CBD Oil For Hashimoto’s

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When first diagnosed with Hashimoto's it can be hard to know who to trust. Here are the top 10 things I wish my endocrinologist or doctor would have told me CBD for Hashimoto’s Disease: How Can It Help? CBD is a powerful and versatile compound; it can help regulate various functions throughout the body, including hormonal balance. With new

10 Things I Wish My Endocrinologist Would Have Told Me

When I first started experiencing symptoms (before my Hashimoto’s diagnosis), and before I had started thinking that they could be related to my thyroid, I faced a lot of challenges in getting the adequate diagnosis and treatment for my condition.

I spent almost a decade undiagnosed because I only had my TSH levels tested. I had been told that my thyroid was normal, even though my TSH was 4.5 μIU/mL.

I continued experiencing a worsening of my symptoms (along with some new ones!). However, it wasn’t until my TSH levels had skyrocketed to 8 μIU/mL (back then, 0.4-4.0 μIU/mL was considered the “normal” TSH reference range), that my doctor referred me to an endocrine specialist.

I was eventually diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, but didn’t feel like I had a good understanding of what was really going on with my thyroid. I was trained as a pharmacist, and conventional medicine’s go-to for addressing thyroid conditions is primarily focused on prescribing thyroid medications. Endocrinologists are the designated medical experts for thyroid issues. However, most endocrinologists are not taught about the root causes behind the development of Hashimoto’s, or the lifestyle interventions that can help a person feel significantly better.

If you feel like you’re still trying to understand what is going on with your thyroid, or if you’re trying to get a deeper understanding of Hashimoto’s, I’d like to share with you a few things that would have been helpful to know at the beginning of my journey.

In this article, I’ll discuss:

  • The different thyroid medication options available today
  • How gluten and diet choices impact the thyroid
  • Why iodine can exacerbate thyroid disease
  • The connection between the thyroid and mental health
  • Markers of thyroid dysfunction

1. Thyroid Medication Can Help with Symptoms — Even In Early Stages

If you are having symptoms of subclinical hypothyroidism — like fatigue, weight gain, sadness/apathy, hair loss, fertility challenges, cold intolerance, brain fog, and joint pain — it may be helpful to start thyroid hormones, if you haven’t yet been prescribed any.

Hashimoto’s has five progressive stages — subclinical hypothyroidism is the third stage. This is the stage when thyroid labs come back “normal” but the individual is experiencing symptoms such as weight gain, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue, and gastrointestinal disturbances, among others.

In a lot of cases, the “normal” lab results do not reflect what is actually happening within the body. For example, in the case of subclinical hypothyroidism, while T4 and T3 thyroid hormone levels may be within normal ranges, thyroid antibody levels may be elevated. Antibodies can be elevated for years prior to a proper diagnosis, and can contribute to the symptoms mentioned above.

However, studies have found that starting thyroid hormones can make us feel better and even slow down the progression of the condition. By helping the body produce optimal amounts of thyroid hormones, appropriate medication management can allow us to recover from the effects of hypothyroidism and will give us energy, vitality, and support to continue working on optimizing our health.

T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine) are the two main thyroid hormones. T4-only medications, such as Synthroid or generic levothyroxine, are the most commonly prescribed thyroid medications. That said, there are different thyroid hormone medications out there, including T3-only and T4/T3 combination options — the type and dosages should be individualized for each person.

For more information, you can download my free eBook, Optimizing Thyroid Medications, to help you get started on finding the right thyroid medication plan for you.

2. You May Need to Try a T3-Containing Medication

As mentioned above, T4 and T3 are the two main thyroid hormones, and T4-only medications are the most commonly prescribed thyroid medications.

While they are generally well tolerated, not every individual with Hashimoto’s is able to convert the T4 from their medication into T3 (the more biologically active thyroid hormone) due to factors such as aging, nutritional deficiencies, liver backlog, and more. As such, taking a T4-only-containing medication may not relieve all of one’s symptoms.

There may be an advantage to taking a T3-containing medication in such cases, and many individuals report feeling better on T4/T3 combination medications.

T3-only medications (such liothyronine, Cytomel, and compounded T3 medications) are typically used as an add-on to T4-only medications.

T4/T3 combination medications (like WP Thyroid, Nature-Throid, Armour Thyroid and compounded combo medications) are another option to consider. These types of medications mimic the ratio of thyroid hormones, T4 and T3, within our body.

You can check out my article reviewing thyroid medications to learn more about the pros and cons of each type of thyroid medication available on the market.

Remember, thyroid medications should be individualized, as different individuals will feel best on different types of medications, so be sure to consult a practitioner to find what may work best for you. (It’s important to note, however, that conventional doctors are not always comfortable with prescribing combination medications due to issues of poor quality control and medication recalls, so you may wish to work with a functional medicine practitioner.)

3. Try Going Gluten Free

Gluten (a hard-to-digest protein found in foods made of wheat, barley or rye) can be a trigger for many individuals, and is the most common food sensitivity found in those with Hashimoto’s.

