Grave’s Disease and Trigeminal Neuralgia
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Name not given
Posted on: February 24, 1999

I have Graves disease and would like to know of any herbal treatments that you may know about. I took radio active iodene a month ago and I am on beta blockers. I also take potassium iodene. Also I have a friend who is suffering from Trigeminal Neuralgia. The pain is getting to her. Are there any herbs to help stop the pain?

Grave’s Disease, where the thyroid gland is overactive, is serious and complex, so should not be treated independently. A good health care practitioner must be consulted. The following information may be discussed with a herbalist or naturopath who is k nowledgeable about the disease. The wrong herbal medication will cause seriously adverse effects.

Some of the symptoms of an overactive thyroid are: rapid heartbeat, sweating, hunger, weight loss, heat intolerance and nervousness.

Common orthodox treatment includes beta blockers and radioactive iodine. Beta blockers slow the rapid heart rate but do not affect the thyroid. The thyroid gland function is controlled by iodine. Continued radioactive iodine treatments will kill off th e thyroid gland, so that the patient becomes hypothyroid and dependent on thyroid hormone medication for life. Before suggesting alternate therapy, your health practitioner will analyze your current state between hyper- and hypo- thyroid after taking rad iation.

For hyperthyroid, the following herbs are often used:

* Bugleweed (Lycopus europaeus or Lycopus virginicus): James Duke in "The Green Pharmacy" (available at Richters) states that it has "a considerable folk history for treating thyroid conditions and modern research supports this use. This herb inhibits iodine metabolism and reduces the amount of hormone that’s produced by the t hyroid cells"

* Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis): James Duke states that studies show decreased blood and pituitary levels of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone after a single injection. Oral doses may have the same effect.

* Dandelion root is used to support the liver in processing hormones, encouraging their elimination to avoid a toxic build up in the blood.

* Calming nervines such as Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) and Oats (Avena sativa) are used to relax and strengthen the nervous system.

* Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) is used for slowing a rapid heart beat.

In the diet, avoid sugar, alcohol and caffeine, which are stimulating

Gentle, relaxing exercise such as Tai Chi or Yoga, are supportive.

Some thyroid links on the internet are:,1711,E,00.html (bulletin boards on a number of subjects, including natural medicines, homeopathy, etc.) (A very active thyroid bulletin board) (another Bulletin Board) (American Medical Association) (Mayo Clinic, Dep’t of Opthamology) (stories from people with Grave’s) (Cdn. Health Guides) (National Grave’s Disease Federation) (some good links on alternative medicines and therapies) (information on test procedures) (other links) (one individual’s personal account of Grave’s)

Trigeminal Neuralgia is facial pain along the trigeminal nerve of the face. Herbs used to relieve the pain include Chamomile, Valerian, St. John’s Wort and White Willow.

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) tea may be drunk freely. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) may be taken as a tincture: half a teaspoon three times a day. St. John’s Wort feeds the nerves, allowing relaxation. Half a teaspoon of the tincture can be taken three times a day. White willow, like aspirin, contains salicylic acid. A tea can be made by simmering half a teaspoon of the dried inner bark in a cup of water for 15 minutes."

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