The American Thyroid Association estimates that 20 million Americans have a thyroid disorder. Generally speaking, thyroid disorders result from an overproduction or underproduction of thyroid hormones. Standard treatment tends to involve some form of medication to establish a healthy hormonal balance. Some doctors even convince people to remove the thyroid, and they end up taking thyroid hormones for the rest of their lives.
With more and more attention on alternative medicine and treatment options, people have a growing interest in remedying the thyroid without conventional medicine. According to Ayurvedic medicine, many herbs can help create balance in the thyroid. In Ayurveda, the thyroid connects with the increase in kapha dosha and vata in the body. Doshas are essentially biological energies that maintain the body’s mental and physical processes. If the kapha and vata doshas are out of balance in the body, it’s possible to experience thyroid problems.
Since the thyroid regulates and monitors metabolism, heart rate, and other key functions in the body, optimizing thyroid health is paramount to overall health. Failure to balance the thyroid can lead to poor immune function, low energy, mood swings, and extreme weight loss or weight gain. Some of the Ayurvedic herbs (below) complement conventional thyroid treatments. If you don’t understand proper dosage or recommendation for your thyroid condition, consult with your doctor about taking the following herbs.
Guggul has a reputation for regulating thyroid function, but it also has positive effects on blood lipids. Guggul’s antioxidant properties work to protect the thyroid gland from oxidative stress. This ultimately decreases lipid peroxidation in the liver and increases the liver’s ability to transform thyroxine (T4) into triiodothyronine (T3). One animal study found that guggul has strong thyroid stimulating actions, and may even increase iodine uptake.
Known for regulating hormone levels and ensuring optimal thyroid function, moringa is an excellent herb if you suffer from hyperthyroidism. At the same time, hypothyroidism patients also benefit from moringa because it has a rich iodine content. More often than not, iodine deficiency is a primary cause of hypothyroidism. According to several studies, moringa extract exhibits anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties. It can help to stimulate metabolism by regulating the production of T3 and T4 hormones. Finally, it may help to inhibit bone damage that results from an overabundance of T4 in the body.
If you are familiar with Ayurveda, you know that ashwagandha has a healing reputation. It’s an adaptogenic herb, helping to naturally relieve stress and anxiety, but it also promotes internal balance in the body. In one study, ashwagandha exhibited an ability to increase T3 and T4 levels without significantly increasing iodothyronine 5’-monodeiodinase. In basic terms, ashwagandha was able to increase thyroid function. Other studies found that it helped decrease gluconeogenesis and improve antioxidant activity to protect the thyroid. Ashwagandha also stimulates the endocrine system and works to encourage lipid peroxide levels in the liver.
Piperine is the active ingredient in long pepper and black pepper. It is an alkaloid that has been able to reduce thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and insulin to almost normal levels. This is great news for people with hyperthyroidism. Piperine’s thyrogenic activity may also help to improve levels of A-1, T3, T4, and iodine. An animal study confirmed that piperine exhibited an ability to alter lipid profiles, hormone levels, and apolipoproteins.
Bauhinia purpurea is a flowering plant that is native to the Indian subcontinent. A study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology monitored female mice that received bauhinia purpurea bark extract for 20 days. The conclusion of the study was that the bark extract increased both T3 and T4 concentrations. In human trials, Bauhinia purpurea helped to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, while protecting the thyroid from oxidative stress. It works to enhance antioxidant enzyme secretion, which may help to reverse metformin-induced hypothyroidism.