Gluten can create intestinal permeability, or leaky gut (one of the three factors required for autoimmunity to occur). Intestinal permeability occurs when there are “gaps” within the tight junctions of the intestinal barrier, allowing for digested food molecules, such as gluten, to leak out.

Once gluten “leaks out” and enters the bloodstream, it can lead the body to attack its own thyroid (as the body can confuse the structure of gluten with cellular components found in the thyroid gland), leading to gluten sensitivity.

For some individuals, gluten may be the sole trigger of their autoimmune thyroid disease. Thus, in some cases, we see a complete remission of the condition when an individual goes on a gluten-free diet. In other cases (88 percent of the time), the person feels significantly better and experiences a reduction in symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, low energy, excess weight, constipation, stomach pain, acid reflux, hair loss, and anxiety.

4. Diet Can Have a Big Impact on Thyroid Health

As mentioned above, a gluten-free diet can be immensely helpful for those with Hashimoto’s whether gluten is the sole trigger of an individual’s Hashimoto’s, or there are other root causes involved. Making further dietary interventions can also be helpful in eliminating one’s thyroid symptoms and reducing thyroid antibodies. Some people have even been able to eliminate their thyroid antibodies through dietary changes alone!

It’s been my experience, and the experience of many of my clients, that along with gluten, eliminating dairy and soy can reduce inflammation and improve Hashimoto’s. In my survey of over 2000 individuals with Hashimoto’s, 57 percent said that they react to dairy, and around 80 percent said they felt better on a dairy-free diet. Similarly, 63 percent of individuals felt better on a soy-free diet.

As such, along with a gluten, dairy, and soy-free diet, other healing diets such as the Paleo or Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) diets, can be immensely beneficial as well, as they eliminate these common foods, help to reduce inflammation, and focus on nutrient-dense foods (helping to prevent nutrient deficiencies). Of the 2000+ individuals in my survey, 75 percent said that they felt better on an AIP diet.

That said, diets are not one-size-fits-all. While there isn’t one diet that works for everyone, I do recommend incorporating foods such as beets and cruciferous vegetables (some do better with cooked vegetables), pasture-raised meats, and probiotic-rich foods (such as kefir). And, as always, be sure to tailor any healing diet to your own needs!

To learn what a thyroid-healing diet entails, I recommend checking out my article on the best diet for Hashimoto’s.

5. You May Have a Selenium Deficiency

A selenium deficiency has been recognized as a nutrition-related trigger of Hashimoto’s.

Selenium is a nutrient that is needed for thyroid function. It’s crucial in our body’s conversion of the inactive thyroid hormone, T4, to the more biologically active thyroid hormone, T3. It also helps balance iodine levels (too much iodine can be harmful to the thyroid — more on that in a minute).

Selenium deficiency is associated with symptoms such as anxiety, low mood, depression, and fatigue, to name a few.

This deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies that I’ve seen in Hashimoto’s. One of the most common reasons why I see individuals become deficient in this nutrient is because they are on a gluten-free diet. While a gluten-free diet can be incredibly beneficial for the thyroid, it can be lacking in selenium, making an individual on this diet more susceptible to selenium deficiency.

A daily dose of 200 mcg of the selenomethionine form of selenium, has been shown to reduce thyroid antibodies by about 50 percent over the course of three months, in people with Hashimoto’s. Additionally, research has found that selenium supplementation, alongside myo-inositol supplementation, can help the thyroid revert to normal functioning (referred to as an euthyroid state).

In my experience, selenium can help people feel calmer, as well as improve energy levels and promote hair regrowth.

In my survey of over 2000 individuals with Hashimoto’s, 62 percent shared that selenium supplementation (at a dose of 200 mcg/day) helped them feel better. As this dose may be difficult to achieve through diet alone (one would have to consume large amounts of selenium-rich foods to obtain the recommended amount), I recommend a high quality selenium supplement such as Selenium (Selenomethionine) by Pure Encapsulations.

6. Hashimoto’s and Iodine Deficiency-Induced Hypothyroidism Should Be Treated Differently

There is a lot of controversy surrounding iodine in the thyroid world. This nutrient, which is combined with the amino acid tyrosine to make thyroid hormones T3 and T4, is sometimes recommended as the one nutrient that all people with thyroid issues need more of. This is because iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism.

However, medical professionals refer to iodine as a “Goldilocks” nutrient, as the levels have to be just right — low levels of this nutrient are needed for thyroid function, but high levels can be detrimental to thyroid health. In the case of Hashimoto’s, hypothyroidism induced by an iodine deficiency, is rare.

I have found that most people with thyroid disease have excess levels of iodine. Iodine excess may aggravate Hashimoto’s in some cases, leading to anxiety, irritability, brain fog, palpitations, and fatigue, as well as accelerated damage to the thyroid gland.

Iodine needs to be processed by the thyroid gland, and when the thyroid is inflamed, the processing of iodine will likely produce more inflammation. If you give an angry and overwhelmed organ more work to do, you’ll likely see it become even angrier!

