An Ancient Herbal Medicine with Modern Medical Applications

Promising Herbal Treatment for Hypothyroidism

Clinical trials show guggul can help treat hypothyroidism in some people.

Hypothyroidism is a thyroid gland condition. In conventional medicine it is believed to be an autoimmunity problem where the body’s immune cells, possibly in reaction to hormones or a virus, disrupts the proper functioning of the thyroid. Ayurveda links hypothyroidism to excess mucus and fats that lead to hormonal imbalances and enlargement of the thyroid gland.55

Hypothyroidism symptoms include weight gain, dry skin and hair, memory loss, menstrual problems, anemia, and sensitivity to cold. The condition slows down metabolism as mental and physical activity decreases, and can be fatal if untreated.55

Conventional treatment is typically oral administration of pharmaceutical preparations of thyroid hormone (e.g., Eltroxin™ and Synthroid®). These can have adverse side effects such as increased risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular symptoms (e.g., hypertension and irregular heartbeat).55,59

Evidence of Guggul's Treatment Effect on Hypothyroidism

Guggul is often used in combination with other herbs in Ayurvedic preparations to manage hypothyroidism. One such product, Kanchnar guggul, produces similar results to the conventional drug Eltroxin™. Non-randomized or placebo-controlled human clinical studies have been conducted that suggest guggul may be effective in herbal preparations prescribed to stimulate hormonal secretions of the thyroid gland: Results of an animal study indicate guggul extract can significantly increase the thyroid hormone T3 on its own.55

In a human trial involving 899 people suffering from hypothyroidism, a combination of guggul and an ingredient derived from the orchid tree (Bauhinia variegate) was orally administered three times a day for 10-20 months. Over a third of the patients showed 50-100% improvement, with another 16% showing some improvement. Of those who did improve, people over 50 had a maximum improvement of only 40-50%. A smaller trial involving 50 patients combined guggul with Bauhinia variegate, licorice, and bindweed (Convolvulus plauricaulis) reduced symptoms and significantly increased thyroid hormone (T3 and T4) levels while reducing cholesterol.55

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