Yes, Hyperthyroidism is Treatable
Let’s get this out of the way:
Hyperthyroidism is a treatable condition.
But there is a difference between treating a condition and calling it a day and thriving with whatever treatment you are taking.
And it is the difference here that you really need to pay close attention to.
If you use the standard therapies for hyperthyroidism then you will treat your condition but you may not thrive.
You may not have the energy you used to, you may gain weight, you may suffer from depression, and the list goes on and on.
Thriving and living at 100% of your capacity is really what you should be focusing on.
As always, the discussion is more nuanced than just getting on the right treatment which is exactly what we are going to discuss today.
Today you will learn:
- Whether or not hyperthyroidism is curable
- The STANDARD and conventional therapies for hyperthyroidism and why these are not as great as they sound
- Additional NATURAL therapies for hyperthyroidism that you should be taking advantage of
- And what you should expect when treating your hyperthyroidism
Let’s jump in…
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Can Hyperthyroidism be Cured Completely?
The short answer is yes, but the long answer is more complicated (1).
In order to talk about curing hyperthyroidism, we actually have to define it and discuss the differing perspectives between doctors and patients.
From the patient perspective, a cure is usually meant to describe a condition in which the disease state is completely reversed and the patient (in this case you) returns to normal.
From the perspective of the doctor, a cure is usually a state which is achieved when a medical condition is simply under control.
But being under control is NOT the same thing as being “cured” which is what I think most people asking this question are really looking for.
So, let’s rephrase the question:
Is it possible to reverse hyperthyroidism such that the condition is completely eliminated and you return to a normal state?
The answer is maybe (and it’s a definite “no” if you ask your regular doctor).
While hyperthyroidism is absolutely treatable (2) it is not necessarily curable, at least not in all cases.
But can it be cured in some cases? Absolutely.
There are people out there who have managed to completely reverse their condition WITHOUT the use of drugs or surgery.
On the flip side, there are also many people out there who have tried to do this and who have failed.
So while it may not be easy, I personally believe it’s always worth a shot.
Because the treatments for hyperthyroidism are almost always irreversible.
So why wouldn’t you try more natural therapies FIRST before you undergo these permanent and life-altering therapies?
In the worst case, you will simply fail and need to use them anyway.
But in the best case, you will have reversed your condition and no longer need to undergo those life-altering procedures.
Whether or not your hyperthyroidism is curable also depends on the CAUSE or TYPE of your hyperthyroid state.
Hyperthyroid states caused by Graves’ disease are much easier to reverse than say hyperthyroid states caused by “hot nodules”.
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease with identifiable triggers that can be targeted.
A hot nodule is not well understood and probably will not respond to the same therapies that should be used in Graves’.
We will return to this discussion when we talk about natural therapies for hyperthyroidism but for now, let’s talk about treatment in general.
Standard Therapies Used to Treat Hyperthyroidism
Treatment for hyperthyroidism is really split into two main categories (and this is true of almost all disease states, by the way).
The first set of treatments we are going to call the “standard” or “conventional” treatments.
These are the treatments that your doctor will recommend and they are backed by science and medical research.
These treatments almost ALWAYS come in the form of surgery or medication as these are the main tools that standard doctors use.
And while these therapies are VERY effective they do not come without side effects or consequences.
They need to be differentiated from NATURAL therapies which we will discuss very soon.
Even among these conventional therapies, you have to understand the life cycle of hyperthyroidism.
When hyperthyroidism is first diagnosed you are in a state of hyperthyroidism (duh!) but this state changes as you undergo treatment.
And the treatments for early-stage hyperthyroidism are completely different compared to late-stage hyperthyroidism and it matters quite a bit.
Treatments when your thyroid is OVERACTIVE and producing TOO much thyroid hormone
When you are first diagnosed with hyperthyroidism the goal of treatment is to SLOW down the thyroid.
This is typically accomplished one of 3 ways (and sometimes a combination is used).
