An enlarged thyroid gland is called a goiter. If you have a goiter, you may experience symptoms, such as a noticeable swelling just below your Adam’s apple, a tightness in your throat, problems with swallowing and breathing, cough or hoarseness. A goiter can result from inflammation, iodine deficiency, benign or malignant nodes, pregnancy or disease. Herbs may help shrink some goiters naturally. Consult your healthcare provider for a diagnosis before starting herbal treatment.
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Herbs to shrink your enlarged thyroid gland work in different ways. Some herbs contain iodine, which can help correct deficiencies that cause goiter. Herbs may also help normalize the level of thyroid hormones produced by an underactive or overactive thyroid, both of which can cause goiter. Check with a qualified practitioner for advice about dosage and preparation of herbs to shrink an enlarged thyroid.
Bladderwrack, or Fucus vesiculosus, is a species of seaweed found throughout the world. Herbalists use it to regulate thyroid function, and it may help shrink an enlarged thyroid due to its iodine content. In his 2003 book, “Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine,” clinical herbalist David Hoffmann states that bladderwrack is a useful treatment for goiter. In addition, if obesity is associated with your thyroid problem, it may help you lose weight. Do not use this herb if you're already taking thyroid medicine. Avoid long-term use, since it may block iron absorption.
Bugleweed, or Lycopus virginicus, is a perennial herb native to North America. Traditional healers use the aerial parts to treat edema, weak heart, breast pain and overactive thyroid. Bugleweed is rich in phenolic acids, flavonoids and tannins. Hoffmann notes that it inhibits thyrotropin, a thyroid-stimulating hormone that, in excess, can lead to goiter. In their 2001 book, “Herbal Remedies,” naturopathic doctors Asa Hershoff and Andrea Rotelli recommend the herb for enlarged thyroid and other hyperthyroid conditions. Avoid this herb if you're taking diuretics or thyroid medicine.
Motherwort, or Leonarus cardiaca, is a tall perennial native to Europe and Asia. The active ingredients include the alkaloids stachydrine and leonurine, and iridoid glycosides, flavonoids and tannins. Motherwort can help shrink your thyroid, and Hershoff and Rotelli recommend it for a swollen or hyperactive thyroid gland. Herbalist David Hoffmann also recommends it for heart symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism, such as palpitations, tachycardia and shortness of breath. Do not combine this herb with other heart or thyroid medication.
- “Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine”; David Hoffmann; 2003
- “Herbal Remedies”; Asa Hershoff, N.D., and Andrea Rotelli, N.D.; 2001