Immune System Herbal Protocol

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis… When your immune system attacks your thyroid

Also: Hashimoto’s disease, Hashimoto struma, Hashimoto syndrome, chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, or autoimmune thyroiditis

Illness/ Disease Definition

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a condition that affects the function of the thyroid, which is a butterfly-shaped gland in the lower neck.  This condition is named after the Japanese surgeon who discovered it in 1912. It is an autoimmune disorder, which means it occurs when immune cells attack healthy tissue instead of protecting it. In the case of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, immune cells mistakenly attack healthy thyroid tissue, causing inflammation of the thyroid.  The thyroid makes hormones that help regulate a wide variety of critical body functions. For example, thyroid hormones influence growth and development, body temperature, heart rate, menstrual cycles, and weight. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a form of chronic inflammation that can damage the thyroid, reducing its ability to produce hormones and often leads to hypothyroidism.  Hashimoto’s is the most frequent cause of hypothyroidism in the United States.

Etymology (terms)

T3 triiodothyronine (thyroid hormone)

T4 thyroxine (thyroid hormone)

Etiology (causes)

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is thought to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some of these factors have been identified, but many remain unknown.

Other, nongenetic factors also play a role in Hashimoto thyroiditis. These factors may trigger the condition in people who are at risk, although it is unclear how that occurs. Potential triggers include changes in sex hormones (particularly in women), viral infections (one theory is EBV), certain medications, exposure to ionizing radiation, and excess consumption of iodine (a substance involved in thyroid hormone production).


Hashimoto’s thyroiditis affects 1 to 2 percent of people in the United States.  It usually appears in mid-adulthood, although it can occur earlier or later in life. Its signs and symptoms tend to develop gradually over months or years.  Women are 7 times more likely to have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis than men, which may be related to hormonal factors.

Allopathic Treatments

Thyroid hormone replacement therapy is currently the only allopathic treatment.  Our thyroid glands naturally produce two types of thyroid hormones, T3 & T4.  Most of the T3 in our bodies used to be T4 until they interacted with other cells and went through a conversion process in the liver.  Typically, many doctors first choice for treatment is a synthetic form of T4 called levothroxine, and sometimes will supplement with a synthetic T3 called liothyronine.  Some patients see improvement with this treatment, but many others still do not see their symptoms getting any better. An alternate treatment uses natural thyroid hormones from pigs and provides both T3 & T4 in one pill.  Since pig thyroid hormones are bioidentical to ours, this form of treatment is better absorbed and tolerated by a lot of people.

Signs & Symptoms/ Body Systems Affected

Often one of the first signs of Hashimoto thyroiditis is an enlargement of the thyroid called a goiter. Depending on its size, the enlarged thyroid can cause the neck to look swollen and may interfere with breathing and swallowing. As damage to the thyroid continues, the gland can shrink over a period of years and the goiter may eventually disappear.  Since thyroid hormones affect every cell of the body, a deficiency will usually result in a large number of signs and symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of underactive thyroid due to HT  Body Systems Affected  
Inability to get warm
IMMUNE – entire body
Memory problems
NERVOUS – brain, physical/psychological connection,
Sluggish liver
Food sensitivities
DIGESTIVE – stomach, liver, intestines
Difficulty getting pregnant
Irregular or heavy menstrual periods
Loss of libido
REPRODUCTIVE – ovaries, uterus,  prostate
Enlarged thyroid/goiter
Weight gain
ENDOCRINE – thyroid, pituitary, parathyroid, adrenal, pineal, thymus glands
Joint and muscle pain
Enlargement of tongue
MUSCLE/SKELETAL – muscles, bones
Slowed heart rate
Increased risk of heart disease
Brittle nails
Hair loss or thinning, brittle hair
Dry  skin
Paleness or puffiness of face
INTEGUMENTARY – hair, skin, nails
Impaired kidney functionURINARY – kidney, bladder
Shortness of breathRESPIRATORY – lungs
Ganoderma lucidum
Anti-histamine, Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial, Antioxidant, Antitussive (Pulmonary), Antiviral, Astringent, Cardioprotective, Hepatoprotective, Hypocholesterolemic, Immune Amphoteric, Immunomodulator, Nephroprotective, Nervine, Tonic
Urtica dioica
Alterative, Astringent, Diuretic, Expectorant, Galactagogue, Hemostatic, Hypotensive, Pectoral, Rubefacient, Tonic
Withania somnifera
Adaptogen (Calming), Alterative, Amphoteric (Immune), Anthelmintic, Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Antiseptic, Antispasmodic, Antitumor, Anxiolytic, Aphrodisiac, Bitter, Diuretic, Immunomodulator, Nervine, Thermogenic, Tonic (Reproductive)
Schisandra chinensis
Adaptogen (Calming), Anti-asthmatic, Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Astringent, Expectorant, Hepatoprotective, Immune Amphoteric, Immunomodulator, Nervine, Tonic
Vitex agnus-castus
Emmenagogue, Galactagogue, Hormone Normalizer, Uterine Tonic
Curcuma longa
Antibacterial, Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Antiviral, Bitter, Carminative, Hepatoprotective


Infusion/Decoction:  Reishi, Ashwagandha root, Schizandra berries, Tumeric root, Nettle Leaves

Tincture: Reishi, Nettle Seeds/Root, Ashwagandha root, Schizandra berries, Chaste Tree berries , Tumeric root

Contra-indications: Do not use these formulas if pregnant/breastfeeding, if you are allergic to mushrooms, or if you are on blood thinning medications.

Recommendations for Diet and Lifestyle


Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.   Regularly include fish in your diet.  Limit dairy and gluten intake if you have sensitivities.  Avoid sugar, alcohol, and caffeine.


Multivitamin, Vitamin D, Zinc, Selenium, Iron, Probiotics

Lifestyle Recommendations:

Exercise, Meditation for Stress

References & Resources:

Adaptogens Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief, David Winston, RH (AHG).

Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Andrew Chevallier, FNIMH

Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Revised 2nd Edition, Michael Murray, N.D. & Joseph Pizzorno, N.D.


Genetics Home Reference, NIH US National Library of Medicine

Herb Rally,

Hypothyroid Mom,

Medical Herbalism, David Hoffman, FNIMH

Peterson Field Guides: Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs, Steven Foster and James A. Duke.

Taber’s Online.

The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines, Charles W. Fetrow, Pharm.D. & Juan R. Avila, Pharm.D.

Years of Living With Hashimoto’s, Myself.