CBD for Hashimoto’s Disease: How Can It Help?

Illustration CBD Oil and Hashimoto
Written by Nina Julia | Last updated: October 11, 2021

CBD is a powerful and versatile compound; it can help regulate various functions throughout the body, including hormonal balance.

With new research emerging every month, scientists are discovering new health benefits of CBD — but can it be used to treat Hashimoto’s disease and other thyroid conditions?

Most benefits of CBD stem from its modulatory actions on the immune system. Cannabinoid receptors are also found on the surface of hormonal glands, including the thyroid.

If you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (or any other autoimmune disease), it means your body is losing the war against an aggressive immune system.

Although there are no direct studies focusing on using CBD for Hashimoto’s, several research papers suggest that it can improve the quality of life of patients with thyroid disorders.

Today, we elaborate on how you can use CBD oil for Hashimoto’s to control its symptoms and regulate your immune system.

What Is Hashimoto’s Disease?

Hashimoto’s disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, is an autoimmune disease of the thyroid gland. It causes a person’s immune system to become aggressive toward the thyroid (autoimmunity), damaging to the point where it can’t produce its own hormones any longer.

Hashimoto’s involves inflammation of the thyroid gland and is the major contributor to hypothyroidism — a condition characterized by an underactive thyroid.

Some patients with Hashimoto’s can develop a goiter, which is a lump on the thyroid triggered by inflammation and causing neck discomfort. One way to diagnose Hashimoto’s is through blood test results that check thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroid hormones (FT4 and T4).

Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease

Hands Holding Inflamed Throat Area

Hashimoto’s disease develops more often in women. However, it can occur at any age and even men and children can suffer from it.

The most common symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Dry skin
  • Puffy face
  • Ple skin
  • Hair loss
  • Pain
  • Sensitivity to cold

The symptoms may not be noticeable at first, but as the disease progresses over the years, their severity will increase — deteriorating your quality of life.

Conventional Treatments for Hashimoto’s (High Risk)

Researchers have yet to find the underlying cause of Hashimoto’s disease and other thyroid disorders. However, the main hypothesis revolves around chronic inflammation caused by an aggressive immune system.

The conventional Hashimoto treatment involves taking levothyroxine, which is a thyroid medication using a specific hormone to level the deficiency in thyroid hormones.

Unfortunately, when you’re prescribed levothyroxine, you usually need to take it for life.

Taking high doses of the drug can have negative side effects, such as osteoporosis or irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia). Your doctor should titrate the medicine appropriately, but most of the time, the dose is gradually increased to the point where another treatment must be considered.

Meanwhile, CBD may offer a theoretically safer way to treat people with Hashimoto’s.

Can CBD Oil Help Treat Hashimoto’s?

CBD is one of over 115 cannabinoids identified in cannabis plants. Unlike the other major cannabinoid, THC, CBD doesn’t cause mind-altering effects when you take it. Researchers have found that cannabinoids, including CBD, offer remarkable anti-inflammatory properties.

A 2010 review of studies published in the journal Future Medicinal Chemistry found that daily supplementation with CBD inhibited disease progression in mice.

The research team learned that CBD decreased the amount of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are known to trigger inflammatory reactions.

Cytokines have been highlighted as one of the contributors to the onset of thyroid diseases, such as Hashimoto’s.

In a 2011 study, the authors concluded that cytokines play an important role in the pathogenesis (formation) of autoimmune disorders in the thyroid. They also found that cytokine modulation may help treat autoimmune conditions.

A 2020 study mentioned CBD and other cannabinoids as potential immunosuppressants due to their ability to block the production of inflammatory cytokines. These properties suggest that CBD — and cannabis in general — may have the potential to curb chronic inflammation in the body.

Another study showed that CBD is involved in regulating inflammatory response and expression by acting on various receptors throughout the body. The authors noted that CBD administration in animals could inhibit the release of excess cytokines.

Since CBD can reduce the number of substances that trigger inflammation, it may theoretically be used as an adjunctive treatment for Hashimoto’s — at least for symptom control.

However, there are no direct studies that would examine CBD’s impact on thyroid disorders, including Hashimoto’s disease. No clinical trials exist to prove the long-term efficacy of CBD for Hashimoto’s as a monotherapy.

How does CBD Work to Help with Hashimoto’s?

In a study published in 2017, the research team mentions that specific receptors in the human body could modulate the production of cytokines. The CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are the components of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), are said to play a part in signaling that influences cytokines.

