Hyperthyroid disease can have many causes, including autoimmune disease, disorders of the pituitary or hypothalmus, or tumors. The end result of any of these causes is overrelease of the thyroid hormone T4 into the blood stream, which in turn over-stimulates the body's metabolism, causing symptoms such as fevers, rapid heart rate, and weight loss. Treatment depends on proper diagnosis of the underlying cause.
Complimentary and alternative treatments for Grave's disease that are considered below include:
- Low Dose Naltrexone
- Neurotransmitter Balancing
- Grave's disease is an autoimmune disease in which the body produces an antibody against the thyroid receptors called TSI (Thyroid Stimulating Immunoglobulin). When this auto-antibody binds to the thyroid receptors, the thyroid gland is stimulated to release more T4 hormone than is needed.
- Hashimoto's disease is an autoimmune disease in which the body produces an antibody against the enzyme thyroid peroxidase (TPO) that is found in the thyroid gland. This results in an attack on the thyroid gland that damages the tissues of the gland, causing episodes in which excess T4 hormone is released that alternate with episodes in which too little T4 hormone is released from the dammaged gland.
- Pituitary disorders can cause excess Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) hormone to be released, which over-stimulates the thyroid gland to release excess T4.
- Disorders in the hypothalmus can cause excess Thyroid Releaseing Hormone (TRH) to be released, which over-stimulates the pituitary gland to release excess TSH.
- Thyroid tumors can also lead to release of excess T4.
- Elevated basal body temperature. Normal axillary temperature is 97.8 to 98.2 degrees Farenheit. Normal rectal temperature is 98.6 to 99.2 degrees Farenheit [Starr2005, pg 17]. See hypothyroid for directions for measuring.
- Elevated basal metabolic rate.
- Heat intolerance.
- Constant sweating [Starr2005, pg 78].
- Anxiety, nervousness.
- Elevated heart rate.
- Palpatations [Starr2005, pg 78].
- Underweight or unexplained weight loss.
- Frequent stools or diarrhea [Starr2005, pg 78].
- Paradoxical hypothyroid (low basal body temperature with high sympathetic tone)
Treatment depends on proper diagnosis of the underlying cause. If the underlying cause cannot be resolved, then it is often necessary to destroy all or part of the thyroid gland in order to prevent life-threatening complications.
Complimentary and Alternative Treatments
Complementary treatments aimed at mitigating the side-effects of conventional treatments and optimizing the immune system response are often employed by naturopathic medical doctors, and supplement rather than replace conventional medical treatment.
Alternative treatments that replace conventional medical treatment are not approved by the FDA, but may be based on traditional or historical theories and practice. Their safety and effectivenes is considered unproven by conventional medical authorities, despite theoretical, anecdotal or historical evidence.
Since complimentary and alternative treatments are not generally proven by double-blind placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials, insurance typically does not cover these treatments, although medical savings accounts may possibly be used.
Low Dose Naltrexone
The use of Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) in treating autoimmune, neuroinflammatory, and certain microbial diseases and cancers was pioneered by the late Dr. Bernard Bihari [Bihari2003], [Bihari2013].
[LdnResearchTrust_conditions] reports that Grave's disease is a condition that LDN could help. Please see [LDN_Story] for an excellent documentary video, and [Elsegood2016] and [Moore2008] for books.
Dr. Weyrich notes that these reports are considered anecdotal, and without expensive double-blind placebo-controlled trials (which are unlikely to be funded, since LDN is a generic drug that cannot be patented), these results cannot be provento be anything more than "spontaneous remissions"; however, given the low cost (less than $40/month) and extremely low side-effect profile, a therapeutic trial may be in order.
It is believed [LDN] that LDN works by temporarily blocking the body's opioid receptors, which induces a reflex increase in the body's natural endorphin and enkephalin levels, which then modulates the immune system to restore balance and reduce inflammation. However, [Younger2014] has proposed an alternative mechanism in which naltrexone exerts an antagonist effect on Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) that are found on macrophages and microglia; additional mechanisms involving astrocytes, NADPH oxidase 2, and the opioid growth factor receptor (OGFr) have also been proposed. The result is reduced neuroinflammation, which is generally associated with all neurodegenerative diseases.
The main caveats are that patients cannot also be being treated with extended release opiates for pain control and cannot be organ transplant recipients. This is an off-label use, and as such is not likely to be covered by insurance.
Dr. Weyrich has been trained in the use of Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) and offers these protocols as a complement to other therapies; however at this time Dr. Weyrich has not treated any cases of Grave's disease using LDN.
Neuro Research [Hinz2015] reports that chronic diseases such as Grave's Disease can be benefited by balancing neurotransmitter and sulfur-containing amino acid levels in the body, particularly serotonin, dopamine, and cysteine, through targeted nutrition guided by lab testing. Dr. Weyrich has been trained in the Neuro-Research protocols and offers these nutritional protocols as a complement to other therapies.
Note that nutritional supplements and testing are not covered by most insurance policies, but may be eligible for payment out of Health Care Savings Accounts.