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Grave's Disease (Hyperthyroidism)?
Grave's Disease, a form of Hyperthyroidism is an endocrine condition which occurs when
the thyroid gland experiences raised functionality due to an increase in
thyroid hormone production. The thyroid
is a small, butterfly shaped gland located just above the collarbone. As a
member of the endocrine system, the thyroid is responsible for controlling many
aspects of bodily function, most notably metabolism and hormone regulation.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid produces too much
hormone. The result is a host of symptoms which can affect an individual's
quality of life, such as insomnia, sensitivity to heat, irritability, and
unnatural weight loss. However, there is
a diverse assortment of effective treatments which can alleviate symptoms and
calm thyroid hormone production.
Approximately 1% of the American population, or
around 1 million people, suffer from hyperthyroidism.
There is a considerable variety of symptoms associated with
hyperthyroidism due to the fact that the thyroid is responsible for regulating
elements of almost every other system in the body. The result is a host of
symptoms which run the gamut from the physical to the emotional to the totally
Here are the most common symptoms associated with
hyperthyroidism as outlined by the National Institute for Health.
valuable information on the symptoms of hyperthyroidism, check out our full
- weight loss
- decreased appetite
- increased thirst
- swollen neck/goiter
- intolerance to heat
- increased/inappropriate sweating
- high blood pressure
- high pulse
- frequent bowel movements
- increased libido
- heart palpitations
- hand tremors
- decreased blinks per second
- lighter or non-existent menstrual cycles
- increased irritability
- mood swings
- racing thoughts
- rapid speech
- dry hands and feet
There are myriad causes for hyperthyroidism which range from
dietary intake to autoimmune disease.
However, there are a variety of effective pharmaceutical and homeopathic
treatments that can help soothe the condition once its exact cause has been
Disease - One of the most common causes of hyperthyroidism is Graves’
Disease, an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the white blood cells of the
immune system mistakenly and chronically attack the thyroid gland causing it to
secrete too much hormone. The medical
community has yet to pinpoint the exact cause of Graves’ Disease, though there
appears to be a hereditary component associated with the condition.
Iodine - The overconsumption of iodine rich foods can cause the thyroid to
produce too much active hormone. The thyroid absorbs iodine and uses it as a
foundational building block for thyroid hormone production. The more iodine an
individual ingests means the more iodine the gland will absorb and process,
causing an overproduction of hormones.
more valuable information on the causes of hyperthyroidism, check out our full
- Thyroiditis - Thyroiditis, a general term
that refers to any non-autoimmune inflammation of the thyroid gland, is another
cause of hyperthyroidism. It can be
caused by viral or bacterial infections, hormonal changes during or immediately
after pregnancy, or by unknown causes.
When the gland becomes inflamed it causes stored thyroid hormones to
escape and increase the amounts of thyroid hormone in the blood. The
inflammation caused by Hashimoto’s Disease can also result in hyperthyroidism.
There are two traditional forms of treatment for
hyperthyroidism: suppression of thyroid hormones through prescription
medication or the removal of all or part of the gland to decrease hormone
production. Thyroid suppressant therapy,
also known as anti-thyroid treatment, is typically the first level response to
an overactive thyroid. If the gland is
resistant to hormone suppressants, then health professionals may use
radioactive iodine or surgery to remove enough of the gland to reduce hormone
production. Each of these avenues of
treatment yields positive and negative effects, and the best course of action
should be the result of patient and healthcare professional weighing these
Suppressant Medication - Thyroid suppressants are often prescribed to
individuals in the early stages of hyperthyroidism or who are dealing with a
chronic hyperthyroid condition such as Graves’ Disease. The two most common forms of anti-thyroid
chemicals are Methimazole and Propylthiouracil.
Both of these drugs disrupt some of the production of thyroid hormones,
resulting in normal levels of the hormones in the bloodstream.
Prescription Medications - In addition to an anti-thyroid medication,
healthcare providers may also prescribe other medications to address the
specific symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as beta blockers, medicines for
ADD/ADHD, and hormone therapy to regulate menstrual cycles.
