Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland releases excessive amounts of thyroid hormone. Symptoms include the following:
- Weight loss
- Fast heart rate
- Heart palpitations
- Intolerance to heat
- Frequent bowel movements
- Scant menstruation
- Bone thinning
- Hair loss
- Changes in the appearance of the eye (bulging or staring)
- Goiter (a visible enlargement of the neck caused by a swollen thyroid gland)
The most common form of hyperthyroidism is Grave’s disease. In this condition, the body manufactures antibodies that have the unintended effect of stimulating the thyroid gland. (In another condition,
Medical treatment of hyperthyroidism is highly effective. In most cases of ongoing hyperthyroidism, radioactive iodine is used to destroy thyroid tissue. This approach is both safe and effective, because almost all the iodine in the body ends up in the thyroid, and therefore the radioactive treatment does not damage any other tissues. Other approaches to hyperthyroidism include drugs to block the effects of high thyroid hormone or to slow thyroid hormone production, as well as, in relatively rare cases, surgery.
Proposed Natural Treatments
Physician supervision is necessary to determine why the thyroid is overactive in order to design a specific treatment plan. None of the treatments discussed in this section actually get to the root of the problem, nor have they been proven effective. Self-treatment of hyperthyroidism is not recommended.
Test tube and animal studies suggest that the herb
may reduce thyroid hormone by decreasing levels of TSH (the hormone that stimulates the thyroid gland) and by impairing thyroid hormone synthesis.
A preliminary trial found some evidence that when the supplement
For many people, the most problematic symptom of high thyroid is rapid or
Herbs and Supplements to Avoid
According to one study in animals, the herb
may raise thyroid hormone levels.
1. Kohrle J, Auf'mkolk M, Winterhoff H. Iodothyronine deiodinases: inhibition by plant extracts. Acta Endocrinol . 1981;96:15-16.
2. Auf'mkolk M, Ingbar JC, Kubota K, et al. Extracts and auto-oxidized constituents of certain plants inhibit the receptor-binding and the biological activity of graves' immunoglobulins. Endocrinology . 1985;116:1687-1693.
3. Auf'mkolk M, Kohrle J, Gumbinger H, et al. Antihormonal effects of plant extracts: iodothyronine deiodinase of rate liver is inhibited by extracts and secondary metabolites of plants. Horm Metab Res . 1984;16:188-192.
4. Sourgens H, Winterhoff H, Gumbinger HG, et al. Antihormonal effects of plant extracts. TSH- and prolactin-suppressing properties of Lithospermum officinale and other plants. Planta Med . 1982;45:78-86.
5. Brinker F. Inhibition of endocrine function by botanical agents. I. Boraginaceae and Labiatae.J Naturopath Med . 1990;1:10-18.
6. Benvenga S, Ruggeri RM, Russo A, et al. Usefulness of l-carnitine, a naturally occurring peripheral antagonist of thyroid hormone action, in iatrogenic hyperthyroidism: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Clin Endocrinol Metab . 2001;86:3579-3594.
7. Benvenga S, Lakshmanan M, Trimarchi F. Carnitine is a naturally occurring inhibitor of thyroid hormone nuclear uptake. Thyroid . 2000;10:1043-1050.
8. Blumenthal M, ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs, Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines . Austin TX: American Botanical Council; Boston, Ma: Integrative Medicine Communications; 1998:172.
9. Panda S, Kar A. Changes in thyroid hormone concentrations after administration of ashwagandha root extract to adult male mice. J Pharm Pharmacol . 1998;50:1065-1068.
10. Eliason C. Transient hyperthyroidism in a patient taking dietary supplements containing kelp. J Am Board Fam Pract . 1998;11:478-480.
11. Shilo S, Hirsch HJ. Iodine-induced hyperthyroidism in a patient with a normal thyroid gland. Postgrad Med J . 1986;62:661-662.
12. Ishizuki Y, Yamauchi K, Miura Y. Transient thyrotoxicosis induced by Japanese kombu. Nippon Naibunpi Gakkai Zasshi . 1989;65:91-98.
13. Erem C, Deger O, Ovali E, et al. The effects of royal jelly on autoimmunity in Graves' disease. Endocrine. 2006;30:175-183.
14. Azezli AD, Bayraktaroglu T, Orhan Y. The use of konjac glucomannan to lower serum thyroid hormones in hyperthyroidism. J Am Coll Nutr. 2007;26:663-668.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board<![CDATA]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © 2007 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.