HYPERTHYROIDISM (OVERACTIVE THYROID), GRAVES DISEASE
Written by Slawomir Gromadzki (“Swavak”), MPH
Thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of the neck. It produces two primary hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and its prohormone, tetraiodothyronine (T4) also called thyroxin. They are primarily responsible for regulation of metabolism and how our cells use energy.
Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is a condition in which your thyroid gland makes too much of one of its hormones (thyroxin T4, T3) or both.
The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease, which is an autoimmune disorder. In this condition the immune system produces antibodies that stimulate the thyroid gland to secrete too much its hormones. Graves’ disease and other forms of hyperthyroidism accelerate body’s metabolism, causing weight loss and other symptoms. It also often results in an enlarged thyroid. Graves’ disease occurs almost eight times more often in women than in men.
The symptoms of hyperthyroidism may include: Rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, sweating, nervousness, hand tremors, more frequent bowel movements, difficulty sleeping, weight loss, irregular menstrual cycles, increased appetite, inability to concentrate, weakness, itching, hair loss, nausea, men can develop boobs, eye problems such as bulging (exophthalmos, a condition that’s related to Graves’ disease), etc. The thyroid gland can swell into a goitre.
– Hyperthyroidism is mostly an autoimmune problem but sometimes an excess iodine, a key ingredient in T4 and T3, can trigger the condition. However, it shouldn’t be a frequent cause as usually people are very deficient in iodine due to soil depletion and lack of this mineral in the food. In addition, T3 and T4 are partially composed of iodine. Therefore, a deficiency of iodine leads to decreased production of T3 and T4, enlarges the thyroid tissue and will cause the disease known as simple goitre. Goitre can be associated with both hypothyroidism as well as hyperthyroidism.
– Inflammation of the thyroid (thyroiditis) that causes T4 and T3 to leak out of the gland.
– Tumours of the ovaries or testes.
– Benign tumours of the thyroid or pituitary gland.
– Large amounts of tetraiodothyronine taken through dietary supplements or medication.
– Thyroid stores more selenium than anywhere else in the body because selenium plays a big role in metabolic processes. Some studies have linked low levels of selenium with low thyroid function as selenium deficiency may reduce the effectiveness of the thyroid hormones. Selenium regulates thyroid function as it helps remove thyroid-harming substances and supports normal thyroid structure. Thyroid controls important body functions, including temperature, appetite, sleep, weight, energy and more. Problems with thyroid function can result in irritability, weight gain or loss, trouble sleeping, muscle weakness, fatigue, etc. Selenium is also important in thyroid T4 to T3 conversion, and therefore can be helpful in coping with low mood if it is contributed by an underactive thyroid. Many individuals claim that the amount of selenium in a few Brazil nuts consumed every day is sufficient to keep low mood at bay. Selenium regulates the production of reactive oxygen within the thyroid and protects it against autoimmune attack caused by antibodies. It is therefore believed that apart from Vitamin D and Zinc deficiency also lack of selenium contributes to autoimmune thyroid diseases such as Hashimoto (underactive thyroid) or Grave’s disease (overactive thyroid) and in pregnant women to appearance anti-TPO antibodies (another autoimmune thyroid condition).
AN ATTEMPT TO SOLVE THE MYSTERY OF AN AUTOIMMUNE RESPONSE
(IT IS VERY IMPORTANT PART! PLEASE READ EVERYTHING!)
Autoimmune diseases are becoming extremely common nowadays, especially among women. Researchers have proved that all autoimmune disorders basically reflect the same strange phenomenon: The irritated and weakened by different factors (including unhealthy diet, dairy, gluten, toxins, stress, or vitamin D deficiency) immune system, mistakes healthy tissue or organs as foreign and begins to attack them. The only difference between numerous autoimmune diseases is the type of organ or tissue which is attacked. In case of vitiligo, eczema or psoriasis it is skin; in Parkinson’s disease it is dopamine producing brain cells; in lupus it can be different parts of the body including joints, skin, liver, etc. When leukocytes attack pancreas they cause type I diabetes. With ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, it is the colon; and with multiple sclerosis, it is the nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord. In case of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and Graves’ hyperthyroidism, the thyroid is the target of the immune system.
It is very interesting that Hashimoto’s disease (the most common cause of underactive thyroid) as well as Grave’s disease (the most common cause of overactive thyroid) are both an autoimmune conditions. However, there is an important difference between these two diseases with regards to the role and influence of the immune system: In Hashimoto’s leukocytes, instead of protecting the gland, strangely treat thyroid cells as if they were some dangerous invaders and destroy thyroid cells making them unable to produce enough hormones. In Grave’s disease, on the other hand, white blood cells go into another extreme, and although there is no physiological need to do this, they stimulate thyroid to make way too much of its hormones.
