Your thyroid is an important gland located in the front of your neck, which helps to regulate the hormones in your body.
Functions regulated by the thyroid include metabolism, hunger, sleep, energy levels, and more.
If the levels of thyroid hormones are too high, or too low it can cause issues.
Today we are going to look at what happens when thyroid levels are too high.
This is called hyperthyroidism, a common form of which is Graves’ disease.
There are a number of naturopathic treatments for Graves’ disease, which we’ll discuss in this article.
What Is Graves’ Disease?
The disease was discovered by its namesake, Robert Graves, in 1835.
Graves’ disease occurs when the thyroid over produces hormones which affect the functioning of the body.
This is a common manifestation of hyperthyroidism, and it is considered an autoimmune disease.
Symptoms of Graves’ Disease
Due to the wide range of hormones the thyroid regulates, the symptoms of Graves’ disease can manifest in a number of ways.
It can change the way a person feels, resulting in anxiety, irritability, or fatigue.
Physical symptoms may include a tremor in your hands or fingers, and sensitivity to heat.
Other symptoms include weight loss, erectile dysfunction, low libido, or changes to the menstrual cycle.
Variations Of Graves’ Disease
There are two variations of Graves’ disease, and they come with different signs and symptoms.
Graves’ ophthalmopathy affects the area around the eyes, while Graves’ dermopathy affects the skin.
Let’s have a look at each of these.
This variation of Graves’ affects approximately 30% of those afflicted with the disease.
The muscles and tissues around the eyes are affected, resulting in symptoms such as bulging eyes, pain or pressure in the eyes, puffy eyelids, sensitivity to light, double vision, or vision loss.
The variation of Graves’ known as Graves’ Dermopathy is not very common.
The main symptom of this is thick red skin on the shins or the tops of the feet.
Causes & Risk Factors Of Graves’ Disease
Graves’ disease is linked to a breakdown in the immune system.
More specifically, the immune system produces an antibody which attacks the cells in the thyroid gland.
This causes an overproduction of the thyroid hormones, also known as hyperthyroidism, as your thyroid struggles to compensate.
Natural Treatments For Graves’ Disease
There are a number of ways Graves’ disease can be managed naturally, to help keep the symptoms under control.
Let’s have a look at some of the ways it can be managed.
1. Quit Smoking
As if you needed another reason to quit smoking, cigarettes can contribute to Graves’ disease.
It is thought that the high amount of toxins in cigarette smoke increases inflammation and damages healthy cells.
A 2002 study in the journal of the American Thyroid Association by Vestergaard et. al found an increased risk of Graves’ disease, and a number of other thyroid disorders including goiter and autoimmune hypothyroidism, in those with a smoking habit.
2. Reduce Your Exposure To Endocrine Disruptors
Many commonly used products have chemicals which can disrupt our endocrine systems, and for those with Graves’ these chemicals can make symptoms worse.
Some common endocrine disruptors include, but are not limited to:
• DDT (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), commonly found in pesticides
• BPA (Bisphenol A), found in many commercial plastics
• Phthalates, used to increase the longevity of plastics
• Xenoestrogens, found in processed foods and dryer sheets
Use organic products as much as possible, replacing household cleaners that are full of chemicals for natural alternatives, avoiding medications that are not absolutely necessary, and drinking water filtered to remove fluoride and chlorine are all ways to limit your exposure to these chemicals.
3. Reduce Your Stress Levels
Stress has been shown to trigger autoimmune reactions in humans, and increase inflammation.
In addition, many Graves’ disease patients have reported having high stress levels before developing the disease.
High levels of cortisol and adrenaline due to stress can have impacts on neurotransmitter function and make the symptoms of thyroid disease worse.
Exercise, meditation, acupuncture, and massage therapy are all great ways to manage stress levels.
4. Eat An Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Common food allergens such as gluten and dairy products could be causing autoimmune reactions.
These can also contribute to “leaky gut” syndrome – this is where particles of allergens leak into the bloodstream causing an inflammatory response.
In addition to gluten and dairy, foods to avoid include artificial dyes or flavouring and added sugar.
Foods to add to your diet to help control Graves’ symptoms may include:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Anti-inflammatory herbs such as basil, rosemary, parsley, and oregano
- Spices – turmeric, ginger, and garlic are all said to assist with immune function
- Bone broth
- Healthy fats
5. Speak To Your Naturopathic Doctor
Although there are a number of ways you can control the symptoms of Graves’ disease on your own, it is always best to include your naturopathic doctor in your treatment plans.
If you are pregnant, suffer from other autoimmune or inflammatory diseases, this is especially true.
Especially in pregnancy, Graves’ disease can result in a long list of complications, so having your doctor on board as part of your treatment team is very important.
This is also true for complications relating to heart disease and complications.
At any time, even if you have been successfully managing the symptoms on your own, be sure to contact your doctor if they should worsen.
Contact Dr. Simona
Are you suffering from Graves’ disease and want to explore natural treatment options?
Have you noticed a change or worsening of your symptoms and want to look at why this is happening and what you can do about it?
Contact me, Dr. Simona today, and we can take an in-depth look at your symptoms and determine the best treatment program to suit your needs and lifestyle.
If you’re new to naturopathic medicine, I offer new patients a FREE 15-minute health consultation.
During that consultation, you and I will sit down together at my clinic, and we’ll talk about your health concerns.
I’ll answer any questions you have, address your concerns, and from there we can talk about your treatment options.
Contact me, Dr. Simona, and let’s start working toward a healthier thyroid and a healthier you.