Radioactive iodine treatment is commonly recommended by endocrinologists as a “cure” for hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease. While many people who receive this treatment seem to do fine, others regret the decision to have received this treatment method. And for those who are considering to receive radioactive iodine, there of course is no way to predict who will do well after receiving the treatment, and who will be miserable. I receive emails from both categories of people, as sometimes I’ll get an email from someone who received RAI and they are very happy with their decision. On the other hand, every week I receive at least a few emails from people who received RAI and regretted their decision. And some of these people want to know if following a natural treatment protocol can restore their thyroid health, which I’ll discuss in this post.
The truth is, when someone receives radioactive iodine there really is no way to predict whether or not their thyroid health can be restored back to normal. This depends on how much damage has been done to the thyroid gland. And this in turn depends on a few different factors. One obvious factor is the dosage of radioactive iodine that was used during treatment. If a very high dose was used then this will increase the chances of the person becoming permanently hypothyroid. Sometimes what will happen is that a lower dose will be used, and if it doesn’t make the person hypothyroid then the doctor will recommend another session of RAI. So receiving a very large dose of RAI and/or receiving multiple RAI treatments will decrease the chances of your thyroid gland secreting a normal amount of thyroid hormone.
Why Can’t The Effects Of Radioactive Iodine Always Be Reversed?
In order to understand why the effects of RAI can’t always be reversed, it probably would be a good idea to explain what happens when someone receives this type of treatment. Radioactive iodine is also known as iodine-131. When someone receives this treatment, it is taken up by the body as if it were the mineral iodine. So it will travel through the bloodstream to the thyroid gland. But unlike the mineral iodine, RAI will destroy the cells of the thyroid gland. Obviously the larger the dose of RAI that is used, the more thyroid cells that will be destroyed, thus increasing the chance that the person will become permanently hypothyroid.
But isn’t it possible to regenerate the cells of the thyroid gland? Well, it is thought by many that the thyroid gland doesn’t have the ability to regenerate. However, not only have I helped patients who sustained significant damage to their thyroid gland through radioactive iodine, but numerous other natural healthcare professionals have had similar experiences. Obviously there will be people who receive RAI who can’t have their thyroid health restored back to normal, but there also will be some people who receive RAI, and after following a natural treatment protocol they are able to wean off of their thyroid hormone medication.
Plus, remember that even if someone who received RAI can’t have their thyroid health restored back to normal, this doesn’t mean that they can’t benefit from following a natural treatment protocol. After all, I think most people reading this would agree that hyperthyroidism typically isn’t due to a deficiency of radioactive iodine. Most hyperthyroid conditions are due to Graves’ Disease, which is an autoimmune condition that affects the thyroid gland. And as a result, receiving RAI might eliminate the hyperthyroidism, but it won’t do anything for the autoimmune component.
But how about if someone received radioactive iodine due to a non-autoimmune hyperthyroid condition, such as toxic multinodular goiter? Well, even if there isn’t an autoimmune component, many people with multinodular goiter have other imbalances, such as adrenal weakness, toxic overload, etc. The point I’m trying to make is that radioactive iodine uses radiation to kill thyroid cells, but in no way does it do anything to restore one’s health. Whether someone develops Graves’ Disease or multinodular goiter, RAI doesn’t address the underlying cause of the problem.
How Can You Determine If You’d Benefit From Natural Treatment Methods?
So if you have received RAI, how can you find out if you would benefit from following a natural treatment protocol? Well, being a natural healthcare professional I’m going to be biased, as in my opinion I think most people who receive RAI can benefit from natural treatment methods. Keep in mind that I’m not suggesting that everyone who has received this treatment method can restore their thyroid health and therefore avoid taking thyroid hormone medication. Although this without question is possible in some people, there is also the possibility that you will need to be on synthetic or natural thyroid hormone.
With that being said, I still feel that it’s important to address the cause of the condition whenever possible. While this is true with all chronic health conditions, this is especially true with autoimmune conditions such as Graves’ Disease. And the reason for this is because the research clearly shows that someone who has one autoimmune condition has a greater likelihood of developing another autoimmune condition in the future. And since RAI doesn’t do anything to address the underlying cause of the autoimmunity associated with Graves’ Disease it would make sense to do everything you can to address the cause.
In summary, some people who have received radioactive iodine would like to know if their thyroid health can be restored after following a natural treatment protocol. Although some people can have their thyroid health restored after receiving RAI, there is no way to predict if this will happen, as it depends on a few factors, including how much damage has occurred to the thyroid gland. If the person has certain nutrient deficiencies then this can also affect the healing process. But even if someone’s thyroid health can’t be completely restored back to normal, since RAI doesn’t do anything to address the underlying cause of the condition, most people who have received this procedure can still benefit from natural treatment methods.