A person may feel more energetic when first starting an iodine supplement, but lab tests will reveal that their “new energy” is coming from the destruction of thyroid tissue, which dumps thyroid hormone into the circulation. Reports will show an elevated TSH, elevated thyroid antibodies, and in some cases, low levels of active thyroid hormones.

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This is why I don’t generally recommend iodine supplements to people with Hashimoto’s. I don’t believe that the short-term artificial boost in energy is worth destroying your thyroid gland!

In one study, researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota tracked the rate of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in patients from 1935 to 1967. Within two years, the doctors saw an increase in autoimmune thyroid disease caused by iodine fortification in table salt and processed food.

That said, the low doses of iodine (150 mcg–220 mcg) that are found in multivitamins and prenatal vitamins, are generally safe for people with Hashimoto’s. To learn more about dosing iodine for those with Hashimoto’s, check out my article on iodine here.

7. Your Hair Loss Could Be Caused by Low Ferritin

Hair loss is a common symptom in those with Hashimoto’s. Along with selenium, ferritin — a stored form of iron (and an accurate predictor of iron stores) — is a nutrient that is often depleted in Hashimoto’s.

This nutrient is required for the utilization of the thyroid hormone T3 by cells. Thus, if low ferritin leads to an individual not being able to utilize T3 well, the thyroid may slow down its metabolism and conserve resources for more important physiological processes. As hair isn’t high on this priority list, ferritin depletion will then lead to hair loss.

I highly recommend checking ferritin levels for any woman who is experiencing hair loss and/or has Hashimoto’s. Normal ferritin levels for women are between 20 and 200 ng/mL. However, the optimal ferritin level for thyroid function is between 90-110 ng/mL — this is the range that is most conducive to healthy, lustrous hair (and overall well-being).

Most men are not lacking in ferritin (compared to women who are at higher risk of low ferritin due to menstruation).

Regardless of gender, you can check your ferritin levels easily with Ulta Lab Tests.

If you are found to be low in ferritin, I recommend supplementing with OptiFerin-C by Pure Encapsulations at a dose of 1-3 capsules per day, in divided doses, taken with meals.

8. You Are Not Going Crazy!

When patients come in describing mood imbalances or reporting that they feel “crazy,” doctors are often quick to suggest a mood disorder (and often, antidepressants) without investigating thyroid health. If this sounds like something you’ve experienced, please know that the anxiety, depression, irritability, mood swings, and emotional numbness you are feeling, could be related to your thyroid.

Specifically, an increase in thyroid antibodies can contribute to these mood imbalances.

Thyroid antibodies are a marker of autoimmune thyroid disease. They let us know that the immune system is destroying thyroid tissue, which can cause a release of hormones into the bloodstream. This can lead to transient (or temporary) hyperthyroidism, as well as mood-related symptoms such as anxiety and irritability. The transient hyperthyroidism is soon followed by an onset of hypothyroidism, resulting in apathy and depression.

Another reason for low mood and/or anxiety may be due to blood sugar imbalances.

Taking the right thyroid medication for you, considering selenium supplementation if needed (as mentioned earlier in this article), and balancing blood sugar (dips in blood sugar can lead to low mood), can all help with mood regulation. In fact, I recommend focusing on these strategies before considering antidepressants.

For an in-depth explanation of the root cause approach to improving low mood, I recommend reading my articles on anxiety and depression.

9. It’s Important to Monitor Your TPO and TG Antibody Levels

There are two types of thyroid antibodies associated with Hashimoto’s: thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO antibodies) and thyroglobulin antibodies (TG antibodies). These are markers of how aggressive the attack is on your thyroid gland, and can be used as a marker to track the progress of your condition (and healing!).

These antibodies can show up as elevated long before other, more commonly tested markers of thyroid health — TSH (optimal range is between 0.5-2 μIU/mL), free T3 (optimal range is 5-7 pmol/L), and free T4 (optimal range is 15-23 pmol/L) — appear as out of range (sometimes as early as 5 to 15 years before a diagnosis is made).

They are often elevated in subclinical hypothyroidism, which is an earlier stage of Hashimoto’s, and are warning signs of thyroid disease (even if TSH comes back “normal” on a lab test). About 80 to 90 percent of people with Hashimoto’s will have either elevated TPO or TG antibodies, or both.

When I underwent a physical exam in 2009, my lab results showed my thyroid antibodies to be at over 2000 IU/mL. After hours of researching and much trial and error, I found some research suggesting methods such as following a gluten-free diet and supplementing with selenium, could reduce antibodies by 20 to 50 percent (I personally found these two methods to help decrease my antibodies).

Antibodies fluctuate in response to triggers and lifestyle habits. As you make changes to your lifestyle and diet (and medications as discussed with your doctor), you should retest your antibodies every three months to see if your lifestyle and/or diet interventions are working.

10. Your Thyroid May Function and Work On Its Own Again in the Future

Most conventional doctors will say that Hashimoto’s, and other thyroid diseases, are irreversible and require one to stay on thyroid medication for the rest of their life.

