The thyroid is an important endocrine gland that wraps around the front of the windpipe towards the base of the neck. Functionally, it secretes hormones that affect every single cell, tissue, and organ type in the body – from metabolism and cholesterol, to heart, bone, and muscle function.
Likewise, the gland maintains constant communication with the brain via neural synapses, which helps it to regulate bodily homeostasis and control things like metabolism, heart rate, internal body temperature, and even emotional response. Disorders with the thyroid can cause an incredibly wide range of symptoms, as well as potentially life-threatening health complications.
Recently, though, new connections have been drawn between the thyroid/brain communication network and the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). It’s being suggested, in fact, that the ECS (which is abundantly present in both the central nervous system and the thyroid gland itself), might play a crucial role in facilitating proper communication between brain and thyroid. Ultimately, this implies that the ECS and its network of cannabinoid receptors may have a direct influence on efficient thyroid hormone release, which is of course vital to healthy organ functioning and overall homeostatic health.
In this article, we’ll go over what exactly the thyroid does, what the implications are of an improperly functioning thyroid, and how cbd for thyroid disorder is quickly positioning itself at the forefront of available and preferred treatment methods.
So like we said, the thyroid is a very important endocrine gland that’s responsible for releasing hormones that control metabolism, growth and brain development (especially during infancy), body temperature, heart and muscle functioning, bone health, and cholesterol levels.
The various collective hormones that the gland releases are called thyroid hormones, the main one of which is thyroxine – or T4 hormone.
Thyroid glands that release either too much (hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism) hormone can be catastrophic to organ functioning and, ultimately, overall health and well-being.
Likewise, other specific disorders of the thyroid can include things like goiter (swelling of the thyroid), thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid due to infection or autoimmune conditions), Grave’s disease (which causes an overactive thyroid), thyroid cancer, thyroid nodules (small lumps on the thyroid that may lead to excess hormone production), and thyroid storm (a rare form of hyperthyroidism that results in extremely high levels of hormone being secreted).
Since thyroid conditions can cause so many different malfunctions in so many different parts of the body, it can be very difficult to try and detect a specific disorder. However, once other causes have been eliminated, there are specific tests that can be administered to check for thyroid deficiency. These can include biopsies (in the instance of nodes or masses on the thyroid), blood tests that check for proper levels of T3, T4, and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), and thyroid imaging (such as ultrasound or radioactive iodine scans).
As far as prevalence, the American Thyroid Association (ATA) estimates that up to 20 million Americans are currently affected by some kind of thyroid disorder, and that as much as 12% of the U.S.population will at some point in their lives develop a condition, the most common of which include nodules, hypothyroidism, and hyperthyroidism. Causes of thyroid disorders are largely unknown, though it is believed that autoimmune deficiencies, stress, high cholesterol, and cigarette smoking increases the overall risk factor.
Also, although it is unknown why, women are statistically between five and eight times more likely to develop a thyroid condition than are men, and untreated hypothyroidism in pregnant women can commonly lead to miscarriage, preterm delivery, and significant growth/developmental problems.
Conventional Thyroid Disorder Treatments (Not CBD)
Depending on the specific disorder, there are a number of conventional treatment options for thyroid conditions. However, the vast majority of these treatments include pharmaceutical medications that produce extremely dangerous side effects by altering homeostasis and other important regulatory systems in the body.
For underactive thyroid, L4 replacement medications like levothyroxine and synthroid are common. For hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), on the other hand, treatments that reduce hormone secretion include radioactive iodine (iodine is the primary hormone synthesizing “ingredient”), and antithyroid drugs like methimazole and propylthiouracil (PTU). While effective, these drugs can potentially cause severe side effects in the liver and immune system, and are not recommended except under the most necessary of circumstances.
Surgery can also be a common treatment method, especially with cancers or thyroid nodules where lumps/masses cause overactive hormone secretion.
Living with Thyroid Disorder
As we mentioned earlier, thyroid disorders can cause a massive array of physiological, and even emotional, disruptions within the body and brain.
These “disruptions” can severely affect the quality of an individual’s day to day lives, and include symptoms such as extreme weight gain or loss, heavy mood swings (along with anxiety and depression), reproductive issues (low sex drive, irregular menstrual cycles, etc), severe muscle/joint pain, neck swelling, snoring, severe fatigue/energy drain, a hoarse or scratchy voice, irregular body temperatures (especially the inability to tolerate cold weather), and cognitive issues such as brain fog, poor memory, and the inability to concentrate.
While lifestyle changes can sometimes be effective in minimizing these symptomatic conditions, the thyroid network is such a complex web of cellular machinery that it can often be difficult to pinpoint exactly what measures need to be taken in order to induce positive changes.
