Hyperthyroidism Symptoms, Causes, and the Best Natural Treatment
Hyperthyroidism, also described as overactive thyroid, refers to a condition where your thyroid gland produces too much thyroxine. Hyperthyroidism usually accelerates your metabolism, resulting in sudden and unintentional weight loss and rapid (tachycardia) or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).
Patients generally respond well to most hyperthyroidism treatments. Many options are available once you’re diagnosed with overactive thyroid, but it is essential to start your therapy sessions on time to prevent the onset of potential inconveniences. Apart from hormone therapies or surgeries, which are necessary sometimes, you may opt for alternative medicine.
Alternative medicine involves acupuncture, herbs, diet and lifestyle modifications, including other efficient and holistic approaches that provide excellent results to people with an overactive thyroid. This article will provide more in-depth information about this issue, and its best treatment methods, including acupuncture for hyperthyroidism and herbs for hyperthyroidism.
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What is Hyperthyroidism?
The thyroid gland plays a vital role in the endocrine system since it secretes hormones essential for most bodily processes. One such hormone is thyroxine. Once in the bloodstream, it travels to the organs, including the liver and kidneys, where it’s been converted to its active form of triiodothyronine. Thyroxine is crucial for a healthy heart and digestive function, brain development, bone health, muscle control, and metabolism.
Unfortunately, many things can go wrong with thyroxine. Too little thyroxine (hypothyroidism) or too much thyroxine (hyperthyroidism) can cause many health problems that require consistent treatments.
Hyperthyroidism encompasses a set of disorders involving excess production of thyroid hormones. Since all these hormones, including thyroxine, have a crucial role in your body, their overproduction may affect your breathing, heart rate, digestion, weight management, menstrual cycle, fertility, and mood.
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What are the Signs of Hyperthyroidism?
It may be difficult to diagnose hyperthyroidism sometimes because its symptoms often overlap with the signs of different disorders. Hyperthyroidism symptoms may vary from subtle to very noticeable, depending on your age and the disease’s severity.
The most common hyperthyroidism symptoms include:
- Unintentional weight loss (although your appetite stays the same)
- Tachycardia – rapid heartbeat of more than 100 beats a minute
- Arrhythmia – irregular heartbeat
- Heart palpitations – pounding of your heart
- Nervousness and irritability
- Trembling in your hands and fingers
- Increased sensitivity to heat
- More frequent bowel movements
- A goiter – an enlarged thyroid gland, which may appear as a swelling at your neck
- Muscle weakness and fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping
- Skin thinning.
According to the statistics, women are more prone to developing hyperthyroidism than men. Alongside common hyperthyroidism symptoms, women may also notice problems with their menstrual cycle and even fertility. A hyperactive thyroid fails to produce particular hormones, which can directly interfere with ovulation, causing fertility problems, while menstrual cycles may become irregular, infrequent, or heavy.
Numerous conditions can cause hyperthyroidism, affecting the two essential hormones produced by the thyroid gland – thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Both T3 and T4 influence every cell in your body, maintaining the rate at which your body uses carbohydrates and fats, controlling your body temperature, impacting your heart rate, and regulating protein production.
Here are the most common factors that impact hormone overproduction:
- Graves’ disease: Graves’ disease occurs when the body produces antibodies that stimulate the thyroid gland to produce too much thyroid hormone.
- Hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules: This is the form of hyperthyroidism that occurs when your thyroid gland’s adenomas produce too much T4. It can lead to an enlargement of the gland.
- Thyroiditis: Some factors, including pregnancy, can cause gland inflammation. The inflammation may provoke hormone overproduction.
Hyperthyroidism in Children
Although rare, hyperthyroidism may occur in childhood. Despite elevated thyroid, with the right diagnosis and treatment, most kids and adolescents can successfully overcome the difficulties caused by the hormone overproduction.
Hyperthyroidism in children can be caused by various factors, including:
- Graves’ disease: This autoimmune disorder is one of the most common hyperthyroidism causes in children and adolescents.
- Neonatal Graves disease: When mothers with Graves’ disease pass their antibodies to their children, they may develop hyperthyroidism. Fortunately, it goes away after a few weeks, when the mother’s antibodies are cleared from the baby’s bloodstream.
Hyperthyroidism Treatment: Alternative Medicine and Natural Methods
Although most patients manage to overcome the difficulties caused by over active thyroid, you shouldn’t ignore your symptoms but start your treatments right away. If untreated, certain cases of hyperthyroidism may lead to severe complications, including:
- Heart problems: Hyperthyroidism may affect the heart, causing arrhythmia, heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, or atrial fibrillation, which increases the risk of stroke.
- Brittle bones: Untreated thyroid problems may result in osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones) since the overproduction of thyroid hormones interferes with your body’s ability to transfer calcium to your bones.
- Problems with eyes: Eyes are often affected by elevated thyroid, and you may notice bulging, red or swollen eyes, increased light sensitivity, blurring, or double vision. More severe cases may result in vision loss.
- Skin problems: People with Graves’ disease may suffer from dermopathy. This condition affects the skin, which may become red and swollen.
- Thyrotoxic crisis: If you have hyperthyroidism, you may be at risk of developing a thyrotoxic crisis. It occurs when your symptoms start worsening, leading to fever, a rapid pulse, or delirium. This condition requires immediate medical attention.
To prevent the onset of any of the above-mentioned complications, make sure you start treating your symptoms on time. There are different hyperthyroidism treatment options you may consider depending on the severity of your symptoms, underlying conditions, age, and personal preferences.
