Both hyperthyroidism and anti-thyroid medication can affect the function of the liver causing increases in liver enzymes. Liver damage is more common with the anti-thyroid drug Propylthiouracil. I have gathered together this information from numerous sources and various studies...
Conventional treatment options for Graves' disease include:
* Anti-thyroid medication:
Anti-thyroid medications decrease the level of thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Approximately 30% with Grave's disease will have a remission after prolonged treatment with anti-thyroid medication.
Side effects of anti-thyroid medication:
Minor side effects: [up to 15%] - itching, rash, hives, joint pain and swelling, fever, changes in taste, nausea, and vomiting.
Major side effects:
Agranulocytosis [1 in every 200 to 500] - severe decrease in the production of white blood cells. More commonly occurs within the first 3 months but can occur at any time.
Liver damage [more common with PTU], aplastic anaemia [failure of the bone marrow to produce blood cells], vasculitis [inflammation of blood vessels associated with PTU].
* Betablockers - does not block the production of thyroid hormone but can help with symptoms such as rapid heart rate, trembling, anxiety.
The two following treatment options usually cause permanent hypothyroidism requiring lifelong thyroid hormone therapy:
* RAI [radioactive iodine] therapy]
* Surgery [most or all the thyroid gland is removed]
Note: there is the option of Endoscopic Axillary Underarm Thyroidectomy. The underarm endoscopic surgery involves very little bleeding, minimal incisions, and no visible scars in the neck.
Alternative/natural treatments for Graves' disease include:
Bugleweed [Lycopus virginicus]
Lemon Balm [Melissa officinalis]
Motherwort [Leonurus cardiaca]
Bugleweed is an anti-thyroid herb which has been shown to help reduce the symptoms of mild hyperthyroidism in human studies. Bugleweed has been shown to block TSH, decrease T4 and T3 and block the action of thyroid stimulating antibodies found in Grave's disease.
Lemon Balm is used to mildly reduce thyroid hormone levels and symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism. Lemon Balm inhibits TSH receptor binding which causes a decrease production of T3 and T4 in the thyroid gland. Test tube studies have found that Lemon Balm blocks attachment of antibodies to the thyroid cells that cause Grave's disease.
Motherwort helps to alleviate symptoms related to a hyperactive thyroid. This herb is a natural beta blocker as it can help with symptoms such as tachycardia [high heart rate], and palpitations.
* Over consumption of uncooked goitrogenic foods can depress thyroid activity: brussels sprouts, cabbage of all kinds, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, peaches, pears, rapini, spinach, strawberries, radishes, rutabagas, turnips, soybeans, pine nuts, peanuts, millet, rape seed [canola oil].
* One study demonstrated that selenium [200 mcg daily] significantly improved quality of life, reduced ocular involvement, and slowed progression of the disease in patients with mild Graves' orbitopathy [thyroid eye disease].
*An amino acid called L-carnitine has been shown to inhibit thyroid activity and may help prevent the possible lethal outcome of a thyroid storm. L-carnitine can be take alone or with anti-thyroid medication.
*Low Dose Nalrexone [LDN] can reduce symptoms in autoimmune conditions. There are no clinical trials in regards to LDN and autoimmune thyroid diseases however one survey found that 38% of patients reported spectacular results after they started taking LDN, 48% were able to decrease the level of thyroid antibodies, 40% of patients reported reductions in pain, 61% saw improvement in their mood and 66% experienced an energy boost.