Graves’ disease is an immune system disorder that results in the overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism). It is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism in the United States with about 50% to 80% cases and often results in an enlarged thyroid. The thyroid gland is located on either side of the Adam’s apple in a patient and can be easily felt on physical exam. Its main function is to regulate the overall metabolism of the body. It also plays a role in calcium metabolism.
Although the exact cause is unclear, it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. A person is more likely to be affected if they have a family member with the disease. Those with other autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to be affected.
Signs and symptoms
Graves’ disease affects both men and women. However, it’s more common among women between the ages of 20 and 40. Graves’ disease is accompanied by a range of symptoms which include: irritability, muscle weakness, sleeping problems, a fast heartbeat, and poor tolerance of heat, diarrhea, and weight loss.
Other symptoms may include thickening of the skin on the shins, known as pretibial myxedema, and eye problems such as bulging, a condition known as Graves’ ophthamopathy. About 25% to 80% of people with the condition develop eye problems which involves eye irritation, double vision and even protruding eyeballs.
The primary treatments have aimed at inhibiting the overproduction of thyroid hormones and lessen the severity of symptoms. These include radioactive iodine, antithyroid medications such as methimazole (Tapazole) and propylthiouracil (PTU), and beta blockers. In some patients, surgery is done. However, these conventional treatments re associated with a range of side effects.
Radioiodine therapy may increase your risk of new or worsened symptoms of Graves’ ophthalmopathy anti-thyroid medications, on the other hand can cause a relapse of hyperthyroidism at a later time. Side effects of both drugs include rash, joint, liver failure or a decrease in disease-fighting white blood cells. Beta blockers have been known to trigger an asthma attack in addition to complicating management of diabetes.
Using medical marijuana to treat the side effects
Graves’ disease causes a great variety of symptoms, many of which can be easily treated with cannabis. According to research and several trails, medical marijuana has been found to be an alternative to treat many of the symptoms associated with Graves’ disease. Medical marijuana can reduce eye pressure, reduce anxiety, relieve insomnia, reduce irritability, encourage appetite/weight gain, relieve restlessness/nervousness, slow or relax heart rate.
Studies have repeatedly shown the effectiveness of medical marijuana as an appetite stimulant. Medical marijuana can be used to help with any pain related to Graves’ disease. Conventional treatments often lead to painful side-effects such as joint pain.
Studies have shown that not only does medical marijuana significantly decrease pain levels, but it can also work to reduce a patient’s dependence on opiate based pain medications that are commonly prescribed for pain. By reducing the patient’s dependence on opiate based pain medications, the patient is at less risk for overdose, dependence or addiction.
Medical marijuana has a long history as a viable treatment for loss of appetite, insomnia and fatigue as well as for pain and anxiety. In addition, medical marijuana does not cause many of the serious side effects associated with traditional Graves’ disease treatments. For the many Graves’ disease sufferers in the US, the adoption to medical marijuana is an excellent option.