I have had Graves for 2 years now, and the way it was explained to me . . . no big deal; will go away with irradiated thyroid and ongoing thyroid medication. Having suffered Graves ophthalamopathy for six months, now, ending with an orbital decompression surgery, I see that the playing down of this disease did me a disservice. I am not committed to learning as much about my condition as I can, and addressing it through natural and alternative means. Anyone else out there with a similar story?
When your body is malfunctioning it is never ok for the medical community to downplay what is happening to you, I find it is a total disservice and a travesty.
That being said, in addition to your current treatment, here are some alternative therapies you can consider adding into the mix:
What therapies does Dr. Weil recommend for Graves' disease?
There is no known, reliable treatment to stop the immune system from producing the antibodies that cause Graves' disease. Dr. Weil typically recommends conventional medical approaches, which are effective in slowing down production of thyroid hormone or blocking its action. However, uncontrolled case reports suggest that dietary and lifestyle treatments may offer some benefit in addressing autoimmunity, including:
•Dietary changes:◦Decrease protein intake toward 10 percent of daily calories; replace animal protein as much as possible with plant protein, see the anti-inflammatory food pyramid.
◦Eliminate milk and milk products, substituting other calcium sources.
◦Eat more fruits and vegetables regularly; make sure they are organically grown.
◦Eliminate polyunsaturated vegetable oils, margarine, vegetable shortening, all partially hydrogentated oils, and all foods (such as deep-fried foods) that might contain trans-fatty acids. Use extra-virgin olive oil as your main fat.
•Mind/Body: Mind-body measures like guided imagery and hypnosis are worth practicing to help reduce stress and normalize immune function, but it's not clear if such methods will lessen symptoms. Dr. Gary Conrad, an integrative medicine colleague, has written an excellent article published in the November/December, 2007, issue of Explore magazine entitled: Spontaneous Remission of Graves' Disease: A Spiritual Odyssey. Dr. Conrad recommends the use of a multisystem, integrative approach that encompasses "all healing modalities" most appropriate to address an individual's needs. One key component to his healing was learning how to optimize the mind-body connection to achieve states of deep relaxation - what Dr. Conrad calls the "opposite of Graves' Disease" - along with accessing the inner healing wisdom of the body to give insight about further treatment options. Dr. Conrad's article makes two key points about autoimmune conditions like Graves' disease. First, they can go into spontaneous remission over time - a focus of treatment should be trying to get the condition to "burn itself out." Secondly, stress is often a key precipitator in aggravating these conditions, and working to decrease or better manage stress can often balance immune system function and facilitate healing.
•Supplements: ◦Ginger, start with one capsule twice a day.
◦Turmeric, follow dosage directions on the package.
I have a somewhat similar story. I have had it since 2005, I was a teenager still and my endocrinologist was horrible. I don't think he knew how to communicate to his younger patients. He never really explained what it was to me and he treated it so lightly.
I went through years of anxiety, depression, unbalanced thyroid levels, 3 completely failed sessions of radioactive iodine therapy and was on prednisone for over 2 years (which still makes me feel SO ugly!). Unfortunately, he was the only endo covered under my insurance in my location.
Once I moved, I found a new endo and felt so much more comfortable. It's amazing how much better you understand your body and what is going on when someone actually explains what is going on, what the numbers mean, etc. He told me, OBVIOUSLY the iodine therapy isn't working, started to take me off prednisone immediately and moved forward with surgery.
I also had Graves ophthalamopathy for years, getting orbital decompression and an eyelid surgery to help get rid of it. My eye surgeon was an angel. She was so careful, detailed, and made me feel secure in her hands. Although I dont look like the person I used to be, I was still able to learn to love myself. (I had good and bad days)
what it all comes down to is your doctor. They have to be comforting, and understanding. Just because thyroid disorders are normal, doesn't mean they are easy to deal with!