5 Natural Remedies for Thyroid Health
As a Functional Medicine Practitioner who specializes in thyroid health, I am often asked about what natural remedies support the thyroid. Over the years, I have found the remedies that work and the ones I recommend my patients use on a daily basis.
I have found so many of my clients have an underlying thyroid condition without ever being diagnosed. Here are the most common signs that you have underactive thyroid hormone expression in your body and if you have any of these symptoms or know anyone that does…be sure to read this entire article to know EXACTLY what to do to support your body!!
Where to Start With Improving Your Thyroid Health
In this article, I am going to talk about why supporting the liver is such an important part of taking care of your thyroid, which supplements you need for optimal thyroid health, and the importance of supporting the gut for proper thyroid function.
I will also talk about the foods that cause the most thyroid damage, and why stress may be doing more harm than you think. Plus, I will share ways that anyone can reduce stress in as little as five minutes per day. Let’s start by talking about the liver and how to naturally support detoxification.
Support the Liver
A huge part of boosting thyroid health involves supporting the liver. We are exposed to hundreds of toxins on a daily basis. From toxins in our food, water supply, and the environment it is hard to completely avoid them. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t have some control over the toxins that impact our health.
To help support thyroid as well as overall health, I recommend steering clear of artificial fragrances such as candles, air fresheners, and perfumes as these can all disrupt hormone balance which is the last thing we want when trying to support our thyroid. Perchlorate is another toxin that can directly harm the thyroid. Small amounts can be found in soil, but it has also been found in water as well as certain foods that may have been grown in soil contaminated with this toxin.
It is commonly found in drinking water, dairy products, and meat from animals that may have been fed from soil contaminated with perchlorate. This is one of the many reasons I highly recommend drinking clean, filtered water, avoiding dairy products, and consuming grass-fed and organic animal products from reputable farms.
Thyroid Health and Toxicity
Other toxins that burden not only the liver but the thyroid as well include heavy metals. These include things like mercury, lead, arsenic, and aluminum. In my practice, one of the primary causes of Hashimoto’s disease is mercury toxicity, so this is something we need to take very seriously. These heavy metals are commonly found in the environment, and when exposed to too much, can put a large burden on the thyroid.
You may also be exposed to mercury if you have dental amalgams. The association between heavy metal toxicity and thyroid disease is strong, so much so that a study found that removal of dental amalgam fillings decreased anti-TPO and anti-Tg autoantibodies in those with autoimmune thyroiditis (1). This study found that removal of these dental fillings could potentially play an important role in treating autoimmune thyroid disease.
As you can see, it is difficult to completely avoid toxins in our day to day life. While we have control over the foods we eat, it is hard to completely avoid our toxin exposure when it comes to the environment. This is one of the biggest reasons we need to be supporting the liver every single day.
There are some great natural and safe ways to do so that don’t include hardcore detoxes that end up making you feel sick. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can support your liver to ultimately help support your thyroid.
Supplements for Liver Health
There are quite a few supplements I recommend when it comes to supporting the liver. Dandelion root is a popular option as it has a diuretic effect on the body, so it can help your liver more efficiently flush out toxins while also supporting fluid levels.
Milk thistle is another popular supplement for liver support, and likely one of the most talked about. This supplement contains silymarin which is an antioxidant helpful for decreasing the risk of liver disease. Not only that, but silymarin also helps support glutathione levels in the liver which is incredibly important for helping the body fight disease.
Epsom Salt Baths
Many people take Epsom salt baths to relieve muscle aches and fatigue, but I like to recommend them as a way to help support liver detox. It can be extremely helpful for removing built-up toxins from your body due to the magnesium sulfate.
Make your Epsom salt bath even more relaxing by adding a couple of drops of pure grade lavender essential oil! It is important to consider installing a filter on your bathtub or in your home as municipal tap water can still contain chlorine, fluoride, and other chemicals that inhibit liver and thyroid function. Other healing bath recipes can be found here.
Infrared saunas are becoming more and more popular, and a big reason is the fact that they can help support liver detox. Saunas can help promote sweating which is an excellent way to help flush out built-up toxins from the body (2).
It is also an easy way to get your body sweating. This can be very helpful for anyone suffering from chronic levels of fatigue and find it difficult to work up a sweat with exercise. Sweating allows toxins to be excreted from the skin, reducing the toxic load on the liver and therefore allowing it to serve its function in thyroid health more effectively.
If you’re looking for a natural and fun way to detox your liver while also giving yourself some TLC, try a foot bath. You can make your own foot bath with Epsom salt, hot water, and apple cider vinegar. Soak your feet for up to fifteen minutes. For added detoxification, you can use a dry brush to dry brush your feet before they get wet.