It is true that some individuals may find that along with addressing their root causes, they function best with thyroid medications, and may opt to use medications long-term to live their best life. However, it is also possible to recover thyroid function.

Research shows that once the autoimmune attack on the thyroid stops, the thyroid gland has the ability to recover function. It has also been shown that thyroid function spontaneously recovers in 20 percent of Hashimoto’s patients (referred to as a euthyroid state).

One case study examined the occurrence of three girls who spontaneously recovered (either partially or fully) from autoimmune hypothyroidism (before starting medications). None of them had excessive levels of iodine or goitrogens during the study investigation. The authors suggested that their recovery may have been due to their elimination of iodine (which can aggravate hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s), and/or not taking suboptimal medication(s) that may have made them feel worse.

So what does this mean? Addressing the root causes behind the autoimmune attack on the thyroid, can reverse the autoimmunity!

Going gluten free, incorporating selenium, and targeting the root cause(s) behind the development of Hashimoto’s, are some ways to reduce or stop the autoimmune attack on the thyroid. Innovative new therapies like low level laser therapy may also help people improve the function of their thyroid and wean off meds. You can read more about addressing the most common root causes of Hashimoto’s here.

If, at some point in your journey, you are interested in seeing whether you may be able to wean off thyroid medications, there is a test that you can do — the test involves thyrotropin-releasing hormone (or TRH) to be administered by a doctor (this article goes into detail on the full procedure).

The Takeaway

Hashimoto’s is a complex and challenging condition to navigate. Sometimes, despite their best intentions, not every endocrinologist will have a grasp on the set of unique characteristics and root cause factors associated with Hashimoto’s. I wasn’t told many of these things, and had to learn through trial and error.

Sometimes, we need to be Root Cause Rebels and advocate for our own health. That could mean learning the effects of gluten on the thyroid, identifying nutrient deficiencies commonly observed in Hashimoto’s, or looking into the variety of options available for thyroid medications — all of these are immensely helpful in digging deeper into our root cause(s) and addressing them.

There are so many other things that can be helpful as well! The mission behind my first book, Hashimoto’s: The Root Cause, was to spread awareness about lifestyle interventions for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Personally, they have made a huge difference in my life, and after addressing all of my root causes, I was able to put my thyroid condition into remission! (Read about my success story here.)

My book Hashimoto’s Protocol builds on this information to deliver guided protocols for finding and addressing your own root causes.

I want to empower patients with knowledge — and also hope — that every person who is diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, will be able to walk into his/her physician’s office to learn about lifestyle interventions that will help them feel like themselves again. We may even get to the point of being able to reverse autoimmunity.

I wish you all the best in your healing journey!

P.S. You can also download a free Thyroid Diet Guide, 10 thyroid-friendly recipes, and the Nutrient Depletions and Digestion chapter. You will also receive occasional updates about new research, resources, giveaways and helpful information.