The ECS promotes and helps to maintain homeostasis throughout the body. It regulates various physiological functions, including inflammation.

CBD influences the ECS structures, particularly the CB2 receptor — which would explain its anti-inflammatory effects.

On top of acting on CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD may also use other pathways that reduce inflammation.

Meanwhile, the authors of a 2015 study that evaluated the ECS’s role in thyroid tumors found that cannabinoid receptors are linked to tumor malignancy.

They concluded that CB1 and CB2 receptors are potential therapeutic targets for future treatments.

Another study also found that CB1 receptors of the ECS control hormone production in the thyroid.

Thyroid hormones help regulate body temperature, energy, and other important metabolic functions.

Since CBD is the modulator of the ECS, there’s a chance that it can be used to regulate thyroid conditions by acting on its structures.

However, more clinical human studies are needed to confirm CBD’s long-term efficacy in treating Hashimoto’s.

5 Reasons to Consider Taking CBD for Hashimoto’s

Looking at the above studies, this may be enough to convince you to try CBD for Hashimoto’s. That being said, there’s more to CBD and thyroid than just symptom control.

After all, conventional treatments are also focused on managing the symptoms of thyroid disorders.

Here’s why you may want to consider taking CBD for Hashimoto’s.

1. Safety Profile

If therapy is effective, that doesn’t mean it’s safe in the long run.

There are plenty of treatments in contemporary medicine which have been shown to be effective — but cause negative side effects.

On the other hand, there are plenty of therapies with the potential to treat Hashimoto’s while being very safe for our health.

The degree of a medication’s safety is referred to as its safety profile.

CBD has an excellent safety profile. Even doses as high as 1,500 mg administered daily for several weeks didn’t cause any dangerous side effects in patients.

The side effects of CBD are benign and include changes in appetite, dry mouth, dizziness, and — in case you took way too much — diarrhea.

Any healthy foods can get you these kinds of side effects if you take them in excess amounts.

According to the WHO, CBD is safe and well-tolerated in humans.

That being said, CBD can interact with many pharmaceutical medications. It can compromise the liver’s ability to metabolize these drugs, resulting in either too low or too high concentrations of the drug in the bloodstream.

If you’re unsure if you can take CBD for Hashimoto’s alongside your thyroid medications, consult a holistic doctor experienced in cannabis use.

2. Additional Benefits Aside from Hashimoto’s

Another reason to consider using CBD oil for Hashimoto’s is its versatility.

Medications are made to impact specific enzymes or receptors and may not interact with any other cellular components.

Unlike medications, herbal extracts like CBD oil can act on several different molecular pathways. CBD has over 65 such targets. It greatly helps one’s health due to its various benefits.

Additional benefits may include:

  • Reduced anxiety thanks to the modulation of GABA, serotonin, and anandamide (Hashimoto’s patients often experience anxiety)
  • Improved sleep as a result of the circadian rhythm regulation (many thyroid patients suffer from insomnia)
  • Reduced pain due to its analgesic properties (people with Hashimoto’s often have chronic pain)
  • Reduced inflammation (inflammation impacts conversion from T4 to T3)

If you have any of these symptoms, you could use CBD oil to improve your overall quality of life with Hashimoto’s.

3. Complementary Effects with Other Treatments

The current treatment paradigm for Hashimoto’s has caused many patients to look for natural alternative therapies because it’s just a standard “wait and see approach.”

As a patient, you don’t want to rely on taking synthetic hormones for life.

The good news is that you can use CBD along with other lifestyle modifications to achieve a better result. When you see the big picture, you’ll notice that Hashimoto’s requires a multifaceted approach, not just some miracle pill.

Changing your diet, reducing your stress, and supplementing CBD oil can help your body get back on track and heal itself from excess inflammation — but they don’t guarantee that you’ll be able to reverse your condition.

They are, however, much safer than conventional methods. Taking CBD oil on a daily basis can help improve the functioning of your ECS — translating into more effective management of vital functions throughout the body.

This, on top of an anti-inflammatory diet, proper stress hygiene, and an active lifestyle, can help you achieve better results for your thyroid health overall.

4. Availability

CBD oil is legal in all 50 states and you can buy it without a prescription — unlike thyroid medications, which must be prescribed by a doctor.

In most cases, patients may know more about their disease and possible treatments than their doctor and yet they’re not able to get the right medication.

Why?

Because they are limited by the doctor and the prescription.

If your doctor isn’t willing to prescribe you the medication you’re asking for, your knowledge doesn’t matter.

