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Graves' DiseaseWhat is Graves' Disease?13 Million Americans have thydroid disorder, also known as Graves' disease. What's unfortunate is that only half of them are aware of it. Those that have Graves' disease accounts for 1/4 of 1% of the U.S. population. The leading cause of hyperthroidism, Graves' disease, represents a basic defect in the immune system. It causes production of immumoglobins (antibodies) which stimulate and attack the thyroid gland, causing growth of the gland and over production of thyroid hormone.FactsGraves' disease occurs in less than 1/4 of 1% of the U.S. population.Graves' disease is more prevalent in females than males.Graves' disease usually occurs in middle age but also occurs in children and elderly.Graves' disease is not curable, but is completely treatable.Cause of Graves' DiseaseOften the cause is unknown. However, there seems to be a break down in the normal balance of the feedback mechanism between the pitutary gland that produces thyroid stimulating hormones (TSH). This results in an excessive amount of TSH which causes overproduction of thyroid hormones. Although not often, Graves' disease will occurs after the thyroid gland grow a benign tumor which also causes an overproduction of hormones. Occasionally, thyrotoxicosis starts after an emotional shock or prolonged period of anxiety which may sometimes occur at the onset of hashimoto's thyroiditis.
Who Develops Graves' Disease?Graves' disease most frequently affects women (8:1 more than men) but also occurs in children and the elderly. Several elements comtribute to the development of Graves' disease. There is a genetic predisposition to autoimmune disordres. Infections and stress also play a part. Graves' disease often may have it's onset after a prolonged external stressor and in other instances, it may occur after a viral infection or pregnancy. Many times, however, the cause of Graves' disease is simply not known. It is NOT contagious but has been known to occur coincidentially between hubands and wives. Thus far, there has been no research that has identified a Graves' gene in DNA.
DiagnosisPatient history, laboratory test and physical examination form the basis for diagnosing Graves' disease. A careful patient will differentiate Graves' diease from other closely related diseases.
SymptomsOften there is a slight swelling in the neck just below the adams apple because of enlarged thyroid gland. Other symptoms include:Increased sweatingFatigueNervousness and irritabilityRestlessnessHungerTachycardia (rapid heart beat)
Changes in libido (sex drive) Diarrhea Muscle weakness Trembling hands Heart intolerance Exophtalmos (Bulging of the eyes) Tremors Depression Enlarged thyroid gland Artial fibrillation Heart palpitations Heart failure Diplopia (blurred or doubled vision) Hair changes Increased frequency to stool Eye complaints (such as redness and swelling) Increased appetite Decrease in menstrual cycle Distracted attention span Erratic behavior
ComplicationsOccasionally, the symptoms of Graves' disease become worse in a condition called, thyroid crisis, which can be brought on by acute anxiety, childbirth or an operation. Graves' can develop into a fatal condition with rapid heart beat, fever, and worsening of all symptoms which case urgent hospital treatments are required.Exphtahalmos caused by protuberance is a more common symtom. This eye problem can become worse when treated and result in swelling of the eyelids and the tissue behind the eyeball. Treatment for this condition is required to prevent infection. Opthlmoplegia or paralysis of the nerves of the eye, which results in doubled vision (diplopia)is another complication. This is a condition that tends to improve on its on.
The more serious complications that cause major challenges to both the patient and the team of treating physicans when prolonged, untreated, or improperly treated. These complications include: weakened heart muscles leading to heart failure, osteoporosis, or possible severe emotional disorders.
TreatmentConventional MedicineCurrently there are three possible standard ways of treating Graves' disease. Choice of treatment varies among physicians. However, the decision should be made the full knowledge and consent of the patient. The selection of treatment will include factors such as degree of illness, age, and personal preferences. Generally, from invasive to most invasive the treatments include:1. Anti-thyroid drug used to inhibit production or conversion of the active thyroid hormone.2. Radioactive iodine (I-131) ued to destroy all or part of the thyroid gland and render it incapable of overproducing thyroid hormone.3. Subtotal thyroidectomy, a procedure in which a surgeon removes most of the thyroid gland and renders it in capable of overproducing thyroid hormones. Drugs used to reduce thyroid activity are usually 20-30% effective. Drugs (beta blockers) may be prescribed to control the symptoms.
