Natural ways to treat thyroid disease

Published: Sep. 5, 2018 at 4:00 PM EDT
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Two hundred million people across the world have thyroid problems.

But there are steps you can take towards a better life, starting in your kitchen.

Women are more at risk than men, with one in eight women developing thyroid problems in her lifetime, especially after pregnancy and menopause.

If you notice symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, constipation or depression, seek treatment from your doctor. But you can also bring treatment into your home with how you live.

It’s only a few centimeters long, but the thyroid plays a big role.

“The thyroid gland is super-important for the body," Dr. Jane Sadler said. "It controls or regulates metabolism. It controls energy, it helps control our brain metabolism which is very important and also can affect our skin. And so having the thyroid balanced within our system effects everything.”

An estimated 27 million Americans, half undiagnosed, suffer from thyroid disease. Natural remedies are not a cure, but they can lower stress, prevent disease and make you feel better.

A healthy diet, focusing on citrus fruits, leafy greens, coconut oil, ginger and whole grains like quinoa and buckwheat can offer antioxidants and vitamin B12.

Studies show that apple cider vinegar boosts metabolism and weight loss – a major issue with hypothyroidism.

Also, take time to soak up the sun and help your body generate vitamin D to improve immune function, or consider taking the medicinal herb ashwagandha that has been used for centuries to protect nerves and reduce inflammation.

Women’s Health Network states that your stress response can directly influence thyroid function, because the stress hormone cortisol can inhibit high thyroid-stimulating hormones.

Getting adequate sleep, meditating, practicing breathing exercises and taking time to relax can counter unnecessary stress.



REPORT #2567

BACKGROUND: Over 20 million people are under treatment for thyroid disorders in the United States. And, approximately two million people have an undiagnosed thyroid disease. Thyroid disorders are overall more common in women than in men and increase with age, especially if they also have a history of diabetes, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis or another autoimmune disease. When the thyroid is underactive, and does not produce enough thyroid hormones, the result is hypothyroidism. When the thyroid is overactive, and produces too much thyroid hormone, the result is hyperthyroidism. The entire thyroid can enlarge in size, known as a goiter. Usually goiters are made up of many small thyroid nodules and can be removed with surgery if they grow to cause problems with breathing or swallowing. Thyroid cancer accounts for less than 2 percent of cancers. Although thyroid cancer has greatly increased in incidence in recent years, it is usually treatable.


CURRENT TREATMENT VS. GOING NATURAL: Standard treatment for hypothyroidism involves daily use of the synthetic thyroid hormone, levothyroxine. This oral medication restores adequate hormone levels, reversing the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism. The medication also gradually lowers cholesterol levels elevated by the disease and may reverse any weight gain. In some cases, natural remedies may cause fewer side effects and fit into your overall lifestyle better. Thyroid problems sometimes start as the result of poor diet, stress, or missing nutrients in your body. Changing your diet and taking an herbal supplement are two ways you can help your thyroid condition. These options may have fewer side effects than taking thyroid medicine. Some natural remedies are adding selenium to your diet (found in beef, tuna, turkey and Brazil nuts), removing sugar from your diet, adding vitamin B-12 (found in peas, asparagus, and cheese), adding a probiotic supplement, and adopting a gluten-free diet.

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NEW TREATMENT BREAKTHROUGH: There has never been a safe and effective treatment for Graves’ eye disease, also known as thyroid eye disease (TED), for the 1 million Americans with the condition. Anti-inflammatory medicines offer inconsistent benefits. Orbital decompression surgery helps give some patients a more natural appearance, but only after the disease has run its course. Now, a clinical trial led by the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center offers hope. Patients had a significant reduction in symptoms after treatment with teprotumumab, a study drug the Food and Drug Administration designated a “breakthrough therapy.” Most patients in the trial who got the active drug instead of a placebo had reduced eye bulging, eye pain and swelling and improved quality of life. For some, the therapeutic benefit was rapid, occurring within six weeks of intravenous infusions. The clinical trial data represents a key milestone in research led by Terry J. Smith, M.D., an endocrinologist and a professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences, and Raymond Douglas, M.D., Ph.D., a Graves’ eye disease specialist and renowned oculoplastics surgeon. A follow-up clinical trial is underway but is not recruiting participants. It is expected to be complete in 2018. “The findings suggest that teprotumumab may provide substantial benefit to patients and offer a therapy for avoiding complex surgery and preventing vision loss,” says Smith.