Hashimoto’s Disease: The Infection Connection

Hashimoto's disease: The infection connection

Have you been tested for common infections associated with Hashimoto’s disease? Dr. Nikolas Hedberg has discovered that chronic infections are the most common underlying cause of Hashimoto’s disease.

Written by Nikolas R. Hedberg, D.C.

Hashimoto’s disease is the most common autoimmune disease in the world and it is also the most common cause of hypothyroidism. Conventional medicine doesn’t offer treatment for Hashimoto’s other than prescription thyroid hormone which doesn’t address the autoimmunity. Autoimmune diseases are skyrocketing and one of the most common and overlooked causes of these conditions are infections.

Some of the most popular alternative treatments for Hashimoto’s disease include:

  • Gluten-free diets
  • Leaky gut protocols
  • Vitamin D
  • Selenium
  • Paleo-style diets

Additionally, there are a number of supplements and herbal medicines that are used to reduce inflammation and balance the immune system but these do not get to the underlying cause of the autoimmunity. Even low-dose Naltrexone fails many patients and does not address the root cause.

In my clinical experience working with many Hashimoto’s patients I have found that the most common underlying cause of Hashimoto’s disease is a chronic stealth infection that has been overlooked by both conventional and alternative practitioners.

Infections trigger autoimmunity by what is known as molecular mimicry which basically means that your immune system is attacking a stealth microbe such as a virus or bacteria, but the infection looks like your own body tissue such as the thyroid so your immune system attacks it as well. As long as the infection is active, the immune system will continue to attack the gland.

One of the most common infection connections with Hashimoto’s disease is the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV). EBV is actually a herpes virus that most people contract when they are young causing mononucleosis aka “The Kissing Disease” which results in swollen lymph nodes and fatigue. Normally, your body fights it off and your immune system controls it for life just like chicken pox for example. However, people with Hashimoto’s disease have been shown to have a genetic deficiency in the immune cells (CD8+) that control this virus. The virus then reactivates inside the thyroid gland inducing autoimmunity via molecular mimicry. As long as the EBV is active, the autoimmunity will persist.

I find a significant number of patients with Hashimoto’s disease have reactivated EBV which is identified through a simple blood test. I use the activity of the EBV as a guide to balancing the immune system and reducing the attack on the thyroid gland.

A number of alternative treatment methods for EBV include vitamin C, selenium, Reishi mushroom extract, curcumin, and Zinc. You will notice that selenium is on the list which is highly recommended for Hashimoto’s but I think that many practitioners are treating EBV without even knowing it and seeing good results.

The second most common infection involved in Hashimoto’s disease is the bacteria Yersinia enterocolitica. Yersinia pestis is the bacteria that caused the bubonic plague which was transmitted by rat fleas but Yersinia enterocolitica is transferred by contaminated food and water. Normally, a healthy gut immune system will fight off Yersinia enterocolitica and most people think they just had some mild food poisoning or a “stomach bug.” However, in some cases, Yersinia takes hold in the gut mucosal barrier and persists without GI symptoms. Yersinia has been shown to trigger Hashimoto’s disease via molecular mimicry because it’s surface proteins look identical to thyroid tissue to the immune system.

Yersinia can be identified on a functional stool test but this method will miss most of the chronic Yersinia infections. The proper testing is done through blood antibodies against this bacteria. If Yersinia is found in the functional stool test the lab will run what’s called a “sensitivity” to a variety of herbal medicines and medications that will kill the bacteria so we know exactly what to use. If it is only found to be active through blood testing then we use a variety of herbal medicines to address it that have been shown to be effective since we don’t have the sensitivity.

The third common infection connection is also a gut bacteria known as Helicobacter pylori. H. pylori is most well-known as a cause of stomach ulcers but it can also be involved in Hashimoto’s disease via molecular mimicry. H. pylori is an opportunistic bacteria in your stomach that can grow when your immune system becomes compromised due to stress, low stomach acid, food sensitivities and imbalances in your gut bacteria known as dysbiosis.

