Today 27 million Americans have thyroid disease, and about 13 million of them are undiagnosed.
Does the hair on your eyebrow thin-out from the middle to the end? Have you experienced thinning or hair loss? Do you have cold hands and feet and dry skin? These are some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, a condition that can affect your thyroid gland.
Thyroid problems occur seven times more often in women than men, with chances increasing after childbirth and during menopause.
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in your neck below your Adam’s apple. It works like the gas pedal for your metabolism and also regulates your weight, energy, gastrointestinal health, nervous system and hormone balance. It produces two important hormones:
T3 (Triiodothyronine) is the more active of your thyroid hormones, and is derived from T4 by a metabolic conversion that happens in your gut and liver. It is considered the Queen of thyroid hormones.
T4 (Thyroxine) is produced by your thyroid gland when it binds with iodine. It is mostly an inactive hormone but gets converted to the more active T3.
Together T3 and T4 thyroid hormones impact your:
- Metabolism—including energy production, fat burning, and absorption of nutrients and supplements.
- Body temperature—which in turn affects many chemical reactions
- Heart rate
- Brain function and mood
- Muscle strength
- Reproductive health
- Bone strength
Millions of women with symptoms of menopause, even those taking estrogen, may be suffering from undiagnosed thyroid disease. According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, “Many women develop thyroid issues without even realizing they have a problem. Other women develop chronic thyroid conditions, which can occur at any age.”
The most common conditions are:
- Overactive Thyroid: Hyperthyroidism/Graves’ disease
- Takes place when your body over-produces thyroid hormones, which have an over-stimulating effect. Commonly caused by the autoimmune condition Graves’ disease. Many women who start out with Graves’ disease end up developing Hashimoto’s.
- Underactive Thyroid: Hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s (most common)
- Hypothyroidism is a condition where your pituitary is producing too much TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) in an effort to stimulate your thyroid gland to increase production of other thyroid hormones. In hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s may be the cause or can develop over time. Not everyone with hypo or hyperthyroidism develops Hashimoto’s. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition, which occurs when your immune system attacks your thyroid, destroying the proper function of this important gland. Inflammation from Hashimoto’s then leads your thyroid gland to be underactive. Read our article here, to learn more about common and less common symptoms of Hashimoto’s.
Powerful Plants for Thyroid Support
Herbal adaptogens are a helpful way to stabilize your hormones. They also help lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, and balance T4 levels—your thyroid hormone. The following herbs, spices, and foods can support your thyroid function and alleviate thyroid symptoms by balancing hormones:
- This herb helps to balance hormones by calming the body’s response to stress. It is also known to boost endurance. As a result, it can help combat inflammation and boost your immunity. Add some ashwaganda to dandelion lattes and protein balls for an extra health kick.
- Is also known as Siberian ginseng, because it has impacts that are similar to Panax ginseng. It helps lower the over-reactivity of the HPO axis, a feedback loop between your brain and other organs such as the kidneys, that is involved in the fight or flight response when you are stressed. Eleuthero can help balance out hormones to prevent excess levels of adrenaline and cortisol impacting on the body. This hormonal balance also helps stabilize thyroid function.
- Assists in protecting the thyroid gland from oxidative damage and may help to lower levels of cortisol. It is also used by integrative practitioners to increase energy.
Powerful Antioxidants and Inflammation Reducers can support healthy thyroid function and protect the gland from environmental damage. Research supports that toxins from the environment “ are associated with reduced thyroid hormone levels or impaired thyroid hormone action, a number of environmental exposures confer an increased risk of autoimmune thyroid disease.” (Environmental Exposures and Autoimmune Thyroid Disease, Thyroid. 2010 Jul; 20(7): 755–761.) Additionally, food intolerances and leaky gut syndrome can cause inflammation that affects thyroid health.
According to the NIH, “Rigorous scientific studies involving more than 100,000 people combined have tested whether antioxidant supplements can help prevent chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and cataracts. In most instances, antioxidants did not reduce the risks of developing these diseases”. In addition, recent studies have also shown over time, that chronic, and low-level inflammation can set the foundation for serious diseases like Alzheimer’s and depression.
- Known in India as the “holy powder” and “spice of life,” this health-boosting root is a star spice. Due in large part to curcumin, Turmeric has scientifically proven health benefits. Polyphenol (a micronutrient) is what gives Turmeric its marigold color and high antioxidant levels. These help to lower inflammation, which in turn, reduces the attack of the immune system on the thyroid.
