When out of balance, either in hyper or hypo, a person experiences a variety of symptoms, some of which are extremely serious. Treatments aimed at replacing thyroid hormones, or decreasing thyroid function, are the typical course of action. Many causes of thyroid conditions are influenced by autoimmunity and inflammation. Given that CBD stimulates CB1 and CB2 receptors, it is possible that there is a place for CBD in treating thyroid conditions, but it also may be too soon to tell.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland which sits in the front of the throat. It controls several vital functions in the body through its production of thyroid hormones. The thyroid controls the body’s metabolism and affects numerous systems in the body such as the digestive tract, nervous system, cardiovascular system, hair, skin, and nail growth, as well as weight and appetite. Therefore, an increase or decrease in thyroid functioning can cause a variety of symptoms. The thyroid is sensitive to nutrient deficiencies such as zinc, iodine, and selenium, as well as environmental pollutants which can cause it to over function (hyperthyroid), or under function (hypothyroid). In addition, the immune system can also begin attacking the thyroid gland, resulting in autoimmune thyroid conditions–Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Grave’s Disease.
Hyperthyroidism can be caused by a few different circumstances, including autoimmunity where the immune system attacks the thyroid (known as Grave’s Disease), inflammation of the thyroid (Thyroiditis), as well as tumors that secrete excess thyroid hormones. Hyperthyroidism is more common in women, and more common in people who have a relative with a previous thyroid condition. For the most part, however, the risk factors are unknown. Given that most of the causes of hyperthyroidism involve an overactive immune system causing inflammation, managing inflammation and sources should be considered when looking at hyperthyroidism causes. The symptoms of hyperthyroidism are all associated with the increase in metabolic rate that the excess thyroid hormones cause. Common symptoms include: Unintentional weight loss (often with increased hunger) Rapid or irregular heartbeat Anxiety and irritability Insomnia Diarrhea Muscle tremors Unusual sweating Feeling hot Fatigue Changes in menstrual patterns Changes in hair, skin, and nails. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is the autoimmune condition, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Like most autoimmune conditions, the exact causes are unknown, but a combination of environmental factors and genetics are likely at play. Other causes include treatment for hyperthyroidism which can result in diminished thyroid hormone output. Also, medications like Lithium for mental health conditions can lead to hypothyroidism. Certain nutrients are needed to make thyroid hormones, such as iodine, selenium, and zinc. A deficiency in any of these can impair proper thyroid hormone synthesis. Hypothyroidism is most common in women over 60 years of age, as well as people with a family history of hypothyroidism. Also, people who have had radiation to their neck or have been treated for hyperthyroidism are at increased risk of hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism can cause an array of different symptoms. For some, the symptoms are mild and develop slowly, and for others, they are severe and come on more suddenly. Since the symptoms of hypothyroidism can look like symptoms of many other conditions, testing thyroid levels through blood tests are often used by doctors. Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include: Fatigue and muscle weakness Difficulty losing weight or weight gain Water retention Brain fog Depressed mood Heart palpitations and slow heart rate Hair loss Joint and muscle pain High cholesterol Sensitivity to cold Constipation Dry hair and skin Hoarse voice Heavy or irregular periods Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter) How Do We Treat Thyroid Conditions? For hyperthyroidism, the treatment plan is not quite so simple. The common drugs used to manage hyperthyroidism include: Radioactive iodine, which the thyroid takes up and causes it to shrink. Anti-thyroid drugs such as methimazole (Tapazole) and propylthiouracil, which stop the thyroid from producing thyroid hormones. What’s scary is these drugs can cause liver failure and death! Beta-blockers, to slow down the heart rate while the other drugs begin to take effect. If the cause of hyperthyroidism is due to a tumor, then surgery is often needed. Management of hyperthyroidism is essential because, if left untreated, it can cause adverse health outcomes. For instance, the rapid heartbeat caused by hyperthyroidism can lead to life-threatening heart conditions like atrial fibrillation — where the heart cannot contract and relax appropriately — as well as stroke. After treatment for hyperthyroidism, some thyroid patients become hypothyroid and must take thyroid replacements for the rest of their lives. The typical treatment for hypothyroidism is thyroid replacement with a medication such as levothyroxine. This medicine supplies the T4 thyroid hormone, which the body must then convert to the active form T3.
This conversion is dependent on the mineral selenium. When left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to depression, infertility, heart conditions, peripheral neuropathy, and even to a life-threatening condition called myxedema. Myxedema is when low levels of thyroid hormone lead to weakness, cold intolerance, mental and physical slowness, and even death.
To manage their hypothyroidism, people must take this medication for the rest of their lives, in most cases. In short, the medication does not fix the underlying cause of the problem — it just manages it. In both cases of hyper and hypothyroidism, people are left with very few options for treatment, and many are interested in exploring alternative, more natural, and safe options. CBD has been a popular topic for many other health conditions, including anxiety and pain. Many positive research studies have prompted further exploration into CBD’s potential use for a variety of conditions.