#1. Anti-thyroid medication.
The first step is almost always to start taking something called anti-thyroid medication.
This medication helps to BLOCK thyroid function by reducing thyroid function in your cells and by preventing T4 to T3 conversion.
The most common medication used is known as methimazole but other medications include PTU and beta blockers.
Anti-thyroid medication is NOT a cure but it does stop your body from feeling the impacts of too much thyroid hormone rather quickly.
Unfortunately, not only is it not a cure but it’s also not a long-term treatment.
Using methimazole or any other thyroid-blocking medication for an extended period of time can cause serious problems in your body.
Because of this, and unless you can reverse your hyperthyroidism naturally, you will be forced to choose one (or both) of the following options:
#2. Thyroid surgery (Thyroidectomy).
Thyroid surgery is considered more of a ‘final’ or ‘complete’ solution for hyperthyroidism as it completely eliminates the problem.
This surgery, referred to as a thyroidectomy, is when a surgeon surgically removes your thyroid gland.
Obviously, if the thyroid gland is no longer present in your body then it cannot produce thyroid hormone and you will no longer be hyperthyroid.
There are risks involved with thyroid surgery that are typical of other surgeries but also a few that are unique to thyroid surgery such as the potential for vocal cord damage.
If you have had your thyroid removed then you will be required to take thyroid medication for the rest of your life.
#3. Radioactive iodine ablation (RAI).
Another option that is often used in place of surgical removal of the thyroid gland is known as radioactive iodine ablation or RAI.
In this procedure, your thyroid gland is basically killed off using radioactive iodine.
So instead of surgically removing it you are killing all of the glands but leaving it in your body.
The result is still the same as surgical removal, though, as your thyroid gland is no longer functioning.
If you undergo RAI then you too will need to be on thyroid medication for the rest of your life.
It’s important to note that not all cases of RAI are considered ‘complete’ or ‘successful’.
So it is possible that only a percentage or fraction of your thyroid gland is destroyed in which case you may not necessarily HAVE to use thyroid medication forever (this is uncommon but it does occur).
Treating your thyroid AFTER thyroidectomy and radioactive iodine ablation therapy
Ok, here is where things can get a little bit confusing.
Once you undergo the complete treatment for hyperthyroidism (meaning you either have your thyroid surgically removed or ablated) you are now in a completely different situation than when you started.
Instead of suffering from hyperthyroidism you now suffer from hypothyroidism.
And it makes sense if you think about it.
But this is confusing for many patients with hyperthyroidism who tend to hold on to their original diagnosis for the rest of their lives.
I have people who tell me they have hyperthyroidism and yet they have had their thyroid surgically removed.
It’s impossible for both of these things to be true.
And it matters because the treatment for hyperthyroidism is completely different than for hypothyroidism.
And if you walk around thinking you have hyperthyroidism, when you really don’t, you will miss out on all of the new treatments and ways to improve your thyroid function (more on that below).
The bottom line is that once you undergo a thyroidectomy or radioactive iodine ablation you will need a completely new set of treatments.
#1. Thyroid medication.
You will be required to take thyroid medication to BOOST your thyroid function.
It’s impossible to live without a thyroid gland UNLESS you are taking thyroid medication by mouth each and every day.
So in the advanced or later stage of your hyperthyroidism, you will no longer be hyperthyroid and instead be hypothyroid and be required to take thyroid medication for the rest of your life.
And this is where the real problems start to arise and where natural therapies to boost your thyroid should be used.
Natural Therapies to Treat Hyperthyroidism
Natural therapies are those therapies that are often considered by doctors to be ‘alternative’ or ‘integrative’.
They are not as well studied as conventional therapies but they should not be discarded because of this.
Even though they have not been studied as well as more conventional therapies do not mean that they are not effective.
We have a number of smaller studies showing that they can be effective (1) and we have even more case studies showing people who have reversed their conditions or who have seen significant improvement in their condition by using them.
