The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that is located in the neck, above the collarbone. It is responsible for controlling metabolism, body temperature and the processing of calories.
When the level of thyroid hormones is abnormal, certain health problems can occur. Fortunately, there are herbs and foods that help regulate it. Find out here what the best options are.
What role does the thyroid play?
The thyroid gland produces, stores and releases two hormones: T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine), responsible for controlling metabolism. When the thyroid is working properly, the body maintains a constant rhythm, that is, neither too fast nor too slow.
These hormones take effect slowly and affect many processes, such as growth and development, obtaining energy from food, sexual function, reproduction, and even mood.
The thyroid, in turn, is controlled by the pituitary gland (which is located in the brain). This is responsible for making the thyroid-stimulating hormone (abbreviated in English, TSH), which tells you how much hormone production is necessary.
When there is not enough thyroid hormone in the blood, the rate of metabolism slows down, a condition known as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). Its symptoms appear slowly, that is, you could have the disease and not have any discomfort for months or years.
Its main symptoms are: weakness, weight gain, lack of appetite, change in menstrual periods, low sexual desire, feeling cold, constipation, muscle aches, swelling around the eyes, brittle nails and hair loss.
On the other hand, if there is too much thyroid hormone in the blood, the metabolism speeds up, which is known as hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid).
Among its most common signs are: exhaustion, weight loss, nervousness, rapid heartbeat, increased sweating, feeling hot when others do not feel it, change in menstrual periods, more frequent bowel movements, tremors and bulging eyes.
- Foods for a healthy thyroid
Try the following herbs to regulate and care for your thyroid:
For thousands of years, ginger has been highly valued for its properties, which allow it to be used for culinary and medicinal purposes.
In this case, we highlight the presence of zinc, one of the most important minerals in the body and that plays an essential role in the function of the thyroid hormone.
Although scientific evidence is scant, there are studies that have linked regular consumption of ginger with an improvement in symptoms of hypothyroidism.
In natural medicine, Korean ginseng (panax ginseng), not to be confused with Siberian (Eleutherococcus senticosus) or the American (Panax quinquefolium), is used to regulate the thyroid and treat metabolic problems caused by its malfunction.
The researchers maintain that this may be due to the fact that its active ingredients are capable of reducing excess inflammation and optimizing hormonal release to avoid complications.
The valerian officinalispopularly called valerian, is a plant whose rhizomes, roots and stolons are used for their sedative properties.
There is scientific evidence that links its consumption with a greater relaxation of the nervous system, helping to control sleep problems that occur as a result of the symptoms of hypo- and hyperthyroidism.
Grass of San Juan
St. John’s wort, also called hypericum or little heart, is a plant associated with the treatment of symptoms of hypothyroidism, tiredness, lack of energy, decay and depression.
It is believed that this is possible thanks to its antioxidant compounds that allow it to act on the body, impacting physical, mental, chemical and hormonal health.
From traditional medicine, St. John’s wort is also used to combat insomnia, lack of appetite, nervousness, and hot flashes.
Keep in mind that all previously developed herbs can be used in infusions. You can prepare any of them by pouring a teaspoon of the powder or leaves of these herbs in 250 or 300 ml of boiling water.
Let stand for about 10 minutes, strain and drink two to three times a day.
Other options to regulate the thyroid
Many minerals are useful to promote the proper functioning of the thyroid, among them, in addition to zinc, iodine, copper, iron and selenium. You can find it in foods such as chard, lean meats, whole grains, spinach, nuts, eggs, fish, seeds, and mushrooms, among others.
Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, radishes, and cauliflower) are recommended to control hyperthyroidism, although they can be counterproductive for hypothyroidism. This is due to the presence of compounds called goitrogens, which interfere with the production of thyroid hormones.
See your doctor about your thyroid
To diagnose thyroid disease, doctors use a medical history, a physical exam, and tests for the thyroid, and in some cases, they may choose a biopsy.
Treatment will depend on the problem that caused the hyper or hypothyroidism, but usually includes medications, radioactive iodine therapy, or thyroid surgery.
Until there is meaningful scientific evidence from human trials, people interested in using herbal therapies and supplements should be very careful.
Do not abandon or modify your medications or treatments, talk to your doctor first about the potential effects of alternative or complementary therapies.
Remember, the medicinal properties of herbs and supplements can also interact with prescription drugs, other herbs and supplements, and even alter your diet.
Sources consulted: US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Office on Women’s Health at the US Department of Health and Human Services.