Originally published on www.kellybroganmd.com
From incurable to a cure for an autoimmune disease known as Graves' disease -- why not make lifestyle changes today that can improve your life and vitality?
Graves' disease (GD), an autoimmune thyroid disease (ATD), is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, or overproduction of the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). GD symptoms include heart palpitations, hair loss, nausea, masses in the neck (goiters), skin issues, vision/eye problems, weight loss, moodiness, depression and gut problems.[i]
Common conventional treatments start with anti-thyroid medications such as methimazole and propylthiouracil (PTU). Possible side effects of anti-thyroid drugs are skin rash, itching, hives, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, headache, joint or muscle aches, loss of taste and a metallic taste.
Harsher follow-up treatments for 50% of patients include radioiodine therapy or surgery.[ii] These treatments cause hypothyroidism, requiring thyroid medications for life.
Although GD is considered to be chronic and incurable, there is new evidence that lifestyle changes may normalize TSH and its autoimmune markers. In a remarkable case study titled Healing of Graves' Disease Through Lifestyle Changes: A Case Report,[iii] a 34-year-old Dutch woman, who was diagnosed with GD in 2014 and no longer suffers from the disease, is highlighted. The lifestyle changes she adopted were:
- Ancestral diet
- Oral health practices
- Yoga with exercise and meditation
- Avoiding environmental toxins (purified water, organic food, natural cleaning/personal hygiene products)
The diet was gluten- and grain-free except for quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat and included wild fish, meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and raw foods (as administered through an online program called Vital Mind Reset and described in study author Dr. Kelly Brogan's book "A Mind of Your Own."[iv] Processed foods, refined carbohydrates, dairy, gluten, grains, legumes, corn and soy were eliminated for one month but were reintroduced as tolerated.
ATD has been associated with higher risk for celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.[v],[vi] Four hundred patients with ATD were examined for antigliadin antibodies, which are associated with gluten sensitivity/celiac disease, treatable with a gluten-free diet and found in 5% of the patients.[vii]
Similarly, in a sample of 92, ATD was observed in 13.9% of celiac patients and 2.1% of controls (non-celiac group), while subclinical ATD was found in 10.1% and 3.3%, respectively.[viii] Wheat[ix] and its variants have been linked to over 230 diseases.[x]
Oral Health Practices
Two oral hygiene lifestyle changes were implemented -- oil pulling with coconut oil and a "Hydro Flosser." Oil pulling (or gargling)[xi],[xii] is a powerful Ayurvedic detoxifier for the entire body, based on the belief that the tongue is connected to different organs such as kidneys, lungs, liver, thyroid, heart, colon and the stomach.
- Decreases tooth decay[xiv]
- Lessens bad breath
- Improves bleeding gums
- Decreases throat dryness
- Strengthens teeth, gums and jaw[xv]
Hydro Flosser -- a flossing machine using water -- was tested with 108 individuals and found to be three times more effective in reducing bleeding gums[xvii] and showed 64% less tartar than string flossing.[xviii]
Yoga, Exercise and Meditation
Adding yoga, exercise and meditation helps with GD and other symptoms, including offering the following benefits:
- Reduces muscle aches, breathing/heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels
- Increases blood flow
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Improves preexisting conditions like arthritis, cancer and mental illness symptoms[xix]
In their review of 23 different yoga interventions, researchers found yoga was effective in reducing depression.[xx] Integrative restorative yoga (yoga, exercise and meditation) reduced stress and depression, and increased mindfulness for college students.[xxi]
Deliberate avoidance of environmental pollutants (drinking purified water, eating organic produce and using natural cleaning/personal hygiene products) can also have positive health effects and ameliorate ATD.[xxii],[xxiii]
Fluoridated water can harm health and the thyroid, as detailed in "Want a Pretty Corpse?-Drink Fluoridated Water" and "Fluoridated Water Linked to 30% More Hypothyroidism." In addition, produce without fluoride toxicity[xxiv],[xxv] and natural cleaning and personal hygiene products[xxvi] are healthier. Look for products without harsh chemicals, as these often include carcinogens, neurotoxins, reproductive system toxins and hormone disruptors.[xxvii]
Thyroid disorders may be associated with adrenal insufficiency[xxviii] and caused by deficiencies in nutrients (iodine, iron, selenium[xxix],[xxx] and zinc[xxxi]), vitamins (A, C,[xxxii] D,[xxxiii] B6, B5 and B1) and minerals (phosphorus, magnesium,[xxxiv] potassium, sodium and chromium).[xxxv] Digestive support using probiotics[xxxvi] is also an effective strategy.
As researchers study more diseases and increase scientific research of alternative ways to alleviate symptoms and ameliorate diseases like Graves' disease, it is clear that there may be many more palatable options, besides radioiodine therapy and surgery, available than are currently widely advertised and recommended in the medical community.
It is heartening to learn how simple lifestyle changes may restore your health, even when faced with disease diagnosis. Why not make preventative changes in your life today that can result in greater energy and health?