References

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  2. Span P. Could Be the Thyroid; Could Be Ennui. Either Way, the Drug Isn’t Helping. Nytimescom. 2017. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/21/health/could-be-the-thyroid-could-be-ennui-either-way-the-drug-isnt-helping.html. Accessed August 8, 2017.
  3. Stott D, Rodondi N, Kearney P et al. Thyroid Hormone Therapy for Older Adults with Subclinical Hypothyroidism. New England Journal of Medicine. 2017;376(26):2534-2544. doi:10.1056/nejmoa1603825.
  4. Wiersinga W. Paradigm shifts in thyroid hormone replacement therapies for hypothyroidism. Nature Reviews Endocrinology. 2014;10(3):164-174. doi:10.1038/nrendo.2013.258.
  5. Taylor PN, Eligar V, Muller I, Scholz A, Dayan C, Okosieme O. Combination Thyroid Hormone Replacement; Knowns and Unknowns. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2019;10:706.
  6. Dayan C, Panicker V. Management of hypothyroidism with combination thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) hormone replacement in clinical practice: a review of suggested guidance. Thyroid Res. 2018;11:1.
  7. Sategna-Guidetti C, Volta U, Ciacci C et al. Prevalence of thyroid disorders in untreated adult celiac disease patients and effect of gluten withdrawal: an Italian multicenter study. The American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2001;96(3):751-757. doi:10.1111/j.1572-0241.2001.03617.x.
  8. Lerner A, Jeremias P, Matthias T. Gut-thyroid axis and celiac disease. Endocrine Connections. 2017;6(4):R52-R58. doi:10.1530/EC-17-0021.
  9. Vojdani A, Tarash I. Cross-Reaction between Gliadin and Different Food and Tissue Antigens. Food and Nutrition Sciences. 2013;4(1):20-32. doi:10.4236/fns.2013.41005.
  10. Virili C et al. Atypical celiac disease as cause of increased need for thyroxine: a systematic study. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2012;97(3):E419-E422. doi:10.1210/jc.2011-1851.
  11. Fasano A, Berti I, Gerarduzzi T, et al. Prevalence of celiac disease in at-risk and not-at-risk groups in the United States: a large multicenter study. Arch Intern Med. 2003;163(3):286-292.
  12. Ventura M, Melo M, Carrilho F. Selenium and Thyroid Disease: From Pathophysiology to Treatment. International Journal of Endocrinology. 2017;2017:1297658. doi:10.1155/2017/1297658.
  13. Gärtner R, Gasnier BC, Dietrich JW, Krebs B, Angstwurm MW. Selenium supplementation in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis decreases thyroid peroxidase antibodies concentrations. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002;87(4):1687-1691.
  14. Gärtner R, Gasnier BC. Selenium in the treatment of autoimmune thyroiditis. Biofactors. 2003;19:165–70.
  15. Contempre B, Dumont J, Ngo B, et al. Effect of selenium supplementation in hypothyroid subjects of an iodine and selenium deficient area: the possible danger of indiscriminate supplementation of iodine-deficient subjects with selenium. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1991;73(1):213-215. doi:10.1210/jcem-73-1-213.
  16. Rink T, Schroth H, Holle L, Garth H. Effect of iodine and thyroid hormones in the induction and therapy of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Nuklearmedizin. 2016;1999(38(5):144-9.
  17. Zhao H, Tian Y, Liu Z, et al. Correlation between iodine intake and thyroid disorders: a cross-sectional study from the south of China. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2014;162(1-3):87-94. doi:10.1007/s12011-014-0102-9.
  18. Xu J, Liu X, Yang X, et al. Supplemental selenium alleviates the toxic effects of excessive iodine on thyroid. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2011 Jun;141(1-3):110-8. doi: 10.1007/s12011-010-8728-8.
  19. Phillips T, Slomiany W, Allison R. Hair loss: Common causes and treatment. DO Am Fam Physician. 2017;96(6):371­378.
  20. Eftekhari MH, Keshavarz SA, Jalali M, Elguero E, Eshraghian MR, Simondon KB. The relationship between iron status and thyroid hormone concentration in iron-deficient adolescent Iranian girls. Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition. 2006; 15(1), 50.
  21. Carta M, Loviselli A, Hardoy M et al. The link between thyroid autoimmunity (antithyroid peroxidase autoantibodies) with anxiety and mood disorders in the community: a field of interest for public health in the future. BMC Psychiatry. 2004;4(1). doi:10.1186/1471-244x-4-25.
  22. Cooper R, Lerer B. The use of thyroid hormones in the treatment of depression. Harefuah. 2010:529-34, 550, 549.
  23. Barbesino G. Drugs Affecting Thyroid Function. Thyroid. 2010;20(7):763-770. doi:10.1089/thy.2010.1635.
  24. Gaynes B, Rush A, Trivedi M, Wisniewski S, Spencer D, Fava M. The STAR*D study: treating depression in the real world. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 2008;75(1):57-66. doi:10.3949/ccjm.75.1.57.
  25. Wentz I. Top 9 takeaways from 2232 people with Hashimoto’s. Thyroid Pharmacist. https://thyroidpharmacist.com/articles/top-9-takeaways-from-2232-people-with-hashimotos/. Published June 22, 2015. Accessed June 26, 2015.
  26. Lee, Hae Sang HS. The natural course of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in children and adolescents. Journal of pediatric endocrinology & metabolism. 2014;27(9-10):807.
  27. Höfling DB Low-level laser in the treatment of patients with hypothyroidism induced by chronic autoimmune thyroiditis: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Lasers Med Sci. 2013;28(3):743-53.doi: 10.1007/s10103-012-1129-9.
  28. Carta M, Loviselli A, Hardoy M et al. The link between thyroid autoimmunity (antithyroid peroxidase autoantibodies) with anxiety and mood disorders in the community: a field of interest for public health in the future. BMC Psychiatry. 2004;4(1). doi:10.1186/1471-244x-4-25.
  29. Kaplowitz, PB. Case report: rapid spontaneous recovery from severe hypothyroidism in 2 teenage girls. Int J Pediatr Endocrinol. 2012;9(2012). https://doi.org/10.1186/1687-9856-2012-9
  30. Rink T, Schroth H, Holle L, Garth H. Effect of iodine and thyroid hormones in the induction and therapy of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Nuklearmedizin. 2016;1999(38(5):144-9.
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Note: Originally published in February 2015, this article has been revised and updated for accuracy and thoroughness.

CBD for Hashimoto’s Disease: How Can It Help?

CBD is a powerful and versatile compound; it can help regulate various functions throughout the body, including hormonal balance.

With new research emerging every month, scientists are discovering new health benefits of CBD — but can it be used to treat Hashimoto’s disease and other thyroid conditions?

Most benefits of CBD stem from its modulatory actions on the immune system. Cannabinoid receptors are also found on the surface of hormonal glands, including the thyroid.

If you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (or any other autoimmune disease), it means your body is losing the war against an aggressive immune system.

Although there are no direct studies focusing on using CBD for Hashimoto’s, several research papers suggest that it can improve the quality of life of patients with thyroid disorders.