It means that in both cases the immune system gets “crazy” and instead of protecting thyroid cells it behaves in a very strange way and either decides to kill thyroid gland or cause another harm by forcing overproduction of thyroid hormones!
Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to find a medical website or a scientist that would at least attempt to explain this extremely weird behaviour of human immune system. They are unable to do it probably because scientists look for a very complex scientific answers while the solution may be surprisingly simple and logical. Apart from that, for them the immune system is just a bunch of unintelligent cells that came into existence as a result of evolution and only mechanically perform their physiological functions.
Fortunately, back in Poland I was very lucky to have a privilege of translating a series of health lectures by American physitian Dr. Sang Lee who developed a very interesting explanation of this phenomenon. So let me try to share with you a few thoughts I still remember from his fascinating and unique health seminars.
When we carefully study the physiology of our immune system we quickly get an impression that somehow our immune system behaves in an incredibly intelligent way. It is also clear that the immune system is very closely connected to the brain and nervous system and that white blood cells respond to different physiological and even psychological needs. One scientist trying to express this idea even suggested that leukocytes behave like “pieces of brain scattered all over the body”.
There is no doubt brain is the most important part of human body. Brain in our organism is like a “king” or a “boss” and because of that, no cell, including the immune system cells ever question any information, signals or anything coming from the brain. That is why the placebo or nocebo effect (a positive or negative attitude of the brain) can impose such a powerful effect on body’s physiology and health.
Knowing this we can draw some very important conclusions which will help us to understand how mental attitudes and emotions can influence the immune system cells to either destroy thyroid or stimulate it to make more hormones.
We know that great majority of both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are caused by abnormal and harmful response (behaviour) of the immune system. The autoimmune form of hypothyroidism is called Hashimoto’s disease and in case of hyperthyroidism it is Graves disease.
Another fact we need to take into consideration is that autoimmune diseases (including both thyroid autoimmune conditions) are much more prevalent among women than man, even if their diet and lifestyle are similar. Now, that doesn’t mean bad diet, and lack of exercise do not contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases, but that there is another cause which should be regarded as even more significant.
The simple conclusion, therefore, is that it is anxiety, depression, worrying and negative mental attitudes that must greatly contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases, simply because poor mental health is also much more common among women than men.
Taking into consideration all those facts Dr Lee suggested that when a woman suffers from chronic anxiety or depression, when she has negative attitude toward life, keeps on thinking about death or suicide, or if she is overwhelmed by any other negative thoughts and emotions, her intelligent and closely connected to the brain immune system gets a clear impression that the “boss” (which is the brain) doesn’t want to live. Therefore, like obedient soldiers the white blood cells feel obliged to fulfil the desire of the “boss”, so they turn against its own body and begin to attack different organs. In case of Hashimoto’s disease it is thyroid.
The whole situation is made even more dangerous when a depressed woman does not exercise, and since only dead body does not move, the leukocytes draw a conclusion that she is already dead so why they should protect the dead body? If she is dead it is more reasonable rather to attack the body and accelerate the decaying process!
There are also some nutritional ways to trigger an autoimmune reaction. We already know that heated animal protein, especially the one found in cow’s milk and dairy, is often treated by human immune system as a foreign invader. Because of that leukocytes send antibodies against those heated proteins which get into human body with milk and dairy products. The problem however is that in our bodies there are certain proteins which look exactly like those heated milk proteins so the weakened immune system often mistakenly and simultaneously attack also those body’s own proteins, causing different autoimmune problems.
Apart from pessimism and sedentary lifestyle there are still other “death signals” that may “inspire” the immune system to attack own body. For instance, using stimulants such as alcohol, smoking, illegal drugs, coffee, tea, cola, sugar, etc. could be discerned by the immune system as the “death wish” (“death signals”) of the brain and thus “inspire” the immune system with the idea that the “boss” wishes to die (due to the suicidal lifestyle and diet). The immune system may get this impression because stimulants are harmful and toxic chemicals which slowly contribute to the death of the body.
Also regular consumption of meat products may trigger similar reaction because meat comes from dead animals.
