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.
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.
The Functional Medicine Approach to Graves’ Disease
The key to reversing Graves’ disease is getting to the root of what triggered your hyperthyroidism in the first place and addressing the underlying causes head-on, rather than just treating the symptoms or resorting to harsh measures. I cover exactly how to do this in my book, The Thyroid Connection, using The Myers Way® 30-day plan. I outline the basics of this plan below.
1. Remove Gluten from Your Diet
I recommend that all of my patients remove gluten from their diets because it’s an inflammatory food. For my patients with autoimmune diseases, such as Graves’ or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, I highly recommend removing all grains and legumes from their diet as well. These foods contain proteins known as lectins, which act as a natural pesticide for crops and can wreak havoc on the lining of your gut. Changing your diet is the first step in getting well.
2. Repair Your Gut
Repairing your gut is essential to healing yourself, as I mentioned before. The Myers Way® Leaky Gut Breakthrough® Program walks you through the exact same steps I use with my patients to help repair leaky gut. I also have many articles explaining my 4R approach to repairing the gut and gut-repairing supplements.
3. Test for Heavy Metals
We are exposed to heavy metals in a number of different ways: amalgams, fish consumption, and the environment. I recommend having your MTHFR genes tested and doing a DMPS chelation challenge test through a functional medicine practitioner to determine if mercury or other heavy metals are an issue for you.
4. Find and Treat Infections
Have your doctor test for infections such as HSV and EBV. Monolaurin from coconut oil has been shown to be a very helpful addition to treatments for both HSV and EBV. A lysine-rich diet is also an effective way to combat HSV infections.
5. Support Your Immune System
Supplements such as vitamin D, omega-3 fish oils, and glutathione are powerful immune modulators, which means that they can help support your immune system. Vitamin D has been shown to help regulate the immune system. Omega 3 fish oils help to fight inflammation in your entire body. Glutathione is your body’s most powerful antioxidant, which can help your body’s inflammatory response and improve detoxification pathways.
Recommended Supplements for Graves’ Disease
While you work to address the underlying cause of your thyroid disorder, you can ease your symptoms and support your thyroid with supplements and thyroid-calming herbs such as bugleweed, motherwort, and lemon balm. Additionally, a high-quality multivitamin is an excellent way to support your thyroid health.