The standard treatment for hypothyroidism is taking daily thyroid hormone replacement medication. Of course, medicines often come with side effects, and forgetting to take a pill might lead to more symptoms. In some cases, natural remedies may cause fewer side effects and fit into your overall lifestyle better.
The goal of natural remedies or alternative medicine is to fix the root cause of the thyroid problem. Thyroid problems sometimes start as the result of poor diet, stress, or missing nutrients in your body. Changing your diet and taking an herbal supplement are two ways you can help your thyroid condition. These options may have fewer side effects than taking thyroid medicine. Also, using an herbal supplement for treatment of a low or underactive thyroid may be helpful for people who aren’t responding well to medicines.
Consider the following five natural remedies as additions or alternatives to your treatment plan.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), selenium is a trace element that plays a part in thyroid hormone metabolism. Many foods on the market today contain selenium, including grass-fed beef, tuna, turkey, and Brazil nuts.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an immune system attack on the thyroid, often diminishes the body’s selenium supply. Supplementing this trace element has shown to help balance thyroxine, or T4, levels in some people. It’s important to talk with your doctor about how much selenium may be right for you since every person is different.
Sugar and processed foods can lead to increased inflammation in the body. Inflammation can slow down the conversion of T4 to triiodothyronine, or T3, another thyroid hormone. This can make your symptoms and thyroid disease worsen.
Also, sugar only boosts your energy level in the short term, eliminating it from your diet may help regulate your energy levels. Additionally, removing sugar from your diet may help your skin and stress levels. It’s not easy to adopt a sugar-free diet, but the benefit to your thyroid health may be worth it.
Taking certain vitamin supplements can have an impact on your thyroid health. Low thyroid hormones can affect your body’s vitamin B-12 levels. Taking a vitamin B-12 supplement may help you repair some of the damage your hypothyroidism caused.
Vitamin B-12 can help with the tiredness caused by thyroid disease. Thyroid disease also impacts your vitamin B-1 levels. You can add more B vitamins to your diet with the following foods:
- sesame seeds
Vitamin B-12 is generally safe for most healthy individuals at recommended levels. The vitamin should be used with caution if you have any of the following conditions:
- heart disorder
- high blood pressure
- history of cancer
- skin disorders
- discolored urine
- stomach issues
- anemia, due to abnormal potassium levels
- blood clotting disorders
- increased uric acid or gout
It’s important to talk with your doctor about how much vitamin B-12 may be right for you.
The NIH studied the link between hypothyroidism and small intestine problems. These problems included an overgrowth of bacteria, such as yeast. Probiotic supplements contain live bacteria that can help keep your stomach and intestines healthy. Besides supplement forms, fermented food and drink, such as kefir, kombucha, raw cheese, and yogurt contain useful probiotics.
However, the Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of probiotics for the prevention or treatment of any condition. Talk with your doctor to see if these supplements might help you.
Adopting a gluten-free diet is more than a fad for many people with hypothyroidism. According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, a significant number of people with thyroid disease also have celiac disease, which is a digestive disorder in which people cannot handle consuming gluten.
While research doesn’t currently support a gluten-free diet for the treatment of thyroid disease, many people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hypothyroidism do feel better after cutting wheat and other gluten containing foods from their diet.
But there are some drawbacks to going gluten free. For one, the cost of buying gluten-free foods is often much higher than foods containing wheat. And some prepackaged, gluten-free foods aren’t healthy. That’s because these foods often have a higher fat content and less fiber than wheat containing products.
For many, the advantages of adopting a natural thyroid treatment plan outweigh the disadvantages. However, if you’ve had surgery to remove your thyroid, a natural thyroid treatment plan isn’t for you. As always, you should discuss any treatment plans with your doctor before starting them.Read more in Hypothyroidism Resources
Celiac disease and thyroid disease. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.beyondceliac.org/celiac-disease/related-conditions/thyroid-disease/
Drutel, A., Francoise, A., & Caron, P. (2013). Selenium and the thyroid gland. Retrieved from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/777483_5
Patil, A. D. (2014, May-June). Link between hypothyroidism and small intestinal bacterial growth. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 18(3), 307–309. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4056127/
Selenium. (2013, July 2). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Selenium-HealthProfessional/