Graves’ Disease: My 3 Recommendations
We’ll be discussing autoimmune hyperthyroidism (called Graves’ disease). There are certain conditions that I absolutely want to shout from the rooftops about and share the solutions that naturopathic medicine has to offer for them. This is not only because the solutions are so effective but because the conventional solutions are unappealing. Graves’ disease is one such condition!
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune condition which causes a hyperthyroid state. For typical hyperthyroid symptoms and some basics about the thyroid, read the first blog in this series: The Basics. Graves’ disease can be life-threatening if it is left untreated. Because of this, conventional medicine’s approach is to act quickly and definitively to stop the process. This is often done first with anti-thyroid drugs and beta-blockers (which slow down the fast heart rate that occurs in Graves’). Next they either kill the thyroid tissue with radioactive iodine taken orally or remove the tissue surgically. While I agree that action needs to be taken quickly, naturopathic medicine does offer other solutions.
Why aren’t the conventional solutions ideal?
First off, none of the solutions really treat Graves’ as an autoimmune disease. Instead of addressing an aberrant immune system, they focus on the thyroid. The thyroid is simply the mistaken target of the immune system in Graves’ disease. It isn’t actually the problem.
From my mindset as a Naturopathic Doctor, this is simply treating a symptom and not the underlying cause of Graves’ disease. I often use an analogy from Dr. Mark Hyman, an MD who practices functional medicine, which is a fire and its smoke as the underlying problem and the smoke detector beeping as the resulting symptoms in our body. In the case of Graves’ disease, the thyroid is just the smoke detector, not the fire itself. When one takes thyroid medications or destroys the thyroid, the underlying reason that the thyroid is not functioning properly is ignored. This is likened to taking the batteries out of the smoke detector; there’s still a problem in the body and therefore there’s still a fire burning. Admittedly, it isn’t always easy or straightforward to discover the true root cause of a person’s thyroid symptoms, or where and why a fire is burning. Every person is unique and so are the myriad of reasons why we develop diseases, including those involving the thyroid.