5 Helpful Herbs for Thyroid Awareness Month

Published on January 20, 2023


By Kristen Boye BS, Natural Health

Kristen Boye

Kristen Boye is a natural health expert, writer, copywriter, and editor. Kristen was raised on an organic farm in British Columbia which inspired her life’s work. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Health, is a Certified Natural Foods Chef, co-owner of a medicinal herb farm, and is a natural foods and children’s health advocate. Kristen lives with her husband and two children on their medicinal herb farm in Western North Carolina.

https://www.holisticwritingconcepts.com
5 Helpful Herbs for Thyroid Awareness Month
5 Helpful Herbs for Thyroid Awareness Month

Thyroid health has become a big topic of conversation in the traditional and integrative health field because thyroid issues have become widespread.

One in 8 Americans are expected to develop a thyroid condition in their lifetime, with women at five to eight times higher risk than men.REF#355

That’s why National Thyroid Awareness month, which happens to be January every year, is so important. 

Word has also gotten out about the role of thyroid hormones in fertility, pregnancy and birth outcomes, and postpartum recovery, REF#356 REF#357 which has inspired many individuals and couples to take proactive steps to support thyroid health.

If you have a thyroid issue or suspect you may have a problem, your first stop should be to a doctor or healthcare practitioner who specializes in thyroid issues.

A series of lab tests is the best way to determine what may be going on with your thyroid.

From there, you can discuss options with your doctor, which may include medication (for some people), diet and lifestyle changes, and thyroid support supplements.

Since thyroid conditions all require specific types of treatment, working with a qualified professional is essential to ensure you get the support you need.

Here are five evidence-based herbs that may help support thyroid health as part of an integrative approach.

5 Herbs That May Help Support Thyroid Health

Herbs have been used for millennia to support the body’s health and function and to address various health concerns.*

This is why many of the nation’s top integrative thyroid health experts recommend certain herbs as part of their thyroid protocols.

Herbs are generally safe, affordable, widely available, nourishing, and can be effective if used properly.

1. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is used extensively in Ayurveda, the traditional wellness practice of India for stress, energy, endurance, hormonal health, sleep, and thyroid health.*

Based on its long history of successful use, modern research has begun investigating how Ashwagandha may support the thyroid.

One double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that taking 600 mg of Ashwagandha daily led to significant improvements in thyroid hormone levels in 50 women ages 18 to 50.REF#358

It is believed Ashwagandha may benefit thyroid function via its supportive effects on cortisol levels (your body’s master stress hormone).*

High cortisol levels, excreted by the adrenal glands, can negatively impact the entire endocrine system via the HPA (Hypothalamus Pituitary Adrenal) Axis.

The endocrine system is comprised of several glands that control various aspects of hormonal function, including the thyroid, hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenals.

Thus, when the HPA axis becomes dysfunctional, it can negatively affect the thyroid, sleep cycle, stress response, energy, sexual function, and other aspects of health.REF#359

This explains why persistent stress has been linked to imbalances in thyroid hormones.REF#360 REF#361

Ashwagandha has also been shown effective for improving sleep, REF#362 which is directly related to thyroid health.* REF#363

2. Ginger

Most of us are familiar with Ginger as a culinary ingredient or for occasional digestive upset or nausea.*

However, few herbs could rival the humble Ginger rhizome for its diverse range of proven health benefits.

One of these unexpected benefits is that Ginger has been shown to effectively support thyroid function.*

Specifically, a 2022 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary Alternative Medicine titled “Efficacy of Ginger Supplementation in Relieving Persistent Hypothyroid Symptoms in Patients with Controlled Primary Hypothyroidism: A Pilot Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial”, REF#364 found ginger supplementation at 500 mg twice per day led to significant improvements in weight gain, cold intolerance, constipation, dry skin, appetite, memory loss, concentration disturbance, and feeling giddy or dizzy.

It also led to a significant decrease in body weight, body mass index, waist circumference, serum TSH, fasting blood sugar, triglyceride, and total cholesterol levels compared to the placebo. 