Besides radioactive iodine, anti-thyroid medications, beta-blockers, and surgeries (thyroidectomy), alternative and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help you resolve health problems caused by hyperthyroidism and bring long-term improvements.
The most popular treatments that originate from TCM include acupuncture and herbs. Both approaches are safe and efficient, and they have fewer side effects than conventional drug therapies. A certified acupuncturist and TCM practitioner will recommend the exact amount of therapies you should receive, including adequate herbal formulas that would help you recover faster and more effectively.
Acupuncture for Hyperthyroidism
Acupuncture is one of the most popular treatments originating from ancient China. It has been widely used for addressing a wide variety of diseases that cause pain, discomfort, or more severe symptoms. Acupuncture involves inserting small, thin, and stainless steel needles into specific points on the body, balancing the vital energy and encouraging blood circulation.
Acupuncture is entirely safe and painless. It promotes relaxation and peace of mind, encouraging the body to produce its own painkillers and become more resistant to bacteria, viruses, and diseases in general.
Acupuncture has proven to help treat headaches, migraines, back and neck pain, but recent studies have shown that acupuncture has provided great results in treating high and low blood pressure, sciatica, irregular periods, stroke recovery, and other complex diseases that Western medicine cannot always manage with success.
Hyperthyroidism can be successfully treated with acupuncture and other TCM complementary treatments. TCM sees hyperthyroidism as a combination of qi and yin deficiencies, liver fire uprising, and phlegm stagnation. Since these are the roots of thyroid problems, acupuncture and other alternative treatments tend to address them in order to alleviate the symptoms.
An experienced acupuncture practitioner will recommend herbal formulas you should take alongside your acupuncture sessions. The entire treatment plan will depend on your symptoms, general health, and other factors. Most patients notice significant improvements within a month, but you should know that the progress is individual.
By stimulating nerves, muscles, and connective tissues, acupuncture strengthens the immune system, bringing various health benefits to patients with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. For example:
- It increases thyroid hormone levels in people with hypothyroidism
- It lowers thyroid hormone levels in people with hyperthyroidism
- Reduces sensitivity to pain and stress. At the same time, acupuncture promotes relaxation
- Eases muscle stiffness and improves joint mobility
- Promotes blood circulation in small blood vessels, preventing swelling
- Reduces inflammation and promotes the production of vascular and immunomodulatory factors.
Traditional Chinese medicine finds herbal therapies the most efficient drug-free alternatives that protect the body and improve one’s optimal health. A licensed Chinese herbalist uses the leaves, roots, flowers, stems, and plants’ seeds to create the best and the most effective natural remedies for different diseases.
Chinese herbs come in different forms – liquids, granules, or powders. They can be used alone or combined into formulas, depending on the condition you’re treating, medications you’re taking, and the result you want to achieve.
A Chinese herbalist should create an individualized herbal plan according to the patient’s needs. That said, even if two patients have the same diagnosis, they might not get the same prescription. Personalized plans are the reason why more and more people seek help in Eastern medicine. Unlike Western medicine, which tends to prescribe the same therapies to patients who feel the same symptoms, Eastern medicine looks for the roots of symptoms, trying to resolve them.
Herbal formulas have been used as an efficient treatment for hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Although the formula’s contents may vary, the following combinations are among the most commonly used ones for treating hyper thyroid:
- Yingliu mixture: This formula consists of herbs and methimazole, and it may improve thyroid function and decrease the amount of antibodies associated with Graves’ disease.
- Haizao Yuhu Decoction: Recent studies have shown that this formula may treat goiter, mainly when used with conventional therapies.
- Xing Qi Hua Ying Tang: This formula may ease goiter symptoms, significantly reducing its size.
It’s essential not to try any herbal formula before consulting your practitioner. Although Chinese herbs are generally safe and free of side effects, they may interact with certain groups of medicines that you’re taking and reduce the healing effect.
Natural Herbs for Hyperthyroidism + Diet and Supplements
To improve your general health and strengthen the immune system, it is essential to change certain lifestyle habits and stick to healthier life choices. Diet plays a vital role in our organism, meaning that some substances may positively or negatively influence our health.
Once you’re diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, you may be advised to stick with a low-iodine diet, which will increase the effectiveness of the treatment. A low-iodine diet consists of the following foods:
- Non-iodized salt
- Egg whites
- Fresh foods and vegetables, even canned fruit
- Grain products (moderate amounts)
- Unsalted nuts and nut butter
- And more.
On the other hand, you should avoid the following products:
- Iodized salt
- High amounts of beef or poultry
- Egg yolks
- Soy products (soy milk, soy sauce, tofu, and soybeans).
Still, consult your doctor or practitioner before switching to a low-iodine diet to avoid iodine deficiency. As for natural herbs and supplements for hyperthyroidism, consider the following:
- L-carnitine: This is an amino acid that naturally occurs in the body, and its role is vital for preventing thyroid hormones from entering certain cells. You can find it in meat, fish, and dairy products.
- Bugleweed: This plan has been used to treat heart and lung-related conditions, but it is also vital for reducing the thyroid gland’s function.
- B-complex/B-12: Vitamin B-12 deficiency is often linked with hyperthyroidism, and B-complex or B-12 supplements may help you reverse the symptoms.
- Selenium: Selenium intake may improve the signs of hyperthyroidism, and you can find it in nuts, fish, beef, grains, etc.
- Lavender and sandalwood: Lavender and sandalwood essential oils may help you reduce stress, anxiety, and nervousness provoked by hyperthyroidism.