Do you know what Hashimoto's thyroiditis is? Well, if you don't, this may come as a surprise. This disease is not only very common, it's quite possible you have it and don't know it.
Fortunately, if you do have Hashimoto's, a new experiment is pointing to a safe and natural treatment for it.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis is one of the most common auto-immune diseases. I've talked about auto-immune diseases before. The cause is a malfunction of the immune system. Hashimoto's affects 2% of the general population and up to 10% of all women over the age of 55. That makes it one of the most common causes of low thyroid function. Like all auto-immune diseases, it's more common in women. In fact, it's 10 times more common. And like I said, many patients with Hashimoto's go undiagnosed.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis is characterized by finding a high level of anti-thyroid antibodies. These antibodies are what cause the thyroid cells to deteriorate. Eventually, the patient develops hypothyroidism (low thyroid function). Hashimoto's can also cause a swelling of the thyroid known as goiter. And, in some cases, it can lead to thyroid cancer.
Besides having an elevated level of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and elevated levels of anti-thyroid antibodies, there are two other indicators of Hashimoto's. One is a low level of the thyroid hormone T3. And the other is an elevated level of something called VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor). The thyroid secretes VEGF when there's an increase in TSH concentrations. And VEGF is also secreted by thyroid cancer cells. Remember these values, because when I talk about this new remedy for Hashimoto's, I'll be referring to them.
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The conventional treatment for Hashimoto's is the synthetic hormone levothyroxine. However, according to one review, the long-term use of levothyroxine "is related to cardiac dysfunction, left ventricular hypertrophy, and rapid bone loss." For this reason, researchers recently wondered whether there might be a better way to go than levothyroxine. And that's why they started to investigate black cumin seeds, also known as Nigella sativa. Here's why.
Numerous animal studies have detailed the therapeutic actions of black cumin seed in improving chronic diseases including diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and gastritis. One study in particular looked at the effect of black cumin seed in rats with low thyroid function induced by the drug propylthiouracil. In that study, the herb completely corrected the problem. So, based on this background, researchers developed a study to look at the effect of black cumin seeds on humans with Hashimoto's.
For the study the researchers enrolled 40 men and women with Hashimoto's thyroiditis, between the ages of 22 and 50 years. They gave half of them 2 g (about ½ tsp) of black cumin seed powder every day. The other half got the placebo. The study went on for eight weeks. Before the study and at the end of the eight weeks, the researchers measured the levels of T3 hormone, TSH hormone, VEGF, and anti-thyroid antibodies. Since Hashimoto's commonly causes weight gain, they also measured weight and body composition. In the author's own words, here's what they found.
"Treatment with Nigella sativa significantly reduced body weight and body mass index (BMI). Serum concentrations of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and anti-thyroid peroxidase (anti-TPO) antibodies decreased while serum T3 concentrations increased in Nigella sativa-treated group after eight weeks. There was a significant reduction in serum VEGF concentrations in intervention group [the group that got the black cumin]. None of these changes had been observed in the placebo treated group."
You can buy black cumin seed powder online. Consult with your doctor first. But if you have been diagnosed with low thyroid function from Hashimoto's, it certainly looks like you have nothing to lose by adding some black cumin seed to your current program.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Farhangi MA, Dehghan P, et al. The effects of Nigella sativa on thyroid function, serum VascularEndothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) - 1, Nesfatin-1 and anthropometricfeatures in patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016 Nov 16;16(1):471.