The Effects of Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease on Your Brain
The presence of Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease has far reaching effects throughout the body which extend beyond thyroid function. Hashimoto’s predominately influences the endocrine and immune systems, however it’s important to note disturbances within the nervous system as well. As high levels of TPO antibodies signal the body to launch an autoimmune response, the attack causes inflammation while your body fights to rid itself of any antigen present.
In the nervous system, the impact Hashimoto’s can have on the brain is destructive and debilitating. Complications such as brain fog, memory loss, migraines, irritability, depression and an increased risk for diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s have all been linked to Hashimoto’s going untreated or improperly managed for too long.
In a sense, the brain has it’s own unique immune system and calls upon it’s powerful microglia cells to protect it from any foreign invaders. Microglia help the brain to prune dead neurons and clean up any remaining debris along the many interconnected pathways across it’s lobes. Microglia cells play a vital role in supporting our neurons’ ability to fire off and communicate properly which in turn keeps the network of signals regulating our heart beat, breath, emotions, and mental clarity in check.
The body’s immune system and the immune system of the brain both work hard to protect us against bacteria, toxins, viruses and other harmful antigens. However it should be recognized that the two function quite differently. The body’s immune system is very complex; there are many different parts working together which, in good heath, help to regulate each other, or engineer a full scale attack when an invader is detected. The brain’s immune system, on the other hand, is more simplistic and direct in it’s strategy. When an foreign invader is flagged in the brain, there’s no room for error in protecting the body’s control center. Microglia are recruited immediately and are vicious in pursuing the enemy. While highly effective in protecting the brain, the microglia can leave destruction in their wake causing inflammation and brain tissue degeneration as they ruthlessly destroy unwelcome antigens.
Remarkably, microglia cells comprise more than 50% of brain mass and are a key component of the blood-brain barrier, a filtration defense of the brain that screens for any foreign toxin. The blood-brain barrier is a very thin, yet very effective layer of protection when healthy. However a variety of stressors can cause microscopic perforations in the blood-brain barrier which allow antigens to leak through. Persistent inflammation caused by Hashimoto’s, long-standing stress, poor diet, alcohol and unstable blood-sugar levels are all ways that the blood-brain barrier can start to deteriorate.
It is especially important for patients with Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease to address any symptoms related to brain health. Supporting the body’s immune system and by focusing on the Autoimmune Triggers will in turn support the brain’s unique immune system, microglial cells, and blood-brain barrier. Balancing blood sugar levels, managing stress, and lowering inflammation, particularly that in the gut, are all ways to improve brain health Dietary choices that eliminate gluten, lower sugar intake, and unhealthy fats are encouraged.
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