Iodine Treatment - The treatment works to reduce the size of or eliminate
the thyroid by killing the cells of the gland through an ingested dose of
radioactive iodine. The amount of gland
affected can be determined by how much iodine is ingested. Most patients see the desired results after
one dose of the chemical, however two or more doses may be administered if
necessary. The amount of the dose is an educated guess on the part of the
endocrinologist based on laboratory results for iodine uptake, and it is
unknown how much of the thyroid will be destroyed until after two months have
passed. The result is that many
hyperthyroid patients who undergo the treatment end up with a smaller than
normal thyroid gland or no thyroid gland, making them hypothyroid and dependent
on synthetic thyroid hormone for life.
- Surgery -
During thyroid removal surgery, known as a thyroidectomy, a surgeon
manually takes out part or all of the thyroid gland to suppress hormone
production. The main benefit of thyroid surgery is that a more precise amount
of gland can be removed and the results of the procedure known instantly. However, as with all surgeries, there are
risks for complications and injury to surrounding areas, such as the voice
box. The procedure also leaves a scar
that, depending on a variety of factors, can extend from three to six inches
across the bottom of the neck and remain visible permanently.
more valuable information on traditional treatments for hyperthyroidism, check
out our full length report!
Misdiagnosis of Symptoms
The broad list of both physical and mental symptoms
associated with hyperthyroidism makes the condition easy to misdiagnose. The characteristic symptoms of the condition,
such as weight loss, elevated mood, irritability, and increased energy, can,
when taken out of context of each other, appear to medical professionals as
independent or unrelated issues.
One factor that often results in a misdiagnosis of
hyperthyroidism is that specific symptoms of the condition are easier to
immediately identify and therefore mistaken for the root of a patient’s issues.
However, treatment of these symptoms alone will not address the underlying
cause. The result is that a patient may
be diagnosed with several conditions, such as anorexia, insomnia, and mania,
but the root cause will remain undiagnosed and untreated.
If you receive a diagnosis of one of the conditions below,
but suspect you might suffer from hyperthyroidism or Graves’ Disease, we advise
you to seek out a second opinion or contact an endocrinologist or alternative
healer versed in thyroid dysfunction. To prevent misdiagnosis of your
hyperthyroid symptoms, but sure to go to your appointment armed with as
detailed observations of your health as possible.
- Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by an individual refusing to
eat or eating very little, resulting in significant and dangerous weight loss.
Physical symptoms of anorexia include extreme weight loss, fatigue, fainting,
hair loss, brittle nails, lack of menstruation, low blood pressure, and a layer
of fine, downy hair over the entire body. Hyperthyroidism, especially long
undiagnosed hyperthyroidism, can mimic some of the signs of anorexia. Many hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease
patients have reported that they were under severe suspicion of anorexia from
their personal network and medical professionals due to a lack of appetite,
increased energy and desire for physical activity, and sometimes extreme weight
loss. A simple blood test to analyze thyroid function can clear up this common
- Mania - Mania
is a mental state that is characterized by extreme energy, high volatility, and
flights of creativity. It is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, which
can be the result of substance abuse or hormonal deregulation. Mania is a
common symptom of hyperthyroidism due to the increased amount of brain
chemicals stimulated by abnormal hormone production. Because the symptoms of
mania tend to upstage any other symptoms an individual might report or a
medical professional may notice, it is not uncommon for an individual suffering
with severe hyperthyroidism to be misdiagnosed and treated with mood
stabilizers. When a diagnosis of mania is given, always insist on thyroid
hormone blood analysis.
- Insomnia is a condition that occurs when an individual has trouble going
to sleep or sleeping through the night.
Chronic insomnia can seriously affect an individual’s quality of life.
Like mania, insomnia is a common symptom of hyperthyroidism. The result is that
hyperthyroid patients find it more difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep or
sleep deeply. If you suffer from hyperthyroidism
but are diagnosed with insomnia, you will note that with mild to moderate
treatments (such as warm baths, reduced caffeine, and mild sleep aides) will do
little to quell your symptoms. Before starting a regimen, be sure to have your
thyroid levels checked.