In addition, any heated (cocked, boiled, fried, grilled) animal protein always triggers immune reaction causing leukocytes to start mobilising and thus leading to increased number of leukocytes in the blood. This phenomenon is called leucocytosis and has bad influence on the immune system. As a result of frequent consumption of heated animal proteins (cooked dairy, meat, poultry, fish, or eggs) the immune system is frequently alarmed, has to overwork and may change its nature. Eventually it often turns against its own body causing numerous autoimmune diseases, including thyroid problems.
In case of the Graves hyperthyroidism, however, the behaviour of the immune system seems to be very opposite than in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or other autoimmune conditions because in Graves hyperthyroidism instead of attacking and destroying the tissue leukocytes just stimulate thyroid to make even more hormones! Now, why on earth in this case the immune system changed its tactics and instead of killing thyroid gland it just decides to “help” it to work very hard?
Well, also in this case Dr Lee got a very interesting explanation. He suggests that if a woman lives a very stressful lifestyle, always tries to do her best in performing her duties at home and work, often in a hurry, dealing with many different things at the same time, if she doesn’t rest and sleep long enough at night, gets often nervous or irritated, drinks coffee or uses other stimulants to increase her energy so that she could be more efficient, then guess what the “intelligent” immune system, which responds to the physiological and psychological needs, do? The immune system says, “Ok, the boss is very restless, wants be more energetic and efficient in performing different duties, let us then go to thyroid and stimulate it to make more hormones, and in this way we will fulfil the wish of the boss.” When over a decade ago I heard this idea for the fists time I said, “Wow! It is so fascinating how our immune system works and how it can be influenced by mental attitudes!”
Well, if this idea is true, and to be honest I personally like it very much, then the best way to prevent and treat autoimmune diseases (including Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and Graves hyperthyroidism) is by stress control, positive thinking, laughter, frequent smiling, taking care of others, helping people in need, going for a walk and enjoying life and the beauty of the nature. It can be done by avoiding “death signals” (stimulants, meat products and other heated dead foods, etc.). In this way you will show the immune system that you want to live and actually enjoy life. As a result those smart and intelligent invisible tiny soldiers (the white blood cells) will never attack your own body (or will stop doing that) but will protect and fight for you like Kamikazes.
Unfortunately, from my long experience I know that for many of us it is very difficult and often even impossible to become a positive thinking person because those negative emotions and fears seem to be part of our nature. Sometimes we even feel like slaves of pessimism.
And that sad truth is the very reason I included on my website a very special, unique and even most important section called “EMPOWRNMENT”. So please read it carefully and then study the even more significant article titled the “GOSPEL OF FREEDOM“, as it reveals the secret of finding the only source of true inward “peace” which according to Apostle Paul “surpasses all knowledge” and which can “guard (protect) our hearts and minds (emotions)”.
Combined with true strong faith this message will lead you to freedom from negative emotions such as anxiety or existential fears (one of the key source of deadly free radicals). It will empower you with moral strength necessary to overcome long-cultivated bad habits or addictions, often impossible to defeat on our own. This unique and most wonderful good news of the gospel will also give you a powerful motivation to not only practice but also enjoy the new and very healthy way of life.
– Avoid foods high in amines: cheeses, sauerkraut, alcohol, wine, bear, pizza with cheese, all fermented foods and beverages, etc.
– Often eat: Raw cabbage, oats, millet, wheat germ, raw carrot juice, cooked soy and soy products such as tofu, strawberries, pears, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, peaches, parsnips, spinach, etc. All these foods reduce thyroid hormones production, especially raw cabbage (must be raw and not sauerkraut).
– Consume about 3-4 Brazil nuts per day to provide daily recommended amount of selenium or take 200 mcg of selenium in the form of a supplement.
– L-carnitine. In a randomized trial it was shown that 2–4 g of oral L-carnitine per day was able to reverse hyperthyroid symptoms even in the most serious form of hyperthyroidism. L-Carnitine is a peripheral antagonist of thyroid hormone action. It inhibits the entry of triiodothyronine and thyroxin into the cell nuclei. Since hyperthyroidism depletes the tissue deposits of carnitine, there is a justification for using L-carnitine. the study lasted for six months and it was comparing L-carnitine to placebo in 50 female participants with hyperthyroidism. It demonstrated that daily dose of 2 to 4 grams of L-carnitine was effective in preventing and reducing the nine hyperthyroid related symptoms. In addition, it also had a beneficial effect on bone mineral density.
– Beneficial herbs: Sage, dandelion, milk thistle, nettle, lemon balm, Tulsi (holy basil), hops.
– Green clay compress on thyroid for at least two hours or overnight. It often helps recover from thyroid nodules and can be very beneficial in case of goitre and swollen thyroid.
