When treating thyroid problems, most health practitioners prefer suggesting that you increase the intake of iodine. However, supplementing with natural iodine is only a solution to those who lack it. Determining which herb can regulate and boost thyroid function is of essential importance in every treatment for hyper- or hypothyroidism.
According to estimations, over 200 million people around the world (and 35 million in North America) deal with at least one form of thyroid disease. Moreover, thyroid malfunction is so frequent that scientists are starting to call it an epidemic.
Thyroid disease occurs seven times more often in women than men, and scientists believe that about 50% of the cases are either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Certain homeopathic remedies are efficient in relieving symptoms induced by imbalance in thyroid function.
However, herbs have direct impact on thyroid gland and immunity. In this article we give you 15 herbs that can help you stabilize and stimulate your thyroid function.
The herb and its berries have strong antioxidant properties and protect against free radicals and environmental toxins that damage cells.
Pretty much of the clinical research based on Schisandra is focused on its effect on the production of detoxifying enzymes and the antioxidant properties of the extract. Howevere, there is a need of further research on the exact biochemical activity of this amazing plant.
An extensive experimental research conducted in Russia covered a wide range of adaptogen properties of Schisandra plant, including its effect on central nervous, sympathetic, endocrine, immune, respiratory, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal systems and its preventive power when it comes to atherosclerosis, high blood sugar and health problems associated with chronic stress.
It is categorized as an adaptogen due to its ability to increase the resistance to a wide range of chemical, biological and physical stressors. Rhodiola is commonly known as “golden rod,” and it has an amazing ability to burn fat, enchance energy and boost brain power.
It is considered to act as an antidepressant, anticancer agent and it also has cardio-protective abilities and a potential to enchance central nervous system. Its adaptogenic abilities are notable in its power to improve your body’s stress managing systems and to protect stress responding endocrine glands, adrenal, thyroid, ovary and testes.
Even among individuals who do not struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome, rhodiola has become popular to counter exhaustion that occurs as a result from hard activity, including both physical and mental. Rhodiola relieves fatigue- or exhauston-related sleep, appetite problems and headache. People who deal with intense work schedule could also benefit from this herb, as it boosts energy.
Also known as Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry, or winter cherry. It grows in India and North America. Ayurvedic healers have used the roots of Ashwagandha plant have been used for millennia.
Modern studies have shown that the plant could possibly reduce inflammation, decrease stress, improve mental activity, invigorate body and provide antioxidant properties. It is also believed to relieve arthritis symptoms better than medications. Ashwagandha offers large amounts of three natural antioxidants: superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase.
It decreases blood cortisol by 26% in chronically-stressed people; boosts immune, endocrine, and mental function, and enchances libido. These are the features of an anti-stress adaptogens.
Known as Chinese Foxglove. It has large flowers and is gron as an ornamental garden plant in Europe and North America. Rehmannia is used in Asia for its healing properties.
The plant is rich in vitamins A, B, C, and D, and other compounds like catalpol, which is an iridoid glycoside that reduces pro-inflammatory factors. Rehmannia is used for its ability to treat hormonal disorders, including menopause, thyroid imbalance and adrenal insufficiency.
It has a wide range of uses and has been considered as a tonic plant. Licorice supports healthy digestion, improves lung and respiratory function and promotes proper adrenal response to stress.
The plant is rich in triterpenoid saponins, glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhetinic acid, and also many flavonoids and flavones such as liquiritin. It is also rich in chalcones and isoflavones.
People who have struggled with hypothyroidism say that small and safe amount of licorice are amazingly beneficial. These people produce low cortisol level and licorice boosts the secretion of cortisol, meaning it can help in the treatment of hypothyroidism.
It is as potent as thyroid stimulating drugs given to people who deal with hypothyroidism. Experiments have shown that the extract of Bacopa monnierl increases the concentration of tyroxine by 41%, without changing T3 levels.
This means that Bacosides affect thyroid gland directly and stimulate the synthesis and release T4, and do not alter the conversion of T4 into T3. The aforementioned studies have confirmed that the plant stimulates the function of the thyroid gland.
It is a seaweed commonly known as black tang, rockweed, bladder fucus, sea oak, black tany, cut weed, dyers fucus, red fucus, and rock wrack. It was considered as the original source of iodine, and it was first discovered in 1811.
Healers used it to treat goitre, a thyroid swelling associated with iodine deficiency. Its primary chemical constituents include mucilage, algin, mannitol, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, iodine, bromine, potassium, volatile oils, and other essential minerals.
Some patients who took synthetic or natural thyroid hormone eventually weaned off the drugs using this herb, of course, under supervision. Dr Janet Lang, the founder of Restorative Endocrinology, says that bladder wrack is a “liquid magic” for patients with hypothyroid problems.
When combined with Ashwaganda, this herb stimulates the secretion of thyroid hormone in people with hyporhyroid problems. Bladderwrack has low amount of iodine, so most people with Hashimoto’s have no problems in using it, even though some still avoid it, fearing that it could possibly exacerbate their problem.
People with hypothyroidism should not take it, and it is also contraindicated in pregnant women or breastfeeding moms. Bladderwrack is prone to high level of toxins and heavy metals like arsenic, often found in ocean water, so you may want to investigate a bit more about its source.
8. Black walnut
It is a flowering tree in the walnut family. It is considered as a potentil cancer cure, as it is claimed to kill “parasites” that cause cancers. Fresh green hulls are used in the production of herbal medicine and they are concentrated in juglone.