For more valuable information on the potential misdiagnosis of
hyperthyroidism, check out our full length report!
Changes to Make
Individuals suffering from hyperthyroidism find that making
some specific changes help reduce their symptoms and promote increased
glandular health. Dietary choices can play a significant role in managing the
severity of hyperthyroidism and provide assistance to either prescription
therapies or herbal remedies in suppressing glandular function.
Goitrogen Consumption – Goitrogens are foods that contain properties that
naturally hinder thyroid hormone production and hormone conversion. Perhaps the
most well known goitrogen is soy. There are also many vegetables which have
goitrogenic properties that hyperthyroid individuals can include in abundance
in their diets, including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, spinach,
rutabaga, turnips, and sweet potatoes.
Changes - In addition to incorporating goitrogens into daily life to
naturally suppress thyroid function, many hyperthyroid patients have
experienced success including additional therapy forms, such as acupuncture and
massage, into their lifestyle.
For more valuable information on changes you can make to reduce
the symptoms of your hyperthyroidism, check out our full length report!
Vitamins & Supplements
A host of vitamins have been identified by endocrinologists
and natural health providers that help support normal thyroid function and
reduce over activity of the gland. The
most commonly referenced vitamins include Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, and
L-carnitine, although others have been identified as helpful agents.
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin C may be the most recommended supplement to encourage normal
thyroid function across all the nutritional therapy literature for
hyperthyroidism. Vitamin C, with its
strong anti-oxidant properties, has become an obvious therapy for
hyperthyroidism because it can neutralize all types of free radicals, a
potential cause of hyperthyroidism. It is recommended that individual start at
around 1,000 mg per day, however, due to the potential for Vitamin C toxicity,
it is important to check with your physician before adding any high level doses
to your daily routine.
B12 - A variety of B vitamins play crucial roles in normal thyroid function
as they are known to assist in basic metabolic function. Vitamin B12 is the most recommended for those
dealing with an overactive thyroid. B12
deficiencies are common in hyperthyroid individuals for unknown reasons. It is
recommended that supplementation start at around 1,000 to promote normal
- L-carnitine is an amino acid that has been shown to be an antioxidant in
addition to other benefits. A clinical
trial published in a 2001 edition of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and
Metabolism reported that 2-4 grams of L-carnitine supplementation daily reduces
the amount of thyroid hormone in various body tissues, thereby calming
hyperthyroid symptoms while also positively enhancing bone mineral
For more valuable information on vitamin supplementation for
hyperthyroidism, check out our full length report!
To make sure you get the treatment and solutions you need to
experience thyroid function at optimal levels, it is vital that you advocate
for your own health through asking questions of your health care professional
and educating yourself. If you suspect
you may be suffering from thyroid dysfunction, use the guide below to start
getting the information and treatment you need from your health care
- Keep a
Symptoms Journal: If you are starting to suspect you may suffer from
hyperthyroidism, the first thing you need to do is record your observations
regarding the nature, severity, frequency, and duration of any symptoms you
experience in a Symptoms Journal. Take
note of anything out of the ordinary, from mood shifts to bowel movement
changes. After you have 2-3 weeks of data recorded in your Symptoms Journal,
review what you have observed and, if you feel something is out of the
ordinary, call your health care provider and make an appointment to
investigate. Be sure to take your
Symptoms Journal with you to the appointment!
- Ask The
Right Questions: Help direct the examination with your health care
provider and also advocate for yourself by asking specific questions regarding
what they are noticing. Here are a few
questions to ask as they are performing a physical exam:
- Is my pulse elevated?
- Does my heart beat sound regular?
- Have I gained or lost weight since my last
- Is my body temperature elevated?
Certain Tests: When you are at your appointment with your health care
provider, insist they order blood tests checking your thyroid hormone levels.
For more valuable information on talking to
your doctor about hyperthyroidism, check out our full length report!
