reduce your own personal risk, or maintain a job that you love. In other cases, it may not be worth it, especially if you are younger and do not have significant comorbidities.

  3. The doctor that removed my thyroid told me since I no longer have a thyroid- I no longer need to worry about my Hashimotos. Is this true?

    • Hi Courtney,

      Somewhat. It’s true that Hashimoto’s can no longer destroy your gland but the underlying immune dysfunction persists and may cause other issues.

  4. Just got lab work back and not sure what to do. I have lost 6-7 pounds, fixed my gut health with a good probiotic, and have been exercising—-but then found out that NP Thyroid was recalled. Here are my labs:
    tsh .63 (.4-4.5)
    free t4 1.8 (.8-1.8)
    free t3 3.1 (2.3-4.2)

    I currently take 75 mcg of synthroid daily, 88 mcg of synthroid once a week, and half a tablet of 15 mg of NP thyroid. I’m feeling hyper to the point that I have chest pain—went to ER and couldn’t find anything wrong. Called about NP thyroid recall and was told it’s sub-potent—then how the heck did I end up hyper? Not sure what to do. Any suggestions?
    Thank you for any help Dr. Childs.

    • How recent are those labs? What is your iodine level? 15 of NP shouldn’t make anyone hyper really. What is your reverse T3? What symptoms of hyper are you having? All important. – also you probably didn’t fix your gut that quickly with just a probiotic if I’m being honest. It takes some time!

  5. Hi have Hashimoto’s and my doctor told me that my thyroid has completely burned out. I’ve been on 100 mg of Levothyroxine for quite some time and my latest labs came back good. He said this is the dose I need to stay on. For the last three years I get a rash on my legs, arms and chest when I am outside for a length of time and it lasts for days. It seems that the sun may activate it but I’m not entirely sure it does. Levothyroxine is the only prescription that I take. This week I asked my doctor if I could switch to Armour Thyroid because it might be a safe alternative. I read that Acacia gum is used as a binding agent in Levothyroxine and that it can cause an allergic reaction in people who have allergies to mold, mildew, ragweed and pollen. My doctor has refused, repeatedly, to switch me from Levothyroxine. In the meantime, I suffer and I’m very frustrated. I feel like I need a doctor who understands Hashimoto’s and is willing to seek alternatives. Their solution to my issue is to give me a prescription called Hydroxyzine. It is used to treat anxiety and allergies. Side affects are sedation, blurred vision, risks of heart attack and stroke. Good grief! What are my options and have you heard of Levothyroxine having the side affects of allergic reactions to pollen, the sun, ragweed, etc.?

    • Hi Beth,

      The best option would be to simply switch between the different types of thyroid medications out there until you find one that works for you. And yes, I’ve seen many people react in all kinds of ways to levothyroxine due to the inactive ingredients. Switching to Tirosint may help, in your situation but there are many other options available as well.

  6. Is it possible that anorexia can cause thyroid problems, and especially Hashimoto’s?

    I was anorexic for years, but it wasn’t until after I had my first child that I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, and not until a few years ago that I even heard of Hashimoto’s. But I did my research and demanded tests and found out that that is what I have.

    Definitely avoid gluten!

  7. Hi Dr. Childs,

    Does sea moss gel and kelp aggravate Hashimotos? I was told that people with Hashimotos need to stay away from these and to only add iodized salt as a source of iodine. Just wanted to know your thoughts.

    • Hi Michelle,

      I don’t believe that iodine is harmful to patients with Hashimoto’s. If you believe that it is then you wouldn’t recommend kelp or iodized salt, so the logic of recommending one and not the other falls flat. I would recommend a source that provides a reliable and consistent dose of iodine and both can be inconsistent sources.

  8. I’ve been doing research for about 5 years and was aware of these things. I had EBV as a child and actually tested positive for it 5 times. The main problem I’m having here is that I can’t find antiviral meds to help with this. I also have problems with my gut. I’ve tried fermented foods to raise my stomach acid but nothing seems to work. The acid reflux is daunting. I used prescription antacids prescribed by my doctor that knew I had Hoshimoto’s but obviously didn’t realize the cause could be low stomach acid. I’m now exercising 3 to 5 times a week in the gym and I’m gaining weight instead of losing. I just recently decided to trash the gluten and dairy so we’ll see how that goes. I’m so very frustrated. I’m now on T3 as well as T4 after a convincing discussion with my doctor but I still feel like I’m spinning my wheels here.

