PT on the Net Research

Graves Disease


Question:

I have been diagnosed with Graves' disease and treated with Propranolol (Beta Blocker) to control symptoms of tachycardia and palpitations until it resolved. I was treated with radioactive iodine recently (alternative to surgery) and may or may not become permanently hypothyroid and be required to take Synthroid for the rest of my life. I am de-conditioned and have battled with hyperthyroidism for a half a year before it was diagnosed (some people go years without being diagnosed or being misdiagnosed). How do I start to get myself back into exercise? Do I focus on cardio? Resistance training (hyperthyroidism is really a "muscle wasting disease" if the tremors are untreated)? Or do I do a mixture of both? What type of exercise, frequency, intensity and duration do you recommend? This is assuming that the client's condition is stable and has been cleared to return to exercise (which I have been).

Answer #1:

First of all, Graves’ Disease is an autoimmune disorder. This suggests that your immune system has been stressed for some time and that you may be suffering the effects of immune dysregulation (abnormal immune antibody modulation). This can happen for several reasons, some of which are:

Mercury toxicity:

Mercury poisoning commonly causes immune cells to attack “self tissues” because the mercury causes genetic mutation, producing cells that look foreign to your immune antibodies and thus get attacked. The name of an autoimmune disease, such as Graves’ Disease, only tells you which region of the body has been attacked but it doesn’t tell you anything about the etiology. This is where the hunt really begins and if you don’t succeed at the hunt, you will forever be disabled and will likely encounter more problems as your body weakens.

If you have mercury amalgam fillings in your teeth, I would strongly suggest you find a good biological dentist to begin a mercury removal program. A good dentist will test your blood to see which of over 150 composites now available is most compatible to you. If you are in the US, I would suggest you look into the works of Dr. Hal Huggins, a pioneering dentist that runs an organization of biological dentists; he also has books available. If you can’t afford a biological dentist (they can be expensive!), I would suggest you go to www.metalfree.com and investigate a program using Metal Free, which is an enzyme-based spray that digests the mercury in your body. Mercury Free is also expensive (~$185 US per bottle and you will need about six bottles), but you can go one bottle at a time. I have checked into this and spoken to a physician performing chelation therapy and he feels that Metal Free can be as effective as chelation therapy, which is a pretty strong statement!

Heavy Metal Poisoning:

Just like mercury poisoning, you could easily have heavy metal poisoning. This is a very complex topic although, if you were my client, I would be investigating your background to find out what industries you worked in or near. For example, I’d be interested in learning where you were raised and if you’ve ever lived near commercial farming or industrial complexes. I have seen both farming and industrial exposure cause problems similar to yours on a number of occasions in my career. I strongly suggest you read the book “Detoxify or Die” by Sherry Rogers, M.D. (see www.price-pottenger.org ) as well as reading “Clear Body, Clear Mind” by L. Ron Hubbard. Both books have many valuable pieces of information that are likely related to your puzzle!

Toxic Food:

If you eat a diet high in processed, packaged foods or regularly use a microwave oven, you can easily cause havoc with your immune system. Please read the recently released special on microwave ovens in “The Ecologist”, which you can get at their web site ( www.theecologist.org ). The recent edition also has a special on sugar consumption and the ill effects of sugar on the body. The information in there will blow you away!

Genetic:

If there is a history of Graves’ Disease in your family, you may have inherited it. While I’m not big on blaming disease on genetics, which is becoming trendy to do, I do believe in managing diet and lifestyle factors to suppress genetic weaknesses so you never have to experience the weaknesses passed onto you by your ancestors!

Circadian stress:

If you have been involved in shift work, have night-owl tendencies, or stay up past 10:30 PM on a regular basis, your hormonal and immune systems are very likely to be poorly regulated. The hypothalamus is the timekeeper of the human body and communicates directly with the anterior pituitary gland, which in turn releases thyroid-stimulating hormone, regulating thyroid function. Any form of chronic circadian stress can disrupt this control mechanism, often referred to as the HPT Axis (hypothalamic-Pituitary-Thyroid Axis). This mechanism, by the way, can also become altered or damaged from a minor or closed head injury. My mentor, Dr. Bill Timmins (Bio-Health Diagnostics www.biodia.com ), has informed me that he has never seen anyone with a significant head injury (any loss of consciousness) that had a normal immune system! If you have a history of head injury, you may want to find an expert at brain analysis and reprogramming. My teaching assistant Emma Lane (see www.chekinstitute.com under “Find a practitioner near you” and look in the UK for her details) has extensive experience in this area and can help you if head injury is in your past history.

I strongly suggest you look into my forthcoming book “How To Eat, Move and Be Healthy” (January 2004) for more information on how circadian stress alters immune function. I also suggest you study the books “Lights Out” (T.S Wiley) and “The Body Clock” (Michael Smolensky Ph.D.). You can also see the thesis by my assistant, Chris Maund, on circadian rhythm and concerns for corrective exercise specialists on my web site ( http://www.chekinstitute.com/articles.cfm ). An absolutely essential step toward restoring normal immune function is restoring circadian rhythms!

Adrenal Stress:

Your adrenal glands are the master controllers of your stress hormones (glucocorticoids), fluid regulating hormones (mineralocorticoids) and other very important hormones such as the growth/immune hormone DHEA. This is a massive topic yet, anything that you perceive consciously or unconsciously as a stressful event, or that your body perceives stressful, such as bad diet, circadian stress or dehydration, can trigger excessive glucocorticoid or stress hormone production. The result of chronic glucocorticoid production is altered immune function due to disruption of the cortisol:DHEA ratio and disruption of the 24-hour cortisol rhythm cycle. Something commonly overlooked by many health practitioners is that the adrenal glands reflex to the thyroid gland via the phrenic nerve. When the body is producing too much stress hormones, there is generally down-regulation of the thyroid to slow cellular metabolism, since cellular metabolism controls the rate at which we age; if your body is under stress, the thyroid will attempt to balance the difference between genetically programmed rate of aging and biological rate of aging. In your case, you could be having a dysfunctional stress response due to dysfunction of any one or combination of the reasons I’ve sited here, and more! In short, the thyroid is not a solitary entity, and therefore Graves’ Disease should not be considered as such either! You must carefully assess, or have a CHEK NLC Practitioner assist you in identifying significant physical-emotional-mental-spiritual stressors, at which time they can guide you to the appropriate health care professionals to assist them in your multidisciplinary approach to recovery/management of your condition.

Energetic Relationships:

The thyroid gland is linked to the fifth chakra in East Indian philosophy (Yoga). This is the center of communication. I would look carefully into (and again, seek consult from those you can trust to give honest feedback) your life and relationships for challenges surrounding communication with others, both on the job, at home, with your parents, etc. Generally, between ages 28-35 there is a life lesson regarding communication that we must all handle to progress in our development. You may want to start looking in that zone if you are of that age. I have seen chronic problems in the neck and shoulder girdle region linked to divorces and business failures that were linked to poor communication skills on a number of occasions. You may want to read the book “Chakra Healing” by Liz Simpson.

The first step you should take toward resolving your condition, in concert with the above, is to purchase Bill Wolcott’s book “The Metabolic Typing Diet”. Perform the self-test in the book (chapter 6) to determine your metabolic type. Make sure you answer the questions based on gut instinct and what you would like to eat if you had never watched TV, read books or magazines or been taught anything about nutrition – focus on your uninhibited natural desires to eat. Also, have someone close to you check the questions over to see if the answers are accurately reflecting your personality and characteristics. Often, we have a tainted view of ourselves and a second look from a loved one makes the testing more accurate. Follow the information in the book closely. Couple that with a study of my audio CD/Workbook program titled “You Are What You Eat!” and you will then know exactly how to proportion your meals and what foods to avoid and what foods to eat to begin restoring your body and immune system back to balance! My program also contains valuable information about how to select the best waters and how much to drink on a daily basis.

Exercise Prescription:

I do not believe in prescribing exercise without a comprehensive evaluation. Exercise should be used with surgical precision, particularly in a case such as yours, where a disease process is involved. The only thing I can comfortably recommend is doe you to find a highly qualified Qi-gong instructor (see www.chilelqigong.com ), Tai-Chi instructor, or someone that has a history of successfully applying the principles of Yoga to disease states; be very careful with modern Yoga teachers as many of them have bastardized a very comprehensive and well developed system to make it fit with modern faddish fitness desires, much the same way Pilates has been beaten to death! You may find it useful to study the book (s) “Warriors Of Stillness” available at www.warriorsofstillness.com. There you can find out about my mentor, Master Fong Ha. If you are in the US, you may want to seek his consult. In addition, all my NLC Practitioners (Level I and II in the current system) can provide you with useful exercises for harvesting chi.

I am confident in suggesting these forms of chi harvesting exercises to you because chi is all knowing. Learning to harvest chi is synonymous with learning to heal you because the chi always enters the body and goes directly to the energy blockages and works there until they are progressively corrected. It is doubtful that you will overdo it with this form of exercise, while it is very likely that your life will change for the better with regular practice!

Only after you have been consulted and trained in the mastery of what I call “foundation principles” (some of which I’ve mentioned above) by a skilled professional (that walks their talk!) should you attempt any exercise program that further stresses your sympathetic nervous system (SNS). A basic rule of thumb I teach my CHEK Exercise Coach and NLC students to make the differentiation between an exercise that does and does not stress the SNS is to ask yourself the question while exercising, could I do this on a full stomach right after eating a meal and have it aid my digestion. If the answer is no, you are stressing/activating the SNS. I would recommend you learn to manage your SNS load carefully if you wish to achieve an optimal recovery from your condition!

I hope the information and resources I’ve provided afford you the opportunity to achieve the level of health and vitality all human beings deserve as their birthright!