This problem is nonexistent with CBD and other herbal supplements.

Nevertheless, we still advise you to consult a doctor before adding CBD oil to your daily routine. Doing so will help you find the right dosage to start with — not to mention that you can avoid negative interactions with other medications.

5. Patient Success Stories

Clinical trials are important for evaluating the long-term efficacy and safety of certain medications, but all clinical trials start with anecdotal evidence, better known as success stories of patients.

Both types of evidence have strong value. While clinical studies are very helpful, they don’t always tell the full story. The results can be interpreted in any way that suits the thesis of the study’s author.

Moreover, some clinical trials aren’t published, so we don’t always get to see their results. The author simply doesn’t have to publish the study if it doesn’t show the results they were looking for.

Some studies can be run 3-4 times until they finally yield satisfying results.

Last but not least, just because studies show that something is effective doesn’t mean it will work for every individual.

Doctors are often excited about novel therapies when they read about them in scientific magazines only to find out that they’re not nearly as effective as they believe them to be in the real world.

When it comes to patient success stories, they take a different approach.

There are no controls that clinical studies can provide but they still provide value as a “proof of concept.”

Are there any direct studies on the effectiveness of CBD for Hashimoto’s?

No.

Do we see positive stories of patients who have taken it and seen great results?

Yes.

The so-called anecdotal evidence often provides inspiration for clinical trials.

How to Choose CBD Oil for Hashimoto’s

CBD Oil Line Up

CBD can be found in three major types: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolate.

The full-spectrum type of CBD is the most popular because it contains cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, and trace amounts of THC. Together, these compounds create the entourage effect, which means that the plant-based compounds work together in synergy — producing greater therapeutic effects than each of them alone.

Broad-spectrum CBD is another popular type. This option contains the same compounds as full-spectrum CBD — except for the THC content.

The third variant is CBD isolate. This is just pure CBD in crystalline or powdered form. It carries the highest dose of CBD per serving; it’s also odorless and flavorless, which is why some people prefer it over the two above formats. That being said, CBD isolates lack the entourage effect, so they are less desired among consumers.

Tips for Buying CBD Oil for Hashimoto’s

  • Look for a certificate of analysis (COA) for the chosen product. This document shows that the product has undergone proper testing and its contents match the ones that are listed on the label.
  • Read product reviews and do a solid background check on your potential vendor. If buying from a local store, make sure to check if it has the proper authorization to sell CBD extracts.
  • The best CBD oils for Hashimoto’s are made from organic hemp; it’s the most dependable source of high-quality CBD.
  • Ensure that there are no limits to the availability of CBD in your state. Hemp-derived CBD is federally legal but the state laws are dynamic, so it’s always worth it to keep yourself up to date with your local regulations surrounding cannabis.
  • Consult a holistic doctor, preferably someone experienced in cannabis use, before buying CBD products.

CBD Dosage for Hashimoto’s

Since CBD isn’t regulated by the FDA, there are no official dosage guidelines when it comes to using CBD for Hashimoto’s, or any other condition for that matter.

There are a few factors you should consider when determining your dose of CBD, including:

  • Bodyweight
  • Age
  • Metabolism
  • Tolerance to CBD
  • Severity of symptoms
  • Expected results

The best approach to starting your CBD regime is to take a small amount of CBD (5 or 10 mg) and gradually increase it until you come to the point where you experience the desired results without any side effects.

You can also use different studies on CBD for specific symptoms to analyze different dosages try them out on yourself.

How to Take CBD for Hashimoto’s

CBD is available in many different forms, including CBD oils, edibles, capsules, vapes, and topicals.

Beginners often choose edibles or capsules because they contain a fixed dose of CBD per serving. Since oral forms of CBD need to pass through the digestive system, they have a delayed onset (up to 90 minutes) but last longer than other forms (up to 10 hours).

More experienced users turn to CBD oil because it combines dosage accuracy with a higher bioavailability and faster onset. CBD oils absorb through the mucous membrane in your mouth, avoiding the first-pass metabolism in the liver. As a result, your body receives more active ingredients. The CBD also acts faster (15-30 minutes) lasting for up to 6 hours.

Vaporization offers the fastest and most effective way to consume CBD. When you inhale CBD through a vape pen, it travels to your bloodstream through lung tissues — producing almost instantaneous effects. Vapes have the highest bioavailability (56%) and they last for up to 4 hours.

