How Herbs Affect Thyroid Disease

Learn More About Natural and Herbal Treatment of Thyroid Disease

Herbal Medicine
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Herbal remedies for the management of thyroid disease can sound appealing. Many people are looking for natural alternatives to thyroid hormone replacement or for natural ways to reduce medication dose. While there are no herbs that have thyroid hormone in them, there have been studies evaluating these alternatives. For the most part, if you do not have a nutritional deficiency, herbs and supplements will not resolve your thyroid condition, and some may cause problems.

If you are looking into herbal treatments, keep in mind that the effects should not be the same in all types of thyroid disease. For example, if an herb is found to help symptoms or to alter lab results in one type of thyroid disease, the effects on thyroid cancer would be different than the effects on Grave's disease or thyroiditis.

Iodine

Your body needs iodine to produce thyroid hormones. Iodine is an element found in seafood and dairy products.

In the United States, standard table salt is fortified with iodine, and for that reason, it is rare for someone living in the US to develop thyroid problems related to an iodine deficiency.

Iodine levels can be measured in the blood, and, if you are deficient, your doctor or nutritionist will advise you on how to increase iodine through your diet, or how much to use in a supplement form.

There are several types of iodine supplements, including a preparation described as "reduction of 131I", which is made of dried seaweed and other herbs and plants. There are also special diets available to help optimize iodine absorption and function.

Diets that are excessively high in iodine can cause thyroid disease and have been shown to induce hypothyroidism in some people, and hyperthyroidism in others, so it is best to approach these iodine replacement strategies with the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Tea and Coffee

Chamomile, sage and mountain tea have all been associated with a decrease in benign and malignant thyroid disease, and this effect appears to be the strongest for chamomile tea. Consuming between two to six cups of these types of herbal tea per week was found in one study to reduce the incidence of thyroid disease.

Green tea, interestingly, has been shown to decrease the incidence of thyroid disease for some people, and to increase it in others.

There is no evidence of an association between coffee consumption and subsequent development of thyroid disease.

Yingliu Mixture and Methimazole

A combination of Yingliu mixture and methimazole has been used for the treatment of Grave's disease in China. Methimazole is an antithyroid medication and Yingliu mixture is a preparation of oysters, white mustard seed, and a variety of herbs and plants.

A number of studies carried out in China which used a Yingliu mixture prepared in a laboratory. Results consistently showed that clinical symptoms and thyroid tests were better with the combination than with the methimazole alone.

Soy

Soy is a component of many natural supplements, and its effect on thyroid health is important. Soy and soy extracts can inhibit the thyroid peroxidase, the thyroid enzyme that makes the key hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Soy can also decrease your absorption of iodine, interfering with your ability to make thyroid hormones. Both of these effects can result in goiters, hypothyroidism, and autoimmune thyroid problems.

This is a special concern for young infants who use soy-based formula and for anyone who uses soy products to supplement due to a dairy or other sensitivity, as these routines can put a substantial amount of soy into the diet.

Vitamin B12

In addition to learning how to best manage thyroid disease, the symptoms can be exacerbated by other problems. Vitamin B12 deficiency is common in people who are hypothyroid, and some of the clinical symptoms, including fatigue and low energy, overlap between the two conditions. Making sure that you have enough vitamin B12 in your system is an important part of managing your thyroid symptoms, even though vitamin B12 and thyroid hormones do not directly influence each other.

A Word From Verywell

Thyroid disease is a lifelong condition and the idea of herbal therapy can sound like a safe way to control your condition and your symptoms. At the current time, herbal remedies have only been found to be marginally effective in altering thyroid function.

As you consider herbal treatments for any medical condition, including thyroid disease, be wary of claims that any product can "balance" your system. With thyroid disease, the effects of "too high or too low" are both problematic, and there is not a natural therapy that can simultaneously balance both conditions.

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