Have you recently been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and prescribed levothyroxine for your condition? Are you contemplating natural therapy in treating your condition? If so, I applaud you as you should consider all your options. After all, you are the owner of your body and should verify the safety of everything you feed it, including prescription medications.
Natural therapy is a great substitute for conventional medicines, like levothyroxine, in treating your thyroid condition, especially when there are many side effects and warnings that accompany it. With a natural approach to caring for your thyroid, you’ll not only remove hypothyroid symptoms but you’ll provide your thyroid the opportunity to truly heal – something that conventional medicine will not do.
Whether you decide to be treated with conventional medicine like levothyroxine or not, the following nutraceuticals and botanicals will help your thyroid get back on track. Be sure to consult with your practitioner so that your thyroid health can be monitored regularly. If you decide a natural approach for your thyroid healthcare, yet your medical doctor doesn’t agree, you may want to seek out a practitioner who practices alternative medicine. After all, it’s your body, your choice, and your decision on how it should be treated.
Hypothyroidism is Linked to Nutrient Deficiencies
If you have hypothyroidism, you more than likely have vitamin deficiencies according to several studies. Therefore, the following nutraceuticals may be taken as part of your natural therapy approach.
Vitamins and Supplements for Hypothyroidism
As minute substances in natural foods, a multi-vitamin/mineral complex is important to your metabolic health and vital for life. Unfortunately, today’s foods are grown in nutrient-deficient soil which doesn’t even help the most conscientious dieter. With too few vitamins and minerals, your metabolism slows which may also create other diseases on top of hypothyroidism. Take a multi-vitamin/mineral complex as insurance for health.
If you can, opt for a complex that contains a mixture of carotenes and about 400 international units (IU) of Vitamin E for antioxidant protection. Otherwise, add these to your multi-vitamin/mineral complex. Take with food twice daily.
B Complex Vitamins
As synergists in the cellular actions of thyroid hormone, B complex vitamins are critical for energy production. Every hypothyroid patient should take them as most are deficient in at least some.
Vitamin B1 is necessary for the proper release of stomach acid, and those with hypothyroidism often have problems with indigestion or heartburn. Because of low stomach acid, Vitamin B12 absorption also becomes an issue. According to studies, some 40 percent of hypothyroid patients are deficient in B12. For those taking levothyroxine or other thyroid replacement hormones, Vitamins B1, B12, and folate are critically important.
Because most multi-vitamins don’t contain enough B vitamins, you’ll need to take them separately. However, you may eliminate them if your multi-vitamin does include at least the following individual nutrients. If you can, select a capsule or sublingual as it may be better absorbed. Take with food twice daily.
- B1 (thiamine mononitrate): 50 milligrams (mg.)
- B2 (riboflavin): 50 mg.
- B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride): 50 mg.
- Biotin: 400 micrograms (mcg.)
- B12 (methylcobalamin): 100 mcg.
- Folic acid: 400 mcg.
- Panthothenic acid (calcium D-panthothenate): 100 mg.
- Niacinamide: 300 mg.
Found naturally in vegetables and fruits, Vitamin C is critical for all humans. Your body does not produce it naturally, and deficiency of Vitamin C is found in nearly everyone who has thyroid disease.
Oxidative stress is also high in people with thyroid disease, and Vitamin C is well suited to combat it according to a December 2014 article published in the International Journal of Current Medical and Applied Sciences.
Not only is it useful for its antioxidant benefits, but another study claims Vitamin C to be crucial for proper absorption of levothyroxine which will improve thyroid abnormalities in serum Free T4, T3, and TSH concentrations.
One of the leading experts on treating thyroid disease, the late Dr. John C. Lowe, recommended the highest dose of Vitamin C the bowel could tolerate for a four week therapy. Consider taking 250 to 2,000 mg. per dose. For optimal health, take 2,300 to 10,000 mg. per day and 8,500 to 20,000 mg. during stressful times. The doses should be divided throughout the day as your body can only absorb smaller amounts at one time. A buffered form of Vitamin C or ascorbic acid will be gentler on your tummy.
Calcium, Magnesium & Vitamin D
Hypovitaminosis D with hypocalcaemia are significantly associated with the degree and severity of hypothyroidism which can be treated with Vitamin D and calcium supplementation.
Many calcium formulations come with Vitamin D, but it should also contain magnesium. While magnesium can be taken alone, calcium must be taken with magnesium for proper balance. Magnesium keeps calcium dissolved in the blood. Without it, calcium ends up depositing in kidneys, coronary arteries, and joint cartilage where it can contribute to health problems such as kidney stones, clogged arteries, or osteoporosis. Also, more symptoms of magnesium deficiency occur if calcium is taken without magnesium.
