Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland releases excessive amounts of thyroid hormone. Symptoms include the following:
- Weight loss
- Fast heart rate
- Heart palpitations
- Intolerance to heat
- Frequent bowel movements
- Scant menstruation
- Bone thinning
- Hair loss
- Changes in the appearance of the eye (bulging or staring)
- Goiter (a visible enlargement of the neck caused by a swollen thyroid gland)
The most common form of hyperthyroidism is Grave’s disease. In this condition, the body manufactures antibodies that have the unintended effect of stimulating the thyroid gland. (In another condition, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis , the body produces antibodies that decrease thyroid output.) In addition, benign tumors of the thyroid can secrete excessive thyroid hormone on their own (cancerous tumors seldom do). Viral infection of the thyroid (subacute thyroiditis) causes short-lived hyperthyroidism followed by a more prolonged period of hypothyroidism .
Medical treatment of hyperthyroidism is highly effective. In most cases of ongoing hyperthyroidism, radioactive iodine is used to destroy thyroid tissue. This approach is both safe and effective, because almost all the iodine in the body ends up in the thyroid, and therefore the radioactive treatment does not damage any other tissues. Other approaches to hyperthyroidism include drugs to block the effects of high thyroid hormone or to slow thyroid hormone production, as well as, in relatively rare cases, surgery.
Proposed Natural Treatments
Physician supervision is necessary to determine why the thyroid is overactive in order to design a specific treatment plan. None of the treatments discussed in this section actually get to the root of the problem, nor have they been proven effective. Self-treatment of hyperthyroidism is not recommended.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 07/2012 -
- Update Date: 07/25/2012 -