  9. Hi Dr. Child’s,
    This article is very interesting. It was in late 2014 into early 2015 when I was actively in the gym and started taking 40 mcg of Clenbuterol for weight loss. I also experimented with Winstrol, an anabolic steroid at that time, only to realize that I was carrying a tremendous amount of fluid and looked like an overgrown balloon. My “mindset” of a diet at that time was eat whatever and work it off at the gym. I started gaining weight, swollen and puffy. It was September 2015 when I got diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, elevated thyroid antibodies/liver enzymes. I’m thinking my poor diet at the time along with the anabolic steroid and Clenbuterol, my emotional/physical stress could have possibly contributed to the Hashimoto’s diagnosis. What are your thoughts? Thanks…Heidi

    • Hi Heidi,

      It is very likely that all of those things contributed to your diagnosis of Hashimoto’s. Often it’s impossible to tell what caused it exactly but you can make educated guesses and target treatment to those things.

      • Thank you for your response. It’s greatly appreciated. I’m glad I’ve overcome being swollen and puffy. It’s been almost 7 years since my diagnosis and I’ve learned that we can’t outsmart a diet, much less even try. Moderation is key and our thyroid health is very important. Your articles are very informative and I’m a proud follower. My main focus now is working on losing weight and getting my thyroid back to normal, reversing Hashimoto’s and eventually weaning off medication. I know it’s a process but I’m willing to take the necessary steps to reach my goal. Thanks again and keep up the amazing work!

  10. I was diagnosed with hashimoto, put on levothyroxine, developed chronic hives,welts etc went off the levothyroxine but the hives have persisted, any thoughts?

  11. Hey there,
    TSH has gone nuts- 16.6 even though I’ve been on levothyroxine .100 for a few years and Levoxyl before that for 15 years or so. Just found out I have chronic EBV- the entire panel is off the charts. It’s causing all kind of damage. You mentioned anti viral drugs? Please specify.


    • Hi Amy,

      The antiviral drugs I was referring to include valacyclovir and acyclovir. You may also want to consider herbs and botanicals that have anti viral properties.

  12. I never had a thyroid problem until I was in my early twenties and my parents and I moved into a different home. After living there a while, we all started having strange symptoms. I started having fatigue and my hair started breaking off. To make a very long story short, years later we found out there was mold in the home. Unfortunately at the time I didn’t have the knowledge to make a connection between my Hashimotos and mold. My father even passed away from a lung illness which he already had prior to living in that home but had previously controlled it easily for years with herbs and supplements.

    Anyway, my mom and I moved out of that house 2 years ago (she developed Hashimoto’s as well after living there). We still experience terrible symptoms despite taking many supplements targeted for Hashimoto’s.. and much of it is from the wonderful information you provide on your site, Dr. Child’s!

    So I guess my question is, do you have any recommendations for someone who has had mold exposure as their autoimmune trigger? And do you think that it’s realistic for us to even expect to recover from this? We both have lost most of our hair despite best efforts and it can be heartbreaking at times.. But I know we need to stay positive about healing and try to believe that we can get better.

    Thank you so much for your time and energy!!

    • Hi Jenna,

      I’m not an expert in mold treatment but I will be having someone on my podcast who is. Keep an eye out for that podcast which should be coming out in the coming weeks which will shed more light on this topic.

  13. I’m a nurse specializing in wellness with a focus on nutrition and the effects food has to specific disease processes. This article is very informative and well written. I can think of at least two persons whom I will recommend to read this article. I can think of one person whom I’ll be testing for EBV and another whom I will guide to a leaky gut diet. Thank you, Dr Westin. It truly is a collaborative effort.

