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Naturopath palpating woman's thyroid gland to evaluate natural treatment options for Graves' disease

Introduction to Graves' Disease

Graves’ Disease is a chronic autoimmune disorder characterised by the overactivity of the thyroid gland, resulting in hyperthyroidism. It occurs when the immune system mistakenly targets the thyroid gland with antibodies, leading to excessive production of thyroid hormones. The exact cause of Graves’ Disease is unknown, but a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors play a role. Common symptoms include rapid heartbeat, weight loss despite increased appetite, tremors, anxiety, heat intolerance, fatigue, and bulging eyes (Graves’ ophthalmopathy).

Early recognition of these symptoms and seeking medical advice is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment. In addition to conventional treatments, individuals with Graves’ Disease can explore natural treatment options and lifestyle modifications to complement their medical interventions.

Diet Modifications

Dietary changes can play a significant role in managing Graves’ disease symptoms. Two dietary approaches have shown promise in reducing inflammation and managing autoimmune conditions - gluten-free diet and Autoimmune Protocol (AIP).

Gluten-Free Diet

Research suggests a potential link between gluten sensitivity or celiac disease and autoimmune thyroid disorders like Graves’ disease (1). One possible mechanism behind this association is molecular mimicry between gliadin (a component of gluten) and proteins present in the thyroid gland. Gliadin shares structural similarities with proteins found in the thyroid gland. In susceptible individuals, consuming gluten may trigger an immune response that mistakenly attacks both the gut and thyroid tissue (2).

By adopting a gluten-free diet, you can reduce exposure to gliadin and potentially lower the risk of triggering an autoimmune response against the thyroid gland. Adopting a gluten-free diet involves eliminating foods containing wheat, barley, rye, and other gluten-containing grains.

Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)

The AIP diet takes the gluten-free approach further by eliminating additional potentially inflammatory foods such as dairy products, eggs, nuts/seeds, nightshade vegetables (e.g., tomatoes, peppers), certain spices (e.g., paprika), caffeine, alcohol, refined sugars and processed oils. It focuses on nutrient-dense whole foods that support gut health and decrease inflammation.

Although no specific research has been conducted on the effectiveness of AIP for Graves’ disease specifically, studies have shown its potential benefits in managing other autoimmune conditions (3, 4). By reducing inflammation and supporting the immune system, AIP may provide relief to individuals with Graves’ disease.

Herbal Remedies

Several herbs have been traditionally used for their potential benefits in managing thyroid disorders and autoimmune conditions. Let’s explore a few herbs that may help alleviate symptoms of Graves’ disease.

Bugleweed (Lycopus virginicus)

Bugleweed and its extracts have many beneficial effects that might explain its efficacy for reducing hyperthyroid symptoms. These effects include the ability to inhibit binding of the stimulating antibodies of Graves’ disease to the thyroid cells; blocking thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) production; decreasing peripheral T4 deiodination; and possibly inhibiting iodine metabolism (5).

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon balm may help regulate an overactive thyroid gland by inhibiting TSH receptor activation, blocking the binding of TSH to thyroid follicles, inhibiting peripheral deiodination of T4, and blocking the stimulating autoantibodies associated with Graves' disease (5).

Recent studies have also shown that herbal formulations containing bugleweed and lemon balm extracts can help restore normal thyroid function and normalise TSH-stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI) levels in individuals with Graves’ disease (6).

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)

Motherwort has been identified as a promising addition to the treatment of overactive thyroid due to its ability to combat the symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism, such as anxiety and palpitations. Research has also suggested that motherwort has the ability to inhibit the thyroid-stimulating hormone and reduce the overproduction of thyroid hormones, which is attributed to its high concentration of rosmarinic acid (7).

Hemidesmus (Hemidesmus indicus)

Hemidesmus indicus, a plant commonly referred to as Indian Sarsaparilla or Anantamul, has been utilised in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for its potential as an anti-inflammatory and immune modulator. Recent research has revealed that Hemidesmus may have protective properties against autoimmune disorders, as demonstrated in animal models of arthritis (8). Given its potential as an anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating agent, Hemidesmus may offer benefits for individuals with Graves' disease.

Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis)

Cordyceps is a medicinal mushroom with immunomodulatory properties. It may help regulate an overactive immune system, making it potentially beneficial for individuals with autoimmune conditions such as Graves’ disease.

Black Seed (Nigella sativa)

Nigella sativa seed extracts and oil have been traditionally used for their various health benefits. They possess immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties that may help alleviate symptoms associated with Graves’ disease.

Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Nettle is a nutrient-rich herb that may help support the immune system and reduce inflammation. It contains compounds that inhibit certain inflammatory pathways, potentially benefiting individuals with autoimmune conditions like Graves’ disease.

Nutritional Supplements

Certain nutritional supplements have shown promise in supporting thyroid health and modulating the immune system. Let’s explore some supplements that may be beneficial for individuals with Graves’ disease.

Broccoli Sprout Extract (Sulforaphane)

Broccoli sprout extract contains high levels of sulforaphane, a compound known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Sulforaphane has been shown to have immunosuppressive effects on untransformed human T-cells, specifically targeting Th17 cells. This is achieved by reducing the levels of glutathione and increasing the accumulation of reactive oxygen species. As a result, sulforaphane may provide a new avenue for treating chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases associated with Th17 cells, such as Graves’ disease (9).


L-carnitine is an amino acid-like compound involved in energy production within cells. Research suggests that it may help alleviate symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism by regulating thyroid hormone metabolism. L-carnitine has been found to have the ability to inhibit the entry of both triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) into cell nuclei, which is significant because thyroid hormone action is primarily mediated by specific nuclear receptors. In a randomised trial, it was demonstrated that oral intake of 2 and 4 grams per day of L-carnitine can effectively reverse hyperthyroid symptoms and associated biochemical changes, while also preventing or minimising the occurrence of such symptoms and changes (10).


Selenium is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in thyroid hormone metabolism and antioxidant defence. Adequate selenium levels are necessary for normal thyroid function and may help modulate the immune system.

A review examined the effects of selenium supplementation on Graves’ disease. The researchers found that selenium reduced the thyrotrophic hormone receptor antibody (TRAb) and improved thyroid function (11). These findings suggest potential benefits of selenium supplementation for individuals with Graves’ disease.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is not only crucial for maintaining healthy bones but also plays a role in regulating the immune system. Research suggests a potential link between vitamin D deficiency and autoimmune conditions such as Graves’ disease (12).

Studies investigating the effects of selenium supplementation on patients with chronic autoimmune thyroiditis have consistently shown a decrease in levels of thyroid autoantibodies. Similarly, in individuals with Graves’ disease, supplementing with selenium may result in faster recovery from hyperthyroidism, improve the quality of life and alleviate symptoms associated with mild thyroid eye disease (13).


Zinc is an essential trace element involved in various physiological processes, including immune function and hormone regulation. It plays a vital role in supporting proper thyroid function, making it potentially beneficial for individuals with Graves’ disease.

Research suggests that abnormal zinc metabolism frequently occurs in individuals with hyperthyroidism. An investigation was conducted to examine the way zinc is processed in individuals suffering from thyroid disease. It was discovered that those with hyperthyroidism had a lower concentration of zinc in their red blood cells. Additionally, the study found that hyperthyroid patients had a higher level of zinc being excreted in their urine. This could potentially be attributed to an increase in tissue breakdown, such as muscle catabolism. These findings suggest that abnormal zinc metabolism is common in patients with hyperthyroidism, and zinc supplementation could prove to be beneficial (14).


Natural treatments such as diet modifications, herbal remedies, and nutritional supplements offer potential benefits for individuals with Graves’ disease. However, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your treatment plan.

Incorporating a gluten-free or AIP diet, along with herbs like bugleweed, lemon balm, motherwort, cordyceps, hemidesmus, nigella, and nettle may help manage symptoms associated with Graves’ disease. Additionally, considering nutritional supplements such as broccoli sprout extract, L-carnitine, selenium, vitamin D, and zinc can provide support for immune function and thyroid health.

Remember that these natural treatments should complement conventional medical care rather than replace it entirely. Working collaboratively with healthcare professionals can ensure comprehensive management of Graves’ disease and optimise your overall well-being.



  1. Ashok T, Patni N, Fatima M, Lamis A, Siddiqui SW. Celiac Disease and Autoimmune Thyroid Disease: The Two Peas in a Pod. Cureus. 2022 Jun 23;14(6):e26243.
  2. Londei M, Ciacci C, Ricciardelli I, Vacca L, Quaratino S, Maiuri L. Gliadin as a stimulator of innate responses in celiac disease. Mol Immunol. 2005 May;42(8):913-8.
  3. Konijeti GG, Kim N, Lewis JD, Groven S, Chandrasekaran A, Grandhe S, Diamant C, Singh E, Oliveira G, Wang X, Molparia B, Torkamani A. Efficacy of the Autoimmune Protocol Diet for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2017 Nov;23(11):2054-2060.
  4. Abbott RD, Sadowski A, Alt AG. Efficacy of the Autoimmune Protocol Diet as Part of a Multi-disciplinary, Supported Lifestyle Intervention for Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. Cureus. 2019 Apr 27;11(4):e4556.
  5. Yarnell, Eric & Abascal, Kathy. (2006). Botanical Medicine for Thyroid Regulation. Alternative and Complementary Therapies. 12. 107-112. 10.1089/act.2006.12.107.
  6. Kaplan D, Dosiou C. Two Cases of Graves’ Hyperthyroidism Treated With Homeopathic Remedies Containing Herbal Extracts from Lycopus spp. and Melissa officinalis. J Endocr Soc. 2021 May 3;5(Suppl 1):A971.
  7. Fierascu RC, Fierascu I, Ortan A, Fierascu IC, Anuta V, Velescu BS, Pituru SM, Dinu-Pirvu CE. Leonurus cardiaca L. as a Source of Bioactive Compounds: An Update of the European Medicines Agency Assessment Report (2010). Biomed Res Int. 2019 Apr 17;2019:4303215.
  8. Mehta A, Sethiya NK, Mehta C, Shah GB. Anti-arthritis activity of roots of Hemidesmus indicus R.Br. (Anantmul) in rats. Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2012 Feb;5(2):130-5.
  9. Liang J, Jahraus B, Balta E, Ziegler JD, Hübner K, Blank N, Niesler B, Wabnitz GH, Samstag Y. Sulforaphane Inhibits Inflammatory Responses of Primary Human T-Cells by Increasing ROS and Depleting Glutathione. Front Immunol. 2018 Nov 14;9:2584.
  10. Benvenga S, Amato A, Calvani M, Trimarchi F. Effects of carnitine on thyroid hormone action. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Nov;1033:158-67.
  11. Zheng H, Wei J, Wang L, Wang Q, Zhao J, Chen S, Wei F. Effects of Selenium Supplementation on Graves' Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018 Sep 26;2018:3763565.
  12. Xu MY, Cao B, Yin J, Wang DF, Chen KL, Lu QB. Vitamin D and Graves' disease: a meta-analysis update. Nutrients. 2015 May 21;7(5):3813-27. doi: 10.3390/nu7053813.
  13. Winther KH, Rayman MP, Bonnema SJ, Hegedüs L. Selenium in thyroid disorders - essential knowledge for clinicians. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2020 Mar;16(3):165-176.
  14. Nishi Y, Kawate R, Usui T. Zinc metabolism in thyroid disease. Postgrad Med J. 1980 Dec;56(662):833-7. doi: 10.1136/pgmj.56.662.833.

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Inna Kurlyandchik | BHSc (Naturopathy), Grad Cert Nutr, PhD candidate

17 July 2023

Natural Treatments for Graves’ Disease

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid gland, causing it to produce excessive amounts of thyroid hormone. While conventional medical treatments such as medication and radioactive iodine therapy are commonly used, many individuals seek alternative approaches for managing their symptoms and improving their overall well-being.

In this blog post, we will explore natural treatments for Graves’ disease, including dietary modifications, herbal remedies, and nutritional supplements. We will delve into the scientific research supporting these treatment options and provide you with a comprehensive guide to incorporating them into your lifestyle.

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