The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland, at the base of your neck, which is responsible for coordinating many of the body’s activities. This gland manufactures hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism. There are several different disorders that can arise when there are problems with your thyroid. The most common disorders include Graves’ disease, hypothyroidism, goiters, Hashimoto’s disease, postpartum thyroiditis, and thyroid nodules. Addressing these disorders through proper medical care and maintaining thyroid health are very important factors in order to prevent potentially serious health complications.
The thyroid gland is part of an intricate network called the endocrine system. This system is responsible for regulating and producing hormones in the body, though there are more organs that play a role including the pituitary gland, ovaries, testes, adrenal glands, and the pancreas. Together these organs and glands help your body maintain its metabolism, growth & development, sexual function, appetite, blood pressure, and sleep cycles.
The thyroid’s primary job is to help dictate how your body uses or stores energy. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for this little power plant to have problems. At any time and any age, it is possible to develop a thyroid condition in which it is unable to function properly without outside help. In fact, women are five times more likely to develop thyroid problems than men.
Thyroid conditions can be broken up into two groups: (1) hyperthyroidism which is too much hormone production and (2) hypothyroidism which is when there is not enough hormone production. There are several subcategories of each depending on the cause. Thyroid issues can also come from secondary causes like an underlying autoimmune disorder, medications, surgery, iodine deficiency, radiation, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and more.
With either hypothyroid or hyperthyroid symptoms, your provider will need to do blood testing to check hormone levels and possibly look for the presence of antibodies. If there are physical abnormalities present, then further workup using ultrasound, or even potentially a biopsy may be necessary. These tests can help rule out thyroid cancer and other serious conditions. Always talk to your provider first if you are worried about thyroid symptoms or any health concerns before taking cannabinoids. Keeping all of these details in mind, let’s take a look into how your thyroid can muck up your body by causing hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism conditions are caused by an overactive thyroid gland. Graves’ disease is the most common of these conditions and it can be very dangerous if untreated because it can damage the heart and other important organs. Though we don’t know why the thyroid can overgrow and cause thyroid nodules, doctors know that nodules can also cause the gland to become overactive. Only in 5% of cases do the nodules actually contain cancer. Goiters, which is additionally another type of thyroid overgrowth, can also cause health issues, though we know that they can be caused by not eating enough iodine which is often found in iodized table salt.
These conditions are caused by the thyroid’s inability to produce enough of its hormones. Most cases of these conditions are mild unless it occurs in children and teens. The benefits of medically treating mild or “subclinical” hypothyroidism in adults are still unclear, aside from possibly reducing the risk of a heart attack. However, in Hashimoto’s disease, also called chronic autoimmune lymphocytic thyroiditis, autoimmune antibodies cause damage to the gland causing it to underproduce thyroid hormone. It is very important to talk to your provider about the potential benefits and risks of any treatments you are considering, including traditional thyroid medications and cannabis.
An important consideration is that both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism patients can experience anxiety, depression, pain, inflammation, and even enlargement of the gland as well as nausea and vomiting.
Now that we know a bit about what can happen when the thyroid isn’t working properly, we can talk about how the cannabinoids found in cannabis can potentially be used as an effective treatment for your symptoms. Since you can have a variety of symptoms stemming from the endocrine system, you need a medical solution that will target as many of those symptoms as possible with minimal side effects and that is exactly where cannabis may be effective for your personal wellness goals.
Researchers from the European Journal of Endocrinology believe that cannabis can affect the thyroid after it is consumed by how it interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). They found in rats that cannabis can activate CB1 cannabinoid receptors, which are able to modulate thyroid hormones T3 and T4. Though this has yet to be reproduced in a study on people, this is a strong indicator that medical marijuana can have a positive influence on the thyroid hormone levels through the ECS.
A different study examining data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) also found some interesting correlations regarding the production of thyroid hormones and cannabis use. Though the data did not show a correlation between thyroid dysfunction and cannabis use, using cannabis was shown to have a significant correlation with lower thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels. This information requires more research in order to clearly show if the correlation is related to actual marijuana use and how this information plays into our understanding of using it for treating thyroid-related symptoms.
With the research still coming in about using medical cannabis for thyroid disorders, many patients anecdotally recommend its use to others. Different cannabis strains that you may find helpful to try along with the primary symptoms they target are listed below. Please remember that using cannabis cannot replace the advice from your endocrinologist or other specialized providers.
|Symptom||Why Cannabis||Recommended Strains|
|Pain||One of the best-known benefits of consuming cannabis is how effective it can be for chronic and perhaps some acute pain management and reduction.||ACDC, Blueberry Headband, Master Kush, The White, Blackberry Kush|
|Inflammation of the thyroid||Cannabis consumption could possibly reduce the inflammation in the thyroid through the endocannabinoid system in your body and its’ close relationship to the endocrine system. Further study is needed here to determine clinical significance.||CBD Mango Haze, Grand Doggy Purps, CBD Blue Shark, ACDC|
|Weight loss||If you want to pick up the weight you have lost from your condition, consuming cannabis will stimulate your appetite so you can eat more regularly. Just remember to make smart food choices.||Royal Cookies, Pineapple Kush, Purple Queen, Sour Diesel, Amnesia Haze|
If you want to lose some of the weight you have gained, consuming cannabis that is high in THCV may help suppress the appetite.
|Tangie, Girl Scout Cookies, Durban Poison, Jack the Ripper, Willie Nelson|
|Hormone imbalance||Research shows that the cannabinoids in cannabis help to maintain and balance the body’s homeostasis and that cannabis plays a significant impact on the endocrine system.||Cannatonic, Blue Dream, Pineapple Kush, Harlequin, Dutch Treat, Jillybean|
|Anxiety||Cannabis and reduced anxiety are the best of friends. Consuming cannabis has proven to reduce stress and anxiety, despite the strain you consume. However, strains specifically for anxiety may be better if you are not a regular cannabis consumer.||ACDC, Granddaddy Purple, Jack Herer, Canna-Tsu, Jillybean, Purple Urkle|
|Depression||The research on cannabis and depression is still a bit contradictory. However, we do know that cannabis can alleviate the symptoms of depression, even if it does not eliminate depression entirely.||Cinex, Jack Herer, Harlequin, Cannatonic, Blackberry Kush, Granddaddy Purple|
|Nausea and Vomiting||Cannabis is very effective in minimizing nausea and reducing the need to vomit.||Blue Diesel, Lavender Kush, Grapefruit, Sour Strawberry, Blueberry Jack, Tangie Cookies|
|Fatigue||Strains, categorized as Sativa, are energizing and can help push through moments of fatigue. Strains, categorized as Indica, can help patients get better sleep to prevent fatigue. However, fatigue is one of the most common side effects of excess cannabinoids.||For energy: Durban Poison, Jillybean, Ghost Train Haze, Cocolope
For better sleep: Tahoe OG Kush, Purple Kush, Northern Lights
As you can see, cannabis most likely plays an important role to play in maintaining overall wellbeing and thyroid health. Cannabis may not be able to cure you of thyroid conditions but it may minimize symptoms. Adverse effects are common but tend to be mild and temporary. They may include dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, fatigue, somnolence, euphoria, vomiting, disorientation, drowsiness, confusion, loss of balance, and hallucinations. More time and research will tell if cannabis may even reduce the need for pharmaceutical medication for thyroid conditions.
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