Today, we elaborate on how you can use CBD oil for Hashimoto’s to control its symptoms and regulate your immune system.

What Is Hashimoto’s Disease?

Hashimoto’s disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, is an autoimmune disease of the thyroid gland. It causes a person’s immune system to become aggressive toward the thyroid (autoimmunity), damaging to the point where it can’t produce its own hormones any longer.

Hashimoto’s involves inflammation of the thyroid gland and is the major contributor to hypothyroidism — a condition characterized by an underactive thyroid.

Some patients with Hashimoto’s can develop a goiter, which is a lump on the thyroid triggered by inflammation and causing neck discomfort. One way to diagnose Hashimoto’s is through blood test results that check thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroid hormones (FT4 and T4).

Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease

Hashimoto’s disease develops more often in women. However, it can occur at any age and even men and children can suffer from it.

The most common symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Dry skin
  • Puffy face
  • Ple skin
  • Hair loss
  • Pain
  • Sensitivity to cold

The symptoms may not be noticeable at first, but as the disease progresses over the years, their severity will increase — deteriorating your quality of life.

Conventional Treatments for Hashimoto’s (High Risk)

Researchers have yet to find the underlying cause of Hashimoto’s disease and other thyroid disorders. However, the main hypothesis revolves around chronic inflammation caused by an aggressive immune system.

The conventional Hashimoto treatment involves taking levothyroxine, which is a thyroid medication using a specific hormone to level the deficiency in thyroid hormones.

Unfortunately, when you’re prescribed levothyroxine, you usually need to take it for life.

Taking high doses of the drug can have negative side effects, such as osteoporosis or irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia). Your doctor should titrate the medicine appropriately, but most of the time, the dose is gradually increased to the point where another treatment must be considered.

Meanwhile, CBD may offer a theoretically safer way to treat people with Hashimoto’s.

Can CBD Oil Help Treat Hashimoto’s?

CBD is one of over 115 cannabinoids identified in cannabis plants. Unlike the other major cannabinoid, THC, CBD doesn’t cause mind-altering effects when you take it. Researchers have found that cannabinoids, including CBD, offer remarkable anti-inflammatory properties.

A 2010 review of studies published in the journal Future Medicinal Chemistry found that daily supplementation with CBD inhibited disease progression in mice.

The research team learned that CBD decreased the amount of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are known to trigger inflammatory reactions.

Cytokines have been highlighted as one of the contributors to the onset of thyroid diseases, such as Hashimoto’s.

In a 2011 study, the authors concluded that cytokines play an important role in the pathogenesis (formation) of autoimmune disorders in the thyroid. They also found that cytokine modulation may help treat autoimmune conditions.

A 2020 study mentioned CBD and other cannabinoids as potential immunosuppressants due to their ability to block the production of inflammatory cytokines. These properties suggest that CBD — and cannabis in general — may have the potential to curb chronic inflammation in the body.

Another study showed that CBD is involved in regulating inflammatory response and expression by acting on various receptors throughout the body. The authors noted that CBD administration in animals could inhibit the release of excess cytokines.

Since CBD can reduce the number of substances that trigger inflammation, it may theoretically be used as an adjunctive treatment for Hashimoto’s — at least for symptom control.

However, there are no direct studies that would examine CBD’s impact on thyroid disorders, including Hashimoto’s disease. No clinical trials exist to prove the long-term efficacy of CBD for Hashimoto’s as a monotherapy.

How does CBD Work to Help with Hashimoto’s?

In a study published in 2017, the research team mentions that specific receptors in the human body could modulate the production of cytokines. The CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are the components of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), are said to play a part in signaling that influences cytokines.

The ECS promotes and helps to maintain homeostasis throughout the body. It regulates various physiological functions, including inflammation.

CBD influences the ECS structures, particularly the CB2 receptor — which would explain its anti-inflammatory effects.

On top of acting on CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD may also use other pathways that reduce inflammation.

Meanwhile, the authors of a 2015 study that evaluated the ECS’s role in thyroid tumors found that cannabinoid receptors are linked to tumor malignancy.

They concluded that CB1 and CB2 receptors are potential therapeutic targets for future treatments.

Another study also found that CB1 receptors of the ECS control hormone production in the thyroid.

Thyroid hormones help regulate body temperature, energy, and other important metabolic functions.

Since CBD is the modulator of the ECS, there’s a chance that it can be used to regulate thyroid conditions by acting on its structures.

However, more clinical human studies are needed to confirm CBD’s long-term efficacy in treating Hashimoto’s.

5 Reasons to Consider Taking CBD for Hashimoto’s

Looking at the above studies, this may be enough to convince you to try CBD for Hashimoto’s. That being said, there’s more to CBD and thyroid than just symptom control.

After all, conventional treatments are also focused on managing the symptoms of thyroid disorders.

Here’s why you may want to consider taking CBD for Hashimoto’s.

1. Safety Profile

If therapy is effective, that doesn’t mean it’s safe in the long run.