For localized problems, such as inflammatory flare-ups, you can use CBD topicals such as creams, balms, lotions, or gels. They target the CB2 receptors in your skin, providing relief from inflammation and pain. The absorption rate and duration of topicals vary between different formulations.

CBD vs Other Natural Remedies for Hashimoto’s

Diet modifications are one of the first steps that a person with Hashimoto’s should take. This includes choosing animal foods rich in zinc, as well as fruits and vegetables.

Vegetables contain phytosterols, which are anti-inflammatory compounds. Low-calorie fruits have high levels of antioxidants and can help the body recover from the damage caused by inflammation.

Animal-based foods high in zinc, such as meats and eggs, are recommended several times a week. Zinc deficiency is often cited as one of the causes of hypothyroid conditions.

Iodine supplements are another possible option, but they need to be taken in the right form, as certain forms of iodine can be toxic for the body and actually exacerbate your condition.

Other Types of Thyroid Disorders

Internal Throat Area Image

Aside from Hashimoto’s disease, people can suffer from one of the following thyroid conditions that are triggered by the chronic inflammation of this gland:

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism occurs where the gland produces more hormones than the body actually needs. Excessive thyroid hormone production can result in symptoms such as irritability, fast heart rate, weight loss, muscle weakness, and nervousness.

Grave’s Disease

Grave’s Disease is another thyroid disorder that occurs when a person’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland by accident. This leads to the production of excess thyroid antibodies.

People with Grave’s disease often have high blood pressure and increased metabolism as a result of enlarged thyroid glands.

Key Takeaways on Using CBD for Hashimoto’s

CBD has been shown to reduce inflammation and pain, showing as a potential therapeutic agent in the treatment of Hashimoto’s disease.

There is some evidence to support the use of CBD in reducing chronic inflammation associated with thyroid conditions. Several studies have shown that CBD may block the excess activation of the immune system by inhibiting the release of pro-inflammatory proteins.

Researchers believe that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is involved in regulating the activity of hormonal glands — including the thyroid. By modulating cannabinoid receptors, CBD can act as an adaptogen — adjusting the production of thyroid hormones.

More clinical trials are needed to confirm CBD’s efficacy for Hashimoto in the long run, but current findings are very promising, to say the least.

You can also use CBD oil to help with other symptoms associated with Hashimoto’s, including anxiety, pain, sleep problems, and low energy levels.

Always consult a doctor before buying a CBD product for any condition. Doing so will help you figure out the best CBD dosage for your situation and avoid potential CBD-drug interactions.

Do you take CBD for Hashimoto’s? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

References:

  1. Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S. A., Hegde, V. L., & Nagarkatti, M. (2009). Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future medicinal chemistry, 1(7), 1333–1349. (1)
  2. Ganesh, B. B., Bhattacharya, P., Gopisetty, A., & Prabhakar, B. S. (2011). Role of cytokines in the pathogenesis and suppression of thyroid autoimmunity. Journal of interferon & cytokine research: the official journal of the International Society for Interferon and Cytokine Research, 31(10), 721–731. (2)
  3. Khodadadi, H., Salles, É. L., Jarrahi, A., Chibane, F., Costigliola, V., Yu, J. C., Vaibhav, K., Hess, D. C., Dhandapani, K. M., & Baban, B. (2020). Cannabidiol Modulates Cytokine Storm in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Induced by Simulated Viral Infection Using Synthetic RNA. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 5(3), 197–201. (3)
  4. Atalay, S., Jarocka-Karpowicz, I., & Skrzydlewska, E. (2019). Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 9(1), 21.
  5. Fitzgerald, J. C., Weiss, S. L., Maude, S. L., Barrett, D. M., Lacey, S. F., Melenhorst, J. J., Shaw, P., Berg, R. A., June, C. H., Porter, D. L., Frey, N. V., Grupp, S. A., & Teachey, D. T. (2017). Cytokine Release Syndrome After Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cell Therapy for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Critical care medicine, 45(2), e124–e131.
  6. Lakiotaki, E., Giaginis, C., Tolia, M., Alexandrou, P., Delladetsima, I., Giannopoulou, I., Kyrgias, G., Patsouris, E., & Theocharis, S. (2015). Clinical Significance of Cannabinoid Receptors CB1 and CB2 Expression in Human Malignant and Benign Thyroid Lesions. BioMed research international, 2015, 839403. (6)
  7. Hillard C. J. (2015). Endocannabinoids and the Endocrine System in Health and Disease. Handbook of experimental pharmacology, 231, 317–339. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-20825-1_11 (7)

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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