The authors did not speculate on the mechanism of Ginger’s actions. 

However, the plant compounds in Ginger, such as polyphenols and antioxidants, have been shown in previous studies to support various factors related to thyroid symptoms, including: REF#365

Based on the results of this study, there will likely be more research into the direct connection between Ginger and thyroid health.

Regardless, it appears Ginger may be a viable drug-free option to discuss with your doctor for easing thyroid symptoms.*

3. Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm, also known as Melissa officinalis, is a signature herb in many American gardens, teas, tinctures, spirits, and supplements.

Its natural grassy lemon flavor makes it easy to take and pairs nicely with other teas and herbs.

Lemon Balm is widely recognized for its calming, cognitive, and mental/emotional health benefits.* REF#366 REF#367 REF#368

Its lesser-known superpower is that it has shown potential for supporting thyroid health.*

A research article entitled: “A Brief Overview of the Effects of Melissa officinalis L. Extract on the Function of Various Body Organs” REF#369 notes an animal study REF#370 that demonstrated Lemon’s Balm increased thyroid hormone levels and reduced thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels via the pituitary-thyroid axis in rats.

The researchers believe the thyroid/metabolic effects of Lemon Balm may come from liver-protective plant compounds, which reduced lipid profiles, thereby positively influencing thyroid hormone function.

Lemon Balm may also benefit those with thyroid concerns by helping support a healthy stress response, reducing anxiety, promoting healthy sleep, mood, and focus, and supporting immunity and cognitive health.* REF#371 REF#372

4. Schisandra

Schisandra or Schisandra Berry is a popular adaptogenic herb used in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Adaptogens are a class of herbs that promote resilience, strength, and well-being during times of stress.*

Schisandra berries are unique because they possess five distinct flavor properties:

  1. Sour
  2. Bitter
  3. Sweet
  4. Acid
  5. Salty

Schisandra berries are often used in traditional formulas to support thyroid health because of their beneficial effects on the adrenals, which, as previously discussed, are intertwined with thyroid function.*

There are no studies linking Schisandra directly to thyroid health. 

However, Schisandra has been shown to support various systems related to thyroid function, including:* REF#373

  • The liver REF#374: Which, as discussed in the Lemon Balm section, can have an impact on thyroid hormones via lipid levels.
  • The immune system: This can become compromised due to autoimmune thyroid conditions. REF#375
  • The central nervous system: This is involved in stress response and sleep. REF#376

Schisandra Berries have also been shown effective in reducing heavy metal toxicity, REF#377 which is associated with a greater risk of thyroid autoimmunity (mercury specifically).* REF#378

More research is needed to connect all of these dots. 

However, Schisandra is used in traditional systems of wellness for thyroid health, energy, and stress relief.*

5. Sea Vegetables, like Brown Seaweed and Kelp

Sea vegetables are considered the herbs of the sea because they grow wild (hence the name “seaweed”), have been traditionally used for various health concerns among indigenous cultures, and contain a wealth of beneficial nutrients.

One of these nutrients is iodine, which is often associated with various thyroid issues.

Iodine has been shown to help support thyroid function, including T4, T3, and TSH levels.* REF#379

However, some thyroid conditions do not respond well to additional dietary iodine. Always check with your doctor before increasing your iodine consumption.

How to Know Which Thyroid Supplements and Herbs are Right for You

If you’re interested in trying herbs or other supplements for thyroid support but aren’t sure where to start, talk to your doctor or healthcare practitioner.

They will best understand your overall thyroid function and can make custom recommendations.

If you’re working with a functional medicine doctor, integrative health practitioner, or traditional practitioner, they’ll likely be familiar with herbs and supplements for thyroid support.

If your healthcare team is unfamiliar with these herbs, share the research in this article with them. 

With more and more people taking herbs and supplements, most providers are interested in the research behind traditional herbs.

Gaia Herbs offers several formulas featuring the herbs in this article, including:

We also discuss more supplements that can help thyroid health on the blog, including Cordyceps.

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