7 Benefits of Turmeric In Thyroid Disorders

Endocrine system is a network of organs and the hormones they secrete which regulate body processes such as growth, metabolism, sexual function, sleep etc. Thyroid gland is one of the largest organs belonging to this system and plays a very essential role. It is located in front of the throat above the collarbone with two lobes each present on either side of the windpipe.

The hormones secreted by thyroid regulate body metabolism and activity of other hormones. The principal hormones secreted by it are: triiodothyronine, thyroxine and calcitonin. The first two hormones control growth and the rate at which body burns calories while calcitonin regulates calcium levels.

The thyroid gland is controlled by the pituitary, which is considered the ‘master gland’ of the endocrine system. 1 in 20 people suffer from a thyroid dysfunction at some stage in life. Thyroid disorders include:

  • Thyroiditis: Inflammation and swelling of the thyroid
  • Hypothyroidism: Decreased production of thyroid hormones
  • Hyperthyroidism: Increased production of thyroid hormones
  • Thyroid nodules: lumps in the thyroid
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Goitre : Enlargement of thyroid gland

Thyroid treatment involves taking thyroxine supplements in case of hypothyroidism and drugs to reduce activity in case of hyperthyroidism. When this line of treatment fails, part or whole gland can be removed surgically.

Thyroid cancer and nodules is treated by surgical removal or radioactive iodine. Alternative medicine and naturopathy also offers remedies to these disorders.

7 Benefits of Turmeric In Thyroid disorders

Turmeric as an antioxidant benefits in various thyroid disorders.

1. It is anti-inflammatory agent

Curcumin as well as curcumin free turmeric have natural anti-inflammatory properties. This can benefit in conditions like thyroiditis, goitre and thyroid cancer.

Curcumin acts on pro-inflammatory enzymes like COX and LOX in order to control inflammation from spreading. Unlike regular NSAIDs which act only COX enzyme, curcumin acts on both the enzymes without causing any side effects like gastric and liver toxicity.

Curcumin also regulates and inhibits the activity of key players in inflammation like TNF-alpha and Nuclear factor-kappa B. By acting on these proteins as well as other biochemical targets and inflammatory pathways, curcumin relieves inflammation as effectively as conventional therapy.

What does this mean?
Turmeric and curcumin help relieve inflammation naturally in various thyroid disorders.

2. It helps as an antioxidant

Curcumin and other curcuminoids in turmeric are strong antioxidants with antioxidant activity comparable to vitamin C and E.

A study published in Indian Journal of Experimental Biology,2002 reveals that turmeric extract is as effective an antioxidant as vitamin E and C in hypothyroidism.

In an animal study, Samanta et.al have demonstrated that turmeric and curcumin can counteract oxidative stress (imbalance between prooxidant and antioxidant agents) caused by elevated triiodothyronine levels.

What does this mean?
As antioxidants, curcumin benefit thyroid health and balance thyroid hormone levels.

3. It benefits in hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a condition caused by elevated thyroid hormone levels. Elevated thyroid hormone levels can cause an imbalance between prooxidant and antioxidant levels in the body.

Hyperthyroidism causes oxidative stress in the brain. Jena et.al have proven that curcumin can regulate the levels of antioxidant enzyme and relieve oxidative stress induced in the brain due to hyperthyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism affects the levels of liver enzyme and in turn disrupts liver function. Curcumin and vitamin E combination is found to alleviate such damage and restore liver function.

Similarly turmeric and curcumin are found to protect kidney function due to damage caused by hyperthyroidism.

What does this mean?
Curcumin and turmeric are proven to improve antioxidant defences and protect organs from damage caused by hyperthyroidism.

4. It benefits in hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone.

In an animal model of hypothyroidism, turmeric extract treatment is found to reduce atrophy (reduction in size) of thyroid glands and prevents reduction of thyroid hormone levels. It is also found to alleviate high levels of cholesterol caused by hypothyroidism.

One study highlights that curcumin may have age related effect on thyroid gland.

This study found that curcumin increases levels of thyroid hormones at a young age and reduces hormone levels in aged. Further studies are required to assess this finding.

What does this mean?
Turmeric helps stimulate thyroid hormone production in hypothyroidism.

5. Including turmeric in diet reduces risk of goitre

A study published in Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism investigated the role of dietary turmeric in development of goitre.

In this survey, 2335 individuals were interviewed for disease history and screened for goitre. The population had endemic goitre and high prevalence of hyperthyroidism was observed.

Interestingly goitre was less common in those individuals who consumed milk, ghee, spices, chillies and turmeric.

