Hyperthyroidism refers to an overactive thyroid gland that is producing too much thyroid hormone, which regulates the body’s metabolism.

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Hyperthyroidism is diagnosed by having increased levels of the thyroid hormones produced by the thyroid gland, causing a decreased level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). The prevalence rate of hyperthyroidism is approximately 0.5%.1 In subclinical hyperthyroidism, patients have normal thyroid levels but an abnormal TSH. They may not experience any symptoms and may progress to hyperthyroidism in the future. A major cause of hyperthyroidism is autoimmunity, with the body forming auto-antibodies that stimulate the thyroid gland to release excessive amounts of thyroid hormone. A Nutritarian diet, therefore, can play a large role in the prevention and treatment of hyperthyroidism.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive sweating
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry, irritated eyes or even bulging of the eyes seen in Grave’s disease
  • Goiter or enlarged thyroid gland
  • Hair loss
  • Infertility

Causes and risk factors for hyperthyroidism include

  • Autoimmunity (Grave’s disease)
  • Thyroid nodules
  • Inflammation of the thyroid gland
  • Thyroid tumor
  • Iodine supplementation
  • Medications like Amiodarone or contrast dye for radiology tests
  • Stress
  • Low nutrient diet high in processed foods and animal products promotes autoimmunity, inflammation, and growth of tumors
  • Tobacco use
  1. Aoki Y, Belin RM, Clickner R, et al. Serum TSH and total T4 in the United States population and their association with participant characteristics: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 1999-2002). Thyroid 2007, 17:1211-1223.

Action Plan


  • A Nutritarian diet, with plenty of high-nutrient GBOMBS (greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, and seeds), improves gut health which in turn, improves autoimmune conditions. It also reduces inflammation and will potentially decrease tumor growths and nodules.
  • When diagnosed with subclinical hyperthyroidism, it may be beneficial to avoid gluten to prevent the progression to overt hyperthyroidism. Patients with autoimmune thyroid disease are more likely to suffer from celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
  • Over the last 25 years, I have seen numerous individuals reverse this condition through nutritional excellence, some of them had to take anti-thyroid medications for months until the nutritional program started to work.
  • Some cases, however, are non-responsive and still require medications and eventual radioactive iodine and/or partial thyroidectomy to resolve the condition.

Stress reduction

The development of Grave’s disease often follows a stressful event.1 Stress reduction and meditation is helpful in the treatment of hyperthyroidism.

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  1. Matos-Santos A, Nobre EL, Costa JG, et al. Relationship between the number and impact of stressful life events and the onset of Graves' disease and toxic nodular goitre. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf) 2001, 55:15-19.

Ask The Doctor

The following are sample questions from the Ask the Doctor Community Platinum and higher members can post their health questions directly to Dr. Fuhrman. (All members can browse questions and answers.)


I have seen conflicting research on whether people with hyperthyroidism should take or avoid iodine. I have primarily read that foods and supplements with iodine should be avoided, but then, I recently saw an article claiming taking it would actually heal or improve the condition.

What is your understanding and recommendation on this? I follow a Nutritarian diet about 90% of the time and have hyperthyroidism, Grave’s disease, and thyroid eye disease.


Hyperthyroidism is an autoimmune disease. That means the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. Iodine deficiency is rare. Both too little and too much iodine is harmful, but that has nothing to do with your thyroid disease. You should follow my high green diet, which is explained more in the November 2004 newsletter. It is the total program and the high amount of nutrient-rich produce that make this program so beneficial for hyperthyroidism.


Is hyperthyroidism always an autoimmune disorder?

Should someone with a thyroid disorder be tested for celiac disease?

Is it better to avoid gluten altogether (even without an intolerance)?


Grave‘s disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism and is an autoimmune disease. One can also get hyperthyroidism from multinodular goiter, benign adenomas (growths that produce thyroid hormone on their own), and thyroid cancers. Various forms of thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid) can produce temporary hyperthyroidism. Since the autoimmune kind is most common (but you should follow up with your endocrinologist to determine the cause of your hyperthyroidism), following the autoimmune protocol in the November 2004 newsletter would be beneficial, and yes, it involves avoiding gluten.


I just had lab tests done which showed a TSH of 0.01. I definitely have the symptoms that go along with a thyroid problem, fatigue and weakness being the greatest complaints. How should I proceed? How much can diet do for this problem? Free T3 and free T4 were not done. Do they need to be?


Make an appointment with your doctor. You don‘t want to wait, as the symptoms related to hyperthyroidism can be debilitating. Hyperthyroidism can cause serious problems, including heart arrhythmias.

You should have more tests, including the other thyroid tests.

I have treated patients with the early phases of autoimmune hyperthyroidism and seen complete recoveries, enabling them to avoid thyroid radiation and surgery.

In other words, besides measuring the disease activity and getting more tests done, you should begin the strictest version of the autoimmune protocol (November 2004 newsletter) immediately.