If you have Graves’ Disease, or any other form of hyperthyroidism, and are considering radioactive iodine to treat your condition, you might want to first look into other types of treatment methods. Many people don’t realize the potential consequences of receiving treatment with radioactive iodine. As a healthcare professional and someone who was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, I can tell you that avoiding radioactive iodine was one of the best choices I ever made.
To better understand why you should avoid this harsh type of treatment, it’s important to at least have a basic understanding of what this treatment does, as well as the potential consequences if you choose this treatment method. The thyroid gland contains iodine, which it needs in order to manufacture the thyroid hormones. Radioactive iodine is usually given orally to the patient. It then moves through the bloodstream to the thyroid gland, and essentially destroys many of the cells of the thyroid gland to prevent it from producing thyroid hormone.
If you visit Google and type in “radioactive iodine”, one of the first articles listed talks about how there are few side effects when taking radioactive iodine, and that these side effects don’t occur too frequently. But then the author casually tells the reader the following: “Once the thyroid becomes underactive, a single daily pill of thyroid hormone, T4, must be taken for life. Although most patients are completely cured, a few people will need a second treatment.”
Radioactive Iodine IS NOT a Cure For Graves’ Disease
To summarize what this doctor said, by receiving radioactive iodine you will be completely cured of hyperthyroidism, but will become hypothyroid for the rest of your life, and will be forced to take synthetic or natural thyroid hormone daily…for as long as you live. Call me insane, but this doesn’t sound like a cure to me. And when treating a disorder such as Graves’ Disease, you need to keep in mind that radioactive iodine does nothing to address the immune system component of this autoimmune disorder, which is extremely important.
So when someone with Graves’ Disease receives radioactive iodine treatment, it will most likely be successful in stopping the overproduction of thyroid hormone. This of course will get rid of your hyperthyroid symptoms. But here are the following disadvantages of receiving radioactive iodine for Graves’ Disease:
1) You will most likely become hypothyroid for the rest of your life. So once again, this means that you probably will have to take synthetic or natural thyroid hormone daily…forever. Now to be frank, this isn’t the case with everyone, as while some people will need to take thyroid hormone daily, others who are told they will need to take it forever might be able to restore their health if put on a natural treatment protocol. Of course this depends on how much damage was done to the thyroid gland.
2) It does nothing to address the immune system component. Even though radioactive iodine should help to reduce or stop the production of thyroid hormone and thus help with the hyperthyroid symptoms, it won’t do anything to help strengthen your immune system. This will leave you more susceptible to future autoimmune disorders.
3) It does nothing to address the underlying cause of your disorder. In addition to not addressing the immune system component, if other areas in your body have led to the development of your condition, such as your adrenal glands, gastrointestinal system, etc., receiving this type of treatment won’t do anything to address the cause and/or contributing factors of your disorder.
If you have hyperthyroidism but not Graves’ Disease, then while you might not need to worry about addressing the immune system component, you do need to understand that receiving this treatment can still have harsh consequences. Sure, I will admit that most cases of hypothyroidism are typically not potentially life threatening, as a severe case of hyperthyroidism can be. On the other hand, when you understand how the thyroid gland affects every single cell and tissue in our body, you still should think twice about receiving this therapy.
When Is Radioactive Iodine Really Necessary?
I’m not suggesting that RAI is never necessary under any set of circumstances. What I am telling you is that it is an extreme form of treatment, and in most cases should be considered as a last option. After all, once your thyroid gland is destroyed, it is difficult, and sometimes impossible to undo the damage. There are without question situations when someone might need radioactive iodine treatment, such as with certain cases of thyroid cancer. Others might need this type of treatment when the symptoms are severe and they haven’t responded to any other types of treatment.
Near the date of writing this article, a major league baseball player was recently diagnosed with hyperthyroidism (not Graves’ Disease). Fortunately, his doctor recommended rest and a diet change. While his condition is considered to be mild at this point of time, don’t think that mild cases of hyperthyroidism are always treated conservatively. As proof of this, I recently consulted with someone who many years ago received radioactive iodine for a mild case of hyperthyroidism, even though she wasn’t experiencing any symptoms whatsoever. She has been taking synthetic thyroid hormone daily ever since, when a conservative approach might have initially worked.
What Other Options Do You Have?
So what other treatment options are available besides radioactive iodine for people with Graves’ Disease, or just a hyperthyroid condition by itself? There are basically three options:
Option #1: Antithyroid drugs. Methimazole is a common antithyroid drug that is recommended by some endocrinologists. Many will also recommend a beta blocker, such as propanolol, to help control the symptoms.
Option #2: Natural treatment methods. Most people with Graves’ Disease are unaware that there are natural treatment methods that just might be able to restore their health back to normal. Of course not everyone can be helped with natural treatment methods. And due to the severity of this condition, many people should still use prescription drugs to help control the symptoms when first beginning the natural treatment protocol.
Option #3: No treatment. Choosing not to receive any type of treatment when diagnosed with Graves’ Disease can be pretty risky. This condition can become life threatening, so you should choose some type of effective treatment, whether it be conventional treatment methods or a natural treatment protocol.
It’s of course up to you to decide what treatment method is right for you. When I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease I knew about the potential consequences of receiving radioactive iodine treatment. Fortunately I had a somewhat conservative endocrinologist, as she recommended that I take Methimazole, plus a beta blocker to help control my symptoms. And while I did consider taking the medication, I decided to consult with a natural doctor first.
To make a long story short, I decided not to take the prescription drugs and began a natural treatment protocol. And I ultimately ended up receiving great results. Not only did the treatment protocol relieve my symptoms, but my follow up blood tests (TSH, free T4, free T3, etc.) looked great! I also had my adrenals tested early on and these levels (which were not good to begin with) improved as well.
And even though I’m a natural healthcare professional, like many people who have Graves’ Disease and hyperthyroidism in general, I was skeptical as to whether or not natural treatment methods would help with such a severe condition. And by no means am I suggesting that you don’t take medication for your disorder, as some people with really severe symptoms do need to take the prescription drugs to control the symptoms. And as I mentioned earlier, some people will even need to receive radioactive iodine.
The goal here was just to make you aware that there are other treatment options besides radioactive iodine, and that at the very least you should receive a second opinion before you receive this extreme treatment. After all, you only have one thyroid gland, and so before receiving this treatment you want to be 100% certain that this is what you really need.