Located just beneath the Adam’s apple in the throat is a butterfly shaped gland known as thyroid. It produces and releases a hormone, which helps in regulating metabolism, temperature and the body’s energy. Goiter, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, thyroiditis are some of the disorders related to the thyroid.
The prescription medications that are presently used for the treatment of thyroid disorders are considered inadequate, as its effectiveness is generally temporary and needs constant correction in order to regulate the levels of the hormone produced as per thyroid.
The thyroid disorders can be treated using herbal medicines, which are considered to be effective by the ‘Institute for Traditional Medicine’. It is not recommended to take these herbs just randomly. Instead you should first consult a competent healthcare professional. Different people need different kind of herbs and at different dosages.
Herbal remedies for Thyroid Disorders
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Echinacea is used to improve the function of the immune system. People with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and also Graves’ disease can benefit immensely from this herb, as it enhances the health of their immune system. Echinacea is available in various places like retail stores, nutrition stores, pharmacies and health food stores.
It is important to ensure that you always purchase the right and high quality product to obtain best results. There are some people, who are concerned about this herb, as it boosts the immune system. Therefore, they feel it may exacerbate the autoimmune response.
However, the well known herbalist – Kerry Bone, who has over twenty years of experience in this field has been treating his patients with the Echinacea root, but has rarely encountered a problem.
Kelp is a rich source of iodine (instrumental in the functioning of the thyroid) and is quite helpful for thyroid. However, when it is combined with other medicines to improve the functioning of the thyroid gland, the herb could cause excess thyroid hormone production and turns hypothyroidism case into hyperthyroidism, which perhaps taxes the gland.
Lycopus virginicus is commonly referred to as bugleweed. It belongs to the mint family and inhibits certain antibodies that are related to hyperthyroidism. Therefore, it is usually used in the herbal medicines to cure mild cases of hyperthyroidism.
According to the author of “Herbal Medicine”, Rudolf Fritz Weiss, this herb is quite safe to be used for long term treatment. Besides other organic acids, bugleweed also contains lithospermic acid, which decreases the levels of the hormones such as thyroxine (thyroid hormone) and thyroid stimulating hormones, which are produced in the pituitary gland.
This herb could be taken by people with both hyperthyroidism and also hypothyroidism (including Graves’ disease as well as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis). Eleuthero does not directly have an effect on the thyroid gland.
However, it aids the body to acclimatize itself to stressful situations and improves immune system health. Adrenal problems are commonly noticed in individuals with thyroid as well as autoimmune thyroid conditions and Eleuthero proves to be beneficial for people with an adrenal gland problem.
Usually, horseradish is not advisable for people with hypothyroidism because it might suppress the thyroid gland activity and also interfere with the prescription thyroid medications.
This also belongs to the mint family and contains a substance known as rosmarinic. It helps in blocking the ability of thyroid stimulating hormone, thereby inhibiting the thyroid activity. Lemon balm is also used to treat Graves’s disease, which is a form of hyperthyroidism. However, it is best to avoid this herb, if you are already on other medications for hypothyroidism.
This herb is beneficial for those with autoimmune thyroid conditions. Like all other herbs, ashwagandha also benefits the body in various ways if it is used appropriately. Besides being useful to the immune system, it helps in coping with stress too. Also, it has anti-inflammatory effects.
This herb is usually used to treat hypothyroidism. When bladderwrack is combined with other supplements and herbs with necessary lifestyle changes, it can reinstate the health of a person with hypothyroidism. Hence, with regular intake of this herb, a person can eventually stop taking natural or synthetic thyroid hormone drugs.
However, this has to be done under the supervision of a physician. The creator of ‘Restorative Endocrinology’, Dr. Janet Lang has described Bladderwrack as a ‘liquid magic’, due to its effectiveness in treating hypothyroid conditions.
The herb can stimulate thyroid hormone production, when it is combined with Ashwaganda and hence useful for people suffering from hypothyroidism. Bladderwrack also contains a small amount of iodine and hence it is usually not prescribed to people with the condition known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
Although the herb does not cause any problem as such, many people tend to avoid it. Bladderwrack is quite useful, if you are not taking natural or synthetic thyroid hormone and wish to follow an herbal treatment protocol. People with hyperthyroidism should not take this herb. Also, it is not recommended during pregnancy or nursing.
Certain mustard species including Sinapis Alba and Brassica nigra are helpful in normalizing thyroid function. They are a rich source of tyrosine and iodine, which is used in the making of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland.
According to Rita Louise, Ph.D, the noted Naturopathic physician, this herb stabilizes the functioning of the thyroid gland. A similar view is echoed by the author of the book, Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook, James Duke. Daniel Mowrey, has developed an herbal formula that combines the herb gentian along with kelp, saw palmetto, Irish moss and cayenne. This is an effective herbal remedy for underactive thyroid problem.
In Turkey, different varieties of walnuts are used in the traditional medicines for thyroid irregularities. However, scientific studies have produced mixed results on the consequences of walnuts in the functioning of the thyroid.
For example, according to Duke, the research showed that the production of thyroxine increased from 30% to 50% in people, who were given the extract of green walnuts. However, the Spanish researchers have reported that walnuts have shown an effect known as goitrogenic in rats.
This means, thyroid function is suppressed due to certain compounds present in walnut and actually there is an increase in the secretion of thyroxine. Nevertheless, it was noted that the thyroid stimulating hormone was released in more quantity with walnut-supplemented diet, which in turn triggered the thyroid gland to produce increased amounts of thyroxine.
Other Herbal Remedies For Thyroid disorders
Nettle seed is considered as an effective thyroid tonic. Motherwort is an herb that calms anxiety and heart palpitations. It is also used in the treatment of thyroid enlargements. Irish moss, a type of seaweed that soothes swollen glands is used as a nutritive tonic. Comniphora Mukul or Guggul is an Ayruvedic herb, which is known to increase the levels of triiodothyronine or T3- the thyroid hormone.