The thyroid is an endocrine gland that controls thyroid hormone production. When irregularities develop in the thyroid, it can cause a hormone imbalance that may impact the body. No herbs can replace thyroid hormones, but some may support thyroid function.

Thyroid conditions affect around 200 million people across the world. This article considers eight herbs that may support the thyroid gland.

A person chopping up ginger, a herb that may support thyroid function.Share on Pinterest
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The thyroid is an endocrine gland that sits in the neck. It produces hormones that affect the function and metabolism of all red blood cells containing a nucleus.

The thyroid produces hormones responsible for regulating the body’s functions. However, thyroid conditions are one of the most common forms of endocrine disorders globally.

Thyroid disorders can cause issues relating to:

Many different thyroid conditions may develop, including:

Learn more about the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism here.

Including certain herbs in a person’s diet may help support thyroid function.

Herbs that may improve thyroid health include the following:

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, or Withania somnifera, is a herb that can offer different benefits. The herb has properties that are:

  • anti-inflammatory
  • neuroprotective
  • adaptogenic
  • hematopoietic, meaning it may support stem cell function
  • sleep-inducing
  • anti-anxiety

Research from 2019 shows that using a methanolic extract, such as ashwagandha, supports thyroid function by reducing oxidative stress and improving thyroid hormones. However, potential side effects can include an upset stomach, diarrhea, and drowsiness.

Learn more about ashwagandha here.

Ginger

Ginger is a common spice, but the root classifies as a herb. Ginger has many health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties.

Using ginger supplements may benefit people experiencing hypothyroidism, where the thyroid is not producing enough hormones. The herb may also reduce weight and regulate lipid and hormone profiles.

If individuals take larger doses, ginger can have potential side effects, including mouth and throat irritation, digestive discomfort, heartburn, and diarrhea.

Doctors and healthcare professionals do not yet know enough about ginger in therapeutic doses. Due to this, pregnant people and those who are breastfeeding should avoid ginger supplements and discuss any intended use with their doctor.

Learn more about ginger here.

Atriplex halimus

Traditional Algerian medicine commonly uses the herb Atriplex halimus to manage thyroid disorders.

Research suggests that the herb benefits overactive and underactive thyroids and is effective in treating thyroid cysts due to its phytochemical content.

However, there is currently little research into this area, so the dangers and side effects are unknown.

Learn more about polyphenols and phytochemicals here.

Black cumin

Black cumin, or Nigella sativa, is another herb that traditional Algerian medicine uses to treat thyroid conditions. It contains phytochemicals and biological components that support various functions in the body, including:

  • alkaloids
  • coumarins
  • flavonoids
  • phenolics

A 2016 study looking at the effect black cumin has on Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a condition that gradually destroys the thyroid, shows that black cumin can generally improve thyroid status, as well as for people with this specific condition.

Black cumin is likely safe when taken in small doses for a short time. However, some people report allergic skin rashes, and those taking blood-thinning medications should avoid black cumin altogether.

Learn more about the potential health benefits of cumin here.

Bunium incrassatum

Bunium incrassatum is a medicinal herb that may benefit those with different thyroid conditions. For example, a 2022 study on rats found that the herb can help repair damaged thyroid tissue due to an overactive and underactive thyroid.

Further studies will confirm the benefits in humans, but the herb has antioxidant properties and contains phytochemicals that can protect cells.

Without proper preparation, this herb may cause gastrointestinal conditions.

Learn more about common digestive problems here.

Saussurea costus

Saussurea costus is a form of thistle that people in Saudi Arabia use extensively, though it also plays a more general role in traditional medicine. The herb has antioxidant properties and contains flavonoids.

There is little scientific evidence to support the role of Saussurea costus in treating thyroid conditions. However, Saussurea costus continues to play a significant role in traditional medicine, and some research in animal models has found the herb to have benefits for managing thyroid conditions.

Experts know little about the side effects, drug interactions, or the effects of S. costus on those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Some people also report allergic reactions, including contact dermatitis.

Learn more about the benefits of antioxidants here.

Agarwood

In traditional medicine, agarwood, or Aquilaria malaccensis, may play a role in helping thyroid cancer. This is because agarwood contains antioxidants that are detrimental to several cancer cell lines.

However, more studies are necessary to increase confidence in the benefits of agarwood for thyroid cancer and to better understand any potentially harmful side effects.

Learn more about thyroid cancer here.

Bugleweed

Bugleweed, Lycopus spp., may have antithyroid effects. This may make the herb suitable for people with an overactive thyroid.

A 2021 review of herbs for thyroid function states that Bugleweed has the most potential as it seems to enhance the body’s ability to effectively use iodine.

Learn more about iodine here.

Herbs to avoid

While some herbs may benefit thyroid health, others can worsen thyroid conditions.

For example, 2019 research states that frequently consuming extracts of the herb celery can induce hyperthyroidism, adversely affecting thyroid function.

Stinging nettle, Urtica dioica, is another herb that can adversely affect thyroid hormone control.

Learn more about the risks and benefits of celery here.

Individuals should always contact a doctor if they experience symptoms linked to thyroid conditions, such as:

  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • unexplained weight change
  • change to heart rate
  • heat or cold intolerance
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • dry hair or skin

If a person considers herbal treatment for thyroid health, it is important to discuss this with a doctor first. While herbs are natural, they can have specific properties that act medicinally or could interact with other medications.

If an individual experiences unusual symptoms after taking herbs to support thyroid function, they should seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Learn more about the symptoms of common thyroid disorders here.

The thyroid is a small endocrine gland that releases hormones important for the body’s function. Without treatment, thyroid disorders can severely impact a person’s quality of life.

Some traditional medicines use herbs to support thyroid health. These include herbs that can benefit both an under- and overactive thyroid. However, more scientific research is needed to confirm the benefits of herbs for thyroid conditions.

Individuals should always contact a doctor or healthcare professional if they experience symptoms relating to thyroid conditions or before starting a herbal treatment plan.