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If your thyroid gland fails to work properly, the hormone produced by the gland won't achieve proper levels, leaving you either fatigued and with inexplicable weight gain or losing weight rapidly while unable to relax or sleep. In some cases, an inflamed thyroid can lead to stages of both overactive and underactive thyroid, with each stage requiring different treatments. Some herbs and minerals may help ease the complaints of a poorly functioning thyroid, but always check with your doctor for proper dosage and for possible side effects and drug interactions.
Herbs for Hyperthyroidism
The American Thyroid Association reports that primary symptoms of hyperthyroidism, also known as overactive thyroid, include:
- excessive weight loss
- rapid heartbeat
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the gland produces too much of the thyroid hormone into the system.
Herbs for Hypothyroidism
Which Herbs Are Bad for the Thyroid?
Underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, occurs when the thyroid under-produces the thyroid hormone. Symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, chills, muscle cramps and heavy menstrual flow in women.
The herb coleus forskohlii appears to help underactive thyroid glands by increasing the amount of the hormone it produces, according to UMMC. Take 50 to 100 mg three times a day.
Hawthorne may help lower high cholesterol, a symptom that sometimes accompanies underactive thyroid. Take 500 mg capsules twice a day to counteract this effect, suggests UMMC.
Taking bladderwrack is only advisable when underactive thyroid can be linked to an iodine deficiency, which is rare in the Western world, according to UMMC. Take the high-iodine seaweed bladderwrack only when directed by a doctor.
- Underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, occurs when the thyroid under-produces the thyroid hormone.
- Taking bladderwrack is only advisable when underactive thyroid can be linked to an iodine deficiency, which is rare in the Western world, according to UMMC.
Herbs for General Thyroid Health
UMMC singles out horsetail, kelp and oat straw as three botanicals "rich in minerals that may help promote thyroid function."
Medline Plus notes that the selenium's specific effectiveness on thyroid function remains unclear, but that people with natural deficiencies of the mineral often develop thyroid problems. Selenium may help with thyroid-related Grave's disease and goiter, but ask your doctor about the latest research and the pros and cons of adding selenium-rich foods or herbs to your diet or taking supplements.
"Selenium plays a role in thyroid function and is needed for the immune system to work properly," notes UMMC. "However, in most cases scientists aren't sure whether low selenium levels are a cause or an effect of the disease."
- UMMC singles out horsetail, kelp and oat straw as three botanicals "rich in minerals that may help promote thyroid function."
- Selenium may help with thyroid-related Grave's disease and goiter, but ask your doctor about the latest research and the pros and cons of adding selenium-rich foods or herbs to your diet or taking supplements. "
Which Herbs Are Bad for the Thyroid?
Turmeric & the Thyroid
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Can I Eat Seaweed If I Have Hyperthyroidism?
The Best Supplements for Low Thyroid
Should You Avoid Certain Foods When You Have Hashimoto's Thyroid Disease?
Herbs to Restore PH Balance
Beets for a Goiter
How to Take Kelp Powder
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Thyroiditis
- American Thyroid Association. General Information/Press Room.
- Pirahanchi Y, Jialal I. Physiology, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-. Updated April 25, 2019.
- AACC. Hashimoto Thyroiditis. Lab Tests Online. Updated October 18, 2019.
- DeGroot LJ. Graves’ Disease and the Manifestations of Thyrotoxicosis. [Updated 2015 Jul 11]. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Boyce A, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2015.
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- The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid). Published August 2016.
- The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid). Published August 2016.
- Brent GA. Environmental exposures and autoimmune thyroid disease. Thyroid. 2010;20(7):755-61. doi:10.1089/thy.2010.1636
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- The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Grave’s Disease. Published September 2017.
- Stagnaro-Green, A., Abalovich, M, Alexander, E. et. al. Guidelines of the American thyroid association for the diagnosis and management of thyroid disease during pregnancy and postpartum. Thyroid. 2011(21)10. doi:10.1089/thy.2011.0087
- Liu G, Liang L, Bray GA, et al. Thyroid hormones and changes in body weight and metabolic parameters in response to weight loss diets: the POUNDS LOST trial. Int J Obes (Lond). 2017;41(6):878-886. doi:10.1038/ijo.2017.28
- Bahn R, Burch H, Cooper D, et al. Hyperthyroidism and other causes of thyrotoxicosis: Management guidelines of the American Thyroid Association and American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Endocrine Practice. 2011;17(3). doi:10.1089/thy.2010.0417
- Braverman L, Cooper D. Werner & Ingbar's The Thyroid, 10th Edition. WLL/Wolters Kluwer; 2012.
- Garber J, Cobin R, Gharib H, et. al. Clinical practice guidelines for hypothyroidism in adults: Cosponsored by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American Thyroid Association. Endocrine Practice. 2012;18(6). doi:10.1089/thy.2012.0205
- Haugen A, Alexander K., Bible K, et. al. 2015 American Thyroid Association Management guidelines for adult patients with thyroid nodules and differentiated thyroid cancer. Thyroid. 2016;26(1):1-133. doi:10.1089/thy.2015.0020
- Smallridge R, Ain K, Asa S, et. al. American Thyroid Association guidelines for management of patients with anaplastic thyroid cancer. Thyroid. 2012;22(11). doi:10.1089/thy.2012.0302
- Wells, S, Asa S, Dralle H, et. al. Revised American Thyroid Association guidelines for the management of medullary thyroid carcinoma. Thyroid. 2015;25(6). doi:10.1089/thy.2014.0335
Ellen Douglas has written on food, gardening, education and the arts since 1992. Douglas has worked as a staff reporter for the Lakeville Journal newspaper group. Previously, she served as a communication specialist in the nonprofit field. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Connecticut.