Saul Marcus, ND - Naturopathic Doctor

257 West 39th street, 10th floor - New York, NY 10001

Phone:(646)330-0388 | Email:

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Holistic treatment for Graves disease and hyperthyroidism

Conventional diagnosis and treatment

Hyperthyroidism is diagnosed when TSH is low and Free T4 is high on blood tests. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves disease.

In young patients, or those with mild hyperthyroidism, anti-thyroid drugs such as methimazole  or propylthiouracil may be used. Treatment lasts for several years and then discontinued once the patient has gone into remission. In more severe cases radio-active iodine is used to destroy the thyroid gland. 80% of patients given radioactive iodine will develop hypothyroidism. For patients with very large glands, or multi nodular goiters surgical removal of the thyroid gland is the treatment of choice. [89]

Therefore conventional treatment of hyperthyroidism will either:

1. Use drugs to suppress the thyroid gland and hope the body will heal itself.

2. Destroy the thyroid gland, and then put patients on thyroid medications for life.

If thyroid hormone goes up too high, it can cause a “thyroid storm,” also known as a thyrotoxic crisis. This is a potentially fatal medical emergency. [90]

Graves disease: do you have a choice?

Graves disease patients are often given no treatment choices except to either have their thyroid removed/destroyed now, or to take suppressive drugs only to have the more invasive thyroid procedures later. The thyroid medications (methimazole and propylthiouracil) are effective at controlling symptoms of graves disease, but are toxic and have numerous side effects.

Although in severe cases, destruction of the thyroid gland may be needed, often Grave disease patients are pressured to have such procedure's done, even if there is no medical reason why this needs to be at the moment.

Graves disease is considered an auto-immune condition. [91] Therefore, everything written before about the cause of autoimmune disease, leaky gut and toxicity applies to Graves disease as well. For a detailed discussion of this, please refer to sections 7, 8, and 9 of the thyroid guide.

With graves disease, there are often other choices besides toxic drugs or thyroid gland destruction.

Basic holistic plan for graves disease

Step 1: controlling symptoms and limiting medications

The first part of a natural plan for graves disease is an anti-inflammatory diet, and supplements to control symptoms.

Janet Star Hull’s book Sweet Poison, details a case of Graves disease triggered by aspartame (an artificial sweetener). In this case thyroid ablation (the destruction of the thyroid gland) was recommended by doctors, but avoided simply by removing aspartame from the diet. [92] This is just one example of how toxic chemicals in our environment, food and water can have severe effects on our health.

Cleaning up the diet, and removing offending foods and chemicals is mandatory if you wish to get anywhere using natural therapies.

In addition to dietary changes, supplements should then be added to control symptoms, and hopefully replace the need for medications.

After supplements are added to a program, patients can then go back to their prescribing doctor of medications, and have their dose lowered if appropriate. Since the thyroid medications are toxic, the goal is to be on as low a dose as possible.

Step 2: treat the person, not the disease

Since graves disease is triggered by the immune system, is must be understood as an immune system disorder that effects the thyroid gland.

Therefore, the true goal of natural therapy is to regulate the immune system, so it no longer attacks the thyroid. This is not the same thing as suppressing the immune system with drugs. Regulating the immune system means returning it to normal and healthy function.

There are numerous factors that can deregulate the immune system. The trigger of one person auto-immune disease may be mostly related to gastrointestinal issue, while in another person it may have more to do with exposure to heavy metals. So the same disease, in two different people, may require two different treatment plans.

Some supplements are generally helpful for most people with autoimmune disease (ie. fish oil, vitamin D, anti-inflammatories such as curcumin). At times when working with clients I'll use more specialized supplements, such as isopathics, homeopathy, and customized topical cremes for goiter, or swelling on lymph nodes. This is always part of an individualized plan. There is no "Graves disease protocol" for everyone. This is why it's best to work one on one with a natural health care professional. However, for controlling symptoms, the basic supplements of lithium, vitamins A and D, selenium and herbs bugleweed, lemon balm, motherwort and passionflower typically do help.

I have Graves disease but don't live near New York City, can I still see you over distance?

Yes, I am able to consult with people over the phone or skype. We can discuss case history and go over labs. Certain functional lab tests that I often use can also be done, as they require home collections which are then sent to lab.

If you do happen to live near a Naturopathic doctor or other health health care practitioner it may also be worthwhile to investigate them, even if they don't advertise a speciality in Graves disease. The goal of holistic health is to treat the person and not the disease. While most practitioners don't have a lot of experience with Graves' disease, they are familiar with the underlining causes (poor digestive function, toxicity and weakened immunity).

Nonetheless if you are unable to find a local practitioner or need to consult with someone who has more experience with Graves, I am available to work with people over distance (although usually in a more limited capacity than those who can come to my office in NYC).