H. pylori can be tested through stool, blood and the preferred and most sensitive breath test. The focus in controlling H. pylori is identifying why the immune system is compromised but a variety of natural compounds have been shown to be effective against this bug. Mastic gum, buffered vitamin C, quercetin, fish oil, Zinc carnosine, DGL (licorice), Saccharomyces boulardii, probiotics, berberine, NAC and oil of oregano can all work well for H. pylori. Antibiotics are of course an option but we always have to remember that antibiotics can create more dysbiosis and drug-resistant bacteria.

The above infections are the most common however there are additional infection connections to note. Hepatitis C Virus has been shown to trigger Hashimoto’s and the thyroid has been found to be a reservoir for this virus if it leaves the liver.

Borrelia burgdorferi is the bacteria that causes Lyme disease which, although the research on the connection is limited, many Lyme disease doctors in the trenches will tell you that they see quite a number of Lyme disease patients who also have Hashimoto’s disease.

Additional but more rare infection connections include Cytomegalovirus, staph and strep, Rickettsia, Q fever, HTLV-1, Herpes 1,2, and 6, Rubella/Rubeola (measles), Cocksackie B virus, Parvovirus B-19, the flu and even HIV.

If you have tried all of the usual treatment methods for Hashimoto’s but you still don’t feel well and your antibody levels just won’t come down, be sure you get tested for an infection connection to your Hashimoto’s disease. I recommend the “Big Three” which include EBV, Yersinia enterocolitica and H. pylori for most people as a starting point and the other more rare infection connections are tested based on your unique health history.

Hashimoto's Disease: The Infection Connection

Ask your doctor today for a more thorough evaluation of your Hashimoto’s disease, it just may be an underlying infection.

About Nikolas R. Hedberg, D.C.

Dr. Hedberg is one of only a few hundred Chiropractic Physicians who has become a Board Certified Chiropractic Internist. A Chiropractic Internist completes 300 additional hours of training in the diagnosis and management of internal disorders focused on multiples areas including thyroid disorders and autoimmune disease. drhedberg.com

READ NEXT: The 4 Best Supplements for Hashimoto’s

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I appreciate every share! Thank you.

About Dana Trentini

Dana Trentini founded Hypothyroid Mom October 2012 in memory of the unborn baby she lost to hypothyroidism. This is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for consulting your physician regarding medical advice pertaining to your health. Hypothyroid Mom includes affiliate links including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.


  1. Peter Hardt says

    My wife talked w/ her PA yesterday. The upshot was:

    1. There’s nothing wrong with her thyroid gland.

    2. However, her body has decided to attack and destroy her thyroid gland, with an autoimmune attack. (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis)

    3. There’s nothing she can do about it.

    4. In weeks to months her thyroid gland will be destroyed.

    5. At that point she’ll be on thyroid medication for the rest of her life. Assuming this thyroid medication continues to be available and is affordable.

    6. She HAS given my wife a referral to Endocrinology but it’s up to them to contact Carlene (and the PA doesn’t think there’s any rush because of #3)

    7. She wants my wife to take Aleve and Tylenol for the throat ache she has reported. She doesn’t think the throat ache is related to the thyroid problem, she thinks it’s acid reflux. (This is NOT how my wife describes the pain AT ALL.)

    8. The PA is completely unconcerned about the swelling at the base of my wife’s neck above her collarbone and does not think it’s related to her thyroid.

    9. So my wife’s thyroid is being destroyed. And the pain in her throat and the swelling next to her throat are just coincidences and completely unrelated?

    This is crazy…

    • I’m sorry to hear all your wife is going through with her thyroid. In this day and age, it shouldn’t be so hard to treat Hashimoto’s disease with all we know that can slow down and even halt the progression. You may be interested in seeking out the help of the network doctors that I’ve brought together for the Hypothyroid Mom Centers that specialize in this with great success. https://bit.ly/HMCenters

  2. Debbie Meng says

    I stumbled across your site and I was so shocked and dumb founded by all the info and etc I couldn’t help but start balling. I was crying because I’ve never heard, seen,or read anything that described things I’ve been dealing with since I was 21 I’m 57 by the way, my first thought was I’m not crazy or a hypochondriac I just kept repeating to myself It’s real, It’s real, It’s not all in my mind. Second thing that came to mind should I be on mental illness meds and all the meds I’ve been on over the years and the surgeries I’ve had were they necessary could they have been totally avoided like my last one on my stomach. I know I need to come to one of the clinics, but it will have to wait unfortunately financially I can’t afford it right now hopefully soon. Thank you so much for making me realize I’m not crazy Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, God Bless you
    (My email address is being weird so any response I’ll probably see best on your comment section.)

