Controlling an Overactive Thyroid
by Jason S. Lupoi, Ph.D.
The American Thyroid Association estimates that 20 million Americans have some type of thyroid disorder. Globally, this number reaches 200 million people. [1,2] Thyroid disease takes two paths: hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid where your body does not produce enough of specific hormones called T3 and T4; and hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid, where your body produces too much of these hormones.
Both types of thyroid disease are more common in women than in men. Of those diagnosed with thyroid disease, approximately 99% are affected by hypothyroidism.  The most common cause of the less frequent hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease, where antibodies attack the thyroid gland causing it to produce too much T3 and T4.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism presents several symptoms, such as nervousness, mood swings, irritability, weight loss, rapid heart rate, excessive sweating, bulging eyes, and difficulty sleeping. Left untreated, an overactive thyroid can result in blood clots, stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, and an overall decreased quality of life, mirroring symptoms of depression.
There are various methods to treat hyperthyroidism. For example, the ingestion of radioactive iodine can shrink your thyroid gland and is thought to be the best-known to cure hyperthyroidism, often after as little as one dose.  Anti-thyroid medications can prevent your thyroid gland from producing too much T3 and T4. Some of these drugs, however, can cause liver problems, which in severe cases can result in death. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as a racing heart, can be controlled with beta blockers, which are drugs typically used to treat high blood pressure. In more severe cases, a thyroidectomy may be required, where a substantial portion of the thyroid gland is removed.
Since Graves’ disease can affect one’s eyes, causing pain, inflammation, and sensitivity to light and wind, having access to and using artificial tears or topical products that provide anti-inflammatory properties can also provide relief.
Mitigating the Effects of Hyperthyroidism Through Lifestyle Changes
On the bright side, there are several natural ways to control hyperthyroidism too, primarily by altering one’s everyday lifestyle. One example is to avoid foods that contain iodine, such as seaweed, shrimp, fish, milk, cheese, and iodized salt. As well, because hyperthyroidism can lead to osteoporosis, taking Vitamin D and calcium supplements can help bolster your bones.
As with many medical conditions, getting appropriate cardiovascular exercise can help maximize muscle tone and increase your energy. Because bone density loss can occur with hyperthyroidism , resistance or strength training is recommended since it helps maintain bone density  and the recovery of skeletal muscle function . Also, hyperthyroidism causes nervousness, anxiety, and irritability, and finding ways to relax can be vital to help reduce the impact of hyperthyroidism.
How Mushrooms Can Help
Through various studies, cordyceps mushrooms have been evaluated for treating Graves’ disease.  Of the 44 sufferers of the disease that participated in one study, 28 were given cordyceps mushrooms. The researchers found that the mushrooms helped restore the balance of helper and cytotoxic T cells, both integral to our body’s immune responses.
Other mushrooms help support the gut microbiome, which in turn, can provide support for thyroid function, since thyroid and intestinal conditions often coexist.  A diet supplemented with shiitake mushrooms led to alterations in gut microbiota when tested on rats which were fed the mushrooms over 42 days.  Consumption of the mushrooms increased the abundance of Clostridium
and Bacteroides microbes that play pivotal roles in regulating gut health. 
Chaga mushrooms can also help support gut health, and one study evaluated the effects of chaga mushrooms on patients suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, both of often coexist with thyroid dysfunction. [12,13] IBD is thought to be partially caused by oxidative stress from free radicals that induce inflammation. The chaga mushrooms provided antioxidative properties, protecting the gut from oxidative stress.
There are several everyday ways to better control hyperthyroidism, starting with your diet, and ensuring that you are consuming foods and supplements that do not aggravate the condition. Mushrooms like cordyceps, shiitake, and chaga, all of which are in Spore Life Sciences Mike’s Mushroom Mix, have demonstrated their ability to boost gut health and immune responses, two integral pathways to quell the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
 American Thyroid Association. General information/press room. Accessed April 8, 2021.
 Siemens Healthineers. Women and thyroid disease. Accessed April 8, 2021.
 Chiovato L, Magri F, Carlé A. Hypothyroidism in context: Where we've been and where we're going. Adv Ther. 2019;36(Suppl 2):47-58.
 Michigan Medicine – University of Michigan. Radioactive iodine for hyperthyroidism. Accessed April 8, 2021.
 Tuchendler D, Bolanowski M. The influence of thyroid dysfunction on bone metabolism. Thyroid Res. 2014;7(1):12.
 Hong AR, Kim SW. Effects of resistance exercise on bone health. Endocrinol Metab (Seoul). 2018;33(4):435-444.
 Bousquet-Santos K, Vaisman M, Barreto ND, et al. Resistance training improves muscle function and body composition in patients with hyperthyroidism. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2006;87(8):1123-1130.
 He T, Zhao R, Lu Y, et al. Dual-directional immunomodulatory effects of Corbrin capsule on autoimmune thyroid diseases. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:1360386.
 Knezevic J, Starchl C, Tmava Berisha A, Amrein K. Thyroid-gut-axis: How does the microbiota influence thyroid function?. Nutrients. 2020;12(6):1769.
 Anwar H, Suchodolski JS, Ullah MI, et al. Shiitake culinary-medicinal mushroom, Lentinus edodes (Agaricomycetes), supplementation alters gut microbiome and corrects dyslipidemia in rats. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2019;21(1):79-88.
 Lopetuso LR, Scaldaferri F, Petito V, Gasbarrini A. Commensal Clostridia: leading players in the maintenance of gut homeostasis. Gut Pathog. 2013;5(1):23.
 Najafzadeh M, Reynolds PD, Baumgartner A, Jerwood D, Anderson D. Chaga mushroom extract inhibits oxidative DNA damage in lymphocytes of patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Biofactors. 2007;31(3-4):191-200.
 Shizuma T. Concomitant thyroid disorders and inflammatory bowel disease: A literature review. Biomed Res Int. 2016;2016:5187061.