- This comes from the active component of the thick, knotted rhizome root of the Zingiber plant and has potent anti-inflammatory actions. These help to stabilize the thyroid gland and reduce the risk of underactive (Hashimoto’s) and overactive (Grave’s disease) thyroid conditions.
- An Ayurvedic herb produced from the resin of the flowering Mukul Myrrh Tree. It contains a plant sterol that helps to balance hormones, stimulate thyroid function and promotes the conversion of T4 to T3.
Learn how to add hormone-balancing ingredients to your meals with our FREE 15 Breakfasts to Rebalance Your Hormones guide here.
Soothing Over Stimulation and Why It Matters
We have all heard stress is bad for the body. When low or high levels of stress are experienced, your cortisol levels are elevated. These elevated cortisol levels then elevate other hormones that are inflammatory. Inflammation can cause a cascade of hormonal havoc which people will react to and recover from differently. It can knock some people out for weeks to months, depending on their underlying health. Others are not affected. Something as stressful as a surgery can bring on a latent condition such as Hashimoto’s. Herbs have amazing properties that can reduce anxiety, promote calm and reduce levels of cortisol. Try these two herbs on a stressful day or night and feel the magic.
- This is a “nerve tonic” that helps to reduce anxiety and overstimulation that may trigger thyroid issues or be caused by excess thyroid hormones.
- Lemon Balm:
- Animal studies show that lemon balm reduces levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. It also increases GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter brain chemical which helps promote relaxation and counters feelings of tension and anxiety.
One of our iconic programs—Herbs for Balance—shows you how to use everyday herbs and DIY skincare recipes to restore hormonal health. It’s a self-guided, 6-week program with live online community support.
Herbs for Balance was developed to help our community bring the power of common herbs (such as dandelions, nettles, red clover) into everyday life; whether it’s your kitchen, bathroom, food, or topical applications.
Here are just a few of the things you’ll learn:
- Which simple herbs can support your liver on a daily basis?
- Which herbs should I use when I get hot flashes?
- How do I make a truly medicinally potent herbal infusion?
- How do I make a quick latte using ashwagandha?
- What can I do with common weeds such as yarrow, red clover, dandelions, nettles or plantains?
Our Herbs for Balance is available for just $57. Get it here.
Inactive Thyroid seems like nothing working .
Hi Genevieve, that does sound challenging and you should look into Magdalena’s Cooking for Balance or Thyroid Cleanse. http://www.cookingforbalance.com/join.
Where can I get these herbs? I never see them at the grocery store
in any Indian grocery store in your area.
Look at the vitamin shoppe I’ll bet they have all of it.
Don’t know what to believe. Some articles say Licorice is bad for thyroid probs, others say it’s good for thyroid. I’ll be sending back this licorice root I bought if one adverse affect shows up. Sounds a bit dangerous by some accounts.
Hi Bella, herbs can be confusing as ever person is different, What helps one person might not benefit another or could make symptoms worse. It’s good to tune into your body to determine if licorice root is right for you. We also recommend working with a registered herbalist. If interested, here is a helpful tool to find a registered herbalist near you: https://www.americanherbalistsguild.com/fundamentals
~ Jeanne HB Team
What put me off taking liquorice is that I read it lowers or stops iron absorption (I’m anaemic).
Question: I have Thyroid Nodules, Inactive Thyroid and Pre-diabetes. I am a senior. I take Fenugreek for my pre-diabetes, it keeps the blood sugar down. Is Fenugreek harmful to my inactive thyroid?
Thank you kindly.
Please work with a clinical herbalist who can assist you on a more individualized basis.
Here is an excellent resource to find one in your area. https://www.americanherbalistsguild.com/fundamentals
Hi! Can lemon balm be used if you have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s that is now in remission?
Hi Susan, lemon balm will affect thyroid function by inhibiting TSH receptor binding. It would be best to consult with a clinical herbalist to determine whether this would be a suitable herb for you. ~HB Support
What if you have no thyroid due to thyroidectomy?
My thyroid is all but gone due to thyroid replacement. Is there any herb I can take to support my thyroid function since I am taking synthroid but I am still fatigued, losing hair and can’t lose weight.
Thank you so much for ur knowledge and ur assistance
Hi Barbara, apart from the herbs listed in the article, it would be best to consult with a clinical herbalist. They will have the best background and insights to support you. This link can help you find a registered herbalist. https://www.americanherbalistsguild.com/member-profiles ~HB Support
My thyroid was removed 10 yrs ago ( toxic) . Im having hairloss. Sometimes i gain weight and sometimes im losing weight .