Saul Marcus, ND - Naturopathic Doctor

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

Phone:(646)330-0388 | Email: saul@drsaulmarcus.com

Contact Office For Appointment

Supplements for Hyperthyroidism & Graves Disease

Video - Graves Disease Medications and Supplements, What Patients Need to Know

Starting a natural treatment plan for hyperthyroidism

When researching for supplements to take for hyperthyroidism patients should keep in mind the potential seriousness of their condition. Supplements can work. So too can medications. Both have a place.

In terms of side-effects, supplements are much safer than medications. However, controlling symptoms with medications is safer than having uncontrolled hyperthyroidism.

Also, patients should keep in mind that although the medications do not treat the cause of hyperthyroidism, thyroid suppressive supplements and herbs do not treat the cause either.

"Treat the Cause" is a foundational concept of naturopathic medicine. When seeing a naturopathic doctor for such a condition the expectation should be that ever effort will be made to treat the cause.

Realistically, treating the cause of hyperthyroidism is a process. It works, but the plan needs to be individualized and needs sufficient time. Therefore it's important to keep the hyperthyroidism under control in the mean time using supplements, herbs and if necessary medications as well.

Additionally, if you are currently taking a medication for hyperthyroidism such as Methimazole (also known as Tapazole) and Propylthiouracil (PTU), please talk to your doctor first before changing dose. It is not the intent of this page, to tell people to discontinue medication that may be needed to control symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

Supplements

Herbal Medicine

Bugleweed (Lycopus europaeus), Lemon Balm (Melissa), Passionflower (Passiflora) and Motherwort (leonaris Cardiaca) are some of the more common herbs for hyperthyroidism. These herbs have a calming effect on the heart, and so may be used in cases where elevated blood pressure, or heart palpitations are present.

Cactus grandiflorus (Selenicereus grandiflorus) may also be used for cardiovascular symptoms. Typically this is not in over the counter formulas, but practitioners may include it if needed.

Blue flag (Iris versicolor) has also traditionally been used for hyperthyroidism. It acts strongly on the lymphatic system. Therefore this may be helpful for swelling on, or around the thyroid. Blue flag can be taken orally, or applied topically over a goiter or enlarged thyroid.

There are many more herbs which may be useful in Graves disease. However, these are best selected based upon individual assessment with consideration towards the specific action of each herb. To be more specific it's best to consult with a qualified herbalist.

Selenium and anti-oxidants

The thyroid has an affinity for selenium. Selenium acts as a strong anti-oxidant and may be helpful for both hyperthyroidism, and Grave's ophthalmopathy. Anti-oxidants in general may be helpful for Graves disease as well. [1] [2]

Some people worry that because selenium is used to convert T4 into T3 it may make hyperthyroidism worse. These is no evidence of this. Overall it is balancing for both hyper and hypothyroidism.

additional notes on use of selenium

Carnitine

Over time carnitine blunts the action of excessive thyroid hormone at the cellular level. It has not direct response on thyroid hormone or TSH. It's anti-thyroid effect only happens in cases of hyperthyroidism. It will not create hypothyroidism symptoms in people who have normal thyroid function.[3]

Vitamins A, D

Vitamins A and D have profound effects of modulating the immune system. In recent years vitamin D has gotten much attention. However, vitamin A is also crucial is regulating the immune system. Remember, Graves disease is an immune system disorder that affect the thyroid gland, not a disease of the thyroid per se.

Nutritional Lithium

Lithium inhibits the thyroid's production of thyroid hormone.

There are several forms which lithium is available in, as a prescription medication, or as an over the counter supplement. The prescription lithium is used to treat "bipolar" disorder and "depression." Because of the form and dose it is given in, it has many toxic side effects.

Comparison Of Different Form Of Lithium
Form Lithium Carbonate Lithium Orotate Biotics Li-zyme Avg. Dietary Intake
Dose Starting at 300mg Starting at 5000 mcg Starting at 50 mcg 700 - 3100 mcg [3]

Some people are hesitant to use lithium to help with hyperthyroidism because of all the side effects associated with prescription lithium carbonate. However, low dose, nutritional lithium which is not in the carbonate form does not have the associated side effects.

To put into perspective the difference in dose between prescription lithium and supplemental lithium, we simply need to compare dose to the average dietary intake.

Assuming an average daily intake from food of 1000 mcg (or 1mg), a low dose of prescription lithium has 300 times more lithium, than what someone would get from diet. Many people are prescribed much higher doses, even over 1000 mg a day of prescription lithium.

On a other hand, nutritional lithium, at 5mg, has only 5 times an average daily intake.

A whole foods form of lithium, such as Li-zyme and Li-zyme forte from Biotics comes in 50 mcg and 150 mcg tablets, well inside the range of daily intake from diet. An aggressive dose of Li-zyme forte would be 3, 150 mcg tablets, 3 times a day. This is a total of 1350 mcg and well within typical dietary intaket.

The ancient greek physician Paracelsus is quoted as saying: "All things are poisons, for there is nothing without poisonous qualities. It is only the dose which makes a thing poison." This is true for everything, including air and water.

