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When trying to manage your underactive thyroid, herbal remedies have a lot of merit to help manage some of the side effects associated with hypothyroidism. The question is are some herbal remedies better than others to help you find relief?

If you have unrelenting fatigue, find yourself out of breath when even doing mild exercises, or have moderate weight gain regardless of how much you exercise, it may be time to check your TSH, T3 and T4 levels at your primary care's office [1]. An underactive thyroid is a common problem and can affect up to 15 percent of the population [2]. Simple treatment with Levothyroxine, a synthetic thyroid molecule product, is traditionally the "gold-standard" when it comes to alleviating your symptoms but even medications have their shortfalls [3]. We associate Levothyroxine with some side effects like 

  • chest palpitations,
  • joint pains,
  • and easily overheating 

and patients may seek alternative remedies to avoid these unpleasant sensations [4]. Herbal remedies provide a natural alternative without the same risks. Be warned, however, because not all herbal remedies are feasible with an underactive thyroid. 

Two Herbs to Help with Your Underactive Thyroid 

When dealing with thyroid dysfunction, one of the herbs for hypothyroidism to consider is already popular in the health world and goes by the name of Ginkgo. 

This is a compound that is very practical for treatment options for an underactive thyroid because it s a natural stimulant that can make the fatigue and the tiredness associated with a low thyroid disappear. 

Researchers tested Ginkgo  in a study dealing with patients suffering from Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD.) The standard treatment for children with ADHD is a daily dose of Methylphenidate, a compound that is a stimulant itself but because it is often hard to dose out, it may leave children in a depressed state [5]. Ginkgo was added as a compound along with Methylphenidate to determine the effectiveness of therapy compared to a control group. At the conclusion of the study, it researchers concluded that children who took a combination of these products were more energetic and were able to focus and concentrate much more efficiently with a response rate of 94 percent compared to just Methylphenidate alone generating a rate of only 54 percent. [6]

Another herb you should consider when dealing with an underactive thyroid was covered in a previous article about essential oils that are good for your underactive thyroid, and that's peppermint. Peppermint is another compound that not only helps increase energy levels in patients that are fatigued but also targets the metabolism. It is believed that the thyroid hormone is responsible for about 20 percent of your metabolic function and if it is not working properly, you are only running on "half-capacity." [7] Peppermint was tested on athletes to determine if there was an increase in their performance after a 10-day trial and researchers found that after consumption, athletes had improved respiration rate, were able to generate more power and had more stamina because of this herbal supplement [8].

A Herb to Avoid When Diagnosed with Underactive Thyroid 

When managing your underactive thyroid, either through hypothyroidism diet or herbs, medical community contraindicates some herbs for hypothyroidism due to their adverse effects on thyroid function. 

When you realize you have a thyroid issue, you should avoid all herbal preparations of kelp because of the high levels of iodine levels found in this product. One tablet of herbal kelp contains 225 micrograms of iodine, a level already 115 percent the daily recommendation of iodine [9]. 

Although insufficient levels of iodine generally cause hypothyroidism, supplementing with kelp is not the course to take to introduce iodine into your diet. 

If a patient suddenly floods their body with high levels of iodine, patients can unintentionally give themselves Grave's disease, predispose them to thyroid cancer or lead to permanent hypothyroidism after your thyroid gland becomes too overworked [10]. 

One study was able to quantify how dangerous kelp can be when it comes to your underactive thyroid. It consisted of having 36 healthy adults with normal thyroid levels partake in specific diets of either no kelp, low-doses of kelp, or high-doses of kelp. A low dose of kelp was determined to be two tablets of herbal kelp a day (230 percent of the daily recommendation) and a high dose was classified as four tablets a day (460 percent of the daily recommendation). After four weeks, researchers determined that both low-dose kelp and high-dose kelp caused an increase in TSH levels. This measure is used to analyze your thyroid function, and low levels of TSH are associated with hyperthyroidism while high levels equate to hypothyroidism. These kelp pills turned healthy people into hypothyroid patients. At a follow-up investigation held two weeks after the diet, researchers found that those who only took low-doses of kelp returned to normal levels of TSH but those who took high levels of medication now had defficient TSH levels, indicative of their hypothyroidism shifting to hyperthyroidism, a phenomenon that is known as the Wolff-Chaikoff effect. [11,12

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