What is the role of herbal medicine in the treatment of hypothyroid disease? I spent all afternoon looking into the question.
In searching the traditional medical literature I could find no studies that substantiate herbal therapy. It is unlikely such research will be performed (and published) due to cost concerns and the lack of an immediate need for herbal therapy. I do not want to advise using this or that when I find nothing more than anecdotal evidence of efficacy.
That is not to say God has not granted us an herbal remedy somewhere within the plant kingdom. Chinese medicine has a long history of treating chronic illnesses with combinations of various plants. Personally I cannot make sense of the yin and yang and qi, but this does not negate the entire field of Chinese medicine. In his online article Treatments for Thyroid Diseases with Chinese Herbal Medicine, Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D. (at: www.itmonline.org/arts/thyroid.htm) discusses herbal remedies for hyper- and hypothyroidism in some detail, and lists 50 references and a dozen books. Of note is that some of the treatments include thyroid replacement therapies with thyroxine or animal preparations, and hence are not purely herbal therapies. Since I have no experience in this field I can offer no advice.
If my own daughter suffered from hypothyroidism, I would first evaluate her disease with a series of blood tests to understand the extent of the problem (as discussed in Parts 1-3 of this series). Additionally, I would stock up on levothyroxine while it is yet available, and investigate the nutraceutical sources of bovine and/or porcine thyroid products (see Part 2). Thirdly, I would learn how to harvest thyroid tissue from butchered pigs and/or cattle as a last resort. If all these resources are exhausted, I doubt that a ready supply of herbal therapies would be available either.
For more answers to your thyroid questions, see HYPOTHYROIDISM – Answers for the End of the World.
Copyright © 2010 Cynthia J. Koelker, MD