Herbs that Help Support Thyroid Health
Thousands of people walk the planet every day with invisible illnesses. And not just illnesses that aren’t obvious to the naked eye—illnesses that may be invisible to doctors and the medical world, too.
There are conditions out there that are hard to understand, hard to detect, and hard to treat.
Modern medicine is attempting to learn more about them. But that doesn’t mean that they can always avoid failing them—though in the case with natural and herbal approaches, this is a different matter.
One such group of conditions, often very overlooked and misunderstood, is thyroid health conditions. Thyroid health and illnesses are still very underexplored, and yet they are more widespread among the population than most of us realize.
WHAT IS THE THYROID?
One reason why thyroid conditions can be so mysterious: not many people know about the thyroid or what it does.
Doctors know all about the thyroid, but its role in the larger framework of health is still yet to be completely understood.
The thyroid is a gland located in the neck by the throat. It’s a part of the endocrine system, a larger system of glands in the body.
Its basic functions are to regulate hormones, produce important hormones, govern metabolism, and influence weight to some degree. It has lots of other jobs as well.
And yet, when disease strikes the thyroid, it can be hard to trace the ensuing symptoms to this gland—or to understand why an unhealthy thyroid does the things it does.
SYMPTOMS RELATED TO THYROID HEALTH
For all the reasons above, it can be hard to detect an unhealthy thyroid. It can also be easy to mix up its symptoms with other health problems.
Over time, the following have been considered the most common symptoms of a thyroid condition:
- Enlargement of the thyroid gland
- Brain fog and memory issues
- Difficulty concentration or low cognition
- Nervousness, irritability, sluggishness
- Increased temperature sensitivity (hot or cold)
- Digestive disturbances (diarrhea or constipation)
- Extreme changes in bowel habits
- Extreme changes in appetite
- Unusually slowed or increased heart rate
- Anxiety or depression
- Reproductive health issues
- Excessive sweating or clamminess
- Thinning, brittle hair or hair loss
- Dry skin
CONDITIONS RELATED TO THYROID HEALTH
If thyroid symptoms aren’t vague and general enough, these symptoms can also be the sign of not just one thyroid condition, but possibly one of many—maybe even more than one.
The following are some of the most common thyroid conditions:
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
- Graves’ Disease
- Thyroid Nodules
- Thyroid cancer
Ultimately, it takes a doctor to recognize if symptoms are thyroid-related or if there is a thyroid condition present. These symptoms and conditions can be a good start to finding some answers, but make sure to follow up with a health professional to get an official diagnosis.
HOW THYROID HEALTH AFFECTS ALL HEALTH (AND VICE VERSA)
One of the biggest challenges of dealing with affected thyroid health? It doesn’t stay in its lane.
But it can also be hard to untangle thyroid symptoms from symptoms of other conditions.
HERBS THAT MAY HELP WITH THYROID HEALTH
Modern medicine and doctors have ways to support most thyroid diseases. But people have also turned to the natural world for thyroid support, such as from certain healing herbs and mushrooms.
These are not known to rectify thyroid conditions, however.
But they may be able to support the endocrine system and the thyroid as a supplement over the long term, which may, in turn, reduce severity and discomfort. The other perk of botanicals: they don’t have as many undesirable side effects as mainstream thyroid medications do.
More studies are needed before calling any herb or mushroom a thyroid treatment, but the following are some of the best and brightest so far.
One of the most classic of Indian herbs, ashwagandha is an herbalist’s first choice for thyroid health support.
Its use for the condition is also not just unique to healing practices in India, such as Ayurveda. Herbalists and enthusiasts for natural health all over the world have turned to it when the gland is in a time of need.
Studies also show great potential for ashwagandha and the thyroid, too.
In one study, researchers weren’t even testing for ashwagandha’s thyroid effects, but they showed up in the results anyway. The study showed that the herb helped enhance the function of the gland in the healthiest way possible, whether underactive or overactive.
Though astragalus is very popular and an important part of healing in the eastern world like ashwagandha, this herb has actually spread even more prolifically around the world compared to the Indian root.
Astragalus is a popular immune-boosting botanical. It is especially known for enhancing immunity and curbing inflammation, but it is also known to possibly help with autoimmune issues like rheumatoid arthritis.
One study showed that polysaccharides extracted from the herb had therapeutic effects on autoimmune inflammation.
Many thyroid disorders are caused by autoimmunity, including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. So, in this respect, astragalus could be very supportive of the thyroid, though more studies are needed before calling it a thyroid treatment.
Another healing botanical based in Asia, cordyceps, in this case, is a mushroom—and a very bizarre mushroom at that.
Its scientific growing habits aside, cordyceps has surprisingly drawn even more attention for its health benefits. Traditional healers used it, but scientists have also studied it for some of its interesting activities.
