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The Role of Antioxidant Stress in Hashimoto's Disease

Written by Portland Clinic of Natural Health on February 19, 2023

Hashimoto's disease is a common autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid gland. (1) It is characterized by chronic inflammation of the thyroid gland, which leads to a progressive decline in thyroid function. (2) One of the factors that contribute to the development of Hashimoto's disease is oxidative stress. (3) In this blog post, we will explore the role of antioxidant stress in Hashimoto's disease.

What is antioxidant stress?

Antioxidant stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body's ability to neutralize them. (4) Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that are generated during normal metabolic processes in the body. (5) They can damage cellular structures, such as lipids, proteins, and DNA, which can lead to tissue damage and disease. (6) The body has a natural defense system against free radicals, which includes antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, reducing their damaging effects. (7)

Hashimoto's disease and oxidative stress

Studies have shown that patients with Hashimoto's disease have increased levels of oxidative stress markers, such as lipid peroxidation, DNA damage, and decreased levels of antioxidants. (8) The thyroid gland is particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress due to its high metabolic activity, high oxygen consumption, and low antioxidant defenses. (9)

The oxidative stress that occurs in Hashimoto's disease can lead to several negative effects. First, it can damage thyroid cells, which can lead to a decline in thyroid function. (10) Second, it can cause inflammation, which can exacerbate the autoimmune response and worsen the disease. (11) Third, it can impair the immune system's ability to recognize and destroy thyroid cells, further contributing to the development of the disease. (12)

Antioxidant therapy in Hashimoto's disease

Given the role of oxidative stress in the development of Hashimoto's disease, antioxidant therapy has been proposed as a potential treatment option. Several studies have investigated the use of antioxidants in the treatment of Hashimoto's disease, including vitamins C and E, selenium, and glutathione. (13, 14)

Studies have shown that antioxidant therapy can improve thyroid function, reduce oxidative stress markers, and decrease inflammation in patients with Hashimoto's disease. However, the optimal dosage and duration of antioxidant therapy are still unknown, and further research is needed to establish its efficacy.


In conclusion, oxidative stress plays an important role in the development and progression of Hashimoto's disease. Antioxidant therapy has shown promise as a potential treatment option, but further research is needed to determine its optimal dosage and duration. Patients with Hashimoto's disease should also focus on lifestyle modifications that promote antioxidant intake, such as eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and avoiding environmental toxins. By reducing oxidative stress, patients with Hashimoto's disease may be able to improve their thyroid function and overall health.


  1. Mincer DL, Jialal I. Hashimoto Thyroiditis. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; June 21, 2022.
  2. Klubo-Gwiezdzinska J, Wartofsky L. Hashimoto thyroiditis: an evidence-based guide to etiology, diagnosis and treatment. Pol Arch Intern Med. 2022;132(3):16222. doi:10.20452/pamw.16222
  3. Ates I, Yilmaz FM, Altay M, Yilmaz N, Berker D, Güler S. The relationship between oxidative stress and autoimmunity in Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Eur J Endocrinol. 2015;173(6):791-799. doi:10.1530/EJE-15-0617
  4. Bhatti JS, Sehrawat A, Mishra J, et al. Oxidative stress in the pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes and related complications: Current therapeutics strategies and future perspectives. Free Radic Biol Med. 2022;184:114-134. doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2022.03.019
  5. Alkadi H. A Review on Free Radicals and Antioxidants. Infect Disord Drug Targets. 2020;20(1):16-26. doi:10.2174/1871526518666180628124323
  6. Kryston TB, Georgiev AB, Pissis P, Georgakilas AG. Role of oxidative stress and DNA damage in human carcinogenesis. Mutat Res. 2011;711(1-2):193-201. doi:10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2010.12.016
  7. Lobo, V., Patil, A., Phatak, A., & Chandra, N. (2010). Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. Pharmacognosy reviews4(8), 118–126. https://doi.org/10.4103/0973-7847.70902
  8. Mylonas C, Kouretas D. Lipid peroxidation and tissue damageIn Vivo. 1999;13(3):295-309.
  9. Mizokami T, Wu Li A, El-Kaissi S, Wall JR. Stress and thyroid autoimmunity. Thyroid. 2004;14(12):1047-1055. doi:10.1089/thy.2004.14.1047
  10. Kochman J, Jakubczyk K, Bargiel P, Janda-Milczarek K. The Influence of Oxidative Stress on Thyroid Diseases. Antioxidants (Basel). 2021;10(9):1442. Published 2021 Sep 10. doi:10.3390/antiox10091442
  11. Chakrabarti, S. K., Ghosh, S., Banerjee, S., Mukherjee, S., & Chowdhury, S. (2016). Oxidative stress in hypothyroid patients and the role of antioxidant supplementation. Indian journal of endocrinology and metabolism20(5), 674–678. https://doi.org/10.4103/2230-8210.190555
  12. Mancini, A., Di Segni, C., Raimondo, S., Olivieri, G., Silvestrini, A., Meucci, E., & Currò, D. (2016). Thyroid Hormones, Oxidative Stress, and Inflammation. Mediators of inflammation2016, 6757154. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/6757154
  13. Erdamar H, Demirci H, Yaman H, et al. The effect of hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and their treatment on parameters of oxidative stress and antioxidant status. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2008;46(7):1004-1010. doi:10.1515/CCLM.2008.183
  14. Chen Y, Zhou Z, Li XX, Wang T. Research on the protective effects of antioxidants on metabolic syndrome induced by thyroid dysfunctionEur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2017;21(10):2489-2498.

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