Can We Treat Graves’ Disease Holistically?
If you’re one out of the three million people in the US who have been diagnosed with Graves’ disease, you might be experiencing uncomfortable heart palpitations, anxiety, irritability, weight loss, and even visible lumps in your neck. With Graves’ disease, your activated lymphocytes infiltrate the thyroid gland, leading to local inflammation or chronic thyroiditis, and in this case, high amounts of circulating thyroid hormone. Given that thyroid hormones impact so many metabolic processes, a hyperactive thyroid can affect nearly every organ in your body—even the way your heart beats. Because of hyperthyroidism, your glucose metabolism might be impaired, resulting in blood sugar instability. This is all to illustrate the challenges of living with Graves’ disease.
Despite the medical advances that have been made over the past few centuries, Graves’ disease is known as a chronic and incurable disease. The typical treatment is symptom-based; a well-intentioned doctor may prescribe you medications (which are ineffective in 50% of patients). When those fail, the remaining options are radioiodine or surgery, even though a myriad of factors (like stress, exercise, toxins, nutrition) have been proven to affect thyroid function.
But given how invasive and extreme those treatments are, could those really be the only way to treat Graves’ disease? And even when you undergo those treatments, do they actually make you feel better?
Beyond Invasive Medicine: Lifestyle-based treatment
Dr. Brogan and her coauthors began to answer those very questions in a recent publication in the peer-reviewed journal Advances in Mind Body Medicine. This groundbreaking paper is the first of its kind to document the methodology employed in the successful healing of Graves’ disease, solely with lifestyle interventions.
The report details the incredible recovery of a Graves’ disease patient, a 34-year-old Dutch, Caucasian female who had struggled with symptoms like hair loss, tearfulness, forgetfulness, palpitations, weight loss, agitation, and low libido. Laboratory tests confirmed why, as she had low TSH, high free T4 and free T3, and positive TRAb.
The patient’s holistic road to recovery, carefully documented in this study, began in 2014; these lifestyle modifications included dietary change to an ancestral type of diet, supportive supplements, practice of kundalini yoga, and avoidance of environmental toxicants.
Adjusting her diet allowed her to support her body’s natural functions more fully. Supportive supplements helped replenish important compounds in the body that were previously lacking. Physical exercise and meditation, a critical component of general health, has been shown to decrease the risk of relapse in Graves’ disease patients., An organic, whole foods diet, filtered water, and avoidance of environmental toxicants all contributed to reversal of thyroid autoimmunity.
And the study proves that these treatments worked. Within 6 months, the patient’s thyroid hormone levels as well as her autoimmune markers normalized with the exclusive implementation of lifestyle interventions.
The patient’s experience also speaks for itself. As she wrote in her last posted commentary from 2018:
“Health-wise, I seem to be stable. Ever since the first time my antibodies were below the threshold back in the summer of 2014, they remained there. My latest test results still showed optimal thyroid hormone levels… I’m grateful that I could save my thyroid and regain my health. That was the most empowering and amazing feeling in the world. That my body had my back all along. And just by giving it a little more of what it needed, it bounced back beautifully. Cheesy as it may sound, I finally found some peace with my body and me.”
Confronting a disease diagnosis? Know you can heal…
For the first time in documented history, a proven alternative treatment to heal patients suffering from Graves’ disease has been published, although this kind of health reclamation is happening in holistic corners of the globe every day.
It is time to re-examine our default treatments of Graves’ disease, which come with many short-term and long-term risks. Why use radioiodine or surgical thyroid removal if the answer to Graves’ disease is simply lifestyle change? The evidence presented in this paper speaks for itself.
This study is an important reminder that we should be listening to our bodies, working with them instead of trying to “fix” symptoms of misbehaving organs.
This publication is a critical addition to the medical literature, opening up the idea that that holistic and radical healing from Graves’ disease is possible with lifestyle interventions.
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