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The thyroid is one of the largest endocrine glands and it has a major influence on your entire body. For example, thyroid hormones are vital for healthy metabolism and weight management and they have a great impact on the fat-burning process. Since the responsibility of thyroid is to produce hormones necessary for the functioning of our body, their imbalance affects our overall health and well being. Ways to improve the thyroid health are numerous starting with a healthy lifestyle and herbs fit perfectly here. After all, herbs are well-known for their medicinal properties. This post is going to focus on the role of herbs for thyroid health.
Herbs for Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is the common problem which refers to the under active thyroid gland i.e. when the production of hormones is insufficient. Here are the herbs that can help you manage this health condition.
Although you may find the name of this herb funny, bladderwrack is very beneficial for your health. Fucus vesiculosis or commonly known as bladderwrack, a seaweed and a form of kelp, has been used for centuries due to its medicinal properties. The main use of this herb is the stimulation of thyroid gland. In fact, bladderwrack is used for underactive thyroid, over-sized thyroid gland, and iodine deficiency.
Thyroid problems, or at least those linked to underactive thyroid, stem from a lack of iodine in the diet. Your thyroid needs iodine in order to produce its two crucial hormones, T3 and T4, whose primary function is to regulate the metabolism. Consumption of seaweed helps you replenish this deficiency due to iodine content.
Bladderwrack belongs to the group of brown seaweeds which contain the highest level of iodine. As a result, bladderwrack stimulates the thyroid, improves the production of hormones, and speeds up the metabolism.
The Endocrine Practice published results of the study which found that kelp supplementation helps with the thyroid gland. Scientists from New Mexico discovered that participants in low- and high-dose kelp groups experienced increased concentrations of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
Coelus Forskohlii, or Plectranthus barbatus, is a herb primarily grown in Thailand, Nepal, and India. Coelus is a member of the mint family and it has a long history of use in Asian medicine, especially for treatment of skin, lung, and heart conditions. One of the most well-known benefits of this herb is weight loss.
What most of us aren’t even aware of is that this particular herb has a positive impact on underactive thyroid gland by enhancing the amount of hormone it produces. The secret behind its efficacy is the compound called forskolin which works to increase the thyroid function and speed up fat metabolism while also providing energy for successful weight loss.
Ashwagandha is one of the most well-known Ayurvedic herbs. Going by the botanical name Withania somnifera, the herb has a lot of uses including arthritis, anxiety, insomnia, fibromyalgia, menstrual problems, bronchitis, just to name a few.
Ashwagandha stimulates the thyroid gland to produce the T4 hormone, thus posing as a natural solution for patients with hypothyroidism. The Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine published a placebo-controlled study which measured thyroid indices (T3, T4, TSH) of 60 participants who received the herb as a part of the bipolar disorder treatment.
Researchers discovered that participants experienced an increase in thyroid hormone production. They concluded the study explaining that thyroid-enhancing properties of ashwagandha may represent a clinical opportunity for the treatment of hypothyroidism.
Panax ginseng or Korean ginseng is a herb with a plethora of health benefits including the testosterone boost, which explains it is on the ingredient list of most dietary testosterone boosters on the market. The herb improves endurance and helps users get the most out of their workouts. Its positive impact on hormones also explains why the herb can benefit people with hypothyroidism as well.
For example, a study whose findings were published in the Korea Journal of Herbology discovered that dried root of Panax ginseng i.e. Ginseng radix has a favorable effect on the production of thyroid hormones. The modulatory effects on the antioxidant system could be behind its positive impact on hypothyroidism.
Turmeric is one of the most powerful herbs on the planet with amazing potential to prevent and treat diseases. The herb has anti-inflammatory properties which are particularly useful for patients who suffer from Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid gland and the most common cause of hypothyroidism.
A study carried out by a group of scientists from Pakistan discovered that intake of turmeric is associated with reduced goitrogenesis. It is important to bear in mind that goiter is a common complication associated with thyroid disorders including hypothyroidism. Constant stimulation of this gland to release more hormones can lead to enlargement. Hashimoto’s disease is usually associated with goiter.
Herbs for Hyperthyroidism
Unlike hypothyroidism, in this case, the gland produces abnormally high levels of hormones which affect your overall health. What herbs can help with this problem? Here are a few examples.
Bugleweed whose botanical names are Lycopus europaeus and Lycopus virginicus is widely known as gypsywort and it is highly beneficial for thyroid health. That is because there are two types of the same herb and as you can already guess, Lycopus europaeus refers to the European bugleweed. Although there are some indications that bugleweed can be used for hypothyroidism as well, due to its ability to normalize hormone production, the herb primarily serves to treat hyperthyroidism.
Components of this plant are known for their ability to lower the levels of TSH thyroxine thanks to the inhibitory effect on the binding of antibodies to the thyroid gland. The herb has the potential to stop the iodine conversion in the gland which is why it is primarily used for hyperthyroidism-related conditions.
The Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism published a detailed paper which investigated different ways thyroid problems were treated throughout the history. In the paper, researchers mentioned that in Ancient India, both Lycopus europaeus and Lycopus virginicus were used for the treatment of hyperthyroidism.
Moreover, a research whose findings appeared in the Phytomedicine showed that gypsywort diminished symptoms specific to the overactive thyroid gland including increased heart rate in the morning and the treatment was well-tolerated. Although more research is necessary for both europeaus and virginicus types of this herb, they show a great potential in the treatment of hyperthyroidism and have been used for this purpose throughout the history.
Lemon balm, Melissa officinalis, is a herb from mint family that has a great potential to support the thyroid gland and normalize the accelerated thyroid function that is associated with hyperthyroidism. It works by inhibiting the TSH thus reducing the abnormal secretion of thyroid hormone, according to the study whose findings were published in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation.
What makes lemon balm beneficial for the thyroid health is its ability to strengthen the immune system and aid the body detox process as well. Plus, it is incredibly easy to find lemon balm and start using it.
Motherwort, Leonorus cardiaca, is a powerful herb that midwives and herbalists used to refer to as a sacred plant for women’s health. That’s because this particular herb supports uterus health, alleviates painful menstruations, and promotes fertility. Besides these effects, motherwort does so much more.
The herb can help you manage and relieve common symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism including rapid heartbeat. To achieve the best effects you can make a tea and drink it three times a day.
Echinacea, Echinacea purpurea, is a popular herb native to North America. Besides its pretty appearance, Echinacea is also highly beneficial, particularly for treatment of cold and flu. The herb can help patients with hyperthyroidism, particularly those who have Grave’s disease. The disease is linked to inflammation, but Echinacea also exhibits anti-inflammatory properties. For example, one study found that patients treated with Echinacea had a lower amount of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the blood.
Thyroid gland influences all processes in our body which is why it is of extreme importance for our health. Various factors can lead to disorders that disrupt the functioning of this gland. Besides adhering to the treatment recommended by a healthcare provider, there are many other things you can do to support thyroid health. Herbs are extremely powerful here, some increase production of hormones, others decrease the exertion and they also provide anti-inflammatory effects. Many thyroid supplements contain these herbs as well as some others.