The Roots of Hyperthyroidism
Gluten is a huge concern for many people because it has been hybridized and modified, and it’s in everything! Worst of all, gluten can wreak havoc on your gut and set you up for a leaky gut. Once the gut is leaky, gluten can get into your bloodstream and confuse your immune system. The building blocks of gluten share a similar molecular structure with those of your thyroid gland, so the immune system can mistakenly attack your own cells in a process known as molecular mimicry.
2. Leaky gut
In order to absorb nutrients, the gut is somewhat permeable to very small molecules. Many things including gluten, infections, medications, and stress can damage the gut, allowing toxins, microbes, and undigested food particles among other things to enter directly into your bloodstream. Leaky gut is the gateway for infections, toxins, and inflammatory food particles to trigger the systemic inflammation that leads to autoimmunity. You must first repair your gut before you can reverse uncomfortable symptoms.
Mercury is a heavy metal capable of altering or damaging the cells of various bodily tissues. Your immune system can mistake damaged cells for foreign invaders and begin attacking your organs. Studies show that individuals with higher mercury exposure have an increased risk of developing autoimmune thyroid disease.3
Infections such as the herpes family of viruses (HSV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) have been implicated as a potential cause of autoimmune thyroid disease through inflammation and molecular mimicry.4,5
Iodine status is a bit controversial. It seems that too little iodine can cause goiter and hypothyroidism and too much can cause hyperthyroidism. When the body detects an increased availability of iodine, this can trigger the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormone. If someone with a relatively low intake of iodine suddenly consumes a very iodine-rich diet, then over time that individual can produce an excessive amount of thyroid hormone, resulting in an overactive thyroid.
Conventional Treatment for Graves’ Disease
Conventional medicine only focuses on treating symptoms, not on getting to the root cause of the disease. Medications, radiation, and surgery only treat the overactive thyroid gland in hopes of reducing symptoms of the disease. In order to truly address the condition and repair your thyroid and immune system, I recommend a functional medicine approach to help find the underlying cause of the imbalance. I personally tried two out of three of these conventional treatments, and it’s my biggest regret in life. Please do not make the same mistake I did.
Propylthiouracil (PTU) is an antithyroid drug that interferes with the production of thyroid hormones. If you look at these medications on a search engine, you will see a long list of dangerous side effects, one being the destruction of your liver. I took PTU when I had Graves’, which devasted my liver. I was confined to bed rest until my liver healed. It nearly cost me my life and medical school.
Methimazole is another antithyroid drug administered for hyperthyroidism. This drug can actually result in hypothyroidism, requiring the careful monitoring of TSH and Free T4 levels. Side effects include rash, hair loss, vertigo, jaundice, aplastic anemia, lupus-like syndrome, and hepatitis.
This approach uses a large dose of radioactive iodine (I-131) to permanently destroy thyroid gland cells. After this procedure, you must use thyroid hormone medication for the rest of your life. After getting toxic hepatitis from the PTU, there was no choice other than to do this treatment myself. I truly believe that if I had discovered functional medicine sooner, I would have been able to reverse my condition and save my thyroid from destruction as I have done with numerous patients in my clinic.
When antithyroid medications and radioactive treatments are not viable options, doctors may recommend a partial thyroidectomy, which is when part of the thyroid gland is surgically removed. This is actually the option I recommend as a last resort if someone is not able to reverse their hyperthyroidism using a functional medicine approach.