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Naturopathy for Hyperthyroidism

Lycopus spp. (Bugleweed) - a common herb used for hyperthyroidism (Image via Pinterest)

This post is something close to my heart and something I am currently going through myself, so I thought I would share some findings of how naturopathy can help with hyperthyroidism.

What is hyperthyroidism?

Also known as thyrotoxicosis, causes increased levels of thyroid hormones (T4 and T3). Hyperthyroidism can be either general or autoimmune type, called Graves' disease.

Graves' disease is an autoimmune disease where the thyroid is targeted by autoantibodies, causing excessive production of thyroid hormones and chronic inflammation.

Graves' is more common in women with a female-to-male ratio of 8:1. It typically affects women aged 20-40, but can be an issue up to 60 years of age.

Factors that influence hyperthyroidism:

  • Stress - studies have found that the onset of Graves' often follows some kind of emotional shock. Stress also alters immune system function.

  • Smoking

  • Microbiome imbalances - some microorganisms such as Yersinia enterocolitic, Borrelia burgdorferi, and H. pylori have all shown to play a role in hyperthyroidism and antibody production

  • Leaky gut

  • Poor digestion and elimination/detoxification

  • Toxin overload - e.g. food additives, chemical run-off, environmental pollutants, pesticides, and hair dye

  • Left handedness

  • Excessive iodine supplementation

  • Diagnosed major depressive disorder

Signs and symptoms:

  • fatigue

  • frequent stools (with or without diarrhoea)

  • heat intolerance

  • insomnia

  • irritability

  • nervousness and anxiety

  • palpitations and tachycardia

  • stare

  • sweating

  • tremor

  • weakness

  • weight loss despite good appetite

How a naturopath can help

If you already have a diagnosed condition then I will work with you (and your GP if required) to support you whether you require medication or not.

If I suspect someone has an underlying thyroid condition I will always refer them to get a Full Thyroid Panel including TSH, thyroid hormones and thyroid autoantibodies. This is the best way to determine if someone has a thyroid condition AND if there is an autoimmune component (e.g. Graves' disease).

Functional testing

I may consider one of the following tests if I believe more information is required:

  • Stress profile and cortisol levels

  • Environmental toxins

  • Antioxidant status

  • Microbiome map

Naturopathic perspective

The thyroid is involved in the function of many different organs and systems, making hyperstimulation a complex condition. Naturopathy will aim to support the thyroid AND other systems involved. Looking for triggers and factors making the condition worse will be a main goal of treatment.

If Graves' disease is involved then considering autoimmunity will be a main goal - looking at inflammation, food triggers, detoxification, stress management and digestive/microbiome healing.

Potential treatments:


  • Increase protein intake - due to a higher energy output extra protein is required. Aim for 1.2-1.6g of protein per kg of body weight

  • Eat coleslaw - Raw Brassicas (especially cabbage) contain goitrogens which block the utilisation of iodine to create thyroid hormones

  • Avoid all stimulants including caffeine, sugar, and alcohol - the body is already in hyperstimulation and these won't help


Increase metabolism in hyperthyroidism also increases oxidative stress on the body - requiring extra antioxidant support.

  • Vitamin A, C, E, selenium, zinc, R-alpha lipoic acid, NAC, and CoQ10 are all great for boosting antioxidants

Autoimmunity generally means there is more inflammation in the body which can be combatted with specific nutrients.

  • Quercetin and bioflavonoids, vitamin D, omega 3 are all great for reducing inflammation

Increased metabolism also means that energy-building nutrients are used up a lot faster and need to be replenished.

  • B vitamins, magnesium, CoQ10, and carnitine are all energy-building nutrients

Herbal Support

Lycopus spp. (Bugleweed)

This herb is specific for hyperthyroidism. It has been shown to attach to the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) receptor in the thyroid, inhibiting its effect.

Bugleweed has been used traditionally for heart palpitations and thyroid conditions (goitre).

A study found that using Lycopus spp. for hyperthyroidism (<1.0mU/L TSH) for 3 months increase thyroid hormone excretion. Thyroid specific symptoms like increase heart rate were also significantly reduced.

Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm)

Lemon Balm is commonly used for anxiety and mild depression, both of which are symptoms of hyperthyroidism in about 40% of people. In-vitro studies have found Melissa to be a thyroid-stimulating antagonist, but very little human clinical studies have been undertaken.

The nervous system effect and thyroid-antagonist make it a great herb for hyperthyroidism.

Leonurus cardiaca (Motherwort)

Motherwort has a long traditional use for nervous debility with irritation and unrest. As the name suggests, Leonurus cardiaca has an affinity for the heart, especially where palpitation and tachycardia are involved.

As always, this information is a guide only. Please discuss with your GP &/or naturopath before taking any of the above herbs or nutrients.

If you have a diagnosed hyperthyroid condition and want some extra support, including adjuncts to medication then feel free to reach out. Alternatively. if you have a lot of the above symptoms, especially unresolved anxiety and insomnia I would recommend getting your thyroid checked. This is a condition close to my heart (literally)!

Written by: Emily Starr, Naturopath & Clinical Herbalist

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