– Energetic exercise every day to burn excessive hormones.
Thyroid conditions are treated with harmful medication, which have bad side effects. Fortunately it is possible to recover from thyroid problems by practicing healthy lifestyle and using natural remedies.
Since 80% of people with hyperthyroidism have Graves disease, an autoimmune condition, it is necessary to stop the immune system from attacking own body (thyroid).
Most important element of the treatment is implementing principles from the HEALTH RECOVERY PLAN >
NUTRITIONAL AND LIFESTYLE RECOMMENDATIONS
Hyperthyroid symptoms can be totally reversed by practicing the following guidelines:
– Avoid all fermented foods including cheese (contain amines), meat products, all dairy (amines), stimulants (caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, etc.).
– Go on vegan unrefined diet as it gives best results. Eat especially with lots of raw vegetables salads and raw vegetable juices.
– Proper stress control and positive thinking – extremely important!
– Eliminate all junk food, processed food, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, and anything with bad preservatives and chemical.
– Eating whole, unprocessed foods, and choosing as many organics as possible.
– Stress control and treating anxiety and depression.
– Getting adequate sun exposure if possible (20 minutes a day during summer time between 10 am and 2 pm) to maintain vitamin D levels.
– Avoid gluten (wheat products, etc.). The molecular structure of thyroid tissue is almost identical to that of gluten and therefore the immune system may start sending antibodies not only against gluten proteins but against proteins found in thyroid causing Graves disease. In this way gluten can increase the autoimmune attack on thyroid. Gluten can cause gastrointestinal system to malfunction, so foods aren’t completely digested. These food particles can then be absorbed into bloodstream where body misidentifies them as antigens and then produces antibodies against them. These antigens are similar to molecules in thyroid gland. So body accidentally attacks thyroid.
– Avoid all dairy products as heated dairy protein (especially A1 casein) often irritates the immune system stimulating it to produce antibodies against different internal organs including thyroid. The most common allergies and food intolerances today are from wheat and dairy products because of the hybridized proteins of gluten and a1 casein. These proteins can cause Leaky Gut Syndrome which leads to inflammation of the thyroid and effect its function.
– Use glass bottles as Bisphenol A (BPA) which is found in plastic bottles and cans (they are lined up with plastic) disrupt endocrine system and effect thyroid.
– Avoiding chlorine, fluoride (toothpastes with fluoride, etc.), and bromine as they also contribute to thyroid dysfunction, and since they are halides like iodine, they compete for iodine receptors. If you are exposed to a lot of bromine, you will not hold on to the iodine you need. Bromine is present in plastics, pesticides, hot tub treatments, some flours and bakery goods, and even some soft drinks.
– Avoid hydrogenated fats and trans fats (margarines, doughnuts, cakes, etc.) and pro-inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids (soy oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, etc.). Many dietary oils can negatively affect thyroid health.
Ray Peat Ph.D., a physiologist who has worked with progesterone and related hormones since 1968, says that the sudden surge of polyunsaturated oils into the food chain post World War II has caused many changes in hormones. He writes: “Their [polyunsaturated oils] best understood effect is their interference with the function of the thyroid gland. Unsaturated oils block thyroid hormone secretion, its movement in the circulatory system, and the response of tissues to the hormone. When the thyroid hormone is deficient, the body is generally exposed to increased levels of estrogen. The thyroid hormone is essential for making the ‘protective hormones’ progesterone and pregnenolone, so these hormones are lowered when anything interferes with the function of the thyroid. The thyroid hormone is required for using and eliminating cholesterol, so cholesterol is likely to be raised by anything that blocks the thyroid function.”
– Increase consumption of omega 3 fatty acids in the form of ground flax seeds, chia seeds. Omega 3s are the building blocks for hormones that control immune function and cell growth. They are critical to thyroid function, and improve the ability to respond to thyroid hormones.
– Detoxifying body from heavy metals by using combination of: Chlorella, Milk Thistle, Turmeric, Cilantro.
– Remove any dental fillings containing mercury.
– Lower carbohydrate intake (sugars and grains) as they increase estrogen and negatively affect the thyroid.
– Increasing intake of healthy fats such as raw coconut oil, coconut milk, avocado, chia seeds (soaked for at least 30 minutes or overnight), ground flaxseed, and hemp seeds as they will balance hormones. Coconut oil is one of the best foods for thyroid. Coconut oil is a saturated fat comprising medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are known to increase metabolism and promote weight loss. Coconut oil is very stable (shelf life of three to five years at room temperature), so body is much less burdened with oxidative stress than it is from many other vegetable oils.
