Unless you suffer from a thyroid condition, it is easy to ignore the function of the thyroid gland. Although small, this endocrine gland – situated just below your neck – plays a big role in regulating metabolic processes in your body. With a dysfunctional thyroid, the functioning of almost all your organs is likewise disrupted. Thyroid disorders generally fall under 3 categories: an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism, an under-active thyroid or hypothyroidism and an enlarged thyroid characterized by the presence of nodules.
Herbs For Thyroid
Unfortunately, thyroid conditions are usually misdiagnosed as most of their symptoms (such as weight gain or loss, chronic fatigue, depression, skin and hair dryness, constipation or diarrhea and menstrual irregularities) can be quite similar to those of other disorders. To make things even more confusing – the 3 types of thyroid disorders can even have overlapping characteristics.
Therefore before embarking on any treatment, whether herbal or medicinal, it is important to have a medical professional diagnose your symptoms and identify the disorder first. Likewise, it is important to use remedies with an understanding of the mechanisms involved in promoting thyroid health. For instance, while some herbs improve overall thyroid conditions, some herbs can only benefit hyperthyroidism but conversely may be detrimental to its extreme counterpart, hypothyroidism and vice-versa.
Either way though, most herbs for thyroid are not like pharmaceutical medications that attempt to replace thyroid hormones, decrease hormone production or the size of the thyroid gland. Instead, they are regarded as being able to provide the appropriate thyroid support – acting preventative and facilitating the healing process. Although some clinical studies do not find evidence of traditional herbal medicine being able to totally treat thyroid conditions, herbs are however thought by some to contribute to lower relapse rates, less adverse effects, relief of symptoms and improvement of thyroid antibody conditions and thyroid functioning. Here are 10 herbs thought beneficial for the thyroid:
10 Herbal Remedies for Thyroid Health
A popular herb used to boost the immune system, echinacea is considered helpful for those suffering from hyperthyroidism or thyroiditis. One expert who has over 20 years of experience with autoimmune conditions gives the roots of echinacea to his patients and has rarely encountered any major adverse issues.
This herb is important in maintaining a balance among glands so that thyroid patients who often suffer from fatigue have improved energy. Moreover in 2011, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology in Texas isolated synthetically derived constituents of triterpenoid glycyrrhetinic acid, a major component of licorice and found it to inhibit the growth of highly invasive thyroid cancer cells. This demonstrates licorice’s potential in clinical treatment of thyroid cancer and other endocrine-related disorders.
In a 2013 study involving 403 patients with mild hyperthyroidism which assessed the effects and safety of an extract of bugle in tablet or drops form, scientists observed statistically and clinically significant improvements in the symptoms of those given the tablet. These improvements were noted without any major side effects. Because of bugleweed’s effectiveness in alleviating mild hyperthyroidism, some experts believe it can gradually replace regular taking of maintenance medications like methimazole or PTU.
This is an herb with antioxidant properties that directly works on the thyroid by producing just the right amount of hormones. Aside from hormonal balance, ashwaganda is known to help the body fight stress by improving the immune system and has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects.
Researchers confirm the potency of bacopa as a thyroid stimulating drug to fight hypothyroidism. It has been found to regulate thyroid hormone concentrations by as much as 41% without adverse reactions.
Popular as Siberian ginseng, eleuthero is considered a wonder herb for people suffering from hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Siberian ginseng is believed to be effective in treating hypothyroidism by regulating the levels of hormones in the body. Furthermore, this potent herb contains substances that assist in the normal functioning of the thymus and adrenal glands.
Aside from hypothyroidism, bladderwrack is considered as an essential herb for many health conditions. This algae or seaweed contains high levels of natural iodine which is known to stimulate the thyroid gland. Bladderwrack contains substances that help in restoring the normal functioning of the thyroid gland as well as in reducing the size of thyroid goiters. It is thought to play a role in stimulating an increased production of thyroid hormones in order to prevent the development of thyroid diseases.
Flaxseeds are known to be rich in essential fatty acids, especially omega-3 fatty acids, which is thought to be good for thyroid health. In a study conducted at the University of Maryland Medical Center, it was found out that consumption of foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, like flaxseed, helps in boosting the production of thyroid hormones. This results to reduced susceptibility to hypothyroidism.
Aside from seafoods, black walnut is considered as one of the richest sources of iodine. Research shows, iodine is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in optimizing the health and functioning of the thyroid glands. Furthermore, it was found out that insufficient amount of iodine usually lead to a number of conditions which include chronic fatigue, depression, mental impairment, and goiters.
Coming from the mint family, lemon balm is an amazing herb that is considered beneficial to the thyroid glands. Research shows that this herb is useful in normalizing the activities of overactive thyroid glands. It reduces the production of thyroid hormones and eases the symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism.