Hashimoto’s patients are often aware of their sensitivities to gluten (and other foods), but one thing that they are often unaware of is that some thyroid hormones have fillers and inactive ingredients that may be triggering a gluten-like reaction.
These fillers are almost never part of the conversation and it is important to understand that they could be actively winding up an autoimmune attack on your thyroid.
One of the more common fillers used in both Synthroid and Unithroid (both synthetic forms of T4) is confectioner’s sugar. This contains corn starch which many sources will tell you is a gluten free product. However, unless the starch is produced in a way that no proteins whatsoever remain, small amounts in the starch may cause a reaction.
Some studies have shown that corn proteins cross react with gluten and this means that these fillers could cause problems because your immune system will react to them in the same way that it does to gluten.
Why should you care? Because if you have Hashimoto’s and you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, every time you take your hormone medication you may be causing an immune flare up.
You may, unknowingly, be creating a kind of daily vicious cycle of immune wind up. Not good.
One of the symptoms that you should look for if you are taking these thyroid hormones is that you feel fatigued and run down with thyroid hormones. This is almost always related to sensitivities to the inactive ingredients in the hormones such as dyes and fillers.
If you are taking the hormones and you feel exhausted, this could be a good indicator that you are having a response to the “inactive ingredients”. This could happen if you recently went on the medication, recently switched medication or, in some cases, if the manufacturer changed some of the inactive ingredients in manufacturing. In any case, this is something that you need to rule out.
There is a lab we work with called Cyrex labs that has a comprehensive cross reactivity test and this is recommended to anyone who has Hashimoto’s or any other autoimmune disease. Testing for cross reactivity to corn is another way to confirm that the reaction you are having is due to cross reactivity.
If your body has developed antibodies for corn or other foods and it reacts to them in the same way that it reacts to gluten, you must eliminate these foods from your diet. Forever, or suffer the consequences.
What are the consequences? The problem with gluten and other cross reactive foods is that they trigger the immune system and when they do this your immune tissue attacks your own tissue.
One important thing to realize is that when you have an autoimmune disease, you often have multiple tissues being attacked and these can include your brain, your joints, the lining of your intestines, your skin, etc.
There are many possible tissues and sometimes those symptoms that you feel that seem unrelated are not unrelated. They are a direct consequence of an autoimmune flare up.
There are some other ingredients in thyroid hormones that may also cause reactions. The other ingredients in Synthroid are: acacia, lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate, povidine, talc and a number of different food dyes (different for different dosages).
Acacia is a TH-2 stimulator and may cause problems if you are TH-2 dominant. (If you aren’t familiar with this, I will explain in detail in an upcoming post, stay tuned.) Lactose is a common sensitivity for many people as well.
And, of course food dyes can cause all kinds of problems all by themselves. Click on this link to learn more. Here is a list of which dyes are in each common dosage of Synthroid:
25 mcg: FD&C Yellow No. 6 Aluminum Lake
50 mcg: None
88 mcg: FD&C Blue No. 1 Aluminum Lake, FD&C Yellow No. 6 Aluminum Lake, FD&C Blue No. 10 Aluminum Lake
100 mcg: FD&C Yellow No. 10 Aluminum Lake, FD&C Yellow No. 6 Aluminum Lake
200 mcg: FD&C Red No. 40 Aluminum Lake
If you experiencing symptoms of autoimmune flare up like exhaustion, joint pain, brain fog, etc. and you are careful with the things you know may cause flare ups (gluten, dairy, coffee, etc.), you should check the inactive ingredients of your thyroid hormones. You may be causing flare ups without knowing it.