– Increase consumption of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene found in carrots, apricots, green leafy vegetables, etc. as it is another nutrient that has a very important role to play in thyroid function.
– Eliminate stimulants (anything with caffeine or other similar harmful alkaloids: coffee, tea, green tea, mate, yerba mate, cola, chocolate, etc.).
– Increase consumption of foods high in good quality protein (pulses) as protein helps to normalize thyroid function.
– Exercise at least 60 minutes per day.
– Get enough sleep.
– Practice deep breathing.
– Address adrenal fatigue. A prolonged stress response can lead to adrenal exhaustion (also known as adrenal fatigue), which is linked to thyroid disease. Find out more about ADRENAL FATIGUE >
– Treat unresolved emotional issues as a source of stress. The thyroid reflects woman’s emotions and mental attitude. Many women have experienced a “trapped voice,” and by the time perimenopause arrives, the accumulated effect gives rise to symptoms, including poor thyroid function. When women make progress in treating unresolved emotional issues, their thyroid symptoms subside. Stress, anxiety or depression are often key culprits of thyroid dysfunction. It is important to identify the stressors and learn use ways such as prayer that can help to control stress and negative emotions.
– Read about the DEADLY CONSEQUENCES OF UNFORGIVENESS >
– Drink and use for cooking only distilled or at least filtered water. Fluoride is particularly damaging to your thyroid gland. Not all water filters remove fluoride, so make sure the one you have does or use only distilled water (buy a water distiller). Taking chlorella and turmeric help to get rid of fluoride and heavy metals such as mercury.
HERBAL REMEDIES & SUPPLEMENTS
– Supplementation with Copper and Manganese, as well as vitamins such as A, B2, B3, B6, C, and E, can improve thyroid health. Instead of taking these minerals and vitamins separately use a good quality multivitamin-mineral formula such as Healthy Mega (HealthAid), Earth Source (Solgar) or VM-75 (Solgar) to get all the above mentioned ingredients.
– Boost Glutathione levels which is a most powerful of all antioxidants and strengthens the immune system and is one of the most effective remedies against Graves disease. It boosts body’s ability to modulate and regulate the immune system and protect and heal thyroid tissue. It is also important to provide body with ingredients that increase glutathione production in the liver by taking turmeric, milk thistle, NAC (N-acetyl cysteine), bioactive whey protein, Glutamine, Alpha Lipoic Acid, bilberry, vitamin C, asparagus, broccoli, peaches, avocado, spinach, garlic, squash, grapefruit.
– Supplement magnesium (800 mg of magnesium citrate a day).
– Take good quality omega 3 fish oil supplements (Omegazon by HealthAid is excellent as it is purified using triple molecular distillation): 1000-2000 mg a day with meal.
– Vitamin B12: 1,000 to 2,000 mcg a day under the tongue (must be sublingual Methylcobalamin!). Unfortunately, many people with autoimmune thyroid problems have low levels of this very important vitamin. Read a fascinating article on B12 >
– Zinc – 30 mg a day after breakfast.
– Take good quality probiotic formulas as 20 percent of thyroid function depends on a sufficient supply of healthy gut bacteria.
– You must take Vitamin D3 because 92% of people with thyroid autoimmune conditions are deficient in Vitamin D! While using vitamin D3 supplements always remember to take also well absorbed magnesium (such as citrate) as vitamin D supplements lead to magnesium deficiency over time. If you can’t afford higher doses take at least 4,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day with meal. But since deficiency of this vitamin is so widespread (especially in the UK) it would be better to take 10,000 to 30,000 IU a day with meals with appropriate doses of magnesium. Another requirement for proper absorption of vitamin D is 200 mcg of Vitamin K2 MK-7 (Derived from Natural Natto) a day. Read more about vitamin D >
– Many people with overactive thyroid ask if it is a good idea to take kelp or other natural sources of iodine as they think taking iodine supplements may worsen their condition. Well, it is possible, although in most cases iodine supplementation (especially in the natural form such as kelp, chlorella or spirulina) doesn’t cause problems in people with hyperthyroidism, all the more since deficiency of iodine is very common today due to soil depletion. Therefore, even those who suffer from overactive thyroid may be deficient in iodine which makes the problem even worse. However, in this case I wouldn’t take more than one tablet of kelp a day or 5 tablets of chlorella or spirulina (both are lower in iodine than kelp) as overdosing iodine can exacerbate the autoimmune response in people with Graves’ Disease.
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