Hyperthyroidism occurs when there’s too much thyroid hormone in the body. This condition is also called an overactive thyroid.
It affects the thyroid gland, a gland located in the throat which is responsible for secreting a number of important hormones.
Hyperthyroidism shouldn’t be confused with hypothyroidism. While hyperthyroidism describes an overactive thyroid, hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland underperforms.
The symptoms and treatment of hypothyroidism are very different than for hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism can be caused by throat cancers, Graves’ disease, excess iodine, and other conditions.
The symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- heart palpitations
- high blood pressure
- weight loss
- increased appetite
- irregular menstruation
- thinning hair
- increased sweating
- trembling and shaking
- sleep problems
Hyperthyroidism can also lead to your thyroid gland swelling. This is called a goiter.
Hyperthyroidism is often treated with antithyroid drugs, which stop the overproduction of thyroid hormone.
If antithyroid drugs don’t improve the state of the thyroid gland, hyperthyroidism could be treated with radioactive iodine. In some cases, the thyroid gland might be surgically removed.
In addition to medical treatments, some natural hyperthyroidism treatments may help. While they shouldn’t replace any medications prescribed to you by a doctor, they may make it easier to manage the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
Before you add anything to complement your treatment plan, talk to your doctor.
What To Eat And What To Avoid
One way to manage hyperthyroidism is to have a healthy diet.
If you have hyperthyroidism, your doctor might prescribe a low-iodine diet before starting medical treatment. This increases the effectiveness of the treatment.
According to the American Thyroid Association, a low-iodine diet means you should avoid:
- iodized salt
- dairy products
- high amounts of poultry or beef
- high amounts of grain products (such as bread, pasta, and pastries)
- egg yolks
In addition, you should avoid soy products such as tofu, soy milk, soy sauce, and soybeans. This is because research from 2006 suggests that soy can interfere with thyroid function.
More About Avoiding Iodine
In addition to avoiding the above foods, it’s important to avoid additional iodine.
Iodine can be found in herbal supplements, even if it’s not noted on the label. Remember that even if a supplement is available over the counter, it can still have a harmful effect on your body.
Before taking any supplements, talk to your doctor.
When it comes to iodine, balance is essential. While excessive iodine can lead to hyperthyroidism, an iodine deficiency can cause hypothyroidism.
Don’t take any iodine medication unless directed to do so by your physician.
A natural supplement that may help treat the effects of hyperthyroidism is L-carnitine.
L-carnitine is an amino acid derivative that naturally occurs in the body. It’s often found in weight loss supplements.
It’s also found in foods like meat, fish, and dairy products. Learn about the benefits of L-carnitine here.
Carnitine prevents thyroid hormones from entering certain cells. A 2001 study suggests that L-carnitine can reverse and prevent the symptoms of hyperthyroidism, including heart palpitations, tremors, and fatigue.
While this research is promising, there aren’t enough studies to verify whether L-carnitine is an effective hyperthyroidism treatment.
Bugleweed is a plant that’s historically been used to treat heart and lung conditions.
Some sources suggest that bugleweed is a thyrosuppressant — that is, it reduces the function of the thyroid gland.
Unfortunately, there isn’t enough information out there to verify whether it’s an effective treatment for hyperthyroidism or not.
If you choose to use an herbal supplement like bugleweed, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for dose and frequency and speak with your doctor before starting anything new.
B-complex or B-12
If you have hyperthyroidism, there’s a chance you have a vitamin B-12 deficiency, too. A vitamin B-12 deficiency can lead you to feel fatigued, weak, and dizzy.
If you have a vitamin B-12 deficiency, your doctor might suggest that you take a B-12 supplement or have a B-12 injection.
While vitamin B-12 supplements can help you manage some of these symptoms, they don’t treat hyperthyroidism on their own.
Although B-12 and B-complex vitamins are available over the counter, it’s best to talk to your doctor before adding in a new supplement.
