Hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid gland, located at the front of your neck, produces too much thyroid hormone, causing your metabolism to speed up. Hyperthyroidism has three forms that share several symptoms. The most common form is Graves’ disease. Hyperthyroidism can also be caused by taking too much thyroid hormone when you are being treated for hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is more common in women than men and usually occurs between the ages of 20 – 40. It often starts after times of extreme stress or during pregnancy.
Signs and symptoms include rapid heart rate and palpitations, shortness of breath, goiter (swelling of the thyroid gland), moist skin and increased perspiration, shakiness and tremor, anxiety, increased appetite accompanied by weight loss, insomnia, swollen, reddened, and bulging eyes (in Graves’ disease). Researchers suspect that Graves’ disease (the most common form of hyperthyroidism) is caused by an antibody that mistakenly stimulates the thyroid to produce too much hormone.
A naturopathic approach to treating someone with hyperthyroidism starts with balancing the immune system and potentially a detoxification program depending on the underlying cause of the autoimmune disruption. Since the most common form of hyperthyroidism is due to Grave’s disease which is an autoimmune condition, see our section on Autoimmune for more information.