People have used it to improve intestinal health and eat these nuts for their high omega-3 and vitamin C content, and of course, their flavor. Aside from seafood, black walnut is one of the most abundant source of iodine. As research shows, iodine plays an essential role in improving thyroid health and function. Moreover, iodine deficiency causes chronic fatigue, depresson, mental impairment and goiters.
It is probably the most popular on this list when it comes to boosting immunity. It is a strong antioxidant and provides potent anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and pain-relieving properties.
Each part of the plant provides different benefits. Always use the products that have undergone certain testings for their activity and have listed Alkylamides or Polysaccharide content on their label, because these are unstable and have to be properly prepared and delivered for maximal efficacy.
Flowers picked up in early developmental stage have Arabinogalactin protein and polysachharides. These chemicals support immune function and provide the best long-term effect regarding the maintenance of human immune system.
Roots harvested in fall should be used at onset, and are not recommended for long-term use. People with autoimmune thyroid conditions are TH-1 dominant and this plant exacerbates the condition in just a small number of people. Most of them benefit and experience no side effects. This amazing herb benefits people with Grave’s disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. It does not aggravate autoimmune conditions.
It has a wide range of properties and normalizing effect that brings body back to homeostasis. Chinese herbalists used it in people with bone marrow suppression commonly caused by chemo, radiation, angina, hypercholesterolemia, neurasthenia with headache, insomnia, and poor appetite.
It provides strong anti-inflammatory, immunogenic and antidepressant properties. Eleuthero increases the ability to withstand stress like heat, noise, motion, physical activity and an increase in workload. Patients suffering from both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism should take the herb, including both groups that have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Graves’ Disease.
Eleuthero does not affect thyroid directly, and helps the body to adapt to any stressful situation. It also maintains immune health. It is also beneficial for people with adrenal problems, as this condition is common in patients with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid problems.
11. Coleus forskohlii
In Ayurveda, it has been used in the treatment of heart diseases, convulsions, spasmodic pain and painful urination. Herbal teas are loaded with rosmarinig acid and also contain flavonoid glucuronides and diterpenoids.
Chemical constituents of this plant give amazing antioxidant effect and acetylcholinesterase inhibition. A recent PubMed search involved about 17,256 studies based on this plant compound. Interestingly, there are more than 35 biological activities for forskolin alone.
Its most interesting and commonly researched ability is its power to promote healthy cells through cAMP (Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate).
This enzyme is known cellular messenger, and it is considered as the intelligence of cells, meaning when a cell carries its function properly, there is a high amount of cAMP, and when cellular function fails, it means that there is poor amount of the enzyme. Low cAMP level is found in hypersensitized mast cells and unhealthy cells that cannot burn stored fat.
12. Hawthorn leaf and berry
It is used to improve circulatory system, treat angina, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmia. It also strengthens heart. In Europe it is used as a safe and effective treatment of heart disease in its early stage.
It is endorsed by Commission E- the branch of German government that involves studying and approving herbal treatments. Hawthorn is used to improve circulatory and endocrine system, and it has shown amazing results in treating angina, hypertension, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia and endocrine disorders.
Animal and lab studies have shown that its compounds have strong antioxidant properties. Antioxidants fight free radicals and prevent damages that affect cell membranes, tamper with DNA, and even include cell death. Free radicals are naturally present in human body, and environmental toxins like ultraviolet light, radiation, cigarette smoking and air pollution increase their number.
13. Lemon balm
It is a popular member of the mint family and it is considered as a calming and soothing herb. Lemon balm affects thyroid gland directly. It may block some activities of thyroid hormones.
In the past it was used in the treatment of Grave’s disease. Research indicates that it normalizes the activity of an overactive thyroid gland by reducing the secretion of thyroid hormones and easing symptoms related to hyperthyroidism.
It is the best option for people who do not really like taking antithyroid drugs. It is considered as an “antithyroid herb.” Its key components are phenolic acids, like derivatives of caffeic, chlorogenic, and ellagic acids.
Organic acids in this herb decrease levels of TSH or block TSH receptors and stop the hormone from entering thyroid gland and stimulating the secretion of other hormones.
In cases of Grave’s disease, thyroid gland secretes more hormones which accelerates metabolism, showing symptoms like rapid pulse, weight loss, sensitivity to heat, excessive sweating, fatigue, physical changes, developing enlarged thyroid (goiter) and bulging eyes.
Bugleweed influences the metabolism of iodine, which is used by the thyroid in the production of its hormones. A small amount of this herb will decrease thyroid function. However, it is contraindicated for people with hypothyroidism, and women with hyperthyroidism who are either pregnant or lacting.
15. Commiphora mukul
It produces a resinuous sap commonly known as gum guggul. In India, this gum’s extract, know as gugulipid, guggulipid or guglipid, was used in UNANI and Ayurvedic medicine, for about 3,000 years. Commiphora extract improves the conversion of T4 to its more potent T3 form.
It boosts thyroid function and does not influence the release of pituitary hormone TSH, which indicates that the herb affects thyroid gland directly and other bodily tissues.
About 95 percent of hypothyroidism problems are not caused by pituitary problem. The problem lies in the thyroid gland itself and an improper T4-T3 conversion in tissue outside the gland. Experts believe that 100mg of Commiphora have a therapeutic effect.
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