Some research suggests that selenium can be used to treat the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
Selenium is a mineral that naturally occurs in water, soil, and foods like nuts, fish, beef, and grains. It can also be taken as a supplement.
Graves’ disease, the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, is associated with thyroid eye disease (TED), which can be treated with selenium. Remember, though, that not everyone with hyperthyroidism has TED.
Other studies have suggested selenium alone isn’t an effective treatment for hyperthyroidism. Overall, the research remains mixed.
It’s best to consult your doctor before taking a supplement like selenium, as there are some possible side effects and selenium shouldn’t be taken in combination with certain medications.
Lemon balm, a plant that’s a member of the mint family, is thought to be a treatment for Graves’ disease. In theory, this is because it reduces thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
However, there’s a lack of research on this claim. There’s insufficient evidence to assess whether lemon balm effectively treats hyperthyroidism.
Lemon balm can be consumed as a tea or in the form of a supplement. Setting down with a cup of lemon balm tea may at least be healing as a stress management technique.
Lavender And Sandalwood Essential Oils
While many people swear by using essential oils to manage the symptoms of hyperthyroidism, there’s insufficient research on this claim.
Lavender and sandalwood essential oils can, for example, reduce feelings of anxiety and help you feel calm. This might help you fight nervousness and sleeplessness, both symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
Beyond that, there isn’t enough research out there to suggest that essential oils could help treat hyperthyroidism.
A dietary fiber, glucomannan is found in the form of capsules, powders, and tablets. It’s often derived from the root of the konjac plant.
One promising study from 2007 suggests that glucomannan could be used to lower the levels of thyroid hormones in people with hyperthyroidism, but more evidence is needed.
Hyperthyroidism generally requires medical treatment and monitoring by a health professional.
While these natural treatments may help you manage your symptoms and can complement thyroid medication, they can’t replace it.
Eating well, exercising, and practicing self-care and stress management can all help. When managed with medication and a healthy lifestyle, thyroid function can return to normal.
- Azezli AD, et al. (2007). The use of konjac glucomannan to lower serum thyroid hormones in hyperthyroidism. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18187431
- Benvenga S, et al. (2001). Usefulness of L-carnitine, a naturally occurring peripheral antagonist of thyroid hormone action, in iatrogenic hyperthyroidism: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. DOI: 10.1210/jcem.86.8.7747
- Calissendorff J, et al. (2015). A prospective investigation of Graves’ disease and selenium: Thyroid hormones, auto-antibodies and self-rated symptoms. DOI: 10.1159/000381768
- Iron deficiency. (n.d.). https://www.thyroid.org/iodine-deficiency/
- Leo M, et al. (2016). Effects of selenium on short-term control of hyperthyroidism due to Graves’ disease treated with methimazole: Results of a randomized clinical trial. DOI: 10.1007/s40618-016-0559-9
- Louis M, et al. (2002). Use of aromatherapy with hospice patients to decrease pain, anxiety, and depression and to promote an increased sense of well-being. DOI: 10.1177/104990910201900607
- Low iodine diet. (n.d.). https://www.thyroid.org/low-iodine-diet/
- Marinò M, et al. (2017). Selenium in the treatment of thyroid diseases. DOI: 10.1159/000456660
- Messina M, et al. (2006). Effects of soy protein and soybean isoflavones on thyroid function in healthy adults and hypothyroid patients: A review of the relevant literature. DOI: 10.1089/thy.2006.16.249
- Minkyung L, et al. (2014). Low iodine diet for one week is sufficient for adequate preparation of high dose radioactive iodine ablation therapy of differentiated thyroid cancer patients in iodine-rich areas. DOI: 10.1089/thy.2013.0695
- Overactive thyroid: Overview. (2018). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072664/
- Pekala J, et al. (2011). L-carnitine — metabolic functions and meaning in humans life. DOI: 10.2174/138920011796504536
- Trambert R, et al. (2017). A randomized controlled trial provides evidence to support aromatherapy to minimize anxiety in women undergoing breast biopsy. DOI: 10.1111/wvn.12229
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