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Alternatives to thyroid drugs

MagazineNovember 1996 (Vol. 7 Issue 8)Alternatives to thyroid drugs

Remove stress from your life, introduce a daily afternoon nap, and have a full night's sleep every night

Remove stress from your life, introduce a daily afternoon nap, and have a full night's sleep every night.

Cut out smoking, caffeine, stimulants.

Remove iodine containing foods from the diet (kelp, iodized salt, sea salt, bio salt, Japanese seaweed, etc).

Make sure your diet has more calories and protein and eat small meals frequently. This should make up for the higher metabolic "burn" rate if your thyroid is overactive.

Consider Oriental medicine, which has successfully treated overactive thyroid, particularly with herbs (J Trad Chin Med;1985, 5:19ff). In autoimmune conditions, Chinese medicine has successfully used a substance called "thyroid immune liquor" to eliminate the antibody responses (Chung Kuo Chung Hsi i Chieh Ho Tsa Chih, 1995; 15: 414-5.)

Herbs such as extract of gypsywort (Lycopus europaeus) or bugleweed (Lycopus virginicus), have been shown to inhibit iodine metabolism and the release of thyroxine (Arzneimittel Forschung, 1955, 5(8):465; Wiener medizinische Wochenschrift, 1961, 31:513). These herbals also counteract the effect of estrogens, which make hyperthyroidism worse (Arzneimittel Forschung, 1961, 11(2):92).

Another herb with an anti thyroid effect is motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), which can reduce rapid heartbeat and palpitations (Arzneimittel Forschung, 1961, 11(9): 830).

Thyreogutt, Lycocyn and Mutellon are among the best known German registered herbal preparations which include gypsywort and motherwort and have demonstrated success in managing the milder cases of hyperthyroidism (Therapiewoche, 1964, 14(24):1183). Studies have shown that, unlike drugs, these herbal preparations do no damage to the thyroid (Endocrinology, 1985, 116:1677-1686).

For underactive thyroid:

Consume iodine containing foods (such as kelp and Japanese seaweed).

If your thyroid gland has atrophied and you must take thyroxine, take precautions to prevent osteoporosis but consume adequate amounts of magnesium and vitamin D (see WDDTY on osteoporosis, vol 6 no 12).

Consider the homeopathic remedy Iodum provers, which can increase levels of circulating thyroid hormones (Homoeopath J, 1988, 77: 152-60).

For both conditions:

Include uncooked goitre producing foods in your diet. Certain foods can bring on goitres, or swellings of the thyroid gland, if eaten in excess. These include: soya beans, millet and the entire brassica family (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, kale, turnip, radish, watercress, swede, mustard, radish, horseradish and rape seed). However, for both hypo and hyperthyroid, they act to regulate the thyroid; when it is overactive, they lower iodine levels (Therapeutische Umschau, 1973; 30(10):734). About half a head of raw cabbage daily is considered adequate (J E Pizzorno, Jr & M T Murray (eds) The Textbook for Natural Medicine, Bastyr University Publications).

Osteopathy can ease symptoms. Your osteopath should treat the posterior cervical spine to reduce the muscle spasm and reflex feedback that may be impeding the blood vessels supplying the thyroid. (J M Hoag, W V Cole & S G Bradford, Osteopathic Medicine, McGraw-Hill,1969).

Avoid eating too much high fibre food like bran, which can bind with thyroid hormone and reduce its absorption (J Clin Endo Metab, 1996; 80: 857-9). Excessive amounts of flavonoids also have antithyroid activity (Chem Res Toxicol, 1996; 9: 16-23).

Take up yoga if you are hyperthyroid and aerobic activity if you are hypothyroid, which has been shown to increase thyroid activity (Inter J of Biometerology, 1994; 38: 44-7).

Make sure your intake of thyroid nourishing nutrients selenium, zinc, E and vitamin D are adequate, particularly if you are over 60 (Clinical Sci, 1995; 89: 637-42).

Cold arm baths twice daily and cold wet packs over the thyroid area three times daily, each of 12 minutes duration, can improve symptoms (O Gillert & W Rulffs, Hydrotherapie und Balneotherapie, Pflaum Verlag, 1988).

For homeopathy, the following remedies have reports of clinical success: Aranea ixobola, Hedera helix, Lophophytum leandri and Spongia tosta.

In herbs the gromwell (Lithospermum officinale) will also regulate the thyroid (Endocrinology, 1984, 115:527-34).

Remember: only drugs can help if you are in a thyroid storm or your thyroid gland has entirely atrophied.


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