Herbs & Vitamins for Thyroid Function
- The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, produces the thyroid hormones, T-3 and T-4, which in turn help to regulate metabolism. If the thyroid is underactive, it is not producing enough hormones and you may feel sluggish, experience joint pain or have muscle weakness. If the thyroid produces too many hormones, you may have insomnia, feel nervous or jumpy and have heart palpitations. The "cure" for an overactive thyroid is to make it underactive by eliminating part of the thyroid through surgery or radioactive iodine treatment. The result is an underactive thyroid; therefore most medical and natural remedies are for an underactive thyroid and focus on improving thyroid function.
- Dr. Ivan Kelley of The Natural Health Place recommends that a person with an underactive thyroid supplement his or her diet with iodine, sodium, potassium, selenium, zinc and vitamins A, B complex and C, all of which are relevant to thyroid function. Iodine is the key ingredient in thyroid function, although according to the Mayo Clinic, a patient must have a severe iodine deficiency in order for it to affect the thyroid.
- While even herbal specialists, including Shasta Tierra-Tayam, agree that no herb contains thyroid hormone, they do recommend adding some herbs that will stimulate metabolism and blood flow to your diet. In particular, guggul, which is resin from a tree found in India, is recommended as it is a "warm" herb that will help to increase blood flow. Tierra-Tayam also recommends triphala, also from India, which is a combination of three herbs said to help to increase the number of red blood cells and aid in appetite and digestion.
- If you suffer from hypothyroidism and take a daily synthetic thyroid replacement pill, be aware that some of the vitamins and herbs recommended above may interact with your body's ability to absorb the thyroid replacement. In particular, according to the Mayo Clinic, zinc and soy products, as well as other trace elements or minerals, may inhibit absorption.