Learn how the popular CBD compound affects your thyroid health in this article.. Learn more about hypothyroidism with Paloma Health Thyroid disorders affect an increasing number of the global population. CBD interacts with the cannabinoid receptors located on the thyroid gland — can it help with hormonal imbalances?
How Does CBD Affect Your Thyroid Hormones?
CBD has taken the health community by storm. Indeed, this chemical compound appears in nearly all types of products, addressing all kinds of health concerns. From supplements and oils to shampoos and cosmetics, CBD is seemingly in all sorts of health goods. Because CBD has been widely available for so little time, we are still trying to learn precisely how it affects different body systems. For people with a thyroid condition, this is what we know so far about how CBD affects your thyroid gland and related thyroid hormone levels.
What is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is one of the most active ingredients of cannabis (or marijuana). It is in higher quantities in its sister plant, hemp. CBD does not create a “high” or have a psychoactive component like THC when used alone.
CBD is an oil extracted from hemp seeds. This oil is often full of healthy fats, often appearing in beauty products such as moisturizers and facial serums.
One of the most well-known and proven medical uses for CBD is managing certain types of epilepsy, especially in children. Indeed, even an FDA-approved medication (Epidiolex) contains CBD to treat a particular type of seizure condition. Beyond treating certain types of epilepsy, there is no concrete scientific evidence supporting using CBD to treat other health conditions.
With that said, numerous people and their health providers believe that CBD helps with a robust amount of health complaints and conditions, such as chronic pain, cancer pain, and joint pain.
Despite the absence of enough scientific evidence, people also use CBD oil is to anecdotally help with:
- Sleep issues
- Anxiety disorders (PTSD, panic disorders, etc.)
- Topical pain relief
- Reducing inflammation
- Hot flashes
- Neurodegenerative diseases
The endocrine and endocannabinoid systems
The endocrine system
The endocrine system is the collection of glands that release hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers that help one part of the body communicate with another part of the body.
Endocrine glands are throughout the body, and hormones constantly give and receive feedback to keep the body functioning optimally. The hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and pineal gland are all located in the brain. The thyroid and parathyroid glands are in the neck. The thymus is between your lungs. The adrenal glands are on top of your kidneys. The pancreas is behind your stomach. Ovaries or testes are located in the pelvic region.
Levels of hormones naturally fluctuate depending on the time of day and stage of life (for instance, pregnancy or menopause). However, hormones can also become imbalanced in a way that requires treatment from your healthcare provider. Such is the case with hypothyroidism, the condition in which an underactive thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones.
As part of the endocrine system, the thyroid gland helps regulate the body’s metabolism in the form of blood pressure, blood temperature, and heart rate. When your thyroid hormone production drops, your body processes slow down and change.
The endocannabinoid system
Science is starting to understand how the body responds to cannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are molecules that the body produces naturally in small amounts that act on cannabinoid receptors. The endocannabinoid system is a highly complex cellular signaling system that plays an important modulatory role in the brain, endocrine, and immune functions.
The endocannabinoid system in the body plays a role in:
In particular, the endocannabinoid systems seem to play a critical role in regulating reproductive hormones and our stress response. This system also helps to control food intake and related energy expenditure.
Within this system, the mechanics include endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes. The body naturally produces endocannabinoids, which are molecules that are similar to cannabinoids. The cannabinoid receptors within this system respond to endocannabinoids, but they also bind to THC, which is one reason why THC can have so many effects on your body,
Because CBD is different from THC, it has a different interaction with the endocannabinoid system. CBD does not appear to bind to receptors like THC but instead may prevent endocannabinoids from breaking down or attaching to a receptor for which researchers have not yet been able to identify.
Does CBD impact thyroid hormones?
Because the endocannabinoid system has the potential to affect every system in the body, there is potential that CBD may influence your endocrine system, too.
We know that endogenous cannabinoids (the ones produced by our bodies) help regulate our appetite, energy, homeostasis, and influence endocrine glands, including the pituitary gland and thyroid gland. Research does not yet know how external cannabinoids (like CBD) affect these glands and your serum thyroid hormones concentrations like TSH and T4.
What does using CBD mean for people taking thyroid medication?
Cannabinoids and thyroid hormones both play a role in regulating your metabolism. While we do not know exactly how CBD affects your metabolism, there is potential that synthetic thyroid hormone replacement medication and CBD may compete to regulate your metabolism.
Aside from uncertainties in how CBD and thyroid medication interact, there is some evidence that CBD helps reduce inflammation, which is at the root of Hashimoto’s disease, one of the leading causes of hypothyroidism. Indeed, it has immunosuppressant-like qualities, making it a potentially valuable substance for certain autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s.
Suppose you have a thyroid condition and are managing it with medication. In that case, you need to practice caution when introducing other substances which may alter your system.
Your Guide To Thyroid Medication
Optimizing your thyroid levels with thyroid hormone replacement medication is usually the first step in minimizing symptoms.
What should I do if I want to try a CBD product?
Finding balance in your thyroid levels can take a significant amount of trial and error and time. People often need to try different doses of thyroid hormone medication to see what brings their thyroid hormones to a therapeutic level. Many people also find that factors outside their medication can also throw off their thyroid function, including taking new medications and making diet changes.
If you want to try CBD, you should first check with your doctor to see if it is safe for you. It is important to know that CBD is not a regulated substance if you do get the go-ahead. The FDA considers it a dietary supplement, which are not generally monitored for quality, safety, and efficacy. This means that there is likely a lack of standardization in some CBD formulations. Thus, concentrations and strengths may differ, even in the same brand.
It is also important to keep in mind that some CBD manufacturers may make false claims of how CBD is a cure-all, even for diseases like cancer. Because there is little regulation on CBD and no concrete evidence for treating health conditions other than some types of epilepsy, it is best to explore using CBD in partnership with your doctor.
If you choose to try CBD and have checked with your doctor to rule out medication interactions, try to separate when you take your thyroid medication from when you use CBD to minimize the impact on the absorption of thyroid medication.
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 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.
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- 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
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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.