Can Leaky Gut Syndrome Cause Graves' Disease

Graves' Disease involves the excess production of thyroid hormone, which in turn is caused by an autoimmune response. The immune system produces antibodies that stimulate the TSH receptors, thus causing the thyroid gland to produce a large amount of thyroid hormone. But what in turn triggers the autoimmune response? There are numerous factors which can cause this, but one of the most overlooked causes is a leaky gut.

I consult with many people with Graves' Disease, and I personally was diagnosed with this condition and used natural treatment methods to restore my health back to normal. In most cases, leaky gut syndrome isn't the primary cause of an autoimmune thyroid condition, but it is something that needs to be considered. While other factors such as weak adrenal glands, mineral deficiencies, heavy metal toxicities, and hormone imbalances can cause or contribute to a condition such as Graves' Disease, one's digestive health can play a big role in the development of this condition.

What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

For someone with a healthy gastrointestinal tract, the cells of the intestine will be tight, and as a result won't allow larger molecules to pass through such as proteins and bacteria. But due to numerous factors that I will discuss shortly, the health of the intestines can become compromised, which in turn can allow these larger substances to go through the intestines, and they will end up in the bloodstream. The immune system will look at these molecules as being foreign invaders, and the immune system will react to them. This potentially can trigger an autoimmune response.
Of course most endocrinologists don't consider the cause of these conditions, and so for someone with Graves' Disease they will almost always recommend either antithyroid drugs or radioactive iodine. And while conventional medicine does have its place and is sometimes necessary, the problem is that for someone who has a condition such as leaky gut syndrome, these conventional medical treatments won't do anything to correct the cause of the problem. As a result, antithyroid medication and RAI might help with the excess secretion of thyroid hormone, but they won't do anything to address the autoimmune response.

On the other hand, natural treatment methods will try to correct the leaky gut problem, suppress the autoimmune response, get rid of the inflammation, and also will address other areas of the body that might be compromised. So if someone has weak adrenal glands, then the goal will be to restore the health of the adrenals. If someone has one or more mineral deficiencies, then these will also be addressed. So even if leaky gut syndrome is the main cause, a good natural endocrine doctor will address other affected areas to help the person achieve overall optimal health.

Some Of The Different Causes Of Leaky Gut Syndrome

As for what causes a leaky gut to occur, the most common cause is poor dietary habits over a number of years. Eating a diet high in refined foods and sugars, a lot of fast food, and/or drinking a lot of alcohol can all lead to digestive issues, including leaky gut syndrome. In addition, some of the common food allergens can also lead to problems with the gut. Two of the most common food allergens are gluten and dairy, and this is why I recommend for most people to at least go on a gluten and dairy free trial for a minimum of four to six weeks.

Besides dietary factors, other things which can lead to a leaky gut include dealing with chronic stress, which of course is something just about everyone experiences these days. Certain medications such as antibiotics and NSAIDS can cause problems with the gastrointestinal tract. Infections and parasites can also cause problems.

Leaky Gut Syndrome and Natural Treatment Methods

When it comes to treating leaky gut syndrome naturally, one needs to start by cleaning up their diet. So it's important to eat mostly whole foods, minimize the refined foods and sugars, stop eating fast food and avoid trans fats, and as I mentioned earlier, consider going on a gluten and dairy free trial. As for beverages, drink plenty of purified water, and minimize your consumption of caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and sugary drinks. Ideally one will want to cut these out completely, although I know some people won't stop drinking coffee under any set of circumstances. While it's more important to avoid soda and other sugary soft drinks and juices, one does need to be careful when it comes to their caffeine intake.

For those who deal with chronic stress, improving one's stress handling skills is very important. If one took antibiotics, then this affects the gut flora, and so this needs to be addressed as well. Probiotics can definitely help with this, but other supplements and herbs might also need to be incorporated. Of course if an infection or parasites is responsible for the leaky gut then this needs to be taken care of as well.

Detecting and correcting a leaky gut problem can be a challenge, which is why it's a good idea to speak with a natural healthcare professional. In addition to finding out whether you have leaky gut syndrome or not, they should also evaluate other areas of your body. After all, while most endocrinologists label Graves' Disease as being incurable, many people can be put into a permanent state of remission by following a natural treatment protocol. Of course this isn't an easy process, as it's definitely easier to take medication or receive radioactive iodine treatment. But for those who are willing to take responsibility for their health, following a natural treatment protocol can be a great option.

So hopefully you have a better understanding of what leaky gut syndrome is, and also realize the connection between this condition and Graves' Disease. Although digestive problems usually aren't the main cause of autoimmune thyroid conditions such as Graves' Disease, a leaky gut can definitely trigger an autoimmune response, and so this is something that definitely needs to be looked into. In addition, for someone with Graves' Disease who is looking to restore their health naturally, other areas of the body need to be evaluated as well.

(Posted by Dr. Eric Osansky at


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