  3. Vickie Page says

    Get a new Dr that’s willing to listen to you.

  4. I had my thyroid removed about 11 years ago. Would you reconsider these tests for someone who has had this procedure? Also, what supplements do you feel are beneficial for me? I heard selilium wouldn’t do much for me anymore? Thanks for the article!

  5. Just wondering what Qualifications you have? Can you explain why, I basically have this diet and have for 50 years and still have Hashimotos

  6. Anyone can go to directlabs.com and order a complete thyroid panel without a doctor ordering it. The cost for a complete panel of 6 tests, including antibodies and Reverse T3 is $229 which is about 1/3-1/4 the cost charged by most hospital labs. I am a health professional and test all of my clients for food sensitivities. All of those with autoimmune conditions including Hashimoto’s must eliminate gluten, dairy, corn and white or brown rice, even if these re organically grown. My own antibodies, which were well over 1000, are now in the normal range. Synthroid and Levothyroxine contain multiple allergens and my clients and all family members have felt their best by taking dessicated thyroid like WP Thyroid, NP Thyroid or Naturethroid, with antibodies continuing to reduce. These are FDA approved thyroid medications which many physicians are not familiar with, but you can request one of these as an alternative to Synthroid or Levothyroxine, especially if you are not responding well to them. You can have a normal range TSH and still have highly elevated antibodies. My mother was 87 with undiscovered highly elevated TPO antibodies over 3200, but a TSH of only 3.3. Within 2 weeks of eliminating the above foods, and taking D3, magnesium, selenium, iodine, Vitamin A, B12, and optimal B Vitamins, these levels reduced to 2000, and continued to reduce for many months. I requested a T4/ T3 medication for her and it resolved her high blood pressure and anxiety, as well as hip pain and insomnia. She died at age 93 at home and without needing any other medications.

    • Fascinating!!! I have hypothyroidism and do a lot of research through Dr. Mark Hyman and The Thryoid Pharmacist and I take about 20 supplements and vitamins a day including, B with P5P, Selenium, D3, Magnesium Citrate (to go to the bathroom) Levothyroxine – I was originally tested for antibodies and now I need to look what they were but my TSH was only 6.00 at the time of diagnosis… I would like to get on another iodine pill but my doctor won’t do it.. I am actually going to be going to a func med dr. soon and can’t wait to see what I find out.. This article was very informative about all the other causes.. I had only heard of EBV and mono…

  7. Sheryl Notestine says

    I had EBV/mono and a relapse of mono in my early teens and was later diagnosed with Hypothyroidism in my 30s and then Hashimotos in my 50s. My weight has doubled since my early 30s and I have never been able to lose it. Synthroid and T3 have helped some with the multitudinous symptoms and after reading some of Anthony William’s books, I have tried to drink 16-20 ounces of fresh celery juice every morning for the last year and I have felt somewhat better. I am gradually implementing Mr. William’s advice into my lifestyle and hoping this will help also. I am encouraged by Dr. Hedberg’s article in that the medical world is finally seeing the viral link.

  8. Is Hashimotos contagious by kissing or sex?

  9. Thank you for posting this article. I have yet to be tested for Hashimotos but I have always been on the low end for regular thyroid testing and this is beginning to make sense. I was always on antibiotics for strep as a child and when I was 21 I had mono and chronic fatigue followed by a slew of other problems. And I always have Group B strep when I am pregnant even though I don’t get regular strep pike I used to with all of the alternative therapies I have done. I really hope this will put an end to me needing a daily nap and being able to be the mom I want and need to be to my 6 fun children. Thanks!

  10. I have Hashimotos and was just diagnosed with Staph. He is prescribing 2 weeks of antibiotics. Is this necessary, dont antibiotics cause more problems? I have taken sooo many on my past. (Why my body hasnt fought it off?)