Radioactive iodine treatment results in about 90-95% remission rateof Graves' disease. However in few cases the treatment must be repeated. Radioactive iodine is simple and efective. Subtotal thyroidectomy also results in about 90-95% remisssion rate. Ultimately most patient undergo the surgery to remove part of the thyroid gland or any active part of the nodule in the gland. Both surgery and radioactive iodine tend to result some years later in diminished production of the thyroid hormones.At-Home Remidies/AlternativesThere are a number of things you acn do to help assistyour body in the healing process. However, science suggest that here is no "natural" way to "cure" Graves' disease. For example, there are no specific foods that will cahnge your thyroid unction but those who eat healtier, more nutritionally dense foods have bodies that are better abale to fight off infections and further complications. Treatments like accupuncture, exercise, meditation, and various mind/body therapies can provide comfort and relief. Be sure to consult your physician when embarking on additional treatments and therapies.
Below are a list of some-at-home remidies to complications of GRaves' disease:Use eye patches at night if you lids can not close completely over your eyes. This will help keep your corneas from drying out.Whenever your eye feel dry use ove the counter/prescription artificial tears.Sleep with your head elevated to avoid having red, swollen eyes in the morning.Protect your eyes from bright light, sunlight and wind by wearing sun glasses.
More InformationThe National Graves' Disease Foundation is a lay organization that provides education and patient support. This is a great place to start collecting more information about Grave's disease. In the Support Section of this pagea you will find other place and where you can find nore information as well.
Remember that information is not a substitute for medical care and attention.
SupportNational Graves' Disease FoundationP.O. Box 1969Bevard, N.C. 28712www.ngdf.orgNational Graves' Disease FoundationDowner's Grove, IllinoisFor person living with Graves disease, family and friendsDiana Grows(708) 848 - 1722
Graves' Related LinksThyroid Home Page www.thyroid.comThyroid Foundation of America www.allthyroid.org wMed Help International (info on thyroid treatment)www.medhelp.org Health Touch's Thyroid Page www.healthtouch.comGraves' Disease - Knoll Pharmaceutical www.synthroid.com
Specialty Pharmacy ( a site for compound medication, herbal and mineral supplements) www.specialty-pharmacy.com
Graves' Infomation (This is someone's personal website that contains a lot of good, easy to read information..far more info than I provided on this page) www.home1.pacific.net.sg/~choo/To view past "Monthly Matters" click below:December's Monthly MatterNovember's Monthly MatterOctober's Monthly MatterCorkboard To leave a message on the corkboard about this issue or about anything else Click Here!NOTE: This is not a complete list of what Graves information. I decided to look up information about Graves' disease after some one close to developed the disease. So,this is only a list of information that I know found. There's more info out there if you look for it. Let me know what you think and tell me what you do to help others with this disease or tell me if you are living withthis disease. E-mail me at CMJPlatformPlace@yahoo.com or leave a message on the corkboard.
Grave's disease: a nutritional approach
by Hoffman Center Staff
Grave's disease is the most common form of hyperthyroidism (when the thyroid gland is overactive). When confronted with a diagnosis of Grave's disease, there are four aspects that need to be addressed when planning a nutritional protocol - removal of thyroid toxic substances from the diet, focus on an immune supportive diet, dietary allergy elimination, and nutritional supplementation.
Removal of thyroid toxic substances
Soy has been found to interfere with proper functioning of the thyroid gland by inhibiting thyroid peroxidase (TPO) catalyzed reactions essential to thyroid hormone synthesis. In one study, daidzein and genistein, two isoflavones found in soy, blocked TPO-catalyzed tyrosine iodination by acting as alternate substrates, yielding mono-, di-, and triiodoisoflavones, in the presence of an iodide ion. Inhibition of thyroid hormone synthesis can induce goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland due to several factors - an iodine deficiency, malfunction of the gland, or by over consumption of a goitrogen).
