The thyroid hormones T3 and T4 are produced in the thyroid gland. Of the two, T3 is the active form. In order for the body to utilize T4, it must first be converted into T3. While the thyroid does produce some T3, the body converts T4 into the rest of the T3 it needs, mostly in the liver but also to some degree in the kidneys and bodily tissues. Among the herbs that may increase the body's conversion of T4 to T3, says naturopathic physician Dr. Frank Aieta, N.D., are guggul, ashwaganda and coleus. Do not use any herbs to treat hypothyroidism or otherwise support the liver or thyroid without first consulting with your doctor.
Also known as "underactive thyroid," hypothyroidism is a disorder of the thyroid gland in which the thyroid fails to produce enough T4 and T3 thyroid hormones. If you exhibit symptoms of hypothyroidism and your lab results from your doctor report that your T4 levels are normal, this may indicate that your body is having a problem converting T4 to T3.
Thyroid Shrinking With Herbs
Herbs that promote healthy liver function are called hepatics. Among the most effective hepatics, according to David Hoffman in "The New Holistic Herbal," are balmony, barberry, black root, blue flag, centaury, dandelion, fringetree, golden seal, mountain grape, wahoo and wild yam 1.
According to naturopathic physician Dr. Michael Stadtmauer, N.D., guggul, or Commiphora mukul, promotes conversion of T4 to T3. Acting on both the thyroid and the liver as well as reducing lipid peroxidation, or free radical damage to fats, guggul is believed to increase T3 conversion in part by protecting the liver against free radicals. The University of Maryland Medical Center advises taking a standardized extract of 250 to 300 mg of guggul three times per day to support thyroid activity 2.
- According to naturopathic physician Dr. Michael Stadtmauer, N.D., guggul, or Commiphora mukul, promotes conversion of T4 to T3.
- Acting on both the thyroid and the liver as well as reducing lipid peroxidation, or free radical damage to fats, guggul is believed to increase T3 conversion in part by protecting the liver against free radicals.
Niacin & Thyroid Disease
Dr. Stadtmauer also lists the Ayurvedic herb ashwaganda as a known promoter of T4 to T3 conversion. The mechanism for this support is believed to be much the same as for guggul, warding off free radicals from the liver and thereby improving overall liver function, including that of converting T4 to T3. According to the Langone Medical Center at New York University, standard dosage is three times daily taking 1-2 grams of ashwaganda root boiled in water or milk for about 15 minutes in water or milk 4.
Coleus forskohlii is an Ayurvedic herb native to the subtropics of India, Burma and Thailand. It was found in the mid-'80s to increase thyroid hormone production and secretion into the bloodstream. The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests a 50 to 100 mg standardized extract two or three times daily for thyroid support 2.
Thyroid Shrinking With Herbs
Niacin & Thyroid Disease
Herbs for Liver & Spleen Support
The Effects of Guggul on Thyroid Function
Turmeric & the Thyroid
Herbs for Liver Cysts
Side Effects of Guggul and Guggulsterones
Herbal Treatment for Liver Cirrhosis
The Health Benefits of Fo-Ti
- "The New Holistic Herbal"; David Hoffman; 1996
- University Of Maryland Medical Center; "Hypothyroidism"; Steven D. Ehrlich; Mar 2010
- Diabetes Library; "Nutrients For Thyroid Support"; Barry Durrant-Peatfield
- New York University Langone Medical Center; "Ashwagandha"; Jun 2011
- InformedHealth.org. Underactive thyroid: Overview. Updated August 10, 2017.
- Segni M. Disorders of the Thyroid Gland in Infancy, Childhood and Adolescence. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Boyce A, et al., editors. Endotext. Updated March 18, 2017.
- Almandoz JP, Gharib H. Hypothyroidism: etiology, diagnosis, and management. Med Clin North Am. 2012;96(2):203-21. doi:10.1016/j.mcna.2012.01.005
- Biondi B, Wartofsky L. Combination treatment with T4 and T3: toward personalized replacement therapy in hypothyroidism?. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012;97(7):2256-71. doi:10.1210/jc.2011-3399
- Hennessey JV, Espaillat R. Current evidence for the treatment of hypothyroidism with levothyroxine/levotriiodothyronine combination therapy versus levothyroxine monotherapy. Int J Clin Pract. 2018;72(2):e13062. doi:10.1111/ijcp.13062
- Jonklaas J, Bianco AC, Bauer AJ, et al. Guidelines for the treatment of hypothyroidism: prepared by the american thyroid association task force on thyroid hormone replacement. Thyroid. 2014;24(12):1670–1751. doi:10.1089/thy.2014.0028
- Garber J et. al. Clinical Practice Guidelines for Hypothyroidism in Adults: Cosponsored by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American Thyroid Association. Endocr Pract. 2012 Nov-Dec;18(6):988-1028.
- American Thyroid Association. (n.d.). Hypothyroidism (Underactive).
- Braverman, L, Cooper D. Werner & Ingbar's The Thyroid, 10th Edition. WLL/Wolters Kluwer; 2012.
- Surks MI. (2017). Clinical manifestations of hypothyroidism. Ross DS, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate Inc.
- Sworczak K, Wisniewski P. The role of vitamins in the prevention and treatment of thyroid disorders. Endokrynol Pol. 2011;62(4):340-44.
Based in Maine, Sage Kalmus has written extensively on fitness, nutrition, alternative health, self-improvement and green living for various websites. He also authored the metaphysical fiction book, "Free Will Flux." Kalmus holds a Bachelor of Science from Boston University's College of Communication and is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor with special training in Touch-For-Health Kinesiology.