Herbs For The Thyroid
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Unless you suffer from a thyroid condition, it is easy to ignore the function of the thyroid gland. Although small, this endocrine gland - situated just below your neck - plays a big role in regulating metabolic processes in your body. With a dysfunctional thyroid, the functioning of almost all your organs is likewise disrupted. Thyroid disorders generally fall under 3 categories: an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism, an under-active thyroid or hypothyroidism and an enlarged thyroid characterized by the presence of nodules. 
Unfortunately, thyroid conditions are usually misdiagnosed because most of their symptoms (such as weight gain or loss, chronic fatigue, depression, skin and hair dryness, constipation or diarrhea and menstrual irregularities) are quite similar to those of other disorders.  To make things even more confusing - the 3 types of thyroid disorders can have overlapping characteristics.
Therefore before embarking on any treatment, whether herbal or medicinal, it is important to have a medical professional diagnose your symptoms and identify the disorder first. Likewise, it is important to use remedies with an understanding of how promoting thyroid health works. For instance, while some herbs improve overall thyroid conditions, some herbs can only benefit hyperthyroidism but conversely may be detrimental to its extreme counterpart, hypothyroidism. 
However, most herbs for promoting thyroid health are not like pharmaceutical medications that attempt to replace thyroid hormones, decrease hormone production or the size of the thyroid gland. Instead, they are regarded for being able to provide the appropriate thyroid support - acting preventatively and facilitating the healing process.  Although some clinical studies do not find evidence for completely treating thyroid conditions with traditional herbal medicine, they are thought to contribute to lower relapse rates, less adverse effects, relief of symptoms and improvement of thyroid antibody conditions and thyroid functioning. Here are 10 herbs thought beneficial for the thyroid:
10 Herbal Remedies for Thyroid Health
Echinacea is a popular herb used to boost the immune system and is considered to be helpful for those suffering from hyperthyroidism or thyroiditis. One expert who has over 20 years of experience with autoimmune conditions provides his patients with echinacea root and has seen positive effects. 
This herb is important for maintaining a balance among different glands so that thyroid patients who often suffer from fatigue have improved energy.  Moreover in 2011, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology in Texas isolated synthetically derived constituents of triterpenoid glycyrrhetinic acid, a major component of licorice and found it to inhibit the growth of highly invasive thyroid cancer cells. This demonstrates licorice's potential to be an effective clinical treatment of thyroid cancer and other endocrine-related disorders. 
In a 2013 study assessed the effects and safety of bugle extract in tablet or liquid form on 403 patients with mild hyperthyroidism. These researchers observed statistically and clinically significant improvements of the symptoms of those given the tablet. These improvements were reported without any major side effects.  Because of bugleweed's effectiveness in alleviating mild hyperthyroidism, some experts believe it can gradually replace medications like methimazole or PTU. 
This is an herb with antioxidant properties that is popularly believed to directly affect the thyroid by producing just the right amount of hormones.  Aside from providing a hormonal balance, ashwagandha is known to help the body fight stress by improving the immune system and has also been found to have anti-inflammatory properties.  A study conducted in 2011 found that Ashwagandha extract is able to stimulate thyroidal activity and enhance antiperoxidation of hepatic tissue. 
Studies have confirmed that bacopa is able to stimulate the thyroid in order to effectively fight hypothyroidism. It has been found to regulate thyroid hormone concentrations by as much as 41% without adverse reactions. 
Also popularly known as Siberian ginseng, eleuthero is considered a wonder herb for people suffering from hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Siberian ginseng is believed to be effective in treating hypothyroidism by regulating hormones levels. Furthermore, this potent herb contains substances that assist the normal functioning of the thymus and adrenal glands. 
Aside from hypothyroidism, bladderwrack is considered to be an essential herb for many health conditions. This algae or seaweed contains high levels of natural iodine which is known to stimulate the thyroid gland. Bladderwrack contains substances that help to restore the normal functioning of the thyroid gland as well as reduce the size of thyroid goiters. It is thought to play a role in stimulating increased production of thyroid hormones in order to prevent the development of thyroid diseases.  Although this herb is often used to treat thyroid malfunctions, little is known about how this herb actually works. 
Flaxseeds are known to be rich in essential fatty acids, especially omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to be good for thyroid health. In a study conducted by the University of Maryland Medical Center, it was found that consumption of foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, like flaxseed, helps to boost the production of thyroid hormones. Such activity potentially reduces one's susceptibility to hypothyroidism. 
Aside from seafoods, black walnut is considered to be one of the richest sources of iodine. Research shows, iodine is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in optimizing the health and functioning of the thyroid glands. Furthermore, it was found that insufficient amounts of iodine usually lead to a number of conditions which include chronic fatigue, depression, mental impairment, and goiters. 
As a part of the mint family, lemon balm is an amazing herb that is considered to be beneficial for the thyroid glands. Research shows that this herb is useful for normalizing the activities of overactive thyroid glands. It is said to reduce the production of thyroid hormones and eases the symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism. 
Herbs For Thyroid - References:
 Inhibition of pituitary tumor-transforming gene-1 in thyroid cancer cells by drugs that decrease specificity proteins. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21268135
 Improvement of symptoms in mild hyperthyroidism with an extract of Lycopus europaeus (ThyreoguttÆ mono). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23247973
 Relative efficacy of three medicinal plant extracts in the alteration of thyroid hormone concentrations in male mice. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=bacopa%2C+thyroid
 Chinese herbal medicines for hyperthyroidism. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17443591
 Sunanda Panda and Anand Kar, "Changes in Thyroid Hormone Concentrations after Administration of Ashwagandha Root Extract to Adult Male Mice," Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology 50, no. 9 (September 1, 1998): 1065–68, doi:10.1111/j.2042-7158.1998.tb06923.x.
 Eric Yarnell and Kathy Abascal, "Botanical Medicine for Thyroid Regulation," Alternative & Complementary Therapies 12, no. 3 (June 2006): 107–12, doi:10.1089/act.2006.12.107.
Article researched and created by Cathy Ongking and Elfe Cabanas, © herbs-info.com 2013
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