Other foods that are considered goitrogens (a thyroid antagonist found in food) include plants of the genus Brassica (cabbage, turnips, kale, rutabaga, watercress, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and kohlrabi). These vegetables seem to be more of a concern for hypothyroidism (under active thyroid). However, each case must be analyzed individually. Since Brassica vegetables block the uptake of iodine, there is a case in the scientific literature showing that this can have profound negative effects on a patient with Grave's disease. Brassica plants are particularly goitrogenic in their raw state, and therefore must be cooked. Consumption should be based on individual case analysis.
The goal of a diet program for Grave's disease is to remove all foods that may be triggering the body to create antibodies against parts of the thyroid and subsequently attack its own tissues. Researchers believe that one of the possible causes of autoimmune ailments are certain foods that are new to humanity (grain products, dairy products, lentils and beans, and yeasted foods) which have only appeared in the past 40,000 years. Meats, nuts, vegetables and fruits have been eaten for over 2 million years. Therefore, returning to a diet that is made of meat, nuts, and produce may remove one of the main offending causes behind autoimmune problems. In essence, this is a Paleolithic diet.
In a Paleolithic diet, protein makes up about 25-30% of calories and is derived almost exclusively from lean meats and fish. This contrasts with the North American diet which consists of only 10-15% protein which is derived from poor quality, high fat meats, grains, dairy products and legumes. Thus both the amount and sources vary greatly between the two dietary practices. Proteins play a major role in autoimmune disease and thus these new sources of proteins (dairy, grains, legumes) which present the immune system with completely new protein fragments, are very problematic. Celiac disease is a fine example of a disease driven by specific proteins found in some grains.
Dietary allergy elimination
Some practitioners believe that an underlying mechanism of autoimmune diseases revolves around the identification and elimination of dietary allergies. Allergy researcher James Braly, MD, believes that antibodies formed specifically against partially digested food particles form immune complexes when attached together, and circulate in the bloodstream, eventually depositing in the tissues where they can cause inflammation, irritation, and immune stimulation against the bodies own tissues.
Below is a list of some supplements that are utilized for hyperthyroidism.
Foundation formula 1 tablet, twice daily
Acidophilus and Bifidobacteria as directed
EPA/DHA 3000 mg and higher
Glutamine 2 grams, upon arising
GLA 300 2 capsules, with each meal
Flaxseed Oil 2 tablespoons
Vitamin C Ester-C (500 mg), 3 times per day
Vitamin E 400 IU
Magnesium 400-800 mg (slow mag may be needed).
Other supplements may be required based on drug-induced nutrient depletion.
A 35 year old woman diagnosed with Grave's disease came in for an office visit. Her main symptoms included constant anxiety, bulging of the eyes, tachycardia, insomnia, diarrhea, gas, bloating and night sweats. Current medications included, Methimazole, Valium and a beta-blocker. A detailed diet history revealed a high intake of soy foods, in the form of tofu, soy based meat analogues, soy protein shakes, soymilk, soy yogurt, and soy nuts. Additionally, she would consume two cups of lightly steamed broccoli several times per week. The patient noted gas and bloating after ingesting any carbohydrates.
Her protocol consisted of eliminating thyroid toxic substances from the diet, adopting a Paleolithic diet, practicing dietary allergy elimination, and nutritional supplementation.
As part of a holistic protocol, stress reduction is paramount. "The Stress Reduction and Relaxation Handbook", by Martha Davis, Ph.D., Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman, M.S.W., and Matthew McKay, Ph.D., was recommended.
Within two weeks of adopting the aforementioned protocol, she notified the office that her follow up with her endocrinologist resulted in substantial reduction in her goiter (2/3 of its original size). The patient also reported that her gas and bloating diminished, and noted an increase in energy and attenuation of anxiety.
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