However, this is precisely why CBD for thyroid disorder is proving to be such a revelation – by manipulating and physiologically acting upon the endocannabinoid system, the treatment works to regulate internal homeostasis on the whole-body level. This is of course entirely different from the isolated chemical pathways that prescription meds manipulate. Also, in addition to providing the ability to adapt to any number of thyroid malfunctions, CBD for thyroid disorder also presents virtually zero side effects being that it doesn’t interrupt other internal regulatory systems.
CBD for Thyroid Disorders: What the studies are showing
The incredible thing about CBD for thyroid disorder is that patients are able to use a single medication (typically a high-quality CBD oil) to treat virtually any and every form of thyroid malfunction; hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, goiter, thyroiditis, and even thyroid storm have all been anecdotally documented to be efficiently and successfully treated with CBD. More importantly, though, there have been plenty of published scientific studies showcasing the cannabinoid’s therapeutic regulatory effects on the hormone-secreting endocrine gland.
For example, a 2002 study published in the European Journal of Endocrinology has proposed evidence of functional CB receptors in rat thyroids, with the ability to modulate both T3 and T4 hormone release. For the study, a molecular “detection” technique called immunohistochemical localization was used to showcase the intracellular presence of the cannabinoid receptors, and a 30% decrease in hormone release was observed within four hours of administration of the active cannabinoid. In layman’s terms, a 30% decrease in hormone release was observed as a direct result of cannabinoid presence in the rat thyroid.
Likewise, a 2009 publication in the major medical journal Endocrinology showcased the potential ability of CBD to innervate (activate) hormone-synthesizing, thyrotropin-releasing axons between the thyroid gland and the central nervous system.
If both of these studies were to be substantialized in clinical trials, it would effectively prove that CBD has the potential to both suppress thyroid overactivity, and promote hormone release in thyroid underactivity. And considering the whole-body nature of the endocannabinoid system and its network of receptors (which have been found in virtually every single cell and tissue type), this would make perfect sense.
Additionally, CBD has been known to treat the underlying causes of thyroiditis, which is inflammation of the gland itself. Cannabinoids are well known for their anti-inflammatory properties, and dozens of studies have been published which clearly document the cannabinoid’s role in reducing inflammation in a wide range of organs and specialized tissue types.
The bottom line is, while there have yet to be any specific clinical trials done on CBD for thyroid disorders, the burgeoning understanding of CBD’s mechanisms within the greater internal endocannabinoid network has been more than enough to incite the notion that CB receptors may very well play a crucial role in homeostatic thyroid regulation, as well as proper cell-to-cell communication between the thyroid, brain, and the body’s network of organ structures.
If you’re wondering why we keep talking about CBD for thyroid disorders, and not THC or marijuana for thyroid disorders, it’s because CBD is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid of the plant. That is, it won’t get you high on its own. The vast majority of people seeking to use cannabis as a medical treatment, have little interest in the mind-altering effects of the drug.
That being said, it’s important to clear up any confusion regarding CBD, THC, marijuana, and hemp.
The majority of all sold CBD products come from the industrial hemp plant, which contains less than 0.3% THC (the compound that gets you high). If a cannabis plant has more than 0.3% THC by volume, it’s then referred to as a “marijuana” plant, which can be confusing considering that both hemp and marijuana come from the exact same species – Cannabis sativa L. You can definitely smoke “normal” marijuana and receive the therapeutic benefits of CBD, but you’ll also be receiving a solid dose of the psychoactive THC. If you want the medical benefits of cannabis but don’t want the high, then pure CBD products are your best bet.
The Bottom Line: CBD for Thyroid Disorders
While there are several different ways to administer CBD for thyroid disorder, by far the most potent and most effective is through a high-quality CBD oil. Oils are molecular carriers by nature, so they are able to carry more cannabidiol molecules “by volume” than any other form of CBD product.
Also, CBD oils are easily ingested and absorbed extremely efficiently into the body when droplets are placed under the tongue and held for about 90 seconds before swallowing. Determining the proper dosing can be kind of a trial and error process, but in general most people are able to effectively treat their thyroid condition with between 30 and 50 mg of CBD per day (for reference, 1 mL of a potent oil generally contains about 50 mg of CBD. Make sure you always read the label on your product to ensure proper dosing).
And lastly, it is very important to take into consideration the CBD oil that you’re getting, if or when you do decide to use CBD oil for thyroid conditions, because not all oils are created the same. In the past three years, in fact, the FDA has been trying to crack down on bogus companies falsely labeling their products as “CBD”, when in fact they contain practically zero of the active compound.