Both the Epsom salt and apple cider vinegar work to pull toxins out of the body. You can also moisturize your skin with coconut oil after and your feet will feel brand new. Plus, you just did something really great for your body by naturally supporting toxin removal to improve thyroid health.
Castor Oil Packs Over the Liver
Castor oil is commonly used for detoxification, but pure castor oil when ingested can lead to a host of side effects, such as severe diarrhea. The good news is that there’s another method to use. Castor oil packs placed over the liver are thought to also support liver detox without all the unwanted side effects that come along with ingesting the actual oil.
These packs are thought to help support both liver and lymph function. Castor oil packs are also great for reducing inflammation. You can make your own castor oil pack, and I recommend buying a starter kit that contains everything you need such as wool flannel and the oil itself.
By supporting your liver and removing harmful built-up toxins, you can help support thyroid health as well as overall wellbeing. Any type of toxin that gets into your thyroid has the ability to throw thyroid function out of whack. Do what you can to prevent this by boosting your body’s natural detoxifying organ, the liver by supporting liver health a little bit each day.
Get Enough Thyroid Nutrients
Getting enough vitamins and minerals in your diet is important for overall health. There are certain nutrients that are more important for thyroid health than others, however. I always like to emphasize the importance of selenium which is not discussed enough with regard to thyroid health. Getting enough selenium helps to prevent the damaging effects of too much iodine.
This is important because many people think that iodine is the only important supplement for thyroid health, but we need to be careful especially when dealing with Hashimoto’s. If you have a selenium deficiency, the iodine can actually lead to more inflammation.
To help balance your selenium and iodine intake, I recommend enjoying a couple of Brazil nuts per day, however, grass-fed beef, beef liver, and organic chicken are also high in selenium. I strongly recommend adding selenium-rich foods to your diet as opposed to supplementation as long-term selenium supplementation may lead to unwanted side effects such as digestive upset, irritability, and fatigue.
Iodine & Zinc
When it comes to iodine, while iodine is very important for thyroid function, remember that too much in the case of a selenium deficiency can worsen thyroid issues. However, having an iodine deficiency can also lead to things like goiters and hypothyroidism since iodine is needed in order to make thyroid hormones. To make sure you are getting enough iodine, try adding some seaweed in the form of kelp or kelp flakes to your diet.
Zinc is another important supplement since it plays a critical role in immune health. Supporting the immune system is especially important when dealing with an autoimmune condition like Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Zinc is also important for supporting the conversion of T4 to T3. Having a zinc deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism (3). I recommend taking 20-40mg of zinc per day with food. You can also add foods rich in zinc to your diet such as pumpkin seeds, spinach, nuts, and grass-fed beef.
Support the Digestive System
One of the first places I start with each of my patients is helping them support their gut health. Without a properly functioning digestive system, everything else is thrown off balance. There are many different areas to look at when it comes to gut health. Leaky gut is a big one since a large majority of patients with autoimmune disease also have leaky gut.
Leaky gut is often referred to as intestinal permeability since the tight junctions in the gut become leaky allowing toxins as well as undigested food to leak into the bloodstream. This can lead to inflammation and an immune response which can ultimately lead to an autoimmune disease since your immune system is so overworked from attacking all the foreign invaders. The immune system winds up mistaking healthy tissue for a foreign invader, and the thyroid is just one area of the body that may be targeted.
Common Gut Issues
Other gut infections to keep an eye out for include candida, SIBO, and parasites. If you suffer with any type of gut imbalance, it is very important to get it under control as a way to help support the thyroid. Having healthy gut bacteria is essential for converting inactive T4 into T3. It is also important to know that 70% of the immune system resides in the gut so supporting it is essential to our wellbeing (4).
To help support the digestive system, I recommend supplementing with a high-quality probiotic, digestive enzymes, and adding bone broth to your diet. If you suffer from a histamine intolerance, you can make bone broth in an Instant Pot and then freeze it right away to avoid histamine built-up.
Gut Health and Immune Issues
I also want to briefly talk about supporting the immune system here because the number one way to support the immune system is to support gut health. It’s also super important because roughly 97% of thyroid health issues are autoimmune related. Supplements that support the immune system include:
Vitamin C & Bioflavonoids
Vitamin C is one of the most talked about supplements when it comes to supporting the immune system. Many people supplement with it when they are battling the common cold or flu, but it also holds some protective health benefits especially when your body is under a great deal of stress. When you are chronically stressed, your immune system is too.
You can supplement with vitamin C or get enough vitamin-C rich foods in your diet from foods like lemons, limes, strawberries, papaya, broccoli, kale and bell peppers. Vitamin C also plays an important role in helping our bodies absorb iron, another important vitamin for thyroid health.
