Graves Disease -- Symptoms and Top 10
Natural Remedies
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August 31, 2010, last updated October 10, 2015
By Louise Carr,  Contributing Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of
Doctors and
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of our
Editorial Board.]

Graves disease may be the most common thyroid disease
you've never heard of. The symptoms are often confused
with simple tiredness or day-to-day stress but the culprit
could be your thyroid. How can you tell if your health is
affected by an overactive thyroid or Graves disease? What
symptoms should you watch out for? Overactive thyroid and
Graves disease are primarily treated with anti-thyroid
medication or radioactive iodine but recent studies have
shown many natural remedies can be effective in treating
Graves disease. What are these natural remedies and are

How Many People Have Graves Disease?

Graves disease is named after the Irish physician Robert
James Graves who first described the disease in 1835.
According to The National Women's Health Information
Center at the US Department of Health and Human Services,
1.3 million people in the U.S. suffer from Graves disease.

Graves disease is the most common form of hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism is an autoimmune condition where your
thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. You’re
more likely to get Graves disease if you’re a woman over the
age of 20 – this distressing condition affects women 10 times
more often than men. But men don’t escape and also can
suffer from Graves disease. Famously, former President
George Bush (the father) and Barbara Bush were both
diagnosed with Graves disease while the President was in
office. Recently, music star Missy Elliot has revealed that she
was diagnosed with Graves disease in 2008.

How Do I Know If I Have Graves Disease?

A diagnosis of Graves disease can be tricky to pin down. The
symptoms of Graves disease are often the same as those
caused by other forms of hyperthyroidism. If you are
suffering from hyperthyroidism you may feel anxious or
irritable. You may suffer from fatigue and heat sensitivity and
sweat a lot. Hyperthyroidism sufferers have a rapid heartbeat
and hand tremors because too much thyroid hormone raises
the heart rate and can elevate blood pressure.

However, Graves disease is the only overactive thyroid
condition which causes inflammation of the eyes. If you’ve
got Graves disease the tissues behind and around the eyes
may swell, causing bulging eyes and occasionally vision
problems. Sometimes Graves disease sufferers develop a
lumpy, red skin condition on the front of the shins called
pretibial myxedema. Other symptoms may include lumps in
your throat, hair loss, and a rapid heart rate.

I've Got Swollen Eyes, Do I Have Graves Disease?

No, not necessarily. Many other conditions can cause eye
problems. When swollen eyes are associated with Graves
disease they generally affect you around six months before
or after the diagnosis is made. The severity of eye swelling is
not related to the severity of hyperthyroidism and many
people with excessively swollen eyes never develop
hyperthyroidism. The only way to test for Graves disease is
with a thyroid function test, a radioactive iodine uptake
investigation or antibody tests.

What Causes Graves Disease?

If you’ve got Graves disease you are likely to have other
people in the family affected by it too. Genes are thought to
play a part in the development of Graves disease. Many
people inherit an immune system that turns against itself,
triggering the body to produce antibodies that stimulate cells
to overproduce thyroid hormones. Sex hormones and
pregnancy may also affect Graves disease. Doctors also
suspect a connection between severe emotional stress and
the onset of Graves disease. But not all people who
experience severe stress will ever develop Graves disease, so
it’s not a simple link. More recently, evidence has emerged
linking exposure to certain
environmental contaminants and
Graves disease.

Top 10 Natural Remedies for Graves Disease

Stop Smoking

There are so many reasons to stop smoking, not least its
connection with
Graves' disease.

A 2002 study from the Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark,
found that smoking is a powerful risk factor for developing
thyroid disease. The study issued a questionnaire to 864
patients with hyperthyroidism and 628 patients with
autoimmune hypothyroidism. The study showed an increased
risk of Graves' disease if you have
ever smoked.

If you smoke and have Graves' disease, you are much more
likely to have eye problems, although experts are still not
sure why. Looking for a way to stop smoking?  Here are
natural ways to help you stop smoking.

Go Gluten-Free Diet to Treat Graves Disease

Some doctors recommend the complete avoidance of gluten
and dairy products as a means of treating Graves' disease.

According to 2000 research in the medical journal Digestive
Diseases and Sciences, 3.4 percent of patients with
autoimmune thyroid disease also had
Celiac disease, also
known as intolerance to gluten. This statistic compared to 0.6
percent and 0.25 percent among the control groups.

The study found that undiagnosed Celiac disease could
trigger an underlying autoimmune disease and that following
a gluten free diet could cut out this trigger, lessening

On a gluten-free diet you need to avoid foods that contain
wheat, rye, barley, and possibly oats. All pasta, cereals and
processed foods, in other words. But it’s not all bad news.
You don’t need to cut out these foods altogether. Switch to
potato, rice or soy flour,
amaranth or quinoa and buy gluten-
free bread and specialist gluten free products.

Generally speaking, gluten-free diets are viewed as safe.
Under the Food and Drug Administration's final rules
regarding gluten-free labeling, all foods or products (
including dietary supplements) labeled as "gluten free" must
contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten.