Bone density, normal muscle and nerve function, as well as blood sugar and heart regulation are all put at risk for people with hypothyroidism if they are deficient in calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin D.
You will need 1,000 to 1,500 mg. of calcium per day with half the amount of magnesium. If you are a young or post-menopausal woman, you should take the upper dosage range as you will need more. You may split the dosage throughout the day or take it before bedtime. If you’re not getting Vitamin Sunshine, you should add Vitamin D3 as part of your supplementation plan. Check your multi-vitamin or calcium/magnesium formula to see how much each has and then add accordingly. The Vitamin D Council recommends 2,000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day if you get little to no sun exposure. If you have a severe deficiency, you may need more depending on how severe your deficiency is. Be sure to have your serum levels checked to know if you’re getting the right amount.
If you take levothyroxine, take your calcium formula at least four hours after you take your thyroid hormone replacement.
As a structural component of cell membranes, Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for a heathy body. It can be found in natural foods such as cold-water fish, flax and chia seeds, as well as avocadoes. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation and risk for cardiovascular disease which are linked to hypothyroidism.
Because hypothyroidism is associated with altered gastrointestinal motility, probiotics are effective in its management. (To learn more about probiotics, check out my article What are Probiotics and Why Take Them.)
Botanical Medicines for Hypothyroidism
Found on the coasts of the North Sea, the western Baltic Sea, and the oceans of the Atlantic and Pacific is a type of seaweed known as bladderwrack. As the primary form of kelp sold in the United States, this herb is taken for its iodine source. It is a trace element that is an essential component of thyroid hormones. A deficiency in [iodine is a key determinant of thyroid disorders in adults](https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S2213-8587(14%2970225-6).
The recommended daily dose of iodine is 150 to 300 mcg. Start by taking 150 mcg. for two to three months. If after this time, thyroid levels (Free T4 and Free T3) are not sufficiently elevated with a lowered thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), you may increase the dosage to 225 or 300 mcg. Be sure to monitor other dietary and supplement sources for iodine intake as well, as you should not exceed 600 mcg. per day unless directed by your practitioner.
For those continuing to take levothyroxine, you may want to discuss bladderwrack with your doctor prior to taking it as it can alter your thyroid levels. With it, your levothyroxine medication may need to be lowered. Too much iodine is just as bad as having too little.
As one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing, ashwagandha has been used since ancient times for a wide variety of conditions. Known mostly for its restorative and rejuvenating benefits, it has been used as an agent to help the body adapt to various physical and emotional stressors. Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that directly stimulates thyroid function as it lowers cortisol levels and balances thyroid hormones.
When taking a prepared root tincture, consume 10 to 60 drops up to three times per day. For capsules (“00”), take the root form two to three times per day. If you’re taking levothyroxine, you’ll need to consult with your practitioner as ashwagandha does alter thyroid levels.
Another recommended adaptogenic herb for thyroid support is licorice root. Also known as sweet root, licorice root has been used as a sweetener for candies and beverages for decades.
As mentioned earlier, many people with hypothyroidism have a problem with stomach acid. Licorice root will soothe gastrointestinal problems and can speed the repair of the stomach lining and restore microbial balance. Because of its antioxidant abilities, licorice root helps improve immunity. This powerful herb can also help with adrenal fatigue which often accompanies hypothyroidism.
To support your thyroid, consume 15 to 60 drops up to three times daily of licorice root tincture. This herb does not directly stimulate your thyroid, so it is fine to take with levothyroxine.
Liver and digestive function can be compromised with low thyroid hormones. This can result in poor digestion and nutrient assimilation. Turmeric is a hepatic herb that will help decongest the liver and enhance its activity, improve very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It also enhances metabolism. Turmeric also inhibits the invasion of thyroid cancer cells.
You may know turmeric as the main spice in curry as it has a warm, bitter taste and used for color in curry powders, mustards, butters, and cheeses. However, the root of the herb is also used for making medicine.
If you’d like to try turmeric root tincture, consume 10 to 60 drops up to three times per day. Instead of tincture, you may also try capsules (“00”) up to three times per day.
With the negative side effects of conventional drugs, you may be interested in natural therapy for your thyroid condition. Be sure to discuss this with your healthcare practitioner so that your thyroid levels can be monitored. If you’re currently taking levothyroxine for treating hypothyroidism, you can still support your thyroid with some of these botanical herbs. At the least, be sure to take the recommended nutraceuticals to reverse any nutrient deficiencies.
If you want to learn more about levothyroxine, check out this article: Levothyroxine (Synthroid®) Side Effects for Hypothyroidism.