There are plenty of treatments in contemporary medicine which have been shown to be effective — but cause negative side effects.

On the other hand, there are plenty of therapies with the potential to treat Hashimoto’s while being very safe for our health.

The degree of a medication’s safety is referred to as its safety profile.

CBD has an excellent safety profile. Even doses as high as 1,500 mg administered daily for several weeks didn’t cause any dangerous side effects in patients.

The side effects of CBD are benign and include changes in appetite, dry mouth, dizziness, and — in case you took way too much — diarrhea.

Any healthy foods can get you these kinds of side effects if you take them in excess amounts.

According to the WHO, CBD is safe and well-tolerated in humans.

That being said, CBD can interact with many pharmaceutical medications. It can compromise the liver’s ability to metabolize these drugs, resulting in either too low or too high concentrations of the drug in the bloodstream.

If you’re unsure if you can take CBD for Hashimoto’s alongside your thyroid medications, consult a holistic doctor experienced in cannabis use.

2. Additional Benefits Aside from Hashimoto’s

Another reason to consider using CBD oil for Hashimoto’s is its versatility.

Medications are made to impact specific enzymes or receptors and may not interact with any other cellular components.

Unlike medications, herbal extracts like CBD oil can act on several different molecular pathways. CBD has over 65 such targets. It greatly helps one’s health due to its various benefits.

Additional benefits may include:

  • Reduced anxiety thanks to the modulation of GABA, serotonin, and anandamide (Hashimoto’s patients often experience anxiety)
  • Improved sleep as a result of the circadian rhythm regulation (many thyroid patients suffer from insomnia)
  • Reduced pain due to its analgesic properties (people with Hashimoto’s often have chronic pain)
  • Reduced inflammation (inflammation impacts conversion from T4 to T3)

If you have any of these symptoms, you could use CBD oil to improve your overall quality of life with Hashimoto’s.

3. Complementary Effects with Other Treatments

The current treatment paradigm for Hashimoto’s has caused many patients to look for natural alternative therapies because it’s just a standard “wait and see approach.”

As a patient, you don’t want to rely on taking synthetic hormones for life.

The good news is that you can use CBD along with other lifestyle modifications to achieve a better result. When you see the big picture, you’ll notice that Hashimoto’s requires a multifaceted approach, not just some miracle pill.

Changing your diet, reducing your stress, and supplementing CBD oil can help your body get back on track and heal itself from excess inflammation — but they don’t guarantee that you’ll be able to reverse your condition.

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They are, however, much safer than conventional methods. Taking CBD oil on a daily basis can help improve the functioning of your ECS — translating into more effective management of vital functions throughout the body.

This, on top of an anti-inflammatory diet, proper stress hygiene, and an active lifestyle, can help you achieve better results for your thyroid health overall.

4. Availability

CBD oil is legal in all 50 states and you can buy it without a prescription — unlike thyroid medications, which must be prescribed by a doctor.

In most cases, patients may know more about their disease and possible treatments than their doctor and yet they’re not able to get the right medication.

Because they are limited by the doctor and the prescription.

If your doctor isn’t willing to prescribe you the medication you’re asking for, your knowledge doesn’t matter.

This problem is nonexistent with CBD and other herbal supplements.

Nevertheless, we still advise you to consult a doctor before adding CBD oil to your daily routine. Doing so will help you find the right dosage to start with — not to mention that you can avoid negative interactions with other medications.

5. Patient Success Stories

Clinical trials are important for evaluating the long-term efficacy and safety of certain medications, but all clinical trials start with anecdotal evidence, better known as success stories of patients.

Both types of evidence have strong value. While clinical studies are very helpful, they don’t always tell the full story. The results can be interpreted in any way that suits the thesis of the study’s author.

Moreover, some clinical trials aren’t published, so we don’t always get to see their results. The author simply doesn’t have to publish the study if it doesn’t show the results they were looking for.

Some studies can be run 3-4 times until they finally yield satisfying results.

Last but not least, just because studies show that something is effective doesn’t mean it will work for every individual.

Doctors are often excited about novel therapies when they read about them in scientific magazines only to find out that they’re not nearly as effective as they believe them to be in the real world.

When it comes to patient success stories, they take a different approach.

There are no controls that clinical studies can provide but they still provide value as a “proof of concept.”

Are there any direct studies on the effectiveness of CBD for Hashimoto’s?

Do we see positive stories of patients who have taken it and seen great results?

The so-called anecdotal evidence often provides inspiration for clinical trials.

How to Choose CBD Oil for Hashimoto’s

CBD can be found in three major types: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolate.

The full-spectrum type of CBD is the most popular because it contains cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, and trace amounts of THC. Together, these compounds create the entourage effect, which means that the plant-based compounds work together in synergy — producing greater therapeutic effects than each of them alone.

Broad-spectrum CBD is another popular type. This option contains the same compounds as full-spectrum CBD — except for the THC content.