On the one hand, cordyceps appears to have an influence on hormones and the endocrine system, according to one study.
It also has relieving effects on autoimmunity, according to another. Hand in hand, this could make it supportive of thyroid health over the long-term as a supplement, though can’t yet be called a thyroid condition remedy without more studies.
Also known as “Siberian ginseng,” the root of this plant and its healing qualities have often been compared to that of true ginseng.
Eleuthero doesn’t quite have the same reputation or intensity in its effects as ginseng, but the fact that it comes close—and can even be used as a ginseng replacement—says a lot.
Most notably, eleuthero appears to be an endocrine supporter.
This was one of its many purposes listed in a major review of the supplement herb, to support the glandular system and hormones. Another study demonstrated anti-inflammatory, autoimmune-reducing benefits, too.
So, like cordyceps, eleuthero is both endocrine and immune-supporting, a very good thing for thyroid health.
A vining plant related to cucumbers, gynostemma (also called jiaogulan or Herb of Immortality) may also bring some benefits for thyroid health to the table.
This herb, also from Asia, is better known for adaptogen qualities, immune-boosting, protecting the nervous system, and much more. Part of its immune powers involves autoimmune relief.
For this reason, herbalists may recommend gynostemma to people with certain thyroid disorders.
As before mentioned, thyroid health can often be harmed by autoimmunity. In one study, compounds from gynostemma called “gypenosides” where found to counterbalance autoimmunity with anti-inflammatory effects.
Could this be a help to those with struggling thyroid health? Possibly, though more studies will be needed.
Ashwagandha is a popular herb used for herbal thyroid therapy by herbalists and natural practitioners, along with a few other herbs, too. Second to it, though, comes the sweet and delectable licorice root.
Where there are many thyroid-supporting herbs in the East, licorice is the thyroid herb of the West.
American and European herbal traditions use licorice root often for digestive upsets and for colds and flu. But it’s also used by more advanced practitioners in Asia for autoimmune and thyroid health.
One study tested a decoction containing the herb on a case of Hashimoto’s (autoimmune) thyroiditis. Results showed it helped the illnesses as an immunomodulator and an excellent thyroid herb.
There aren’t many herbal adaptogens that could be finer than rhodiola. It has amazing prestige as a whole-body protector and health-booster, not unlike ginseng or eleuthero.
Ways that rhodiola strengthens health: by improving immunity, increasing energy, banishing depression, and many more benefits, too.
Though studies also show rhodiola has immune qualities that could be healing to thyroid health—autoimmune qualities. More specifically, rhodiola is an “immunomodulator,” meaning that it helps balance immunity: enhancing it where it needs to be strengthened, but also stopping it from attacking itself, as in the case of autoimmunity.
For people with immune-related thyroid conditions, like autoimmune thyroiditis or Hashimoto’s, rhodiola could be the perfect supportive supplement.
An herb also known as “five-flavor berry” is bound to have miraculous effects.
An adaptogen of the highest caliber like rhodiola, gynostemma, and others, schisandra is considered a top tonic for restoring energy in the face of fatigue, depression, and stress. It’s capable of a whole lot more than that thought, too.
This includes benefits for the thyroid.
One study found that schisandra contains a very anti-inflammatory compound, the same compound being responsible for some of the adaptogen berry’s anti-fatigue effects. But it could offer more, especially for autoimmune-related thyroid conditions.
Most intriguing, however, is this study: in which schisandra helped reverse the growth of thyroid cancer. So it may not just be beneficial for thyroid health, but for helping reduce the risk of thyroid cancers, too.
FIND ALL THESE HERBS IN OUR ENDOCRINE-FOCUSED FORMULA
Our gift of protection to thyroid health: an endocrine-focused formula, Endo Adrenal.
The herbs in this article are all ingredients in this supplement blend. We’ve chosen each herb and mushroom not just based on endocrine powers, but their ability to rejuvenate energy, restore focus, and heal metabolism.
- Siberian eleuthero
- Rhodiola rosea
- Black Pepper Fruit Extract
OTHER WAYS TO SUPPORT THYROID HEALTH
Besides herbs, are there other ways to bolster thyroid health? What about more efforts to reduce the risk of thyroid conditions?
There’s plenty more beyond the world of herbs and mushrooms.
Diet and even lifestyle changes can help keep thyroid health in tip-top shape. This includes:
- Improving gut health and digestion
- Reducing consumption of sugar and processed foods
- Boosting liver health
- Reducing stress
- Eating more nutrient-dense foods
- Improving mitochondrial health
- Getting high quality sleep
It may seem like the above are unrelated to thyroid or even endocrine health, but there are strong connections. Especially the digestive system and liver are important to thyroid health: these systems are crucial to converting thyroid hormones into the most useful forms for health all over.
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