Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Hypothyroidism is diagnosed when your thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormone.
People diagnosed with hypothyroidism need medical treatment, but nutrition and herbs can help support conventional treatment. Neither herbs nor other talternative treatment should ever be used by themselves to treat hypothyroidism. You should see a doctor to find out the correct diagnosis and what the medical treatment is.
Nutrition and Supplements
Following these nutritional tips may help reduce symptoms:
Avoid alcohol and tobacco. Talk to your doctor before increasing your caffeine intake, as caffeine impacts several conditions and medications.
- If you take thyroid hormone medication, talk to your doctor before eating soy products. There is some evidence soy may interfere with Eat foods high in B-vitamins and iron, such as whole grains (if no allergy), fresh vegetables, and sea vegetables.
- Avoid foods that interfere with thyroid function, including broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, spinach, turnips, soybeans, peanuts, linseed, pine nuts, millet, cassava, and mustard greens.
- the absorption of thyroid hormone.
- Taking iron supplements may interfere with the absorption of thyroid hormone medication, so ask your doctor before taking iron.
- Eat foods high in antioxidants, including fruits (such as blueberries, cherries, and tomatoes) and vegetables (such as squash and bell pepper).
Do not take an iodine supplement unless your doctor tells you to. Iodine is only effective when hypothyroidism is caused by iodine deficiency, which is rare in the developed world. And too much iodine can actually cause hypothyroidism.
These supplements may also help:
- Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil, to help decrease inflammation and help with immunity. Omega-3 fatty acids may increase the risk of bleeding, especially if you already take blood-thinning medication. Ask your doctor before taking omega-3 fatty acids if you take blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin) or if you have a bleeding disorder.
- L-tyrosine, 500 mg two to three times daily. The thyroid gland combines tyrosine and iodine to make thyroid hormone. If you are taking prescription thyroid hormone medication, you should never take L-tyrosine without direction from your doctor. Do not take L-tyrosine if you have high blood pressure or have symptoms of mania.
Herbs are a way to strengthen and tone the body's systems. As with any therapy, you should work with your health care provider to get your problem diagnosed before starting any treatment. You may use herbs may as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). People with a history of alcoholism should not take tinctures. Unless otherwise indicated, make teas with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 - 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 - 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 - 4 cups per day. You may use tinctures singly or in combination as noted.
Few herbs have been studied for treating hypothyroidism. More research is needed.
- Coleus (Coleus forskohlii), for low thyroid function. Coleus may interfere with certain medications, including some blood pressure medicines, nitrogylcern, and blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin (Coumadin). Talk to your doctor.
- Guggul (Commiphora mukul), for low thyroid support. Guggul may interfere with estrogen, birth control pills, and other medications. Talk with your doctor.
- Bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus), for low thyroid support. Do not take bladderwrack unless directed by your doctor. Bladderwrack contains iodine. Although lack of iodine can cause hypothyroidism, most cases of hypothyroidism in the developed world are not caused by iodine deficiency. In fact, too much iodine can actually cause hypothyroidism. Bladderwrack may also contain toxic heavy metals.
Homeopathy may be useful as a supportive therapy. Acupuncture may be helpful in correcting hormonal imbalances, including thyroid disorders.
Contrast hydrotherapy (application of hot and cold) to the neck and throat may stimulate thyroid function. Alternate 3 minutes hot with 1 minute cold. Repeat three times for one set. Do two to three sets per day.