The researchers emphasized that turmeric use was associated with reduced goitre development and recommended inclusion of turmeric in diet in case of goitre.

What does this mean?
Dietary intake of turmeric reduces risk of developing goitre.

6. It has immunomodulatory action

Certain thyroid disorders are autoimmune condition like Graves disease and Hashimoto’s disease. These are characterized by abnormal levels of thyroid hormones and can increase risk of developing goitre.

In autoimmune conditions, the antibodies produced to fight infection, start attacking body tissues instead paving way for inflammation and damage to various organs.

Curcumin has immunomodulatory activity- it regulates immune responses. It regulates the activity of immune cells as well as cytokines (chemicals secreted by cells) that play an important role in autoimmune reactions thereby preventing them.

What does this mean?
Curcumin benefits in autoimmune conditions that affect the thyroid gland.

7. Turmeric protects from and benefits in thyroid cancer

Turmeric and curcumin are natural anti-cancer agents. (Read Turmeric for Cancer)

Research suggests that curcumin may be an effective agent in inhibiting growth of tumors and thereby aid in treatment of thyroid cancer.

Curcumin potentiates the anti-tumor and anti-cancer effect of sorafenib and docetaxel (anti-cancer drug) in treatment of thyroid cancer.

Curcumin is proven to sensitize thyroid cancer cells to the action of radioactive iodine which is used in treatment of thyroid disorders.

Curcumin manipulates a number of biochemical pathways to inhibit metastasis of thyroid cancer.

What does this mean?
Curcumin can serve as anti-cancer agent in thyroid cancer and also prevents metastasis. It also sensitizes cancer therapy.

Dosage of Turmeric For Thyroid Disorders

Dietary turmeric can benefit in reducing risk of thyroid disorders as well as benefit in treatment. A good way of taking turmeric is Golden Paste. It includes oil and black pepper to enhance absorption of turmeric and curcumin.

You can make the Golden Paste from fresh roots.

Start with ¼-1/2 tsp a day for a week and if no side effects are observed increase gradually. The recommended dose is 1-2 tsp 2-3 times a day (precisely 1 tsp 3 times a day). The ideal dose differs with every person; depends on what suits you and benefits you.

Avoid taking Golden Paste on an empty stomach and close to the time of taking medicines (Read Does turmeric cause acid reflux? Does black pepper in golden paste interact with medicines?)

Turmeric milk and Turmeric tea are other delicious options. Need help identifying a good brand of turmeric please click here.

If taking turmeric supplements consult a doctor prior.

Precaution

Dietary turmeric is very safe but a few precautions need to be considered when it comes to turmeric supplements:

  • Avoid in pregnancy and lactation
  • Avoid if suffering from gall bladder obstruction
  • Avoid if suffering from a bleeding disorder
  • Discontinue prior to surgery

If suffering from gout or at risk of developing kidney stones, limit intake of turmeric as a spice. (Is turmeric safe in gout? Does turmeric cause kidney stone?)

Avoid taking turmeric on an empty stomach to avoid acid reflux symptoms. (Does turmeric cause acid reflux?)

If suffering from a bleeding disorder, small doses of turmeric in diet are safe but it is best to consult a doctor before taking turmeric or turmeric supplements in this case.

A general precaution is outlined that turmeric may have drug interactions with stomach acid reducing medication, antidepressants, blood sugar reducing drugs etc. Curcumin found in turmeric is known to interfere in drug metabolism.

Hence it is advised not to take curcumin supplements concomitantly with any other medicine. Consult a health practitioner before taking turmeric supplements.

Conclusion

Turmeric is rich in powerful natural antioxidants, which makes it therapeutically effective in thyroid disorders.

It can balance thyroid hormones in hyperthyroidism as well as hypothyroidism. It can help reduce inflammation and reduce risk of goitre. Turmeric can prevent and benefit in thyroid cancer.

We highly recommend including turmeric in diet to manage as well as prevent thyroid disorders.

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24 Comments

  1. I had goiter and i removed it 2yrs ago it was tested I am now diagnosed with papillary cancer. Doctor suggest that I completely remove it. How do I add turmeric to my diet and can I use turmeric instead of doing chemotherapy ?

