Each of these bodily functions are controlled, at least in part, by hormones created by the thyroid.
So if you’re having issues in any of these areas which can’t be otherwise explained, it might be related to your thyroid producing too many, or too little hormones.
When your thyroid is overactive and creating too many hormones, this is called hyperthyroidism – one of the main causes of this is Graves’ disease.
Today we will look at what Graves’ disease is, how to recognize the symptoms, and some naturopathic treatments for this thyroid problem.
Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Graves’ Disease?
The disease was discovered by its namesake, Robert Graves, in 1835.
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune response which results in hyperthyroidism (overproduction of thyroid hormones).
The thyroid produces hormones which affect a wide range of bodily functions, and because of this, Graves’ disease can affect a large number of your body’s systems.
Symptoms Of Graves’ Disease
Symptoms of Graves’ disease include:
- Rapid heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Heart palpitations
- Increased irritability
- Unexplained weight loss
- Intolerance to heat
- Elongated, red tongue
- Dry, hot skin
- Muscle tremors, especially in the hands and fingers
- Changes to the menstrual cycle
- Reduced libido, erectile dysfunction
- Bulging eyes (Graves’ ophthalmopathy)
- Thick red skin on the tops of feet and shins (Graves’ dermopathy)
What Causes Graves’ Disease?
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune response, and the exact cause is unknown.
It occurs when your immune system produces an antibody which overrides the regulation of the thyroid, resulting in an overproduction of thyroid hormone.
There is no one single cause of Graves’ disease across every patient who is afflicted, although there does seem to be a genetic component.
Other factors which should be considered include:
- Lymphatic stagnation and toxicity due to a history of head or neck trauma
- Gluten intolerance and food allergies
- Poor digestive system health
How Common Is Graves’ Disease?
According to the Thyroid Foundation of Canada, Graves’ disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism in Canada, affecting an estimated 1 in 100 people.
Naturopathic Treatments For Graves’ Disease
If you have Graves’ disease, there are a number of ways you can manage your condition, naturally, to help keep your symptoms under control.
Let’s have a look at a few of these.
1. Quit Smoking
Exposure to tobacco and other drugs has been shown to be a trigger for autoimmune disorders.
The thought is that the high levels of toxins in cigarettes can cause damage to healthy cells, and increase inflammation, causing the release of T-fighter cells.
If you are a smoker, this is one of many reasons to consider quitting, or at very least cutting back on this habit.
L-Carnitine is an amino acid which plays a role in the production of energy in the body, by transporting fatty acids to the mitochondria of the cell.
It can be produced in the body, and also obtained through supplementation, or through dietary sources by eating animal products such as meat and fish.
L-Carnitine blocks the thyroid hormone from entering cells, and can be beneficial to patients with hyperthyroidism.
3. Manage Your Stress Levels
Stress has been shown to trigger autoimmune reactions in humans, and increase inflammation.
Additionally, often times Graves’ disease patients report 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.
Therefore, managing stress levels is one of the best ways to combat the effects of Graves’ disease and other autoimmune disorders.
Exercise, meditation, spending time outside, in nature, and massage therapy are all great ways to manage stress levels.
4. Reduce Your Exposure To Environmental Toxins
There are thousands of chemicals most of us come in contact with every day.
They can disrupt the endocrine system, affecting the function of your thyroid.
A few ways to avoid exposure to these toxins include buying organic produce as much as possible, avoiding medications which aren’t absolutely necessary, and using natural household products instead of ones which use heavy chemicals.
Selenium is a mineral which is found in soil, and appears naturally in some foods.
It is an important factor for healthy thyroid function, playing a role in hormone synthesis and metabolism.
Supplementation with selenium has been shown to help reduce symptoms of Graves’ disease, including Graves’ ophthalmopathy.
Foods which are high in selenium include:
- Brazil nuts and cashew nuts
- Meats including pork, beef, chicken, and turkey
- Cottage cheese, milk, and yogurt
- Brown rice and lentils
- Sunflower seeds
- Baked beans
Book An Appointment With The Mindful Healing Clinic
Are you experiencing symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, insomnia, or muscle tremors and can’t determine the cause?
Have you considered it might be a thyroid disorder such as Graves’ disease?
Or perhaps you are already diagnosed with Graves’ and are seeking natural solutions to help manage your symptoms.
The Mindful Healing Clinic is here for you.
Contact us today for a free consultation, and learn more about how naturopathic medicine can help you.
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.