D3 & K2
Vitamin D3 is one of my favorite options when it comes to the immune system. I always recommend supplementing with Vitamin D during the colder months when you aren’t getting outside in the sun as much, or during cold and flu season. By getting enough vitamin D, you allow your body to appropriately fight off viruses and other infections as this important vitamin plays a role in turning on an anti-microbial response in the body.
Studies have also found that low vitamin D levels are linked to autoimmune diseases. Vitamin D is also very important for helping your body absorb calcium. You can take a vitamin D3/K2 supplement at 2,000-5,000 IU’s per day, depending on your current need. I recommend getting a supplement that contains Vitamin K2 as these two vitamins work together in making sure that the calcium in your body is getting into your bones.
Eliminate Inflammatory Foods
Diet plays a crucial role in thyroid health, and there are some foods that are worse for thyroid health than others. I always recommend that my patients eliminate gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, and grains and adopt a Paleo-style diet.
I say “Paleo-style” because there are always going to be some modifications and adjustments based on your unique nutritional needs. However, following a diet that is primarily focuses on reducing inflammatory foods is key to supporting thyroid health.
The chart below has the top 8 food allergens and you may struggle with some of those and do well with others. For example, you may not be able to handle dairy, peanuts, soy and wheat/gluten but you do quite well with nuts, shellfish, eggs and fish. For more info on food allergies and sensitivities, read this article.
Gluten is one of the first foods to eliminate as it can be very damaging to the thyroid. Gluten sensitivities are on the rise as more and more people are not able to properly digest it. It is very inflammatory and can be very hard on the digestive system. It can also be harmful to those with thyroid issues as the immune system can mistake the thyroid for gluten. This is because gluten closely resembles thyroid tissue proteins.
There is also a strong association between Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity and those who have autoimmune disease (5). Gluten consumption also increases the production of zonulin which is a chemical that causes the tight junctions in the gut to open. When you consume gluten, these tight junctions can become leaky which can also lead to leaky gut syndrome. I strongly encourage a strict gluten-free diet.
Other Inflammatory Foods
Grains, dairy, sugar, and soy are also problematic as they can also cause inflammation in the body. These things can often be hidden in packaged foods so read your labels! I also recommend sticking to whole foods over refined and packaged foods because not only do you reduce your risk of exposure to these inflammatory foods, but you will also be fueling your body with the nutrition that it needs to function at its best.
Instead of consuming these inflammatory foods, I recommend replacing them with anti-inflammatory foods such as:
- Dark leafy greens
- Wild-caught salmon
- Olive oil
- Chia & Flaxseeds
- Spices: Turmeric & Ginger
I know how frustrating it is when someone tells you that you need to better manage your stress levels. For most of us, it’s not that easy. Maybe we have a full-time job, a family to take care of, bills to pay, mouths to feed. The list goes on and on, and I am in no way discrediting how difficult it is to manage stress!
However, a huge part of supporting thyroid health means balancing hormone levels. The bottom line is that our hormones become out of whack when we are constantly stressed. I try to encourage all of my patients to get some form of stress reduction in each day. It can be as little as five minutes or as long as an hour if you have time for it!
Even if you just have time for 2-3 minutes of deep breathing on a lunch break, it’s better than nothing. It is important to get cortisol balanced and to tame the nervous system as best as we can. I also encourage you to pencil in a day periodically to do something you love. This will help you look forward to something on the really stressful days!
Having thyroid disease or any thyroid imbalance can be frustrating. You may have many unwanted symptoms and feel as if no matter what you do they just won’t go away. These are my top 5 remedies for thyroid health. I hope they have given you a renewed perspective on your path.
At the end of the day, supporting the thyroid takes a whole-body approach which is why I wrote my book, The 30-Day Thyroid Reset Plan: Disarming the 7 Hidden Triggers That are Keeping You Sick. I wanted to provide each reader with an easy to follow step by step guide to uncover their root cause and restore their health.
I also wanted to provide a holistic approach that offered a different way to address thyroid health. That is because it is designed to bring your lifelong results. I provide a 30-day thyroid reset diet so that you can find which foods work for you and which don’t. I will walk you through step by step how you can uncover what’s been keeping you sick. These are the steps to getting better.
Dr. Becky Campbell is a board-certified doctor of natural medicine who was initially introduced to functional medicine as a patient. She struggled with many of the issues her patients struggle with today, and she has made it her mission to help patients all around the world with her virtual practice. Dr. Becky Campbell is the founder of Dr. Becky Campbell.com and author of “The 30-Day Thyroid Reset Plan.” She specializes in Hashimoto’s disease and hopes to help others regain their life as functional medicine helped her regain hers.