Posted by: Chris Maloney | June 24, 2011

Alternative Treatments for Graves Disease.

Graves' disease Symptoms

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Graves disease is a workaholic’s dream until it becomes full blown.  Sufferers need less sleep, can work longer hours, and feel full of energy.  But eventually they have insomnia, their heart rates are too fast, and their body starts breaking down.  A celebrity singer, Missy Elliot,  recently discussed her battle with the illness.

The issue with Graves is that the side effects of the treatment are often unacceptable.  The patient feels slowed down, unable to work three jobs, and lethargic. 

All we can do conventionally is manage the disease with surgery, radiation, or a thyroid blocking drug PTU.  In most cases the combination of the three will bring the thyroid under control, but often the person ends up with low thyroid long-term. 

We have an interested study on L-Carnitine reversing Graves, as well as the mixed results of PTU before radiation and the mixed effects of iodine on the function of the thyroid.  All three are below.

Also have a look at the autoimmune crossreactions that occur in hypothyroidism at my website.  In some cases a hyperthyroid patient with Graves is simply in the first stages of hypothyroidism (the gland gets stimulated by the antibodies before it gets damaged and stops producing even at the normal level). 

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Nov;1033:158-67. Links

Effects of carnitine on thyroid hormone action.Benvenga S, Amato A, Calvani M, Trimarchi F.

Sezione di Endocrinologia, Dipartimento Clinico Sperimentale di Medicina e Farmacologia, University of Messina School of Medicine, 98125 Messina, Italy. s.benvenga@me.nettuno.it

By experiments on cells (neurons, hepatocytes, and fibroblasts) that are targets for thyroid hormones and a randomized clinical trial on iatrogenic hyperthyroidism, we validated the concept that L-carnitine is a peripheral antagonist of thyroid hormone action. In particular, L-carnitine inhibits both triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) entry into the cell nuclei. This is relevant because thyroid hormone action is mainly mediated by specific nuclear receptors. In the randomized trial, we showed that 2 and 4 grams per day of oral L-carnitine are capable of reversing hyperthyroid symptoms (and biochemical changes in the hyperthyroid direction) as well as preventing (or minimizing) the appearance of hyperthyroid symptoms (or biochemical changes in the hyperthyroid direction). It is noteworthy that some biochemical parameters (thyrotropin and urine hydroxyproline) were refractory to the L-carnitine inhibition of thyroid hormone action, while osteocalcin changed in the hyperthyroid direction, but with a beneficial end result on bone. A very recent clinical observation proved the usefulness of L-carnitine in the most serious form of hyperthyroidism: thyroid storm. Since hyperthyroidism impoverishes the tissue deposits of carnitine, there is a rationale for using L-carnitine at least in certain clinical settings.

PMID: 15591013 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Sep;89(9):4439-44. Links

Comment in:

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Feb;90(2):1256; author reply 1256-7.

Propylthiouracil before 131I therapy of hyperthyroid diseases: effect on cure rate evaluated by a randomized clinical trial.Bonnema SJ, Bennedbaek FN, Veje A, Marving J, Hegedüs L.

Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism,OdenseUniversityHospital, DK-5000OdenseC,Denmark. steen.bonnema@dadlnet.dk

A randomized clinical trial was performed to clarify whether pretreatment with propylthiouracil (PTU) before radioiodine ((131)I) therapy influences the final outcome of this therapy, as has been indicated by retrospective studies. Untreated consecutive hyperthyroid patients with Graves’ disease (n = 23) or a toxic nodular goiter (n = 57) were randomized to either PTU (+PTU; n = 39) or no pretreatment (-PTU; n = 41) before compensated (131)I therapy. The median PTU dose was 100 mg, which was discontinued 4 d before treatment. The median (131)I activity was 302 MBq (range, 87-600 MBq). After (131)I therapy, the serum free T(4) index increased in the +PTU group from 97.7 +/- 47.5(+/-sd) nmol/liter at the time of therapy to 152.3 +/- 77.6 nmol/liter at 3 wk (P < 0.001) and 140.4 +/- 75.9 nmol/liter at 6 wk (P < 0.001). In the -PTU group, the serum free T(4) index, which was initially 254.3 +/- 145.7 nmol/liter, decreased significantly to 212.0 +/- 113.0 nmol/liter at 3 wk (P < 0.05) and 165.8 +/- 110.0 nmol/liter at 6 wk (P < 0.005). After 1 yr of follow-up, the treatment failure rate in patients with a toxic nodular goiter was four times higher in the +PTU group than in the -PTU group (nine of 20 vs. three of 25 patients; P = 0.06), whereas the difference among patients with Graves’ disease was less obvious (four of six vs. four of nine; P = 0.81). Patients in the +PTU group who were cured had higher serum TSH (s-TSH) levels at the time of (131)I therapy than those who were not cured. By adjusting for a possible interfactorial relationship through a regression analysis, including the s-TSH level and type of disease, only PTU pretreatment had a significant adverse effect on the cure rate (P = 0.03). In conclusion, this randomized trial demonstrates that PTU pretreatment reduces the cure rate of (131)I therapy in hyperthyroid diseases, although this adverse effect seems to be attenuated by the concomitant rise in s-TSH.

PMID: 15356044 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1992 Nov;75(5):1273-7. Links

Iodine-induced subclinical hypothyroidism in euthyroid subjects with a previous episode of amiodarone-induced thyrotoxicosis.Roti E, Minelli R, Gardini E, Bianconi L, Gavaruzzi G, Ugolotti G, Neri TM, Braverman LE.

Centro per lo Studio, Prevenzione, Diagnosi e Cura delle Tireopatie, Universitá di Parma, Italy.

Amiodarone-induced thyrotoxicosis (AIT) occurs most frequently in patients with underlying thyroid disease and is generally believed to be due to the iodine contamination of amiodarone and iodine released by the metabolism of the drug. We and others have suggested that the thyrotoxicosis may also be secondary to amiodarone-induced thyroiditis. To further determine the etiology of AIT, we administered large doses of iodides [10 drops saturated solution of potassium iodide (SSKI) daily] to 10 euthyroid patients long after an episode of AIT believed to be due at least in part to amiodarone-induced thyroiditis. Six of these 10 patients had an abnormal iodide-perchlorate discharge test before SSKI administration, indicating a subtle defect in the thyroidal organification of iodide. During SSKI administration, 6 patients developed marked iodine-induced basal and/or TRH-stimulated serum TSH elevations, 2 had suppressed basal and TRH-stimulated TSH values, and 2 had normal TSH responses compared to SSKI-treated euthyroid subjects with no history of amiodarone ingestion or thyroid disease. Serum T4 and T3 concentrations remained normal and unchanged during SSKI administration in both the AIT patients and control subjects. These results strongly suggest that excess iodine may not be the cause of the hyperthyroidism associated with amiodarone therapy, especially in those patients with probable amiodarone-induced thyroiditis. Furthermore, like patients with a previous history of subacute thyroiditis and postpartum thyroiditis, the present results suggest that some patients with a previous history of AIT may be at risk to develop hypothyroidism when given excess iodine.

PMID: 1331165 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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