Herbs Containing Sulfur and Iodine

Sulfur and iodine are essential natural elements for healthy cells. Sulfur is a component of many amino acids, proteins, vitamins and hormones. It’s important for healthy hair, skin and digestion. Iodine is necessary for your thyroid to function properly. Many herbs contain trace elements of both of these compounds, but the amount will differ depending on the soil in which they grow. If you need therapeutic amounts of sulfur or iodine, consult your health care provider.

Black pepper on a cutting board (Image: AndreyCherkasov/iStock/Getty Images)

Herbal Actions

Herbs containing sulfur and iodine have a range of actions. Some aid your digestive process and are useful in malabsorption disorders. Other herbs are rich in antioxidants, which help your body’s immune system. A few of these herbs can help mild thyroid disorders. Check with a qualified practitioner for advice about dosage and preparation of herbs containing sulfur and iodine.

Dandelion

Dandelion, or Taraxacum officinale, is a perennial with small yellow flowers. Traditional healers use the roots and leaves to treat poor appetite, edema, liver and gall bladder problems and rheumatism. Dandelion is rich in sulfur, potassium, iodine, inulin, triterpenoids and taraxacoside, and it has diuretic and tonic action. Sulfur and iodine enhance the main therapeutic effects of dandelion. In their 2001 book, “Herbal Remedies,” naturopathic doctors Asa Hershoff and Andrea Rotelli note that the herb stimulates the thyroid and digestion, increases metabolism and relieves heartburn and indigestion. Do not use dandelion, however, if you have allergies to plants in the Aster family.

Black Pepper

Black pepper, or Piper nigrum, is an evergreen climbing vine native to southern India. Practitioners in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine use the fruits, or peppercorns, to relieve nausea, poor appetite and indigestion. The sulfur and iodine in black pepper contribute to these actions. In her 2009 book, “The Holistic Herbal Directory,” herbal consultant Penelope Ody explains that black pepper is a warming digestive stimulant that clears toxins from your digestive tract. It increases bile flow and helps improve nutrient absorption. Avoid black pepper if you have heartburn, stomach ulcers or hiatal hernia.

Walnut

Walnut, or Juglans spp., is a deciduous tree found throughout the world. Herbalists use the bark, leaves and nuts to treat a range of disorders, including skin problems, microbial infections, inflammation and gastrointestinal disorders. The leaves and fruit are high in sulfur and iodine, components of natural antioxidants that counter free radical damage to tissues and cells, aid your immune system and help reduce inflammation. Botanist Dr. James Duke and medicinal plant expert Steven Foster write in their 2000 book, “Medicinal Plants and Herbs,” that walnut leaf extract inhibits certain tumors and viruses. In their 2009 book, “Medicinal Plants of the World,” botanist Ben-Erik van Wyk and biologist Michael Wink attribute walnut’s anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties to the tannins known as ellagitannins and catechols. The fruit husks and leaves can cause contact dermatitis in sensitive individuals.

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