People suffering with Graves disease know how disruptive the disorder can be to their daily lives. While Graves is rarely life threatening, women and men suffering from it’s effects can find the symptoms highly debilitating. Anxiety, irritability, weight loss, and tremors are only a sampling of the more common symptoms Graves sufferers must face on a daily basis. In more severe cases, patients can experience a bulging of the eyeballs (exophthalmos), extreme hypertension, heart arrhythmia and atrial fibrillation. With successful treatment patients often find the disease will ultimately go into remission, but treatment can be a long process, and the right choice of therapy can mean the difference between managed pain and a life free of symptoms.
Conventional Treatments for Graves Disease
Graves disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes the thyroid gland to overproduce the hormone thyroxine. As part of the endocrine system, a healthy thyroid plays a vital role in keeping the body functioning at optimal levels. When Graves strikes, sufferers find themselves at the mercy of a body that is systematically out of balance, leading to both physical and emotional discomfort.
Traditionally, patients suffering with Graves disease, as well as with other forms of hyperthyroidism, have been forced to balance the desire to manage their symptoms against the often invasive treatments that have been available. Chemical and drug dependent therapies seek to relieve the overall symptoms of Graves disease, but the side effects are often extremely unpleasant in themselves. Lethargy, mental fatigue and weight gain are a poor trade for relief from the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Moreover, these treatments only relieve the general symptoms of Graves disease, and fail to address the overarching cause of the disorder.
More extreme treatments for the hyperthyroidism brought on by Graves disease often include radiation therapy to shrink the thyroid, or radical surgery to remove the thyroid gland altogether. The result of these more intense treatments is a dependence on prescription drugs to compensate for the loss or damage of the thyroid. Patients will need to continue a lifelong regimen of hormone supplements to compensate for the loss of their naturally occurring thyroxine.
These conventional treatments are indeed effective, and remain the most commonly prescribed therapies for cases of hyperthyroidism and Graves disease. However, many patients are finding that alternatives to these traditional treatments can offer as much, if not more, relief. These holistic treatments can help patients avoid the many unwanted side effects that accompany chemical therapy, all while maintaining the overall integrity of the body.
Alternative Treatments for Graves Disease
Holistic physicians and clinicians approach any disease or dysfunction by first considering the body as a whole. No part of the human body works in isolation, and every system is dependent upon the health and well being of it’s counterparts. Therefore, any course of treatment must take into account all aspects of the patients health. Diet, stress, physical fitness and exposure to environmental toxins must all be considered as causes of, or exacerbating influences upon, a patient’s overactive thyroid.
The first, and most basic, treatment for Graves disease is to make dietary adjustments that will reduce, or eliminate, any foods or toxins that may be acting as a trigger for the disease. While the underlying cause of Graves disease is still undetermined, recent research shows that certain foods, toxins and chemicals can act as a trigger that instigates the hyperthyroidism. By eating foods that are higher in selenium, zinc and vitamins A and D, along with some supplementation, clinicians can reduce the levels of toxins in their patient’s systems and subsequently relieve, and limit, the instances of Graves related symptoms. This treatment can be taken in conjunction with traditional drug therapies, although the ultimate goal is to become drug free by treatment’s end.
As we have seen, Graves disease is an autoimmune disorder that targets the thyroid gland. The whole body approach to treatment includes therapies that are designed to regulate the patient’s immune system, and return to it to optimal performance. Conventional treatments attempt to suppress the immune system with drugs, but with the judicious use of customized diet therapy, herbal and vitamin supplements the dysfunctional immune system can be regulated and returned to a healthy and balanced state. Foods high in omega 3 fatty acids like green vegetables, flax, chia and hemp seeds and wild salmon along various vitamins and natural anti-inflammatories are effective in treating many autoimmune disorders. Patients undergoing treatment for Graves disease will want to work with their clinicians to design a therapy that addresses their individual needs, bearing in mind that no two patients will respond to the same treatment.
Graves disease has no conventionally recognized cure. Currently, traditional medicine concentrates on managing the symptoms with drugs, and waiting for the disease to go into remission. For patients suffering from Graves disease that can be a long wait indeed. The whole body approach to health and well-being offers a more natural relief from the symptoms of hyperthyroidism and Graves disease by attempting to restore the patient’s immune system to an optimal balance. Through natural supplements, dietary and lifestyle changes, the symptoms of hyperthyroidism can be greatly reduced, and when balance and harmony are restored the patient can live their life free of the debilitating effects of Graves disease.