CBD For Thyroid Health: Can It Help As Alternative Medication?
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
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
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 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 energy and focus, thus increasing 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 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
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CBD and other medications: Proceed with caution
Products containing cannabidiol (CBD) seem to be all the rage these days, promising relief from a wide range of maladies, from insomnia and hot flashes to chronic pain and seizures. Some of these claims have merit to them, while some of them are just hype. But it won’t hurt to try, right? Well, not so fast. CBD is a biologically active compound, and as such, it may also have unintended consequences. These include known side effects of CBD, but also unintended interactions with supplements, herbal products, and over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications.
Doubling up on side effects
While generally considered safe, CBD may cause drowsiness, lightheadedness, nausea, diarrhea, dry mouth, and, in rare instances, damage to the liver. Taking CBD with other medications that have similar side effects may increase the risk of unwanted symptoms or toxicity. In other words, taking CBD at the same time with OTC or prescription medications and substances that cause sleepiness, such as opioids, benzodiazepines (such as Xanax or Ativan), antipsychotics, antidepressants, antihistamines (such as Benadryl), or alcohol may lead to increased sleepiness, fatigue, and possibly accidental falls and accidents when driving. Increased sedation and tiredness may also happen when using certain herbal supplements, such as kava, melatonin, and St. John’s wort. Taking CBD with stimulants (such as Adderall) may lead to decreased appetite, while taking it with the diabetes drug metformin or certain heartburn drugs (such as Prilosec) may increase the risk of diarrhea.
CBD can alter the effects of other drugs
Many drugs are broken down by enzymes in the liver, and CBD may compete for or interfere with these enzymes, leading to too much or not enough of the drug in the body, called altered concentration. The altered concentration, in turn, may lead to the medication not working, or an increased risk of side effects. Such drug interactions are usually hard to predict but can cause unpleasant and sometimes serious problems.
Researchers from Penn State College of Medicine evaluated existing information on five prescription CBD and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cannabinoid medications: antinausea medications used during cancer treatment (Marinol, Syndros, Cesamet); a medication used primarily for muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis (Sativex, which is not currently available in the US, but available in other countries); and an antiseizure medication (Epidiolex). Overall, the researchers identified 139 medications that may be affected by cannabinoids. This list was further narrowed to 57 medications, for which altered concentration can be dangerous. The list contains a variety of drugs from heart medications to antibiotics, although not all the drugs on the list may be affected by CBD-only products (some are only affected by THC). Potentially serious drug interactions with CBD included
- a common blood thinner, warfarin
- a heart rhythm medication, amiodarone
- a thyroid medication, levothyroxine
- several medications for seizure, including clobazam, lamotrigine, and valproate.
The researchers further warned that while the list may be used as a starting point to identify potential drug interactions with marijuana or CBD oil, plant-derived cannabinoid products may deliver highly variable cannabinoid concentrations (unlike the FDA-regulated prescription cannabinoid medications previously mentioned), and may contain many other compounds that can increase the risk of unintended drug interactions.
Does the form of CBD matter?
Absolutely. Inhaled CBD gets into the blood the fastest, reaching high concentration within 30 minutes and increasing the risk of acute side effects. Edibles require longer time to absorb and are less likely to produce a high concentration peak, although they may eventually reach high enough levels to cause an issue or interact with other medications. Topical formulations, such as creams and lotions, may not absorb and get into the blood in sufficient amount to interact with other medications, although there is very little information on how much of CBD gets into the blood eventually. All of this is further complicated by the fact that none of these products are regulated or checked for purity, concentration, or safety.
The bottom line: Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if using or considering CBD
CBD has the potential to interact with many other products, including over-the-counter medications, herbal products, and prescription medications. Some medications should never be taken with CBD; the use of other medications may need to be modified or reduced to prevent serious issues. The consequences of drug interactions also depend on many other factors, including the dose of CBD, the dose of another medication, and a person’s underlying health condition. Older adults are more susceptible to drug interactions because they often take multiple medications, and because of age-related physiological changes that affect how our bodies process medications.
People considering or taking CBD products should always mention their use to their doctor, particularly if they are taking other medications or have underlying medical conditions, such as liver disease, kidney disease, epilepsy, heart issues, a weakened immune system, or are on medications that can weaken the immune system (such as cancer medications). A pharmacist is a great resource to help you learn about a potential interaction with a supplement, an herbal product (many of which have their own drug interactions), or an over-the-counter or prescription medication. Don’t assume that just because something is natural, it is safe and trying it won’t hurt. It very well might.
CBD for Thyroid Disorders
In America, approximately 20 million people suffer from some kind of thyroid disorder, and close to 60 percent of the affected don’t know about their condition.
According to the American Thyroid Association 1 women are a lot more likely to experience thyroid problems than men. Doctors usually prescribe traditional medicines to people with thyroid problems.
However, the medicines may not always work. In fact, they could end up presenting quite a few side effects. People are, therefore, seeking refuge in alternative medicines. Many studies indicate CBD can be effective at treating an array of thyroid-related issues.
Found in the endocrine system, your thyroid gland is a vital organ. It’s a butterfly-shaped, small gland located below your voice box and in front of your neck. The gland produces and gives out two important hormones – T4 (tetraiodothyronine) and T3 (triiodothyronine) – that control your body’s metabolism and determine how your cells utilize energy.
Also, the gland manages the pace of several processes, which include heart rate and body temperature. Generally, body metabolism management is critical for regulating weight, mood, and physical and mental energy levels.
Moreover, the thyroid gland converts the food you ingest into energy so that your body keeps functioning properly. Several thyroid problems are due to an atypical secretion of thyroid hormones. However, all kinds of thyroid disorder/disease have unique causes, risks, and diagnoses. It’s worth noting that many studies are pointing at how CBD could be potentially beneficial in treating thyroid diseases.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System and Their Direct Impact on the Thyroid Hormone Release
The human body’s ECS (endocannabinoid system) exerts its strong influence in different ways. For instance, it regulates poise within various processes, such as thyroid function. According to an article published by National Institute of Health (NIH) 2 , scientists have discovered that the thyroid gland’s cells have cannabinoid receptors on them.
Multiple regulations and restrictions have made it quite difficult for researchers to learn more about cannabinoids and what role they play in the treatment of a thyroid disorder. Even though human-based research on the matter isn’t extensive yet, a study 3 was carried out on animals in 2002. It discovered that CB1 receptors control thyroid hormone release.
Also, it was found cannabinoids administration had a say in thyroid hormonal activity. In 2015, another 4 was carried out by the NIH, which discovered cannabinoid receptors can theoretically be therapeutic targets for benign and malignant thyroid lesions.
Furthermore, a research study 5 carried out by the Journal of Endocrinology exhibited that endocannabinoid receptors are situated within the sections of the brain. The receptors transmit signals to the gland. This shows the likelihood of cannabinoids, such as CBD, influencing the thyroid gland’s performance and overall health.
Different thyroid disorders
A thyroid disorder is a condition that impacts the thyroid gland. Different kinds of thyroid disorders either affect the gland’s function or its structure. A disorder is usually linked to the glands either releasing excessive thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism) or too little hormones (hypothyroidism). Other specific thyroid disorders are:
What is hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism is a thyroid condition that indicates denotes an overactive thyroid gland. One out of every 100 women 6 could be suffering from this condition. It’s not common in men, however. Several conditions could cause hyperthyroidism, which includes excess iodine consumption, thyroid inflammation, tumors of the testes or ovaries, benign pituitary or thyroid gland tumors, and large quantities of tetraiodothyronine administered through medication or dietary supplements.
Grave’s disease is among the major causes of hyperthyroidism, found in approximately 70 percent of people with a hyperactive thyroid. It induces antibodies to push the thyroid into secreting too much hormone. Thyroid nodules could also cause the thyroid gland to produce its hormones in excess. This condition is called multinodular goiter or toxic nodular goiter. Increased thyroid hormone production could present the following symptoms:
- racing heart
- increased sweating
- trouble sleeping
- brittle nails and hair
- thin skin
- weight loss
- muscle weakness
- bulging eyes
CBD for Thyroid – How CBD can help treat hyperthyroidism
Patients with hyperthyroidism usually report major or minor relief from negative symptoms of their disease. Regularly using CBD oil for thyroid helps individuals normalize their body weight, by putting an end to diarrhea issues and reestablishing their appetite. CBD for thyroid disorder gets rid of irritability and anxiety-related sleep disorders. Moreover, CBD for thyroid disorder helps with heart function regulation, the trembling of fingers and hands, and muscular aches, if any.
Does CBD affect thyroid medication?
There has been no clinical evidence showing interactions between CBD and thyroid medication such as Levothyroxine. A good way to get an idea if CBD will interact with your thyroid medication is to look for the “grapefruit warning” on the label.
More than 85 drugs 7 interact with grapefruit, however no thyroid medications are present on that list.
Nonetheless, we always recommend you read the label of your medication carefully and always consult with a doctor before taking CBD in combination with any medication.
What is hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is the reverse of hyperthyroidism. In this case, the thyroid gland is unable to produce enough hormones or is underactive. This disorder usually follows Hashimoto’s disease, the damage inflicted by radiation treatment, or thyroid gland removal surgery. While not all individuals with Hashimoto’s exhibit hypothyroid signs, thyroid antibodies could be the marker for thyroid diseases in the future.