CBD For Thyroid Health: Can It Help As Alternative Medication?

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Female checking thyroid gland by herself

The thyroid is a critical endocrine gland that is situated at the base of the neck, wrapping around the front of the trachea. The thyroid produces a variety of hormones that influence bodily functions, such as metabolic rate, bone density, heart health, and muscle strength.

The gland connects with the brain, establishing a state of hormonal homeostasis. The thyroid regulates processes like emotional control, body temperature, heart rate, mood, metabolism, and more.

Thyroid dysfunctions can result in a range of symptoms that stem from imbalances in the above functions.

Scientists have found a link between the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) and brain/thyroid communication. The ECS is a potential therapeutic target for the management of hormones production, which suggests that using cannabinoids could improve thyroid health and effectively manage thyroid disorders.

In this article, we elaborate on the benefits of CBD oil for thyroid health; we’ll touch on the subject of hormonal imbalances, different types of thyroid disorders, and how to use CBD for the side effects of thyroid dysfunctions.

CBD and Thyroid Health: What You Need to Know

healthy and hyperthyroidism illustration

The research into CBD and thyroid health is in the early stage, but some studies suggest that CBD may be an effective therapeutic agent for the management of thyroid disorders.

Humans and all animals — except for insects — have an endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is our major regulatory network that controls a variety of biological processes, including mood, memory, immune response, body temperature, appetite, fertility, sensory perception, neuroprotection, and more.

Let’s take a look at the current state of scientific knowledge when it comes to using CBD for thyroid health.

Studies on CBD and Thyroid Health

A 2015 study found significant concentrations of CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the thyroid glands. These receptors were associated with the shrinkage of thyroid tumors, showing promise as potential blockers of the spread of malignant cells on the gland (1).

Researchers are still trying to figure out the role of CBD and cannabinoid receptors in the management of conditions like Hashimoto’s Disease or Graves’ Disease. Nevertheless, these receptors and their interaction with the thyroid gland and function sheds new light on using natural resources to take care of the thyroid health.

A growing number of studies suggest that CBD and other cannabinoids can be used for dealing with the symptoms associated with thyroid conditions, including skin problems, inflammation, pain, anxiety and depression, weight gain, and low energy levels.

In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, the authors found that CBD and its modified equivalents were effective in easing chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain in rats (2).

Scientists believe that oral forms of CBD — such as CBD oil or capsules — produce better effects from the symptoms caused by internal imbalances, especially when it comes to anxiety and depression. On the other hand, topical products are more effective for problematic areas on the body.

Effects of CBD Oil on Thyroid Disorders

cbd gummies and hemp flower on a white background

The thyroid often suffers from nutrient deficiencies, lacking iodine, selenium, and zinc. Specific environmental factors, such as excessive stress, can also cause the underperformance of the land.

Another risk factor for thyroid disorders is an autoaggressive immune system. When the immune system attacks the thyroid glands, it can cause autoimmune disorders, such as Hashimoto’s Disease or Graves’ disease.

Symptoms of thyroid disorders include:

  • Small lumps on the thyroid gland that may cause excess production of hormones
  • Hyperthyroidism, which happens when there are too many thyroid hormones
  • Hypothyroidism, which is associated with low levels of thyroid hormones
  • Thyroid storm, which is a rare type of hyperthyroidism
  • Swelling of the thyroid (goiter)
  • Thyroid cancer

Overproduction or underproduction of the thyroid hormones may ravage a person’s health over time. Thyroid disorders are challenging to treat due to the difficulties in diagnosis. Thyroid conditions can have several underlying causes associated with physical functions.

Doctors use special tests to diagnose thyroid imbalances, including biopsies and imaging scans, such as ultrasound or iodine screenings. Patients are also asked to run a test for T3, T4, and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) to search for thyroid imbalances.

The THS is a figure that measures the amount of thyroxine (T4) that the thyroid gland should release.

Below we cover the potential benefits of CBD for thyroid health.

CBD Oil for Hormonal Balance

The endocrine system is made of a number of glands in the body that produce and secrete hormones for different functions.

These hormones affect a variety of physiological processes, such as growth, movement, respiration, sensory perception, and fertility.

A 2018 study performed by the Polish Society of Endocrinology investigated potential interrelations between the ECS and the functioning of the endocrine system (3).

As mentioned, the ECS is involved in regulating a wide range of critical functions, including the performance of the thyroid.

The potential benefits of CBD for thyroid health are expressed through their interaction with the body’s ECS and its two types of receptors — CB1 and CB2.

