Creatine has been proven to be safe and effective for building muscle mass but research suggests that it can do so much more (1).
In fact, I can’t help but think about thyroid patients when I read about the benefits that creatine provides.
What makes this even more exciting is that outside of the body build community (which is where this supplement is primarily used) it doesn’t get the attention it deserves!
Well, today that ends.
We are going to be discussing the profound benefits that creatine can have on more than just muscle mass and discuss why I believe it should seriously be considered by all thyroid patients.
Let’s jump in:
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Creatine Basics: Yes, You Need To Know This
First things first…
What is creatine?
Creatine is one of the most well-studied supplements on the market with over 1,000 studies highlighting its beneficial effects and safety profile.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s primarily thought of as a bodybuilding supplement where it has been scientifically proven to help build more strength, increase muscle mass, improve athletic performance, and prevent fatigue (2).
Even the most battle-hardened anti-natural therapy doctors and scientists out there will still recommend creatine for its huge database of scientific studies.
You simply can’t deny that this supplement works.
While the benefits I listed above are quite impressive (who doesn’t want to build more muscle mass and lose weight?), emerging research is suggesting that creatine is able to do so much more.
But in order to understand why that is, you really need to have a basic understanding of how creatine works.
Some people think of creatine as a steroid which couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Creatine is simply an amino acid.
Yep, just a simple compound that combines to form proteins that are then used by your cells and body.
But this amino acid has some special features that aren’t shared by other amino acids.
One of its main benefits is that it can help your body produce energy in the form of ATP by being transformed into phosphocreatine (3).
Phosphocreatine is then used as a rapid source of ATP that can be mobilized and used in cells that have a high demand for energy.
This is different from other sources of energy production like the breakdown of sugars or fats which take a lot longer.
For this reason, creatine is often used by athletes to provide them with an extra boost to energy production as ATP to give them an edge over their competitors.
If you know anything about human physiology, you’ll know that every cell in your body has a need for ATP and energy, not just your muscles.
This includes important tissues like your thyroid (which needs it to produce thyroid hormone) and the brain!
And while the majority of creatine is stored in the muscles, we know that it is also found in other tissues as well, including the brain.
All of these other tissues can benefit from faster and quicker energy production which is probably why creatine is so effective for treating certain medical conditions (which we will discuss in just a minute).
It just so happens that the tissues that benefit from creatine use are also the tissues that tend to become dysfunctional from both low and high thyroid states.
So if you are a thyroid patient looking to take your supplements to the next level, you’ll want to pay close attention to what we are about to discuss.
6 Proven Benefits of Creatine Use
#1. Creatine impacts muscle mass and body composition.
I know I said we would talk about more than just muscle health but I can’t skip an opportunity to talk about how creatine can help you lose weight.
Obviously, this is a huge concern for many thyroid patients because hypothyroidism frequently leads to treatment-resistant weight gain that is stubborn and very difficult to treat.
This benefit on body composition is mediated in several ways including through creatine’s ability to slow down or halt the age-related decline in muscle mass.
This unwanted phenomenon is known as sarcopenia (4) and it’s something that every single person reading this will have to contend with.
As you age your muscle mass will start to decline which means you will more easily gain weight and become susceptible to metabolic conditions like diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and more.
This is also why, by the way, it becomes more difficult to lose weight as you get older!
Yes, your thyroid is certainly contributing but you can’t discount the impact that muscle mass has on body weight and body composition.
Muscle is an incredibly active tissue that is constantly burning up energy.
When muscle mass declines, you will see a decline in your metabolism as well.
What’s amazing here is that the combination of creatine used at 5 grams per day (we will talk more about dosing later) with resistance training increases lean muscle mass at any age.
Researchers have tested in both old and young people and all populations benefit.
This means you don’t have to be a fit 20-year-old with a super fast metabolism or lift heavy weights to see these benefits.
You just need to take the creatine and put some form of resistance against your muscles (anything greater than your body weight) to see the benefits.
The more muscle mass you build the higher your metabolism will be and the easier it will be for you to lose the extra weight that your thyroid packed on.
So is creatine considered a weight-loss supplement? Not exactly, at least not in the way you are probably thinking.
It has the potential to help people who are overweight lose weight but it will also help those who are underweight gain weight by influencing muscle mass.
#2. Creatine makes your bones stronger.
This benefit is particularly important for women who suffer from age-related decline in bone mass and for thyroid patients who are at increased risk for developing osteoporosis.
One study showed that creatine supplementation, when combined with resistance training, increased the strength of their bones and bone density in postmenopausal women (5).
And even if you are a man reading this, it’s never a bad idea to improve the overall strength of your bones.
Menopausal women, though, are the most crucial population when it comes to managing bone density so this is a big deal for them.
This potential benefit on bone health also has special application to certain thyroid populations including those with a suppressed TSH for thyroid cancer and in patients with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease.
Creatine is worth looking into solely as a way to improve bone health because the side effects of bone loss medications aren’t pretty.
The most common medication used to treat osteoporosis, known as bisphosphonates, cause problems like nausea, and trouble swallowing, and may even irritate the esophagus and lead to esophageal inflammation.
If you have to use them then you have to use them, but why not take steps to try and prevent the need for them later on with an incredibly safe supplement?
#3. Creatine provides neuroprotective benefits.
Next up, creatine has been shown to have neuroprotective benefits.
In other words, it keeps your brain healthy.
Studies have shown that supplementation with creatine crosses the blood-brain barrier and increases creatine levels in the brain.
This is important because not all supplements do this!
Many supplements get to other tissues in the body but the blood-brain barrier blocks their uptake into brain tissues.
