Grave’s Disease – Medical/ Home/ Dietary/ Vitamin Solutions
Graves’s disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism and it occurs frequently in women. It is an autoimmune condition where the thyroid gland is over stimulated to produce thyroxine. In Grave’s disease, a specific type of antibodies binds to receptors sites found in the thyroid gland causing the gland to enlarge to more than twice its size with subsequent release of excess amount of thyroxine which accounts for it clinical manifestation. Its occurrence in men and children is relatively rare.
Causes of Grave’s Disease
Common causes and risk factor(s) of Grave’s disease include:
- Antibodies production- normally, antibodies are produces to protect the body from viral and bacterial infections. However, the antibodies produced by the body for no clear reason begins to attack the thyroid gland.
- Bacterial and viral infections- it has been postulated that infection with certain micro-organisms like Yersinia enterocolitica and Escherichia coli can provoke Grave’s disease. These micro-organisms have binding sites that are similar to those found in the thyroid gland thus provoking an immune response.
- Gender- Graves’s disease has a predilection for women. Statistically, about 80% of Grave’s disease patients are women
- Family history- the risk of developing Grave’s disease is increased amongst family members and it is associated with mutation of genes e.g. HLA-B8, DR3 and DR2 genes
- Other immune conditions- patients suffering from immune conditions like diabetes mellitus type 1 and Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are more predisposed to Grave’s disease.
Medical Treatment of Grave’s Disease
The aim of drug treatment in Grave’s disease is to reduce the amount of circulating thyroid hormone, shrink the gland to its normal size, and regress symptoms like bulging eyes, central nervous and cardiovascular symptoms and to improve quality of life. Treatments include:
- Antithyroid drugs: these are first line drugs used in reducing the amount of circulating thyroxine in the body. They act either by interfering with the iodide-trapping mechanism or by blocking the organic binding of iodine.
- Radioiodine therapy: this form of treatment can be used in adults and children but its use is contraindicated in pregnancy and in breastfeeding mothers. Radioiodine accumulates in the thyroid gland and ablates the gland by radiation. During its administration, strict radiation safety rules must be observed.
- Beta blocker: propranolol is used to alleviate cardiovascular and central nervous symptoms associated with Grave’s disease. It provides quick symptomatic relieve by reducing nervousness, tremors and palpitation.
Alternative Therapies of Grave’s Disease
Bugleweed, St John’s wort, motherwort, lemon balm, gypsywort decrease the level of thyroxine by targeting numerous pathways in the synthesis of the hormone. These herbs act by blocking the effect of antithyroid antibodies and immune complexes, inhibits the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland and the conversion of thyroxine to its active form
Acupuncture has been in use in ancient china to treat many medical conditions. Acupuncture needles are inserted into the skin to correct the imbalances that occurred in the flow of qi (life energy of life force). It can be used to restore immune function and health, relieve of symptoms and improve thyroid functioning.
Home remedies of Grave’s Disease
- Take soy protein shakes, soy nuts and tofu to reduce the symptoms of Grave’s disease
- Sunflower seeds, brazil nuts and whole wheat bread are found to be rich in lithium and selenium. There modulates the thyroid glands by reducing the amount of thyroid hormones secreted.
- The eyes are affected in Grave’s disease. Complication like corneal ulcerations, double vision and blindness may occur. This is prevented with the use of methylcellulose eye drops, use of tinted sunglasses and short term administration of steroids.
- Elevation of the head while sleeping and cold compress of the eyes provides relief
- Eat well, rest well and exercise adequately
Dietary solution of Grave’s Disease
Diet plays and important part in maintaining adequate functioning of organs and the thyroid gland is no exception. Nutritional support is beneficial to thyroid patients because it is devoid of side effects and it provides a holistic mode of therapy.
Recent studies has shown digested food especially proteins from animal source forms dietary allergens which have been found out to be notorious in stimulating the immune system. Antibodies produced and immune complexes formed then targets specific organs in the body causing inflammation and disease.
Soy has been found to inhibit an enzyme needed in the synthesis of thyroid hormones. A nutritional plan that incorporates adequate amount of soy is beneficial in patients with Grave’s disease. Soy can be obtained from tofu, soy milkshakes and soy nuts.
Vegetables of the genus brassica are considered to be goitrogen because there inhibit the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland. Moderate consumption of cabbage, broccoli, turnips and cauliflower has been shown to successfully decrease thyroid hormone levels.
A diet rich in vegetables, fruits and a Paleolithic diet has been shown to successful reduce the symptoms and complications associated with Grave’s disease.
Vitamins and minerals for Grave’s Disease
Antioxidants found in vitamins and minerals are invaluable in our diet because there neutralize reactive oxidants generated by the body which are responsible for cellular damage causing wear and tear experienced by tissues and organs.
Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (tocopherol) and other antioxidants neutralize radicals and allergens that stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, flaxseed and walnuts helps to decrease inflammation of the thyroid glands and the tissues surrounding the eyes.
Calcium: Grave’s disease causes osteoporosis hence reducing bone strength. Calcium and Vitamin D are needed to restore bone strength and integrity.
It is important to note that excessive consumption of animal protein and food allergens especially gluten should be avoided.