If you’ve just learnt that you have hyperthyroidism, you’re probably trying to adjust to your new diagnosis and figure out ways to prevent it from having too much of a negative impact on your life. It’s never nice to learn that your body is working against you, but know that your diagnosis is your first step to fully understanding the issue and doing everything you can to get better.
You might have heard of hyperthyroidism being referred to more simply as an overactive thyroid. It occurs when your thyroid gland, which you’ll find in the front of your neck, produces and releases too much thyroid hormone.
Our thyroid is actually pretty important – it produces all the essential hormones that control how our body uses energy and can affect heart rate and the function of our organs. It can also have an effect on muscles, bones, and in women, menstrual cycles.
Before you were diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, you probably experienced a number of different symptoms, including unplanned weight loss, anxiety, a pounding sensation in your heart, trembling of your fingers, changes in menstrual patterns, increased sweating, and trouble sleeping. It can be hard to diagnose hyperthyroidism, because its symptoms are so broad, and can relate to a number of different disorders.
Before we get into how to treat hyperthyroidism, let’s look at its causes. In nearly all cases, an overactive thyroid is caused by something called Grave’s disease. This is an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack its own tissues and organs.
With Grave’s disease, the immune system stimulates the thyroid to produce too many hormones, leading to your symptoms. You’re more likely to get hyperthyroidism if you’re female, have a family history of the disease, and already have certain immune disorders.
Most likely, when your doctor diagnosed hyperthyroidism, they prescribed you with some medications to treat the illness. It’s really important that you follow through with any medical treatments you’re offered – but don’t assume that as long as you’re taking your meds, you’ll get better.The best way forward is to combine medical treatments with some of the lifestyle and diet changes we’re going to discuss in this video. A mix of the two will help to most effectively improve your hyperthyroidism.
Without further ado, let’s get into the 12 best natural ways to treat hyperthyroidism:
12 best natural ways to treat hyperthyroidism
1. Freshwater Salmon
One of the best sources of heart healthy fats is salmon. Your body doesn’t naturally produce these fats, so you have to get them from food.
Salmon is also essential for helping you to maintain your weight, and when one of the biggest symptoms of an overactive thyroid is weight loss, finding healthy ways to promote weight gain is vital for staying healthy. Be aware, though, that you might not want to eat saltwater fish because of the excess iodine content that’s found in ocean waters, which doesn’t bode well for people with hyperthyroidism. Always go for freshwater where you can.
2. Calcium-Rich Foods
If you don’t get it treated quickly enough, hyperthyroidism can weaken the bones and lead to long-lasting damage. That’s why getting your daily calcium intake has never been more important.
Try to aim for at least three servings of calcium per day – but be mindful of which calcium sources you go for. Dairy products, the most obvious calcium source for many of us, contain iodine, so it would be better for you to focus on non-dairy and fortified sources of calcium instead.
It’s also worth asking your doctor about calcium supplements if you’re getting less than the daily recommendation.
3. Regular exercise
Not only can regular exercise make you feel better in the immediate short term, it’s essential for your long-term health. If you have hyperthyroidism, you’ll probably find that you’ll especially benefit from endorphin-boosting cardiovascular exercise, like running or swimming, as well as strength training for increasing your bone density.
Over time, exercise can also prevent excess weight gain and help control your appetite, which is a common symptom of hyperthyroidism. This is particularly important if your thyroid becomes overactive due to medication or surgery.
4. Managing stress
It’s fairly common for hyperthyroidism to increase anxiety and irritability, and it can become a bit of a bad cycle. Because stress can actually aggravate your other hyperthyroid symptoms, making them much worse, not having control over your stress may negatively impact your entire journey to recovery.
This is why it’s so important to practice stress management alongside your hyperthyroid treatment. The best way to do this is through a variety of relaxation techniques – nothing too intense, just a few minutes a day – to help clear your mind and calm your body.
Many people find that going for a walk outside and getting some fresh air is more than enough to clear stress, but you might want to be more experimental with regular cardiovascular exercise and yoga.
5. Fatty fish
When you have hyperthyroidism, vitamin D—a nutrient that works with calcium to prevent bone loss – is one of the most important staples you need to include in your diet. Fatty fish is a great source of vitamin D and is a lot healthier and better for people with an overactive thyroid than other vitamin d alternatives, like cheese.
