Thyroid issues can be complex and are often difficult to treat. While pharmaceutical treatments may help some, others struggle to maintain proper control of their thyroids. Fortunately, CBD offers a natural treatment option that interacts with the thyroid to regulate overall functioning and mitigate disruptive symptoms.
What is the Thyroid?
Your thyroid is an endocrine gland located at the front of your neck. It is small and butterfly-shaped, and it sits just below the Adam’s apple.
The thyroid plays a key role in controlling many of your body’s major functions by producing and releasing hormones that regulate metabolism, temperature, blood pressure, growth, and development. The three main hormones produced by the thyroid are triiodothyronine (T3), tetraiodothyronine (T4), and calcitonin.
T3 and T4 regulate the body’s metabolism, temperature, food-to-energy conversion, and heartbeat. Calcitonin regulates the body’s use of calcium. When the thyroid is operating properly, it releases just enough of each hormone to maintain these functions well.
What Happens When the Thyroid Malfunctions?
When the thyroid is not functioning properly, it may overproduce or underproduce hormones. A dysregulated thyroid may yield symptoms such as:
- Weight changes
- Intolerance to hot or cold temperatures
- Changes in sweat production
- Slow or fast heart rate
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Heavier, lighter, or fewer menstrual cycles
- Muscle weakness
- Mood changes
- Neck swelling
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
When thyroid dysfunction is ongoing, a chronic thyroid disease may develop. Thyroid diseases include hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, goiter, thyroiditis, thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer. These are often accompanied by other chronic conditions like Graves’ disease, type 1 diabetes, or lupus, among others.
Treatment for thyroid disease varies depending on the type of illness and its progression. Antithyroid drugs, thyroid hormone replacement medication, surgical removal of parts or the entirety of the thyroid, and radioactive iodine or chemotherapy radiation are just some common treatments.
Unfortunately, standard treatment options produce unwanted side effects for some people. This leads many to seek out natural remedies for relief. CBD is one option that has gained traction in recent years due to increased scientific interest and heightened mainstream appeal and acceptance.
How can CBD help?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid derived from the legal hemp plant. The compound boasts a variety of health benefits, from mood regulation and stress alleviation to insomnia relief and inflammation reduction.
CBD works to mitigate thyroid issues by targeting certain parts of the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is made up of cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body, especially in the central and peripheral nervous systems. When stimulated, these receptors work to regulate functions like hormone production.
The endocannabinoid and endocrine systems do not act alone in managing hormones. In fact, a recent study found that cannabinoids directly impact the endocrine system and the thyroid gland in particular. This suggests that consuming cannabinoids like CBD may help maintain thyroid health.
CBD Regulates Body Temperature
One common symptom of thyroid disease is irregular body temperature. This can be particularly uncomfortable and lead to excessive sweating when the body is overheated.
The hypothalamus is an important part of the brain that, alongside the thyroid gland, controls body temperature and sweat production. When these thermoregulators over or under activate, the body’s temperature shifts abnormally and creates the uncomfortable sensation of being too hot or too cold. It can also increase sweat production.
CBD regulates the hypothalamus by triggering the body’s serotonin system. When the hypothalamus releases serotonin into the bloodstream, the body is able to achieve homeostasis and by extension, a normal, healthy body temperature.
CBD Influences Mood
The hypothalamus and the thyroid gland are also responsible for stabilizing mood. When serotonin and other ‘feel-good’ endorphins are released into the bloodstream, negative emotional states like anxiety and stress alleviate. CBD combats poor mood by targeting serotonin production directly.
Unfortunately, active thyroid disease can cause sufferers to experience uncontrollable fluctuations in mood that are difficult to treat. Anxiety is particularly common amongst those with over or underactive thyroids.
Several studies have found a notable link between CBD and mood regulation. One such study concluded that CBD significantly decreased anxiety in patients with diagnosed social anxiety disorder (SAD) and positively impacted limbic and paralimbic brain activity. Another study found that CBD decreased anxiety scores within just a month of treatment.
CBD Reduces Muscle Weakness, Pain, and Spasticity
Thyroid disease often causes painful muscle spasms that ultimately lead to weakened muscular structure. This can be particularly debilitating for those struggling to keep their thyroids under control.
CBD alleviates muscle spasticity and strengthens muscle function by targeting the neurotransmitters that trigger muscle contractions. This causes the muscles to relax. One scientific review concluded that CBD significantly reduces muscle spasticity in patients suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS). Additionally, according to this review of pharmacological research on CBD, the cannabinoid also relieves the pain that accompanies a range of chronic illnesses.
While CBD is not yet entirely understood, ongoing research helps us understand its many functions and potential health benefits. Fortunately, plenty of evidence already suggests that the powerful cannabinoid not only treats the symptoms of thyroid disease, but also the root causes themselves. As research only continues to grow, we hope to gain more insight into how CBD helps mitigate thyroid issues.