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Herbs for Thyroid Health

Emilie Peck is a freelance writer. She is also a student of alternative medicine, including massage therapy, herbalism and aromatherapy.

What Is the Thyroid?

The thyroid is a gland located at the front of the throat, and it is extremely important in the maintenance of metabolism. Because thyroid health is so dependent upon what we eat, thyroid problems have been on the rise as the nutritional quality of the typical American diet has declined.

The mainstream treatment is to use hormones to replace those that are not being produced, or medication to reduce the activity of an overactive thyroid.

Alternative medicine may offer a different way to treat thyroid imbalances.

Please note, however, that it is imperative to communicate with your healthcare provider to determine your best course of action. Often, alternative medicine can complement mainstream medicine. If you are pregnant, always consult your doctor before taking herbal medicine of any kind.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism happens when the thyroid is underactive. Herbs providing nutrition which may be lacking in the current diet or promote hormone production can help balance this problem.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Sage is extremely well known in the metaphysical circles as a cleansing agent for areas and people. However, it has both culinary and medicinal properties as well.

It has been used for centuries to reduce sweating, which is a common symptom of this disorder. It balances progesterone and testosterone production as well. This is important because these hormones regulate thyroid activity. Most importantly when used in this capacity is its high level of selenium, a trace element vital to healthy thyroid function which is sorely lacking in the average American’s diet.

One of the especially nice things about sage is that you can incorporate into your diet through cooking or tea, preventing the need to take another set of pills, although it is available in freeze-dried caplet form.

There is a possibility for allergy, so discontinue use of any signs of a reaction, including asthma attacks, result. In addition, never ingest sage oil. Although the herb itself isn’t toxic, the distilled oil is. Reserve the oil for topical use or your oil burner instead.

Bladderwack (Fucus vesiculosus)

This strangely named plant is actually a variety of seaweed, sometimes known as kelp. Because it comes from the sea, it has naturally high iodine content, another vital nutrient for healthy thyroid function. This plant is very commonly used for thyroid health by many naturalists. You can use it in cooking, tea or capsule form.

However, because it originates from the ocean, it can absorb heavy metals from the water. Always check out the supplier and where the plant came from.

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is the exact opposite of hypothyroidism. In this case, the thyroid is too active, and can eventually burn itself out. A condition that can cause this problem is called Graves Disease, which is a disease which forces the thyroid into overdrive.

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon balm has been a medicinal favorite since the ancient Greek times. The genus name, Melissa, actually means “bee” in their language because it was so popular with bees and produced such lovely honey, another substance of great medicinal use.

This herb helps depress thyroid function through normalizing the production of thyroid stimulating hormone, or TSH. Although it isn’t popularly used in the United States, it has already been mainstreamed in Europe in injection form. Lemon balm is also well known for its use in treating anxiety, fatigue depression and a host of other problems. This herb can be used in cooking, brewed into a tea or taken in capsule form.

Because it is a natural sedative, it has the potential to enhance sedative effects of other herbs or medications taken. When considering herbal medicine, always watch for interactions between medications or other herbs. A professional herbalist or naturalist can help with this.

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)

Motherwort gets its name from its extensive benefit to new mothers and women in general. This relative of mint is best known for its toning action on the uterus and other female organs. It’s also used to encouraging sluggish lactation and increase fertility. However, it is also effective in the treatment of hyperthyroidism. It may do this through its soothing action on the nervous system. It doesn’t suppress thyroid action in a healthy individual. It has been approved for hyperthyroidism treatment in Germany by Commission E, their equivalent to the FDA in the US.

Usage of this herb can possibly cause side effects like stomach irritation and diarrhea.

Although herbal medicine is usually more gentle than many mainstream medications, there is always the possibility of allergy or drug interaction. If you are under medical care, always consult your physician before altering your treatment plan.

Do you now your herbs?

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Which of these herbs would a landlubber not find in their backyard?
    • Sage
    • Bladderwrack
    • Commission E
  2. Which of these herbs treats hyperthyroidism?
    • Motherwort
    • Sage
    • Bladderwrack
  3. Which herb did the Greeks name after the honey bee?
    • Lemon balm
    • Sage
    • Bladderwrack
  4. Which herb is also widely used in a spiritually cleansing capacity?
    • Motherwort
    • Bladderwrack
    • Sage

Answer Key

  1. Bladderwrack
  2. Motherwort
  3. Lemon balm
  4. Sage

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Comments

Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on November 18, 2012:

Hi there! Best of luck with the tea - I hope it helps!

Kathy from Jordan MN on November 18, 2012:

Hi I am also from MN. I have Hypothyroidism and I found your article very interesting. I am going to try the sage tea.

Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on September 28, 2012:

Thank you!

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on September 28, 2012:

Useful and informative. I will try to identify the herbs you have listed here.

Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on September 26, 2012:

Thank you very much! I'm happy you found it handy.

mecheshier on September 26, 2012:

Great Hub. Very informative and useful. Thanks for sharing. Vote up

Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on September 25, 2012:

It struck me as a bit strange as I was reading about it, too, but it's one of those sort of off the wall things that makes sense once you look further into it. To be honest, eating seaweed or algae in general strikes me as a bit odd, but I have seen good results on a personal level when I'd tried blue-green algae for better immunity years ago.

Same here, I stick with natural treatments as much as possible as well. It just makes sense to keep chemical intervention as a last resort.

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on September 25, 2012:

Yes, bladderwack seems strange. When possible I go for natural treatments.