Promoting general thyroid wellness is essential to healing
hyperthyroidism. Incorporating the elements below into your daily lifestyle can
positively influence the healing process and help alleviate your symptoms
sooner as well as lay the foundation for continued thyroid health.
- Remove unnecessary toxins from your life as soon
as possible. Cut down on alcohol consumption, tobacco products, recreational
drugs, and high amounts of carbohydrates and sugars in your diet.
- Eat organic and whole grain. Consuming hormonally supplemented meat, eggs,
and vegetables can strain your body’s ability to synthesize hormones and fight
adequate amounts of water. It is
recommended you drink one ounce of water for every two pounds of your body
- Avoid caffeinated and carbonated drinks.
- Ensure you are getting enough fiber on a daily
basis through supplements or dietary sources.
- Take between 30-60 minutes of exercise daily. Be
sure to slowly increase the length and severity of your exercise to give your
body time to adjust. Even walking for 30-45 minutes daily will make a big
positive influence on your thyroid health.
- Reduce your intake of dairy and gluten
containing products as they strain the digestive system and may contribute to
the development of thyroid conditions.
- Have your thyroid hormone levels checked once
every 3-4 months to ensure you are adequately managing your condition.
- Maintain close communication with your health
care provider or natural remedy specialist to make small adjustments or tweaks
in your treatment as needed and in a timely fashion
For more valuable wellness tips for hyperthyroidism, check out
our full length report!
Over the past decade the mainstream endocrinology community
has slowly but surely started augmenting - and in some cases totally replacing
- prescription therapies with herbal supplementation to provide truly
- Bugleweed (Lycopus virginicus)
is a member of the mint family that has received consistent praise for its role
in treating hyperthyroidism. Its success
stems from its ability to reduce the gland’s ability to process iodine and
thereby lower the amount of thyroid hormone in the bloodstream. The most common
way to take Bugleweed is in tincture form.
Herbalists recommend using extracts of the leaf instead of the root
whenever possible as they are more potent.
They also note that alcohol based tinctures are more effective than
water based ones. Daily Bugleweed doses can cause several side effects, such as
headache, temporary increase in hyperthyroid symptoms, and increased thyroid
- Motherwort (Leonurus cardiac) is also a member of the mint family.
Motherwort has been used consistently by herbalists and other natural
remedy specialists to decrease some of the more dangerous symptoms of
hyperthyroidism. The herb is indicated
to calm heart palpitations, high cholesterol and pulse, as well as the general
strain imposed upon the cardiac system by the condition. The traditional way to
ingest Motherwort is to take 2 g in tea form three times a day. There are no
side effects associated with Motherwort, however it should not be coupled with
other heart prescription medications such as beta blockers.
- Passionflower is an herb that is native to the United States. It can be used to relax muscles throughout
the body, decrease pain, induce sleep, and slow heart rate. Passionflower is often used by hyperthyroid
patients to alleviate both physical and mental symptoms of their condition,
such as insomnia, irritability, confusion, and hand tremors. Most herbalists suggest it works best when
coupled with other relaxing herbs, such as Valerian Root.
Root - Valerian Root is well known throughout the natural remedy
communities as a natural sleep aid, muscle relaxant, and nervous stimulant
depressant. Valerian Root has also be
praised for its ability to simulate the same effects as prescription pain
relievers and sleep aids without causing the groggy, drowsy next day
feeling. It may be taken in capsule
form, with Catherine Winters of Natural Health Magazine recommending
500-1,000 mg ingested daily one hour before bed.
Balm - Lemon Balm (Melissa
officinalis) has been reported to reduce the amount of TSH in the
bloodstream after only one dose.
Commonly paired with Bugleweed in the natural treatment of Graves’
Disease, Lemon Balm is popular especially among European natural therapists for
the suppression of hyperthyroidism.
Success has most often been reported when the herb is administered in
injection form, however it is recommended that patients try ingesting it orally
in dried form before resorting to the more invasive option of injection. It is recommended an individual start with
1-4 g ingested in tea form three times daily.
For more valuable information on herbal
remedies for hyperthyroidism, check out our full length report!