Over 20 million individuals in the U.S. suffer from a thyroid condition. Furthermore, many people do not know that their thyroid is not functioning optimally and, therefore, are not diagnosed. Thyroid disorders include both over-functioning and under-functioning conditions. In either case, autoimmunity, inflammation, and genetics are typically involved in the development of the disease. But is CBD for thyroid the answer?
Currently, thyroid conditions are managed by replacing thyroid hormones or preventing thyroid hormone output. In both cases, the underlying issue which led to the condition is rarely addressed. People have begun to wonder about CBD for thyroid conditions, given its anti-inflammatory properties through the endocannabinoid system.
Scientists have also begun to research on CBD for thyroid conditions to see if it can help manage thyroid symptoms or even address some of the underlying causes. The information below is what we know so far.
CBD for Thyroid Conditions: Just the Facts
The thyroid controls numerous aspects of our bodily functions. 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.
What Does the Thyroid Do?
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.
What Causes Thyroid Conditions?
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.
Risk Factors for Hyperthyroid
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
- Muscle tremors
- Unusual sweating
- Feeling hot
- 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.
Risk Factors for Hypothyroidism
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
- 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. But can CBD be helpful for specifically thyroid conditions?
CBD for Thyroid Conditions
So far, there has not been much research on CBD for thyroid conditions. However, as previously mentioned, many of the causes of thyroid conditions are associated with autoimmunity and inflammation. CBD oil has been researched for its effects on the endocannabinoid system, which has been found to control inflammation.
This sparks interest in the value of CBD for thyroid conditions. Let’s look at what we know so far…
What the Research Says
A clinical study looked at the role of the endocannabinoid system in thyroid tumors. They found an association between CB1 and CB2 receptors and tumor malignancy, meaning how likely a tumor is to spread and become dangerous. The study found that both of these receptors influenced thyroid tumors and believed they could both be a target of future therapies.
Another study found that the CB1 receptors of the endocannabinoid system controls the output of thyroid hormones. Given that CBD stimulates these receptors, it is possible that CBD may influence thyroid conditions through this mechanism. However, more research on human models is needed.
In summary, there has not been a lot of research on CBD for thyroid conditions as of yet. Researchers have just scratched the surface. However, there have not been any studies with negative outcomes on CBD for thyroid conditions; therefore, it is possible that CBD has a place in thyroid health.
Final Thoughts on CBD for Thyroid Conditions
CBD for thyroid conditions is an area that still needs a lot more research. It seems possible that CBD may have an effect on thyroid tumors and thyroid hormone production. However, without more research, is it too soon to say for sure.
If you are interested in trying CBD, always use a reputable source who uses third-party testing to ensure the quality and safety of the product. Never makes changes to your health care regime without the supervision of your trusted health care provider.