Researchers have discovered the presence of CB1 receptors on the thyroid gland of animal models. These receptors regulate the production of two thyroid hormones, T3 and T4.

These hormones play an important role in modulating energy levels, body weight, temperature, as well as the growth of hair, nails, and skin cells.

Cannabinoid receptors have also been found within the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN), which is a region in the brain that connects with the pituitary gland and stimulates it to produce different types of hormones to adrenal glands, gonads, and the thyroid.

CBD indirectly engages with these receptors, which would explain their potential for managing thyroid disorders, especially the problems of hormonal imbalances.

However, we still need more quality studies on humans to support preclinical findings.

CBD Oil for Anxiety

CBD has remarkable anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties due to its interaction with several mechanisms that control our responses to stress.

One of such mechanisms is the agonism of the 5-HT1A receptor, which controls serotonin secretion. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that manages feelings of happiness, well-being, and relaxation (4).

Moreover, CBD changes the shape of the GABA-A receptor, which acts as a handbrake for the brain to prevent overexcitation (5). The administration of CBD causes this receptor to use the GABA neurotransmitter more effectively, keeping us calm during stressful events.

CBD can also temporarily lower the blood pressure, allowing the user to take deeper breaths. This, in turn, can have a positive effect on our physical response to stress (6).

CBD Oil for Sleep

Anxiety is one of the major contributors to sleep deprivation, which is one of the reasons why people use CBD oil for sleep disorders. Aside from that, CBD influences the functioning of our circadian rhythm.

In other words, CBD regulates our sleep-wake cycle. Taking lower doses in the morning may not only reduce anxiety but also improve focus and productivity (7). With heightened daily alertness throughout the day, our body starts to receive signals that it has done enough work for the day and it’s time to go to bed. Consistent supplementation with CBD can help the body manage its melatonin levels, which is a hormone that helps the body set the right gears in motion to fall asleep faster

On the opposite side, higher doses taken in the evening may promote sedation on top of the aforementioned lowering of the blood pressure. Many people use CBD oil an hour or two before going to bed to help themselves get more restful sleep (8).

Studies have shown that CBD also helps us stay longer in the deep sleep stage while reducing REM disorders.

CBD Oil for Metabolism & Low Energy Levels

As mentioned, low doses of CBD taken throughout the day can stimulate our energy levels, which is a common problem among people with thyroid disorders. Another issue with compromised thyroid health is disrupted metabolism, which results in weight gain and feelings of tiredness.

CBD is known to regulate metabolism through its interaction with the ECS. One positive effect worth mentioning is CBD’s ability to promote the fat browning effect.

Fat browning refers to the conversion of white fat cells to brown fat cells (9). The brown cells are more effective when it comes to converting fat to energy, helping individuals burn more calories as a result. On top of that, cannabinoids may have a positive effect on metabolism through improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin and reducing blood sugar levels as a result.

A 2013 review of the existing studies on cannabis and metabolism showed that regular cannabis users have lower fasting insulin resistance, lower blood sugar levels, and smaller waist circumference. However, the review looked into the efficacy of cannabinoids on metabolism in general, not CBD alone (10).

CBD Oil for Pain

Problems with thyroid health often involve episodes of pain, especially in the joints and muscles. CBD has been shown to mitigate pain signaling through the indirect interaction with opioid and vanilloid receptors in the brain, which modulate pain perception (11). CBD also has strong anti-inflammatory properties, which could potentially help reach the underlying cause of pain (12).

Does CBD Oil Help with Inflammation in Thyroid?

a women holding a cbd oil dropper on a pink background

A high-quality CBD oil may address a variety of thyroid dysfunctions. This underperformance includes hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, goiter, thyroiditis, and thyroid storm.

All of the above conditions are triggered by chronic inflammation of the thyroid gland due to the body’s autoaggressive actions on this organ.

CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory compound. Multiple studies have proven the role of cannabinoids in reducing organ and tissue inflammation.

Although research on the efficacy of thyroid disorders is in its infancy, current studies regarding CBD’s influence on hormonal activity is promising.

However, the amount of research is insufficient to define CBD as an effective treatment for thyroid health problems; we need more clinical trials to come to this conclusion.

CBD and Thyroid Medication Interactions

The topic of CBD-drug interactions is a complex one. CBD is known to inhibit the activity of the Cytochrome p450 system, a set of enzymes responsible for metabolizing the active ingredients in medications. This applies to both prescription and OTC meds.

When you take CBD along with thyroid medication, the aforementioned interaction may result in either subtherapeutic effects or toxic levels of the drugs in the bloodstream.