  14. no…have not been tested for any of these except thyroid levels but maybe for celiac when I had a stomach incident couple years back. I have been tested on certain vitamins and its always low B12 but after taking it my B12 is fine again, I had mono when I was a teenager and constantly deal with fever blisters I had bad tonsils when I was younger where one was larger then the other and had holes in it get food in it and constantly got strep and my doc at the time said I needed to remove them next time I got sick but parents never did so I ended up getting mono and I dealt with alot of stress thru my young adult life and because of that I ate out ALOT…SO I believer those were my triggers but I cannot get anything fixed my doctor only does what she thinks is right and she is not specialized in that field either. and one specialist I went to only drawn blood and kept raising my meds and never talking to me so I don’t trust anyone im at a loss

  15. I know exactly what caused my Hashimoto’s: barbaric radioactive ablation treatment for Graves disease.

    What caused my Graves disease? Many of the causes you mentioned in the article, the greatest of these was stress. Both my husband and father were dying of long duration diseases. I had kids and a stressful job. The endocrinologist denied that stress would have any bearing on my thyroid health. After ablation, the “one little pill” that was supposed to make me feel better didn’t work. I went everywhere and spent a great deal of money seeking medical help. Along the way I learned that I have gluten sensitivity and vitamin D deficiency. I had mono as a teenager. But none of this truly helped.

    Finally I received some meaningful advice from a British researcher who is also a thyroid patient. I contacted him after reading his books. He told me that if it were him, he’d use the treatment for Hashimoto’s. His theory was that both RAI and Hashimoto’s cause the destruction of your thyroid so treat them the same. Diet, supplements, circadian dosing and stop T4 because my thyroid was not healthy enough to convert T4 to T3. I started a regimen of T3 only which has helped me feel better. Not perfect, but better.

  16. Hello Dr. Childs,

    I am on this Hashimotos journey trying to figure out how i can stop taking Tirosint.
    I think my journey with this autoimmune disease started with #5. SIBO/SIFO (bacterial/fungal overgrowth syndromes) and stress. I remember all of a sudden i woke up with my face extremely swollen and unrecognizable and i was breaking out in hives. I went to two allergist and they could even examine me due to my progesterone was high, but i do recall one of them mention i had H pylori. With that said three doctors couldn’t help me and that i had to take Zertec for the rest of my life. Mind you these hives made my life miserable for about 6 months….i was trying everything. But everything changed when i went to a Chinese medicine doctor and i did a process of elimination of foods. Fast forward two years ago i noticed my right eye was a bit smaller than my left. Went to go see a eye specialist and he did a thorough thyroid test and it came back not normal and now i see my thyroid doctor and i am taking Tirosint. I was taking Levo but i noticed i was swollen and agitated all the time. Therefore, now on Tirosint which i prefer.

    I’ve been reading many of your blog posts. I need to definitely change my first and excercise. My TSh is at a 15.56 :(.

    I just received Thyroid Daily essentials and will start taking them along with Tirosint. I really hope this helps bring down my TSH. I also got the Moderna vaccine the two and the booster and i don’t know if that’s what triggered my TSH to go up.

    I don’t know what else to do besides change my diet, workout and start on your supplement.

    This is stressful!

  17. My siblings brang home all the childhood diseases when I was a baby. Such as Measels, Mumps & Rubella. She thought that was the cause of my Thyroid malfunction. Could she be right?

    • Hi Kathy,

      It’s possible that certain viral infections may trigger Hashimoto’s. I’m not sure about those 3 but others have been identified as a potential trigger.

  18. Menopause!!! The route of all evil for middle aged women everywhere! I am sure that I developed hashimoto’s when I was peri menopausal. Having joined a very good menopause group I am staggered at the number of women developing hashimoto’s during this period in their lives. What are your thoughts please?
    London UK

  19. Excellent article, Dr. Childs. I think my Hashimoto’s started with multiple Lyme disease infections. We used to live in a rural town in Massachusetts, and all of my family got treated for at least once. Early on, I had an undiagnosed, untreated case, that caused unexplained arthritis that eventually cleared up. By the time, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, it was very advanced. I was soon diagnosed with other autoimmune conditions, including RA. However, I am doing very well with diet, supplements (yours by the way), and lifestyle. It is possible to be healthy in spite of Hashimoto’s. I am very strict with my diet, and most restaurants and social gatherings are out. Would like your thoughts on how not to be a recluse while managing autoimmune disease. Thank you!

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      Yes, it is definitely possible to live a healthy and normal life even with a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s.

