Graves' Disease - An Interesting Story
By Dr Sandra Cabot
One of my female patients aged in her late 30s was experiencing recurrent attacks of atrial fibrillation which necessitated her being admitted to hospital every few weeks to have IV drugs to revert her heart to normal rhythm.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is very unpleasant and is characterized by a rapid heart rate with an irregularly irregular heart rhythm; it is usually seen in older people. The cause of her atrial fibrillation was found to be an overactive thyroid gland caused by the autoimmune condition of Graves' disease. This was treated with drugs to block the production of thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland and beta blocker drugs to slow the heart. She remained unwell with extreme fatigue and still suffered recurrent attacks of AF, albeit less frequently.
Blood and urine tests revealed the following –
- Very high levels of auto-antibodies in her blood
- Low vitamin D levels
- Low iodine levels
- Gluten intolerance in a genotype test for HLA DQ and DR genes
- High levels of inflammatory markers ESR and CRP
I noticed that she had moderately severe gum disease (periodontal disease) and her gums harbored high levels of unhealthy bacteria. She was a highly strung woman with a tendency to perfectionism and over achieving which is a common trait in those with Graves' disease. She also had symptoms of progesterone deficiency with irregular menstrual bleeding.
In order to restore her health we had to treat the cause of her problem – namely a weak and dysfunctional immune system. Even though autoimmune disease has a strong genetic component we can overcome this hereditary predisposition with nutritional medicine.
Holistic medicine is very scientific as we combine the required drug therapy with diet and supplements to slowly cure the disease by treating the causes of the disease. So using these principles this is what we did –
- A gluten free diet.
- Raw juicing to increase antioxidants.
- Ultimate gut health powder supplement and a liver tonic containing St Mary’s Thistle, amino acids and B vitamins to improve gut and liver health.
- A selenium supplement to lower the autoimmune antibodies that were attacking her thyroid gland.
- A progesterone cream to balance her sex hormones.
- A magnesium supplement to calm her heart and nervous system.
- A vitamin D supplement, as vitamin D deficiency increases autoimmune problems.
- A visit to a good dentist to remove plaque from her teeth and frequent flossing and mouth washes with colloidal silver and sea salt twice daily. It was highly probable that her gum disease was one of the causes of her heart disease. Periodontal disease is partly caused by autoimmune factors so my program to strengthen her immune system would help that problem as well.
She returned to see me after 6 weeks and was very pleased with her results. Her teeth looked fantastic and she raved about her lovely dentist.
Her blood tests for thyroid function were now normal and she had not had any more attacks of AF. She was still taking the anti-thyroid drugs and the beta blocker medication, however she felt completely different.
She could not believe how good she was feeling as she had forgotten what it was like to feel truly healthy and energetic
I knew that it was not yet time to start reducing her medications and told her that we would measure her thyroid function every 4 weeks to decide when the time was ripe to do so. Because her anti-thyroid antibodies were so high in her blood, I knew it would take time to bring them down.
I was confident that this woman would be able to overcome her autoimmune condition by following these strategies and she had the enthusiasm to do it! This was most worthwhile; as if we did not treat the cause of her disease it would probably remain active. Thus when her doctor tried to stop her anti-thyroid drugs she would become unwell again. In many cases this results in the need to destroy the thyroid gland with radioactive iodine and dependence on thyroid hormone tablets for life.
For more information, see the books 'Your Thyroid Problems Solved' and 'Healing Autoimmune Disease: A plan to help your immune system and reduce inflammation'.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.