What are thyroid antibodies?

Have you heard about thyroid antibodies and wondered what they are?  But more than that, should you be worried about thyroid antibodies?   In today’s post, we’ll take a look at what exactly thyroid antibodies are and why it matters. 

If you don’t know much about thyroid antibodies, then this blog is for you.  Let’s start with the basics.

There are two types of thyroid antibodies:

  • Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO for short), and 
  • Thyroglobulin antibodies (TGab for short).

 

When you have antibodies present in your blood, it means that your immune system is attacking your thyroid gland.  What is important to know is that when there are thyroid antibodies, it is causing inflammation in the thyroid gland.  

Think about it this way: antibodies are the immune system’s soldiers.  The immune system sees that there is a threat (for whatever reason), and it makes and releases these soldiers to remove and destroy the enemy.  But now, the enemy is your thyroid gland!  Not a good thing!

How do these antibodies work?

The TPO antibodies are attacking the enzyme TPO that is found in the thyroid gland.  This enzyme is important in the thyroid hormone production process, and the TPO antibodies stop the enzyme from using iodine.  So, your thyroid gland cannot make thyroid hormones.

The thyroid gland also has a protein called thyroglobulin (TG) which is used in the process of making thyroid hormones.  The TG antibodies attack the protein in the thyroid gland, and you end up with lower thyroid hormones.  

Should you be worried if you have thyroid antibodies?

I want to start here with the blood test results.  When you look at your blood test results, the lab will have a reference range where it is “acceptable”.  Only if your result is above this cut-off value, is it flagged as an issue.

Now think about this for a moment.  Your body has antibodies active (soldiers that are attacking and destroying your thyroid gland).  Are you really comfortable with any number other then zero for your antibodies?

In her podcast named The Thyroid Fixer, Dr Amie Hornaman explained that functional medicine doctors uses different reference ranges that the labs use.  The reference ranges they use are based on the lab results of healthy people.  

Why is this important?  Well, as she explained, conventional labs base their reference ranges on the general population, which includes A LOT OF UNWELL PEOPLE – people who are overweight and unhealthy and are dealing with a lot of health issues.  Functional medicine reference ranges look at a much smaller population – those people who are healthy.  Surely you want your lab results to be compared to the latter group, the smaller group of healthy people.

So what are acceptable levels for antibodies in healthy people?

ZERO, or very close thereto.  

Healthy people don’t have thyroid antibodies.

If you have any number of antibodies, even if it is 5, 10, or 19, it means that there are soldiers that are busy attacking and destroying your thyroid gland.   If you do nothing, these antibodies will probably increase.  And do you really want to wait until the numbers are flagged and you feel horrid before you start to do anything about it?

What you can do to reduce TPO and TPab

First, know your numbers.  Get your latest lab results, and make a note on where your antibodies levels are.  You should do it for both TPO and TG antibodies. 

Second, your focus is now to take action to reduce inflammation.  Calm your immune system.  And I am not referring here to taking immunosuppressants.   I am referring here to the lifestyle changes you should make, such as removing the inflammatory foods from your diet, reducing your exposure to toxins, managing your stress, and loading up on antixodiant-rich foods!

Want to know where to start?  I wrote another post that can help you (click here to read it).  And if you need a plan and guide to help, you can book a time with me.   

Source: 

  • Hashimoto’s antibody numbers and stages of Hashi. Podcast by Dr Amie Hornaman, April 15 2022, accessed via Spotify or via website
Adele du Rand
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What are thyroid antibodies?

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