Grave's Disease (Hyperthyroid)
By Steven Horne, RH (AHG) & Kimberly Balas, ND
See also: Hashimoto's Disease
Graves disease is an overactive or hyperthyroid condition, where the thyroid is overproducing hormones. This means the thyroid is over stimulating metabolism. You can think of this as having the thermostat set too high. As a result, fuel burns too quickly, which results in weight loss, intolerance to heat and hyperactivity and restlessness. For example, some of the specific symptoms associated with Grave's disease (the most common hyperactive thyroid condition) include bulging eyes, rapid pulse rate (90-160), heart palpitations, tremors, restlessness and anxiety, lack of periods, muscle weakness and impaired sleep.
The reason why heart rate is linked with thyroid function is because the heart prefers fatty acids over carbohydrates for fuel. So, when fat burning is hot, the heart is over stimulated. When fat burning is slow, the heart tends to beat more slowly, too.
This is a serious medical condition and needs proper medical attention. The rapid heart beat can over-stress the heart and circulation resulting in life-threatening effects. It is essential that a physician monitor someone with a hyperthyroid condition, even if the patient is opting to try a natural approach. Medication may be needed to lower the heart rate and inhibit the thyroid while you work on removing the underlying health problems.
While it is important to have proper medical monitoring of a hyperthyroid situation, medical treatments for hyperactive thyroid conditions leave much to be desired. While drugs can be used to inhibit thyroid function, physicians usually convince the patient to destroy the thyroid gland with radioactive iodine.
This therapy is literally designed to "fry" the thyroid gland. The radioactive iodine is taken up by the thyroid
gland, causing it to be destroyed. Thereafter, the person will have to take medications for low thyroid, as their thyroid gland will no longer function properly. Obviously, there has to be a better way.
There are herbs which inhibit thyroid function. Several plant species contain substances known to bind to TSH receptor sites in the thyroid, inhibiting them and reducing thyroid output. These include bugleweed and lemon balm. Motherwort and mistletoe can also be used to calm the heartbeat. (Unfortunately, none of these herbs are available from NSP)
However, simply inhibiting the thyroid (even with herbs) isn't correcting the underlying problem or cause. According to Dr. Henry Bieler in Food is Your Best Medicine, the glands act as a third line of immune defense. When toxins get past the intestinal membranes and the liver and enter the blood stream, the glandular system becomes overexcited in an effort to increase metabolic rate in order to drive the toxins out of the body. so, according to this theory, a hyperactive thyroid would signal a need to cleanse the blood of toxins. Heavy metals, in particular, may be at the root of hyperthyroid function.
NSP's formula IF-C is a heat-reducing formula, indicated for rapid heartbeat, a red tongue, and conditions involving excess heat, such as fever or inflammation. It clears toxins from the blood and can be very helpful for hyperthyroid.
The adrenals tend to work with and balance the thyroid. People with hyperactive thyroid function also tend to have adrenal problems. The stress hormone, cortisol, is an anti-inflammatory, so hyperthyroidism may be a sign of exces stress, accompanied by adrenal weakness. So the cooling effect of the adrenal hormone, cortisol, is reduced. In this case, licorice root, Adrenal Support or Nervous Fatigue formula have also proved helpful.
Other supplements that may be helpful for hyperthyroid include Magnesium Complex, Stress-J, Chinese Stress Relief, Intestinal Soothe and Build, CO-Q10 and hawthorn.
Diet can also play a role in helping to balance an over an over-active thyroid. High carbohydrate diets, coupled with low protein and/or fat intake, tend to elevate thyroid function. So, a properly balanced diet with correct proportions of fats, proteins, and low glycemic carbohydrates is helpful Cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower tend to have an inhibiting effect on the production of thyroid hormones. Soy also has a strong thyroid inhibiting effect. Millet has a mild effect. These foods should be consumed freely.
Hyperthyroid patients may actually be deficient in iodine. If your body is saturated with iodine, it would not take up radioactive iodine, so the fact that the medical profession can use radioactive iodine to kill the thyroid suggests the tissues are not properly saturated with iodine. The best formula for supplementing iodine is TS II With Hops because the hops also has a calming affect on the thyroid.
Again, hyperthyroid conditions can be serious and life-threatening, so the situation should be monitored by a physician to make certain the therapy is working, even when the person chooses to go the natural route.
Below is a list of suggested products. Those in bold are key products for the health issue explained on this page.
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