If you’re not the biggest fan of fish, you can still get your vitamin D from healthier alternative sources, like eggs and mushrooms.
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6. Cruciferous vegetables
Impressively, cruciferous vegetables may stop your thyroid from using iodine properly, as well as decreasing the amount of thyroid hormone your thyroid gland produces – both of which are beneficial for hyperthyroidism. Cruciferous veggies include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage, so try to aim to eat one or more servings of these a day.
One of the most popular natural supplements that has proven effective in helping to treat the effects of hyperthyroidism is L-carnitine. You might not have heard of it before, but L-carnitine is an amino acid derivative that naturally resides in the body. It’s also found in foods like meat, fish, and dairy products.
Carnitine itself is really clever: it prevents thyroid hormones from being able to enter certain cells. One study even found evidence to suggest that L-carnitine can reverse and prevent some of the common symptoms of hyperthyroidism, including heart palpitations, tremors, and fatigue.
It might sound like something out of a Harry Potter textbook, but bugleweed is a real thing – it’s a plant that’s been used for years now to treat heart and lung conditions. Quite a bit of recent evidence has been uncovered to suggest that bugleweed reduces the function of the thyroid gland, helping to treat those with an overactive thyroid.
There’s still far more research to be done on the intriguing plant, and it’ll be interesting to learn more about its exact beneficial properties. You should be able to find bugleweed in your local health store, or online.
Another name you might have never heard of before is selenium, a mineral that naturally occurs in water, soil, and foods like nuts, fish, beef, and grains. A number of studies have shown that taking a supplement of selenium on a daily basis has been beneficial in treating Grave’s disease, a common cause of an overactive thyroid.
If you have hyperthyroidism, it’s advised that you either make sure to get enough selenium in your diet, or take it as a supplement, if that’s easier for you.
10. Lemon balm
If you’re not already including lemon balm, a plant that’s a member of the mint family, in your diet, you might want to consider it. It’s thought that lemon balm makes an effective treatment for Graves’ disease, because of its ability to reduce the thyroid-stimulating hormone.
The easiest way to take lemon balm is to consume it as a tea or in the form of a supplement. If you enjoy the therapeutic process of drinking a cup of tea, you’ll most likely find that lemon balm tea can also help out with stress management.
11. Lavender and sandalwood essential oils
Essential oils are only ever increasing in popularity nowadays, and it’s all thanks to their incredible health benefits for the mind and the body. Quite a few people already swear by using lavender and sandalwood essential oils in particular to manage their symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
It’s a well-known fact that lavender and sandalwood essential oils can help to reduce stress and anxiety and promote a feeling of calm. They should help you to sleep better and prevent anxious feelings from getting the better of you.
There’s no better source of antioxidants than berries. From strawberries to blueberries to raspberries, you can’t go wrong with adding a good handful of berries into your diet every day.
The antioxidants found in berries help keep your immune system strong and are great for your thyroid. They’ve also been linked with improving the symptoms of Grave’s disease, which often leads to hyperthyroidism.
A quick word on what to avoid
We’ve already mentioned it a few times already, but it’s worth being aware of what to avoid in your diet if you want to effectively treat hyperthyroidism. In particular, it’s best to steer clear of foods that are high in iodine.
Frustratingly, you’ll find that iodine is quite a common ingredient in many popular foods, because of the way foods are treated and processed before they make it to our supermarkets. Because our thyroid absorbs iodine easily, eating too much can make hyperthyroid symptoms worse.
You might want to consider switching to a low iodine diet altogether, which should help to keep your hyperthyroidism under control. In a low iodine diet, you generally have to avoid iodized salt, dairy products such as cheese, milk, and eggs, and saltwater fish.
Luckily, treating hyperthyroidism is hardly a chore. All of the changes we’ve mentioned in this article will not only improve your hyperthyroidism symptoms but give you better health and wellbeing on the whole. Treating hyperthyroidism is your chance to give yourself a new lease of life and maintain a healthier diet and lifestyle.
With the right approach and plenty of dedication, you can reach the point where your hyperthyroidism is no longer a prominent issue for you. Treatments are effective, and you will not have to live with the disease. But if you’re still at the stage where your symptoms are bad, take comfort in the knowledge that there are plenty of things you can do to reduce them – starting right now.