    1. Turmeric can be included in diet in salads, soups, curries etc. It is preferable to take it with black pepper and/or oil. A good recipe that combines these 3 is Golden Paste.
      You can take Golden Paste. Start with small doses such as 1/4-1/2 tsp and if you see no side effects then increase the dose gradually to 1 tsp 2-3 times a day over a few weeks.
      Best taken with food to avoid acid reflux. Avoid taking it at the same time when you take meds.
      http://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-recipes/how-to-make-turmeric-paste-or-golden-paste
      http://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-recipes/how-to-make-golden-paste-from-raw-fresh-turmeric
      However for cancer, you may need to opt for curcumin supplements:
      http://www.turmericforhealth.com/general-info/turmeric-curcumin-dosage-for-cancer-a-scientific-plan
      Turmeric is not meant to replace professional advice so it is preferable that you get a second opinion and follow doctor’s advice as well.

  2. My sister in law suffers now and then from her lymph nodes swelling , they had told her to do surgery to remove the thyroid but she refused and does natural . She was on pro bio tics but is turmeric better ? As when she stresses her lymph nodes swell up . Please advice .

    1. Hi. We have not come across enough evidence to comment whether turmeric would be better than probiotics for thyroid issues but one must note that they are absolutely different food groups. So mechanism of action of both would be different. It is safe to include both in diet.
      She can try taking Golden Paste to improve thyroid function.
      Start with small doses such as 1/4-1/2 tsp and if you see no side effects then increase the dose gradually to 1 tsp 2-3 times a day over a few weeks. Best taken with food to avoid acid reflux. Avoid taking it at the same time when you take meds.
      http://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-recipes/how-to-make-turmeric-paste-or-golden-paste http://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-recipes/how-to-make-golden-paste-from-raw-fresh-turmeric

    1. Turmeric improves liver function by aiding in detoxification. It can benefit as anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory agent in biliary cirrhosis. It also improves thyroid function.
      http://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-benefits/turmeric-benefits-for-cirrhosis
      http://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-benefits/can-turmeric-help-in-thyroid-disorders
      You can take Golden Paste. Start with small doses such as 1/4-1/2 tsp and if you see no side effects then increase the dose gradually to 1-2 tsp 2-3 times a day over a few weeks. Best taken with food to avoid acid reflux. Avoid taking it at the same time when you take other meds.
      http://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-recipes/how-to-make-turmeric-paste-or-golden-paste

  3. Hi, I am suffering from hypothyroidism and Hashimoto disease is not ruled out. I also happen to have several calcified thyroid nodules. I do not want to undergo surgery and want to shrink the nodules naturally. Do you think boiling fresh turmeric and making it a turmeric tea will be of great help?

    1. Turmeric tea, 1 cup a day, would help.
      http://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-benefits/brew-a-cup-of-turmeric-tea
      You can take Golden Paste. Start with small doses such as 1/4-1/2 tsp and if you see no side effects then increase the dose gradually to 1-2 tsp 2-3 times a day over a few weeks. Best taken with food to avoid acid reflux. Avoid taking it at the same time when you take other meds.
      http://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-recipes/how-to-make-turmeric-paste-or-golden-paste

      A combination of curcumin supplements and Golden Paste would help; but consult a doctor before taking turmeric supplements. Do not consume all three(tea, paste and supplements) as that would be an excess. Turmeric should help ameliorate the situation but we can’t comment on how effective this would be as it depends on severity of the disease. You can consult a herbalist or naturopath about this.

    1. Hi. We don’t recommend replacing turmeric for conventional medicine unless your doctor is agreeing to it. What you could do is include turmeric in your diet and observe the benefit in thyroid disorders. Once you see a significant improvement you can consult your doctor as to whether you can replace, discontinue or reduce the dosage of synthroid.
      You can take Golden Paste. Start with small doses such as 1/4-1/2 tsp and if you see no side effects then increase the dose gradually to 1-2 tsp 2-3 times a day over a few weeks. Best taken with food to avoid acid reflux. Avoid taking it at the same time when you take other meds. http://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-recipes/how-to-make-turmeric-paste-or-golden-paste

  4. i have been recently diagnosed with hyperthyroidism/graves. not on meds yet due to high liver enzymes is tumeric safe alternative?

  5. im 37year old and just find out that I have papillary thyroid cancer metastasis. doctor ask me for thyroid surgery and removal of limp nod and thyroid
    im not going for surgery and I want to try naturally treatment for at least 6 month before I decide to go for surgery
    could please suggest me what the best way to cure thyroid cancer and how to use turmeric powder for treatment
    your suggestion will help me a lot to cure my thyroid disease

    thank you

      1. My close friend is fighting brain cancer with good results and takes “Maximum bio curcumin “,you can check on
        BioGaya .co.il

    1. Its safe to include turmeric in diet. Start with small doses such as 1/2 tsp and if you observe no side effects you could take as much as 1 tsp a day.

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