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Herbs and Thyroid Function





by Byron Richards


Many herbs, vegetables, and fruits have antioxidant capacity and are likely to support healthy thyroid function. In fact, any food or dietary supplement that reduces inflammation or free radical activity will at least indirectly be helpful to overall thyroid function, including nutrients that protect the liver or assist in the natural detoxification process (Silymarin is one example, Curcumin is another). Two of my favorite herbs for thyroid support are Commiphora mukul, known as guggul, and another Ayurvedic herb, Ashwaganda.


The thyroid stimulating properties of guggul have been reported for the past twenty years. Animal studies show it works partly by stimulating thyroid hormone production and partly by increasing liver antioxidant status.


The active component in this herb is gugglesterone. Intense research is now being conducted with gugglesterones as they have been found to naturally regulate a gene receptor called farnesoid X receptor (FSX). As it turns out, FSX specifically turns on and off fat burning in the liver.


The rate of bile flow is also regulated by the FSX. Gugglesterones have been shown to help the FSX receptor pump bile more efficiently, helping to clear LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and toxins.


Gugglesterones have been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine in India for several thousand years to help weight loss. Any nutrient that enhances the burning of fat will at least have an indirect benefit to thyroid function, since obesity itself is a major stress to the thyroid gland.


Ashwagandha has also been used for thousands of years to boost stress tolerance and generally rejuvenate the body. Animal studies have shown it to enhance thyroid hormone levels by directly working as an antioxidant that reduces the amount of lipid peroxides forming in the liver, a key problem for any person that is over weight. Other animal studies show that Ashwagandha can maintain normal antioxidant function even during intentionally induced stress trauma, not only boosting antioxidant protection but also reducing the amount of cortisol that is released in response to stress. When excess cortisol is combined with poor thyroid function, it is a recipe for weight gain – especially around the abdominal area.


Ashwagandha supports normal antioxidant enzymes, such as GSH, so they don’t have to work so hard. This has a sparing effect on selenium, which indirectly supports healthy thyroid function.

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About the author:
Byron J. Richards, Founder/Director of Wellness Resources (, is a Board-Certified Clinical Nutritionist and nationally-renowned health expert, radio personality, and educator. He is the author of Mastering Leptin, The Leptin Diet, and Fight for Your Health: Exposing the FDA's Betrayal of America.


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