In the first scenario, your primary medicine may lose efficacy and thus fail to provide the desired effects.

The second scenario is more negative because it entails the risk of experiencing the second-hand side effects that don’t result from CBD alone but rather from the above interaction.

If you want to avoid CBD-drug interactions, we encourage you to consult a doctor before buying a CBD product for thyroid health.

Does CBD Oil Interact with Levothyroxine?

Having read about potential CBD-drug interactions might have you wonder whether you should totally ditch CBD when taking thyroid medications, such as levothyroxine.

Levothyroxine is the most popular thyroid medication. Like many other pharmaceuticals, it is processed by the same group of enzymes as CBD.

In simple words, when you take CBD oil with levothyroxine at one time, they will likely compete for the place in the liver. Therefore, using these two products together may be counterproductive.

We have looked into many forums for patients with thyroid disorders who also take CBD for their conditions. The vast majority reports little to no side effects, but they underline the importance of having a 2-hour gap between one compound and the other.

Again, the only person qualified to rule out any recommendations in this subject is an endocrinologist, preferably one with sufficient knowledge about cannabis. No two individuals are the same, so what works for you (or is safe for you) won’t necessarily provide the same results for another person.

Final Thoughts on CBD and Thyroid Health

Due to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), CBD allows individuals to take on an alternative route to managing the level of thyroid hormones in the blood. This, in turn, holds promise for patients with thyroid disorders who are apprehensive about conventional methods.

Most hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism cases can be dealt with a properly adjusted dose of thyroid hormone. Healthy nutrition and an active lifestyle can also contribute to the mitigation of symptoms.

CBD oil can support thyroid treatment by helping the body regulate its critical functions. However, CBD for thyroid conditions is a subject that still requires more research.

Those interested in trying CBD should seek medical advice from a doctor. Making changes to one’s health care routine without the supervision of a qualified physician can do more harm than good. Doctors also have to be notified if a person is already taking thyroid medications or any other prescription meds that could potentially interact with CBD.

References:

  1. Lakiotaki, Eleftheria et al. “Clinical Significance of Cannabinoid Receptors CB1 and CB2 Expression in Human Malignant and Benign Thyroid Lesions.” BioMed research international vol. 2015 (2015): 839403. doi:10.1155/2015/839403
  2. Xiong, Wei et al. “Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors.” The Journal of experimental medicine vol. 209,6 (2012): 1121-34. doi:10.1084/jem.20120242
  3. Borowska, Magdalena et al. “The effects of cannabinoids on the endocrine system.” Endokrynologia Polska vol. 69,6 (2018): 705-719. doi:10.5603/EP.a2018.0072
  4. Russo, Ethan B et al. “Agonistic properties of cannabidiol at 5-HT1a receptors.” Neurochemical research vol. 30,8 (2005): 1037-43. doi:10.1007/s11064-005-6978-1
  5. Pretzsch, Charlotte Marie et al. “Effects of cannabidiol on brain excitation and inhibition systems; a randomised placebo-controlled single dose trial during magnetic resonance spectroscopy in adults with and without autism spectrum disorder.” Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology vol. 44,8 (2019): 1398-1405. doi:10.1038/s41386-019-0333-8
  6. Jadoon, Khalid A et al. “A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study.” JCI insight vol. 2,12 e93760. 15 Jun. 2017, doi:10.1172/jci.insight.93760
  7. Murillo-Rodríguez, Eric et al. “Potential effects of cannabidiol as a wake-promoting agent.” Current neuropharmacology vol. 12,3 (2014): 269-72. doi:10.2174/1570159X11666131204235805
  8. Babson, Kimberly A et al. “Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of Literature.” Current psychiatry reports vol. 19,4 (2017): 23. doi:10.1007/s11920-017-0775-9
  9. Parray, Hilal Ahmad, and Jong Won Yun. “Cannabidiol promotes browning in 3T3-L1 adipocytes.” Molecular and cellular biochemistry vol. 416,1-2 (2016): 131-9. doi:10.1007/s11010-016-2702-5
  10. Penner, Elizabeth A et al. “The impact of marijuana use on glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance among US adults.” The American journal of medicine vol. 126,7 (2013): 583-9. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2013.03.002
  11. Russo, Ethan B. “Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain.” Therapeutics and clinical risk management vol. 4,1 (2008): 245-59. doi:10.2147/tcrm.s1928
  12. Nagarkatti, Prakash et al. “Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs.” Future medicinal chemistry vol. 1,7 (2009): 1333-49. doi:10.4155/fmc.09.93

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