This is exactly why magnesium l-threonate exists because many other forms of magnesium do not enter the brain.
Creatine has been actively used to treat mild to moderate conditions like depression (6) and has even been shown to be beneficial for more serious brain conditions like traumatic brain injury, Huntington’s disease, ALS, and Parkinson’s disease.
When it comes to thyroid patients, the benefits on depression and cognition should pique your interest as these are both symptoms commonly associated with hypothyroidism.
The exact mechanism for how and why it’s working is not completely understood but it’s probably mediated through its impact on enhanced neurological energy production and its influence on something called the mitochondrial permeability transition pore.
To simplify a very complex and poorly understood topic, the more ATP and energy that your brain produces, the better.
And creatine helps it do just that.
If you are someone suffering from brain fog, depression, anxiety, or any other thyroid-related brain symptom then creatine would be worth a try.
Especially if it means it may be used as an alternative to prescription medications like SSRIs and SNRIs which have dubious benefits and may also negatively impact thyroid function.
#4. Creatine acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Number 4! Creatine acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.
What does this mean?
It means that it acts to reduce the inflammatory cascade (7) that is triggered by a number of different medical conditions and disease states.
Inflammation is really at the heart of just about every important disease you can think of including thyroid disorders like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
If you’ve been following me for any length of time then you know that the damage caused by Hashimoto’s is caused by immune dysfunction which leads to inflammation in the thyroid gland.
The anti-inflammatory effect that creatine has is so powerful that some studies show that it has similar anti-inflammatory effects as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs for short, are a class of medications that I’m sure you are very familiar with even if you don’t know them by this name.
Medications like ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin fall into this class.
Ibuprofen is not really thought of as a treatment for Hashimoto’s, but it does have uses in some other conditions like subacute thyroiditis.
The main problem with many of these NSAIDs is that they can cause GI-related side effects and increase your risk of serious bleeds.
There is also some question as to whether or not they negatively impact thyroid function as well by influencing thyroid binding proteins.
At the end of the day, it’s best to avoid using medications if at all possible, especially in favor of more natural options.
Imagine using a much safer alternative like creatine to manage inflammatory-related conditions like arthritis, back pain, headaches, migraines, joint pain, toothaches, etc.
Creatine’s safety profile makes it a much better alternative than both NSAIDs and even steroids.
And, even if its use doesn’t negate the need for these medications, it may still allow you to get by with a lower dose and, therefore, fewer side effects.
Creatine may also have a special benefit to certain thyroid patients who suffer from joint pain as well as muscle pain.
I personally have had issues with back pain and I can tell you that daily creatine use has helped me.
#5. Creatine positively impacts the innate immune system.
This is another big one for thyroid patients, specifically those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Creatine has been shown to act on the immune system and is considered to have immunomodulatory potential (8).
More specifically, it has been shown to down-regulated something called toll-like receptors.
These are the same receptors that, when dysfunctional, lead to autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s and Graves’.
This means creatine may have the potential to be used as a treatment for balancing the immune system in those with these autoimmune thyroid conditions!
And when you look at the numbers, both Hashimoto’s and Graves’ disease account for the majority of cases of both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism making this a very interesting treatment.
As you probably are all aware if you have one of these conditions, there are very few actual treatments that target the immune component of these diseases.
Most of the treatments focus primarily on the thyroid function aspect while ignoring the more important immune component.
On top of this benefit of toll-liked receptors, creatine has also been shown to alter the release of inflammatory cytokines by influencing the NFkb pathway.
For perspective, this is the same pathway that turmeric (curcumin) acts on to reduce inflammation and curcumin has over 1,000 studies showing its efficacy as well.
#6. Creatine improves skin health and may act to slow down the aging of the skin.
This one may seem a little vain but I still think it’s important!
Creatine has anti-oxidant properties which, when combined with its benefit on energy production in the dermis of your skin, can serve as an effective anti-wrinkle intervention.
We know that stressors like sunlight decrease creatine kinase activity in your skin cells.
This activity can be restored with the use of creatine which means your skin cells can better protect themselves.
Researchers have even tested topical creatine (which is just placing creatine directly on the skin) which has been shown to stimulate collagen and influence gene expression directly.
Your skin is the biggest organ in your body and it is often neglected.
Creatine may be one way to fight the overall decline in skin health and rapid aging that comes with thyroid disease.
How can you get all of these BENEFITS?
Creatine is an extremely inexpensive and safe supplement and you can get it just about anywhere including online at places like Amazon.
The ideal dose is 5 grams taken each day with water.
Some people recommend loading with higher doses but it’s not really necessary as long as you are consistent in taking it each day.
Creatine comes in a white powder, dissolves easily in water, and doesn’t have a strong taste making it incredibly easy to take.
You’ll find many different forms of creatine on the market but the cheapest and most effective is creatine monohydrate.
Look for any supplement which contains ONLY this formulation with no added ingredients.
Make sure to check the supplements fact panel to confirm.
My personal recommendation would be to strongly consider using creatine, even if you don’t lift weights, for conditions like:
- Autoimmune disease (especially Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and rheumatoid arthritis)
- Any inflammatory or pain condition
- Any Skin-related conditions (especially acne)
- Any form of depression or mood-related problem
- Obesity (especially when combined with diet and exercise)
- And metabolic conditions like diabetes
Take 5 grams each day and enjoy the benefits it provides.
Now I want to hear from you:
Have you taken creatine before or is this the first time you’ve heard of it?
Did you know that it can potentially benefit your thyroid?
Are you planning on taking it after reading this information?
Let me know in the comments below!