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Can Turmeric Help Treat Thyroid Disorders?

Currently thyroid conditions are typically considered to be autoimmune disorders. They can also lead to complications such as male infertility(vii.116-117)

Herbal medicines such as Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) use turmeric for the thyroid. Typically Ayurveda, which considers turmeric a metabolism-boosting herb, uses it to treat hypothyroidism. TCM employs turmeric in a broader fashion to help regulate the thyroid gland and to treat both hyper-and hypothyroidism. Now some practitioners of modern integrative medicine also recommend using turmeric along with other supplements to treat thyroid conditions such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis. (vii.117-118)

What is the Thyroid?

The thyroid is a gland located in the throat. It produces a hormone that's important to regulating metabolism, and is controlled by the pituitary gland in the brain. (vii.116119)

Types of Thyroid Conditions

The two most common causes of thyroid conditions are both more prevalent in women(vii.116-117)

Table VII.17: Causes and Symptoms of Thyroid Conditions
CONDITION EFFECT ON THYROID

Graves' disease (vii.116)

Most common cause of hyperthyroidism (gland produces too much thyroid hormone).

Symptoms include:

  • Anxiety.
  • Weight loss.
  • Can destroy thyroid gland if untreated.

Hashimoto's thyroiditis (vii.116)

Most common cause of hypothyroidism (thyroid produces too little thyroid hormone).

Symptoms include:

Evidence of Benefit

Results of modern scientific studies suggest that turmeric and its curcumin compounds may help prevent or treat thyroid conditions. Turmeric and curcumin's antioxidant properties may also protect against complications caused by hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. (vii.120)

Table VII.18: Study Evidence of Turmeric's Effects on Thyroid Conditions
CONDITION EFFECT ON THYROID

HYPOTHYROIDISM

Turmeric extract increased thyroid hormone levels in rats with hypothyroidism (compared to untreated rats with the condition). (vii.121)

HASHIMOTO'S THYROIDITIS

(which causes hyperthyroidism)

In a clinical trial 133 patients used one of two different herbal formulas containing turmeric for 1-5 months. 30% of the patients were cured. (vii.117)

Clinical Trial

MALE INFERTILITY

(from hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism)

Both hyper- and hypothyroidism cause increases in free radicals that damage sperm and lower sperm count. Animal studies suggest that turmeric's curcumin compounds may help prevent free radical damage. Curcumin acts by neutralizing free radicals and/or stimulating natural antioxidants in testes. The turmeric compound works better in combination with vitamin E (which whole turmeric also contains). (vii.29120)

KIDNEY DAMAGE

(due to hyperthyroidism)

Excess T3 thyroid hormone stimulates an increase in kidney size and more cells per area of tissue. Hyperthyroidism also causes unhealthy excess free radicals in the kidney. (vii.86119)

Both turmeric and its curcumin compounds are antioxidants that quench free radicals. Turmeric compounds also stimulate our own natural antioxidant defenses. In animal studies, they lowered free radical levels due to hyperthyroidism. (vii.119)

Turmeric also restored kidney cells to normal cell cycles. However, curcumin actually reduced the number of kidney cells to below normal levels. This led the authors to suggest whole turmeric extract might be a better choice for hyperthyroidism. (vii.119)

Thyroxine, and its derivatives. (vii.116)
An abnormal increase in organ size is referred to as hypertrophy(vii.86)
Technically, an abnormal increase in cells in tissue is called hyperplasia. (vii.86)

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