Try Chinese Medicine

Chinese herbal medicine may work better than traditional
Western medicine in battling Graves' disease. A 2007 review
from the Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane
Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates
medical research, looked at studies that compared Chinese
herbal remedies for hyperthyroidism, of which Graves'
disease is the most common form, with Western treatments.

The types of herbal treatment varied between studies. Out of
13 relevant studies looking at 1,770 people, research
indicated that combinations of Chinese herbal medicine along
with Western medication may help relieve symptoms of
hyperthyroidism and reduce side effects of drugs.

Chinese herbal remedies used on their own did not appear to
make much of a difference to the thyroid function.
Researchers suggest using reputable practitioners and
combining Chinese medicine with your regular medication if
this is a route you want to explore.

Bugleweed Heals Your Thyroid

The flowering herb bugleweed, part of the mint family, is not
well-known for its medicinal properties. But bugleweed has
been reported to reduce levels of thyroid hormone in your
body and treat Graves' disease, so it’s worth a second look.

A 1985 study from the Department of Medicine, Beth Israel
Hospital and Harvard Medical School Boston, Massachusetts,
discovered that bugleweed decreases levels of TSH, the
hormone that stimulates the thyroid, and blocks the action of
antibodies that stimulate the thyroid.

But there is reason for caution. This information only comes
from test tube and animal studies, so you should use
bugleweed with caution and seek medical advice if you are
already taking overactive thyroid drugs.


The supplement glucomannan is normally used as a dietary
fiber. Glucomannan is known to help improve constipation
and help with weight reduction but recent studies have
discovered its power as a Graves' disease treatment.

A 2007 trial from Istanbul University’s Department of
Internal Medicine found evidence that glucomannan when
added to standard treatment restores thyroid hormones to
their normal level much more rapidly.


The herb motherwort may be useful for treating one of the
problematic symptoms caused by Graves' disease.
Motherwort, a mild sedative, is known as a heart-herb for its
ability to calm palpitations and tachycardia caused by anxiety.

The herbal regulating body in Germany, Commission E, has
approved motherwort for the treatment of anxiety-induced
heart disorders and also lists the herb in an overall plan for
treating overactive thyroid.

High levels of thyroid increase your heart rate and lowering it
can be part of the overall treatment of Graves' disease.

Royal Jelly Can Help Graves Disease

Royal jelly, the slippery substance produced by bees, is
valued for its antimicrobial properties and is hailed as a
treatment for a variety of autoimmune diseases. It turns out
royal jelly may be a Graves' disease tonic. 2006 research
from the Karadeniz Technical University Faculty of Medicine,
Trabzon, Turkey, suggested that royal jelly could be effective
as a treatment for Graves' disease. The study looked at
lymphocyte cells from healthy patients and patients with
Graves disease and examined cells’ response to royal jelly.

Cells in the Graves' disease sufferers showed a decrease in
autoimmune responses when exposed to royal jelly. Further
evidence is needed before we can draw full conclusions
about royal jelly’s effectiveness.

Sunglasses, Compresses and Tape--Remedies For Your

Suffering from swollen eyes caused by Graves disease can be
distressing and uncomfortable. At regular intervals during
the day, apply cool compresses to your eyes. The moisture
and the temperature will help to reduce pain. Always wear
sunglasses when outdoors as your eyes will be more
vulnerable to ultraviolet light. Wraparound sunglasses will
also help prevent dust being blown into your eyes by the
wind. At night, elevate your head higher than the rest of
your body to lessen the pressure on your eyes.

Taping your eyes may help Graves symptoms. Some people
need to tape their eyes closed at night to prevent dryness
and keep the benefits of eye drops where they are needed
most. (Read more about
natural remedies to help dry eyes in

Remedies For Skin

Graves disease not only affects your eyes. It can affect your
skin. When Graves disease affects your skin, causing a red
lumpy rash to form on the front of your shins, it’s called
"Graves dermopathy". Help your symptoms fade away with
hydrocortisone creams. Compression wraps on the legs to
stimulate blood flow can also make your Graves disease
symptoms more bearable.

Remedies To Avoid

If you suffer from an overactive thyroid there are certain
natural substances that can make things worse. Kelp, a type
of seaweed, is a nutritional substance but it contains high
levels of iodine.

The amount of iodine in your diet directly influences the
hormone activity in your thyroid gland.

Too much iodine can cause hyperthyroidism. You are more
likely to take excessive amounts of kelp through supplements
as kelp is not generally found on the U.S. menu.

The recommended daily intake for iodine is 150 mcg per day
but 1988 research from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries
and Food, London, England, found the iodine content in 17
different kelp supplements varied between 45 and a huge
57,000 mcg per tablet or capsule. Watch your intake if your
thyroid is not functioning correctly or risk causing problems.


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Royal jelly from bees is a natural
remedy for Grave's disease.