RHONDA JOHANSSON–Think of your thyroid as a car engine. This tiny, butterfly-shaped gland located near the Adam’s apple produces the hormones that are needed by your cells to perform at their optimum level. The thyroid gland influences all systems, but plays a crucial role in the functioning of the heart, brain, kidneys, and liver. External factors such as disease or injury can cause the thyroid to either not produce enough hormones (hypothyroidism) or excessively generate hormones (hyperthyroidism). Either condition is exhausting, and can leave a person more susceptible to various other diseases. Whereas most people turn to prescription medicine to treat a thyroid problem, there are natural alternatives to consider. Herbs, for example, are a fantastic and cheap way to alleviate these symptoms. Listed below are 14 highly recommended herbs to support thyroid function.
- Siberian Ginseng (for hypothyroidism) – This is also known as eleuthero. Siberian ginseng has extremely powerful stimulant properties that give the gland the energy is needs to function. The generally recommended intake of ginseng is around 200 mg per day, split in two doses, one before breakfast and the other before lunch.
- Bacopa (for hypothyroidism) – There is evidence to suggest that this herb can alleviate symptoms of hypothyroidism. One study even concluded that regular intake of bacopa can reduce hypothyroidism symptoms by as much as 41 percent. The most ideal reason for taking this herb is that it generally does not cause any negative side-effects.
- Ashwagandha (for hypothyroidism) – This herb is beloved by all those familiar with Ayurvedic medicine. Ashwagandha is characterized by its potent antioxidant properties that is believed to directly affect the thyroid. The herb has been studied to improve thyroid function and even helps the body fight off free radicals.
- Echinacea (for hyperthyroidism) – This herb is more known for its use in overall immune system function. However, echinacea can also help those with hyperthyroidism. The root of the herb has been used as a treatment for various autoimmune conditions.
- Bugleweed (for hyperthyroidism) – Bugleweed is a great choice for those with milder forms of hyperthyroidism. A study found that bugleweed supplements improved thyroid function better than the prescription medicine, methimazole, as reported on the Juicing for Health website.
- Lemon balm (for hyperthyroidism) – This herb normalizes thyroid activity, making it an ideal choice for those with hyperthyroidism. Lemon balm also enhances overall immunity, while promoting natural detoxification.
- Bladderwack (for support) – The name sounds funny, but the first part already gives an indication to its usage. The algae is an excellent source of iodine, which is the “fuel” needed by the thyroid. Bladderwack has also been shown to reduce the size of goiters that are usually associated with thyroid problems. Wellness experts suggest taking bladderwack as a preventive measure rather than as a treatment method. The algae is known to stimulate the production of thyroid hormones.
- Black walnut (for support) – Next to seafood, black walnut is a great source of iodine. Remember that iodine is necessary for proper thyroid function. A lack of iodine is associated with a diverse range of illnesses including depression, chronic fatigue, and goiter.
- Ginger (for support) – Fresh, organic ginger is loaded with essential nutrients such as zinc, potassium, and magnesium, which keep the thyroid healthy. The compounds in ginger also reduce inflammation in the body. The best way to consume ginger is through tea.
- Stinging nettle (for support) – The herb can help reverse iodine deficiency. Stinging nettle can be used for either condition as it is able to balance hormone production. For best results, drink around two to three cups each day.
- Evening primrose oil (for support) – Although not an herb, the oil is a nice supplement to support thyroid function. Evening primrose is full of amino acids that reduce inflammation in the body and can prevent other conditions such as hair loss, dry skin, and excessive menstrual bleeding.
- Flaxseed (for support) – Flaxseeds are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids which contribute to improved cardiovascular and thyroid health. Several studies have documented the connection between flaxseed intake and healthy thyroid function. The recommended intake is either one tablespoon of ground flaxseeds or one teaspoon of flaxseed oil each day.
- Licorice (for support) – While a lot of people don’t like the taste, licorice helps improve energy levels in the body, and supports general thyroid function. A specific acid found in licorice was also studied to be effective against the development of thyroid cancer and other endocrine-related problems.
- Iodine (for support) – The thyroid needs iodine to function properly. This nutrient can be sourced through various means but the best way to receive iodine is through food. Eat iodine-rich foods such as eggs, fish, seaweed, kelp, and potatoes.
Remember that there is no magic pill for either condition, but the proper supplements, along with correct diet and exercise, can ensure that your thyroid functions at its best.