|Also Listed As:
Hyperthyroidism occurs when your thyroid gland, located at the front of your
neck, produces too much thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism has three forms that
share several symptoms. Hyperthyroidism usually happens between the ages of 20
and 40. It often starts after times of extreme stress or during
|Signs and Symptoms|
- Fast heart rate and palpitations
- High blood pressure
- Swelling at the base of the neck
- Moist skin and increased perspiration
- Shakiness and tremor
- Nervousness and confusion
- Increased appetite accompanied by weight loss
- Difficulty sleeping
- Swollen, reddened, and bulging eyes
- Constant stare (infrequent blinking, lid lag)
- Sensitivity of eyes to light
- Occasionally, raised, thickened skin over the shins, back of feet,
back, hands, or even face
- In crisis: fever, very rapid pulse, agitation, and possibly
- Changes in menstrual periods
|What Causes It?|
Researchers suspect that Graves' disease (one form of hyperthyroidism) stems
from an antibody that mistakenly stimulates the thyroid to produce too much
hormone. Toxic nodular goiter is caused by a noncancerous tumor in nodules that
make up the thyroid gland. Secondary hyperthyroidism results when a gland called
the pituitary overrides the thyroid's normal instructions, and orders it to make
too much thyroid hormone.
|What to Expect at Your Provider's Office|
Your health care provider will ask you to extend your fingers to see if you
have a telltale tremor. Your provider will also examine your thyroid gland while
you swallow. You will have blood drawn and may need X rays.
Your health care provider will most likely prescribe a single dose of liquid
radioactive iodine, which calms down your thyroid gland. Alternatively, your
provider may give you thyroid-depressive medication. You may also be prescribed
beta-blockers. If drug treatment fails, you may need surgery to remove part of
|Complementary and Alternative Therapies|
Alternative therapies may be effective at minimizing symptoms of mild thyroid
Foods that depress the thyroid include broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts,
cauliflower, kale, spinach, turnips, soy, beans, and mustard greens. Avoid
refined foods, dairy products, wheat, caffeine, and alcohol.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and help your immune system
- Bromelain (250 to 500 mg three times per day between meals) reduces
- Vitamin C (250 to 500 mg twice a day) supports immune function and
- Calcium (1,000 mg per day) and magnesium (200 to 600 mg per day) are
cofactors for many metabolic processes.
- Vitamin E (400 IU twice a day) can help protect the heart.
- Coenzyme Q10 (50 mg twice a day) can help protect the
Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites
(glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise
indicated, teas should be made with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep
covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots.
Drink 2 to 4 cups per day. For best results, these herbs should be used under
the guidance of an experienced practitioner.
- Bugleweed (Lycopus virginica) and lemon balm (Melissa
officinalis) help to normalize the overactive thyroid. Motherwort
(Leonurus cardiaca) may relieve heart palpitations and passionflower
(Passiflora incarnata) reduces anxiety. Combine two parts of bugleweed
with one part each of lemon balm, motherwort, and passionflower and take in
tincture form, 30 to 60 drops three to four times per day.
- Quercetin (250 to 500 mg three times per day) is an
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa) makes the effects of bromelain
stronger and should be taken between meals, 500 mg three times per
- Milk thistle (Silibum marianum) helps the liver provide proper
binding proteins, 300 to 600 mg three times a day.
- Hawthorn berry (Crataegus laevigata) helps protect the heart.
Take ¼ tsp. of the solid extract, or 1,000 mg of the herb, three times a
- Lemon balm inhibits the binding of thyroid-stimulating hormones (TSH)
- Immune-suppressing herbs such as Stephania root (Stephania
tetranda) and Indian sarsaprilla (Hemidesmus indicus) help break the
circle of cellular damage.
- Anti-inflammatory herbs such as licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
and Chinese foxglove (Rehmania glutinosa) support the adrenals as
There have been few studies examining the effectiveness of specific
homeopathic remedies. Professional homeopaths, however, may recommend treatments
for hyperthyroidism based on their knowledge and clinical experience. Before
prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account a person's constitutional
type. In homeopathic terms, a person's constitution is his or her physical,
emotional, and intellectual makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of
these factors when determining the most appropriate remedy for a particular
Ice packs to the throat will help decrease inflammation. Castor oil packs to
the throat will also reduce inflammation. Apply oil directly to skin, cover with
a clean soft cloth and plastic wrap. Place a heat source over the pack and let
sit for 30 to 60 minutes. For best results, use for three consecutive
Acupuncture may be helpful in correcting hormonal
Therapeutic massage may be useful in relieving
Thyroid problems during pregnancy can cause serious
Bartram T. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. Dorset, England: Grace
Berkow R. Merck Manual. 16th ed. Whitehorse Station, NJ: The Merck
Publishing Group; 1992.
Blumenthal M, ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic
Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, Mass: Integrative Medicine
Carr AC, Frei B. Toward a new recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C
based on antioxidant and health effects in humans. Am J Clin Nutr.
Hoffman D. The New Holistic Herbal. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble
JAMA Patient Page. How much vitamin C do you need? JAMA.
Johnston CS. Recommendations for vitamin C intake. JAMA.
Levine M, Rumsey SC, Daruwala R, Park JB, Wang Y. Criteria and
recommendations for vitamin C intake. JAMA.
|Review Date: August 1999|
|Reviewed By: Participants in the review process include: Shiva Barton, ND, Wellspace,
Cambridge, MA; Sherif H. Osman, MD, President, Medical Staff Harford Memorial
Hospital, Falston General Hospital, Bel Air, MD; David Perlmutter, MD,
Perlmutter Health Center, Commons Medical and Surgical Centre, Naples, FL; Eric
Wellons, MD, Department of Surgery, Union Memorial Hospital, Baltimore, MD; Tom
Wolfe, P.AHG, Smile Herb Shop, College Park,
Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc
The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of
the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse
of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage
to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or
otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents
of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds
currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a
guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information
provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare
practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts)
regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications
before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed