The thyroid is a very important part of the body’s endocrine system that is generally located in the lower front of the neck. Its function is important to the human body as it secretes thyroid hormones which are carried via the bloodstream to every single cell and muscle group. Further, the thyroid gland is constantly communicating with the brain via neural synapses, thus allowing the thyroid to regulate and control the body’s heart rate, metabolism, body temperature, cholesterol, and organ function. It’s safe to say that maintaining thyroid health is vital for overall homeostatic health. Unfortunately, many people suffer from thyroid disorders which can cause a wide range of symptoms, often times with potentially life-threatening complications if not properly treated. Depending on the specifics of the disorder, patients are often treated with conventional medications, which can produce dangerous side effects by altering the body’s liver and immune system and are not generally recommended.
Fortunately, scientists have recently been showing links between the thyroid’s communication pathways and the body’s endocannabinoid system. This system and its network of cannabinoid receptors can have a direct effect on the release and regulation of thyroid hormones. New research has suggested that medical cannabis, naturally high in cannabinoids such as CBD, can have an extremely therapeutic and regulatory effect on the body’s endocannabinoid system. Coupled with the data that shows medicinal cannabis oil does not produce the unwanted side effects associated with pharmaceutical medications, this new information is quickly making medical cannabis an attractive and preferred treatment method for thyroid disorders.
Living with a thyroid disorder can create a wide variety of emotional and physiological turmoil. The symptoms can range from mood swings and cognitive issues such as poor memory and difficulty concentrating to weight gain or loss, debilitating joint or muscle pain, severe fatigue, difficulty regulating body temperature, neck swelling, and reproductive issues such as irregular menstrual cycles and low sex drive. If the thyroid gland is releasing too few hormones (hypothyroidism) or too many hormones (hyperthyroidism), the results can be disastrous for organ functioning. In these cases, an unregulated thyroid can also lead to conditions such as goiter, thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid), Grave’s disease, thyroid storm, thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer.
Treatment options vary depending on the specifics of each thyroid disorder. For an underactive thyroid, medications such as levothyroxine sodium and synthroid are commonly prescribed. If the thyroid is overactive a commonly prescribed medication is radioactive iodine. It is believed that radioactive iodine reduces hormone secretion. Other medications used are methimazole and propylthiouracil. Side effects associated with these medications include anemia, dizziness, hair loss, headaches, hives, muscle or joint pain, nausea, swelling, vomiting, shortness of breath, and heart attacks.
The positive news for those suffering from thyroid problems is that studies are showing how medical grade cannabis oils, especially those high in naturally-occuring CBD, are making it possible for patients to regulate and treat their symptoms using only a single medication. For example, a recent study published in the European Journal of Endocrinology . In this study, a technique called immunohistochemical localization was utilized to isolate and study the intracellular presence and location of cannabinoid receptors in the thyroid. Within 4 hours of cannabinoid administration, a 30% decrease in hormone release was noted. Further, a study in 2009 published in medical journal Endocrinology displayed found that one particular type of cannabinoid receptor directly influences the activity of the neurons that control the thyroid. The researchers concluded that, “the presence of both symmetric and asymmetric type CB1 synapses on [thyrotropin-releasing hormone-synthesizing] neurons in the [hypothalamic periventricular nucleus] suggests that endocannabinoids may influence both excitatory and inhibitory inputs of these neurons.” These studies are showing that not only do cannabinoids play a part in suppressing overactive thyroids, CBD also promotes hormone release in cases of underactive thyroids.
An additional benefit of medical cannabis oils is the ability that CBD has shown for treating inflammation of the thyroid gland which is commonly the underlying cause of many thyroiditis. Cannabinoids are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties as they have been used to treat a variety of inflammatory disorders ranging from chronic inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s Disease to neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s. Patients using cannabinoids find that once the medication begins to relieve the inflammation, their other symptoms disappear as well. There is also strong evidence that shows CBD and other cannabinoids are quite powerful at managing other symptoms associated with thyroid disorders such as anxiety, depression, dry skin, and pain.
While medical research into the role cannabinoids play in the regulation of our thyroid is a new and exciting field of study, the published results are already backing up what practitioners have long been observing about the benefits of medical cannabis. The future of medical cannabis research will hopefully continue to explain the significance of the symbiotic relationship between thyroid and the endocannabinoid system. As discussed, thyroid disorders can be debilitating and can cause serious complications when not properly attended to or when treated with harsh pharmaceuticals. Fortunately, for those suffering from thyroid disorders, medical cannabis, when taken as part of a holistic approach to wellness and under the care of a reputable medical professional, can play a vital role in promoting and maintaining thyroid health and overall homeostasis.