  11. My husband has been suffering with GI issues for over 6 yrs now. Took him to the hospital and got him admitted forcefully to run tests & see y he has rectal bleeding all the time. they did upper endoscopy & found severe ulceration; the infectious disease Dr also found Herpes and Coxackie virus, but didn’t do nuthing or said anything…instead, they took the herpes a different route asking him weird questions as if he had genetal herpes. My husband swore that he never had any relations even before marriage so that report is just not right!
    He was on Nexium for over 3 yrs. His GI issues & rectal bleeding was persistant. He also formed a nodule on his neck about 1.5 yrs later. Took him to a different GI & found he has EOE then found out he also has Hashimotos hense the nodule on his neck. He’s been on elimination diet top 8+ for almost 3 yrs now… What I don’t understand is y the doctors are still un aware of the root causes of such diseases while they should be knowledgeable about such diseases, which are now very common…
    Y do they not read up on it so they r aware of the root cause instead of letting their patient suffer…
    I reasearched myself & found out about the tests related to his symptoms on youtube so I was aware of most of the things when the doctors wud be mentioning anything & rest of the tests v had to request them to run for him; they didn’t run themselves…!

    • Hi Shane, It is mind-boggling how thyroid disease is and so many health conditions are treated so poorly in mainstream medicine. With thyroid disease, the truth is we must be our own best health advocates and sounds like your husband has you as great support too. Great to have you at Hypothyroid Mom. By the way, how is he feeling now?

    • That’s me right now … my thyroid it’s control but have Othed symptoms. And dnt now what going on with my body … ben. Like this for 3 weeks

  12. Jeanette Nunez says

    It is so exciting to hear people talking about the viral connection. This is where future medical research dollars should be spent!

    • Hi Jeanette, I have heard from several people telling me about the Anthony Williams book and I’m looking forward to reading it. I’m intrigued by what he writes about the viral connection to health. The possibility of chronic infections is so overlooked in the mainstream medical world and that needs to change.
      Dana Trentini (Hypothyroid Mom)

  13. I was diagnosed with EBV 20 years ago and hashimotos 10 years ago. I have stomach issues that started 5 years ago but have not gotten anything diagnosed. So my question is yes I am this person so what do I do? Is there a supplement or diet I can follow? All I currently do is synthroid.

    • Jeanette Nunez says

      Yes, Anthony William has lots of good suggestions for foods to consume and limit.

    • Hi I am currently dealing with the same issues. I have found that healthcare really focuses on solving the visible or tangible result of the issues, instead of finding out what the cause is.
      I have been very lucky to have found this healthcare team.
      They specialize in prevention and wellness treatments using a whole-systems medical approach that addresses the root causes of chronic illness.

      • Thank you so much for sharing the healthcare team that has been helpful to you. I’m always interested in hearing about great healthcare professionals that really get thyroid. We need more of them in the world. Great to have you at Hypothyroid Mom.

  14. Deborah Rhoads says

    Please find a cure for Hadimotos Disease!

  15. Fredette Kopola says

    Would love to win a copy!

  16. I live in south Arkansas. Do you know of any natural doctor’s in this state? Years ago I was diagnosed with Hashimotos thyroiditis and put on synthroid. When I moved to a different state they took me off of it. Now it’s years later and my labwork is always “normal” except the last time it was drawn the T3 was low. Doctor did not put me on any medicine until I came into the office asking for some help with weight loss. THEN she decided I could use some thyroid medication. I have every symptom of hypothyroid except cold intolerance. I’m a breast cancer survivor and my hormones are all messed up. I tried to get my doctor to order thyroid antibodies lab test but she said that was only ordered by endocrinologist. I don’t know what to do because I feel bad. Any advice?? Thanks for your help!

    • I can’t believe they took you Thyroid medication with a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s. For most it’s life time medication. I will say, in Jan 2006, I went for my annual physical and my labs were normal. My 1st born was 11 months old. By October, I went ty I my PCP due to severe fatigue. At 1st he dismissed me and chalked it up to being a new mom. I argued my son was 1 1/2 yrs old and I should have been exhausted when he was a few months old. He finally ran just the T4 and TSH. My TSH jumped from 2.2 in Jan to 10.6 nine months later. Put on synthroid. He refused to run a full thyroid panel. About 3/4 years ago, I saw a PA in the office and I begged him to run the full panel, which he did. I came with the argument that it was my body, my blood, my money. Hard to understand why many drs refuse to run simple blood work

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