Originally published: 2019-11-19
Article updated: 2019-12-11
[i] Stathopoulos P, Gangidi S, Kotrotsos G, Cunliffe D (June 2015). Graves' disease: a review of surgical indications, management, and complications in a cohort of 59 patients. International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. 44 (6): 713-7. doi:10.1016/j.ijom.2015.02.007. PMID 25726089
[ii] Khanse, Sanjiv. Graves' disease treatment options: Antithyroid drugs, RAI, and surgery, Accessed October 3, 2019 at https://healthvigil.com/graves-disease-treatment-options-antithyroid-drugs-rai-surgery/
[iii] Kelly Brogan, Gisela Marcelino, Christina Pedro, Alyssa Siefert. Healing of Graves' disease through lifestyle changes: A case report. Advances, Spring 2019; 33 (2), 4-11. ISSN# 1470-3556, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31476135
[iv] Brogan, K. (2016). A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives. First edition. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. https://kellybroganmd.com/amindofyourown/
[v] Fisher, AH, Lomasky, SJ, Fisher, MJ et al. (2008) Celiac disease and the endocrinologist: a diagnostic opportunity. Endocr Pract 14, 381-388. PMID: 18463048, DOI: 10.4158/EP.14.3.381
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[ix] GreenMedinfo, The Dark Side of Wheat www.greenmedinfo.health/page/dark-side-wheat-new-perspectives-celiac-disease-wheat-intolerance-sayer-ji
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[xvii] Rosema NA, Hennequin-Hoenderdos NL, Berchier CE, Slot DE, Lyle DM, van der Weijden GA. The effect of different interdental cleaning devices on gingival bleeding. J Int Acad Periodontol. 2011 Jan;13(1):2-10. PMID: 21387981
[xviii] Johnson KE, Sanders JJ, Gellin RG, Palesch YY. The effectiveness of a magnetized water oral irrigator (Hydro Floss) on plaque, calculus and gingival health. J Clin Periodontol. 1998 Apr;25(4):316-21. PMID: 9565283
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[xx] Ledetra Bridges, Manoj Sharma. The Efficacy of Yoga as a Form of Treatment for Depression. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017 Jan 1:2156587217715927. Epub 2017 Jan 1. PMID: 28664775
[xxi] Eastman-Mueller H, Wilson T, Jung A, Kimura A, Tarrant J. iRest yoga-nidra on the college campus: changes in stress, depression, worry, and mindfulness. Int J Yoga Ther. 2013;23(2):15-24.
[xxiii] GreenMedinfo, Environmental Pollutant www.greenmedinfo.health/keyword/environmental-pollutant
[xxv] Lyn Patrick. Thyroid disruption: mechanism and clinical implications in human health. Altern Med Rev. 2009 Dec;14(4):326-46. PMID: 20030460
[xxvi] GreenMedinfo, DIY Cleaning Products https://tv.greenmedinfo.com/cleaning-products-infographic/
[xxvii] Nex Wellness November 9, 2015 https://nexwellness.com/understanding-cleaning-products-chemical-vs-natural-cleaners/
[xxviii] Hussein D Abdullatif, Ambika P Ashraf. Reversible subclinical hypothyroidism in the presence of adrenal insufficiency. Endocr Pract. 2006 Sep-Oct;12(5):572. PMID: 17002934
[xxix] Johanna Wichman, Kristian Hillert Winther, Steen Joop Bonnema, Laszlo Hegedüs. Selenium Supplementation Significantly Reduces Thyroid Autoantibody Levels in Patients with Chronic Autoimmune Thyroiditis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Thyroid. 2016 Nov 2. Epub 2016 Nov 2. PMID: 27702392
[xxx] Jan Calissendorff, Emil Mikulski, Erik H Larsen, Marika Möller. A Prospective Investigation of Graves' Disease and Selenium: Thyroid Hormones, Auto-Antibodies and Self-Rated Symptoms. Eur Thyroid J. 2015 Jun ;4(2):93-8. Epub 2015 May 27. PMID: 26279994
[xxxi] Sibel Ertek, Arrigo Fg Cicero, Omur Caglar, Gurbuz Erdogan. Relationship between serum zinc levels, thyroid hormones and thyroid volume following successful iodine supplementation. Hormones (Athens). 2010 Jul-Sep;9(3):263-8. PMID: 20688624
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[xxxiii] Choon-Young Kim, Yeon Ji Lee, Ji-Ho Choi, Soo Yeon Lee, Hye Young Lee, Da Hye Jeong, Yeon Jun Choi. The Association between Low Vitamin D Status and Autoimmune Thyroid Disease in Korean Premenopausal Women: The 6th Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2013-2014. Korean J Fam Med. 2019 Sep 3. Epub 2019 Sep 3. PMID: 31476853
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[xxxv] Kawicka A, Regulska-Ilow B, Regulska-Ilow B. Metabolic disorders and nutritional status in autoimmune thyroid diseases. Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2015 Jan 2;69:80-90. doi: 10.5604/17322693.1136383, PMID: 25614676