Links to other websites about the safe use of nutritional lithium:

Lithium – The Misunderstood Mineral Part 1

What about iodine?

Although it is possible to supress thyroid function by taking a very large dose of iodine, I do not recommend using iodine in the maintence of hyperthyroidism.

Severe iodine deficiency cause hypothyroidm. In some situations iodine may help people with hyperthyroidism, but not necessarily by repleating a defieicney. Sometimes and influx of additional iodine causes a reflex, where the thyroid stops uptaking iodine.

If someone has been taking iodine to control hyperthyroidism, I don't recommend that they stop. However, when starting with a new person who is not taking any supplement, I believe it will be easier to control symptoms with other supplemetns that have far less chance of unintended effects.

Medications

Drugs or destruction of the thyroid gland?

Conventional treatment for Graves disease is either use toxic medications, or destroy the thyroid gland itself either by surgical removal, or radioactive iodine therapy. Neither option is very good.

In some cases (particular younger patients) doctors may recommend medication in the hope that in time the condition will go away on its own. In more severe cases, or older patients doctors will typically recommend destruction of thyroid gland. Medications are often prescribed as a temporary measure to control symptoms until the condition is "cured" through radioactive iodine.

It's important to note that although Graves disease is an autoimmune disease that effects the thyroid gland (so it is more an immune system disorder, than a thyroid disease per se), none of the conventional medical treatments to anything to actually help the immune system.

The pages on this website intend to give patients another option; using supplements and natural treatments to control symptoms and actually work on the underlining causes of Graves disease.

This website is not intended to be against the use of medications in the treatment of hyperthyroidism. Every case is different, and when considering the possible severe effects hyperthyroidism has on the body, at times medications may be warrant. However, for many people there may be other options to consider as well.

Methimazole and Propylthiouracil

Methimazole is also known as Tapazole or Thiamazole. Propylthiouracil is often abbreviated as PTU.

Both of these medications treat hyperthyroidism by blocking the enzyme thyroidperoxidase, which is needed to produce thyroid hormone.

Methimazole is typically the preferred medications. It is less likely to cause hepatic necrosis compared to Propylthiouracil. In 2009 the FDA issued a warning about the risk of serious liver injury, including liver failure and death with the use of propylthiouracil. Agranulocytosis is an uncommon, but severe side effect of both methimazole and propylthiouracil. This is a drop in white blood cells, which thus compromise the immune system.

Side effects of methimazole:

(as listed on drugs.com)

Rare

Side effects of Propylthiouracil:

(as listed on drugs.com) Less common

Propanolol

Other blood pressure medication may be used, however propanolol is the one most commonly prescribed in hyperthyroidism. Propanolol is beta-blocker mediation commonly used for hypertension (high blood pressure). It has no direct effect on the thyroid, or thyroid hormone.

Used for tachycardia (increased heart rate), tremor, diaphoresis (increased sweating) and anxiety. Also used to treat thyroid storm.

 

 

Hyperthyroidism pages

Graves disease and hyperthyroidism specialist - plus video

Hyperthyroidism treatment information - plus video

Lab Tests for hyperthyroidism - plus video

Best foods for hyperthyroidism

Supplements & Medications for hyperthyroidism - plus video

Radioiodine uptake test

 

References:

[1]

Vesna Bacic Vrca, Franjo Skreb, Ivana Cepelak, Zeljko Romic, Ljiljana Mayer, Supplementation with antioxidants in the treatment of Graves' disease; the effect on glutathione peroxidase activity and concentration of selenium, Clinica Chimica Acta, Volume 341, Issues 1–2, March 2004, Pages 55-63, ISSN 0009-8981, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cccn.2003.10.028. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0009898103005321) Keywords: Graves' disease; Antioxidants; Selenium; Glutathione peroxidase

[2]

Selenium and the Course of Mild Graves' Orbitopathy

Claudio Marcocci, M.D., George J. Kahaly, M.D., Gerasimos E. Krassas, M.D., Luigi Bartalena, M.D., Mark Prummel, M.D., Matthias Stahl, M.D., Maria Antonietta Altea, M.D., Marco Nardi, M.D., Susanne Pitz, M.D., Kostas Boboridis, M.D., Paolo Sivelli, M.D., George von Arx, M.D., Maarten P. Mourits, M.D., Lelio Baldeschi, M.D., Walter Bencivelli, Ph.D., and Wilmar Wiersinga, M.D. for the European Group on Graves' Orbitopathy

N Engl J Med 2011; 364:1920-1931May 19, 2011DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1012985

[3]

BENVENGA, S., AMATO, A., CALVANI, M. and TRIMARCHI, F. (2004), Effects of Carnitine on Thyroid Hormone Action. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1033: 158–167. doi: 10.1196/annals.1320.015

[4]

Lithium: Occurrence, Dietary Intakes, Nutritional Essentiality
Gerhard N. Schrauzer, PhD, CNS, FACN,
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of
California, San Diego.
Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 21, No. 1, 14–21 (2002

 

© Naturopathic Wellness, 2018