If you throw them out then you really are throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
And because these therapies have basically zero chance to cause any harm, it would be VERY unwise to simply ignore them.
My recommendation is to always at least give them a try (preferably BEFORE you undergo surgery or RAI) to see if they are effective.
The first natural therapy that you should look at is your diet.
The foods that you put into your mouth have a profound effect on your body and your thyroid.
The foods you eat can either reduce inflammation or cause inflammation.
They can either upset your stomach or help heal your gut.
They can either provide your body with the nutrients it needs or feed into nutrient deficiencies which can cause thyroid problems.
And so on.
The key here is not to think about the foods that you eat as a ‘diet’ per se but as information that you put into your body.
You want this information to be healthy and healing and you can do this by simply eating a whole-food diet.
There are many ways to accomplish this but as long as you eliminate gluten, dairy, soy, processed foods, excessive sugar, and industrial seed oils, you are already well on your way.
The exact foods that you eat can be tailed to your personal preference and your body.
You can also use various types of diets that meet these criteria as well.
I would recommend reading this article for more information on diet and how it impacts your thyroid.
The next thing to consider is supplements.
Dietary supplements contain extra nutrition that you are most likely NOT getting from your diet (this is true even if you are already eating whole foods).
These supplements can help augment pathways in your body which can help improve your immune system, help provide your body with nutrients required to reduce inflammation, and even reduce damage in the thyroid gland.
You can find a list of my recommended hyperthyroid supplements in this article.
Using the right supplements is VERY important, by the way, so don’t just run out and buy whatever you see over the counter.
You need a strategy and you can find one in the link above.
#3. Improving Gut Function
Your next step should be to improve your entire gut.
This incredibly large system is the house of a large portion of your immune system, it helps to regulate hormone levels (including thyroid hormone), and helps to regulate inflammation.
Most people who have hyperthyroidism, especially those with Graves’, have problems with their gut.
And the gut can even be a trigger for the development of hyperthyroid states.
In other words, it all starts in the gut (at least for most people) so do not neglect it.
You can improve your gut status by changing your diet, taking certain supplements, and evaluating the various levels of different bacteria commonly found in the gut.
#4. Stress Reduction Techniques (Yoga, Medication, Etc.)
Lastly, you HAVE to pay attention to your stress.
Stress is a major trigger of inflammation and even autoimmune disease.
Most cases of hyperthyroidism are caused by the autoimmune condition Graves’ disease.
If you neglect your stress then you do so at your own peril.
I strongly recommend focusing on various techniques that can help your body tolerate stress and help reduce the impact that stress has on your overall body and thyroid.
Techniques such as meditation and yoga are particularly effective but there are many ways to do this.
Ensuring you get enough sleep, taking supplements that contain adrenal adaptogens, using various herbal teas, and so on can all be effective.
Do NOT neglect this step!
As you can see from this list, these natural therapies are not only safe but they can be very effective.
They can be used regardless of what stage you are at in your thyroid journey.
Just diagnosed with Graves’ disease? No problem, they are effective.
Has your thyroid already been removed surgically? No problem, they are still effective here as well.
Do not expect to receive guidance on these topics from your standard doctor, though.
They are very unlikely to recognize the importance of these natural therapies even though they have been studied and proven to be effective for many people.
Your Next Steps
Is hyperthyroidism a treatable condition?
Will you still thrive after diagnosis and treatment of your hyperthyroid state?
Not necessarily but it is definitely possible provided you have a complete understanding of your condition.
My goal is to help you have a better understanding of your condition so you can make the right decisions about your treatments.
You need to make sure that you understand the nuances of treating the hyperthyroid state and how it changes over time.
And now I want to hear from you:
Are you currently suffering from hyperthyroidism?
If so, what stage are you at? Are you still taking anti-thyroid medication or have you had your thyroid removed or ablated?
How are you managing? Are your symptoms under control or do you still need some help?
What type of therapies are you using? Have you tried natural therapies yet?
Leave your questions or comments below!