  20. Good overview of potential Hashi triggers. However, Lyme and co-infections should be on this list. I tested positive for two species of Bartonella, have elevated anti TPO ABs, and thyroid nodules. Allopathic doctors are ignorant regarding this matter and one will need to find a Lyme literate practitioner skilled in identification and treatment of tick borne disease.

    • Hi Paul,

      I’m aware of the association between Lyme and immune dysfunction but I’m unaware of any literature that definitively shows Lyme causes Hashimoto’s. It could exist, I just haven’t seen it.

  21. Hello, I have a 15 yr old Type 1 diabetic daughter who was diagnosed with hashimoto’s a couple years ago. (Diabetic since age 2) would that be her trigger? Her blood test just detected antibodies but her thyroid levels are still normal. She has experienced weight gain and hair loss since diagnosis with Hashimoto’s.

    • Hi Madonna,

      Type I diabetes is a different autoimmune disease but it’s probably the case that whatever caused the type I diabetes is also the trigger for the Hashimoto’s. You’d need to identify the trigger of both.

  22. Hello, Dr. Child’s,

    I was tested along with my daughter for Celiac. I found out that I was sensitive to Gluten which explains why I run to the bathroom every time I ate any bread, rolls, anything with gluten. We were so concerned for my daughter because they could not figure out why her body could not hold on to iron. We were concerned about cancer and she was getting infusions. She found out that she has Celiac, we both had it done in the Hospital where they take a small section of the small intestine. She cut gluten completely out of her diet and her iron shot right up after about 6 months with the highest count she has ever had. I am hypothyroid and have Hashimoto’s but haven’t been tested on my antibodies since I found out for three years now. I have been staying away from gluten and cannot believe the difference in my skin, the bloating, and NO running to the bathroom anymore.

    • Hi Keyna,

      I’m glad you are seeing so much improvement! I would say that’s fairly common for people that remove gluten. The difference can be night and day.

  23. HI there. I left a large explanation of my “Adventure” under your Stages of Hashimoto’s, so I wont repeat it.. however, I am very confused about many things. I have no idea what my root cause is. I know I am frustrated and confused and worried and and and on a daily basis. I have been gluten free for 4 months… Never had any idea that gluten was a problem for me as I never had any reaction.. Other than 10 years ago jumping almost 50 lbs in 5 months time, once low bp shot to 191/111 and stayed there for awhile, low ACTH level, high cortisol level, exhausted, extreme brain fog where I could no longer work in the technical field I was in (or remember conversations, tv shows, movies, etc that I had had the night before). Have seen many MANY doctors (including hopkins, harvard, etc), without finding answers as to what is wrong. Due to weird issues popping up, I have had a total hysterectomy, a gall bladder removal and told that I have fatty liver. I do not eat bad, I have always eaten good food (but I kept eating gluten – didnt know ). Finally, 18 months ago, 26 years after being told I probably have hypothyroidism and was placed on 25mcg of levothyroxine, I had an ultrasound and was told Levo was not working, changed to brand name Synthroid at a much higher dose. Told that my thyroid was dead on the right side. It was dark, with 2 nodules. The exterior was completely rough. Left side was light but not bright, no nodules. Platelets shot up so had to go to Hematologist who thought I could have leukemia. Thankfully, negative. He told me what Hashimotos was and what I needed to do. Anyway… Root Cause??? Oxygen! .. Jk. 1 – Stress – Maybe, Probably.. That is a series of books all on its own. 2 – EBV – have never been tested. Never had chicken pox. 3 – H.Pylori – tested about 3 years ago – negative. 4 – Nutrient Deficiencies – probably – cant get a dr to test me. 5 – SIBO / SIFO – Probably – have been told I have IBS. Have had a colonoscopy and endoscopy.. told no celiac – but intestinal permeability was not tested (jan 2022), not sure why. 6 – Gluten Sensitivity – have no clue. Scared to eat it again because of its inflammatory properties. I honestly do not know. Any clues? Please let me know. Thank you.

    • Hi Shannon,

      I wouldn’t get too hung up on your root cause because it doesn’t always matter. In some cases, once your disease state has been triggered it’s already too late and there’s no putting the horse back into the barn. In cases such as these it’s best to focus on obvious dysfunctions and problems as they almost always have at least some impact on your disease state.

  24. Almost all of the above. No way to narrow it down when I have had all Of those root causes except H Pylori. Stress in my life was out of control so I think that one may have pushed me over the edge.

  25. I had struggled with fatigue all my life – blood tests showed that I was in the normal range so no further investigation into my complaints. Also I should tell you that I was born with a congenital complete heart block leaving me with a very low pulse rate 35-45 bpm. Eventually a pacemaker was inserted to give me a normal rate but still the fatigue persisted. Finally about 10 years ago a curious doctor checked my TPO and it was highly elevated. I started taking NatureThroid and was recommended to follow a GF diet. It was suggested at that time that the physical stress my body was under trying to survive with the heart defect was likely the cause of the Hashi. But still fatigue pesters me. I’ve managed to reduce my TPO levels from over 2500 to 165. It is difficult to get drs to do all the thyroid blood tests. I am currently taking 60mg NPThyroid 6 days and 1/2 a dose on Sunday. I have read info about taking T4 and T3 separately. Would that help?

    • Hi Jaye,

      Splitting up your T4 and T3 may help, yes, but it could also be a dosing issue as well. Hard to say for sure.

  26. I found your article very informative. I have been seeing a Dr who has ordered all the tests mentioned. The results were a eye opener to my Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. He is treating me with supplements, homeopathic and tinctures. I also have lymes, which is part of the problem and treatment too. My thyroid function is ok, except for a high T 3 which was 5.3.
    Thanks for all the information you send, education about our condition is so important!!

  27. Hi Dr. Childs – I have studied Hashimotos for several years since I was diagnosed, and purchased several books on the subject, as well as EBV. I do believe that mine started when I had Anorexia in the mid 90s for 3 years due to abuse from my mother, but this could have also started years earlier for the same reason. I healed from the Anorexia and then in 2004 my daughter died at the age of 14. I embarked on distance cycling, undertaking a healing process there and also pushed myself really beyond my physical limits until I could no longer do it after 3 years. That’s when I really became sick. At that point I began to really look for why I was so sick. Finally last year I tried your products and have seen a reduction in symptoms and better lab numbers. Still need to lose weight though! I’m 20 lbs more than I should be.

    • Hi Loren,

      It certainly sounds like there is a possibility for metabolic damage in your body which may account for that persistent weight gain. It’s hard to know for sure without more information but that would be a potential reason based off the information you provided.

  28. Hi, I just got diagnosed with Hypothyroidism and Hashimotos. I am about to turn 49yo, I think I’m in perimenopause, I’m 50# overweight (have been for 20-50# overweight for 20 years). My hair started thinning 3 months ago. I was in denial at first but I finally went to the doctor (NP) and she discovered I have high cholesterol, low vitamin D, and low iron. Plus hypothyroidism and Hashimotos. She immediately put me on supplements and levothyroxine and told me to eat more fruits and vegetables. I’m getting an ultrasound on my thyroid in a couple days. I don’t have any other symptoms other than hair loss (that I know of), and I did not have any reaction (that I know of) to the medicine. I know I need to lose weight and I had already been making changes for the past month. Is there a possibility that I have a “mild” case of it, if that’s a thing? Is there anything I need to watch for, anything I need to ask my doctor about, do I need to immediately go gluten, sugar, and dairy free? Thank you.

    • Hi Stephanie,

      Hashimoto’s always starts out mild and then progresses over time. You can read more about that here: https://www.restartmed.com/stages-of-hashimotos/

      If you are suffering from symptoms related to your thyroid then it makes sense to be as aggressive as possible. The longer you let the weight stay on your body the more difficult it will be to lose it which is why I recommend being as aggressive as possible.

  29. Hi Dr Childs
    Your article is very interested. I have been diagnosed with a thyroid inflammation with both type of thyroid antibodies very high and a nodule half colloidal half “solid”. My doctor said that my thyroid still works ok as hormones stay in the range of acceptable. He also said that I might be affected by hypothyroidism later on life. How I can prevent this ? Can I prevent hypothyroidism?
    Many thanks if you would respond
    Kind regards


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