The third variant is CBD isolate. This is just pure CBD in crystalline or powdered form. It carries the highest dose of CBD per serving; it’s also odorless and flavorless, which is why some people prefer it over the two above formats. That being said, CBD isolates lack the entourage effect, so they are less desired among consumers.

Tips for Buying CBD Oil for Hashimoto’s

  • Look for a certificate of analysis (COA) for the chosen product. This document shows that the product has undergone proper testing and its contents match the ones that are listed on the label.
  • Read product reviews and do a solid background check on your potential vendor. If buying from a local store, make sure to check if it has the proper authorization to sell CBD extracts.
  • The best CBD oils for Hashimoto’s are made from organic hemp; it’s the most dependable source of high-quality CBD.
  • Ensure that there are no limits to the availability of CBD in your state. Hemp-derived CBD is federally legal but the state laws are dynamic, so it’s always worth it to keep yourself up to date with your local regulations surrounding cannabis.
  • Consult a holistic doctor, preferably someone experienced in cannabis use, before buying CBD products.

CBD Dosage for Hashimoto’s

Since CBD isn’t regulated by the FDA, there are no official dosage guidelines when it comes to using CBD for Hashimoto’s, or any other condition for that matter.

There are a few factors you should consider when determining your dose of CBD, including:

  • Bodyweight
  • Age
  • Metabolism
  • Tolerance to CBD
  • Severity of symptoms
  • Expected results

The best approach to starting your CBD regime is to take a small amount of CBD (5 or 10 mg) and gradually increase it until you come to the point where you experience the desired results without any side effects.

You can also use different studies on CBD for specific symptoms to analyze different dosages try them out on yourself.

How to Take CBD for Hashimoto’s

CBD is available in many different forms, including CBD oils, edibles, capsules, vapes, and topicals.

Beginners often choose edibles or capsules because they contain a fixed dose of CBD per serving. Since oral forms of CBD need to pass through the digestive system, they have a delayed onset (up to 90 minutes) but last longer than other forms (up to 10 hours).

More experienced users turn to CBD oil because it combines dosage accuracy with a higher bioavailability and faster onset. CBD oils absorb through the mucous membrane in your mouth, avoiding the first-pass metabolism in the liver. As a result, your body receives more active ingredients. The CBD also acts faster (15-30 minutes) lasting for up to 6 hours.

Vaporization offers the fastest and most effective way to consume CBD. When you inhale CBD through a vape pen, it travels to your bloodstream through lung tissues — producing almost instantaneous effects. Vapes have the highest bioavailability (56%) and they last for up to 4 hours.

For localized problems, such as inflammatory flare-ups, you can use CBD topicals such as creams, balms, lotions, or gels. They target the CB2 receptors in your skin, providing relief from inflammation and pain. The absorption rate and duration of topicals vary between different formulations.

CBD vs Other Natural Remedies for Hashimoto’s

Diet modifications are one of the first steps that a person with Hashimoto’s should take. This includes choosing animal foods rich in zinc, as well as fruits and vegetables.

Vegetables contain phytosterols, which are anti-inflammatory compounds. Low-calorie fruits have high levels of antioxidants and can help the body recover from the damage caused by inflammation.

Animal-based foods high in zinc, such as meats and eggs, are recommended several times a week. Zinc deficiency is often cited as one of the causes of hypothyroid conditions.

Iodine supplements are another possible option, but they need to be taken in the right form, as certain forms of iodine can be toxic for the body and actually exacerbate your condition.

Other Types of Thyroid Disorders

Aside from Hashimoto’s disease, people can suffer from one of the following thyroid conditions that are triggered by the chronic inflammation of this gland:

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism occurs where the gland produces more hormones than the body actually needs. Excessive thyroid hormone production can result in symptoms such as irritability, fast heart rate, weight loss, muscle weakness, and nervousness.

Grave’s Disease

Grave’s Disease is another thyroid disorder that occurs when a person’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland by accident. This leads to the production of excess thyroid antibodies.

People with Grave’s disease often have high blood pressure and increased metabolism as a result of enlarged thyroid glands.

Key Takeaways on Using CBD for Hashimoto’s

CBD has been shown to reduce inflammation and pain, showing as a potential therapeutic agent in the treatment of Hashimoto’s disease.

There is some evidence to support the use of CBD in reducing chronic inflammation associated with thyroid conditions. Several studies have shown that CBD may block the excess activation of the immune system by inhibiting the release of pro-inflammatory proteins.

Researchers believe that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is involved in regulating the activity of hormonal glands — including the thyroid. By modulating cannabinoid receptors, CBD can act as an adaptogen — adjusting the production of thyroid hormones.

More clinical trials are needed to confirm CBD’s efficacy for Hashimoto in the long run, but current findings are very promising, to say the least.

You can also use CBD oil to help with other symptoms associated with Hashimoto’s, including anxiety, pain, sleep problems, and low energy levels.

Always consult a doctor before buying a CBD product for any condition. Doing so will help you figure out the best CBD dosage for your situation and avoid potential CBD-drug interactions.

Do you take CBD for Hashimoto’s? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

References:

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Nina Julia

Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.

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