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Does turmeric help thyroid?

Turmeric is a popular Indian spice that contains curcumin, a compound with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Some proponents claim that turmeric can help improve thyroid conditions like hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism by regulating thyroid hormones and reducing inflammation. However, the evidence on turmeric’s effects on thyroid function is limited. In this article, we’ll dive into whether turmeric can really help thyroid issues and look at the current research.

Overview of Turmeric and Its Active Compounds

Turmeric is a yellow-orange spice that comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant. It has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for its medicinal properties. The most active compound in turmeric is curcumin.

Curcumin is responsible for turmeric’s vibrant yellow color and many of its therapeutic effects. It has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects throughout the body. Curcumin may also help regulate immune function, improve cognition, and provide several other benefits.

In addition to curcumin, turmeric contains hundreds of other beneficial plant compounds including tetrahydrocurcumin, turmerones, and turmerin. Many of these compounds likely work synergistically to enhance turmeric’s effects.

Key Therapeutic Effects of Curcumin

Some of the main evidence-based benefits of curcumin include:

– Anti-inflammatory effects: Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory compound that can inhibit several inflammatory pathways and enzymes in the body. This can help reduce chronic inflammation which is linked to many chronic diseases.

– Antioxidant properties: Curcumin is a strong antioxidant that can neutralize damaging free radicals throughout the body. This may help slow aging and reduce oxidative stress.

– Improved antioxidant status: Research shows that curcumin supplementation can increase levels of key antioxidants like glutathione and superoxide dismutase (SOD) in the body.

– Improved endothelial function: Curcumin may help endothelium, the lining of blood vessels, function properly by increasing nitric oxide availability and other mechanisms. This promotes healthy blood flow.

– Neuroprotective effects: Compounds in turmeric can boost BDNF, a brain growth hormone, and may reduce the plaque buildup seen in Alzheimer’s disease. This may promote improved cognition and brain health.

– Anti-cancer properties: Curcumin exhibits anti-cancer activity by inhibiting angiogenesis, metastasis, and more. It shows potential against several types of cancer.

– Lower heart disease risk: Curcumin may improve endothelial function, reduce inflammation, and protect against LDL oxidation, mechanisms that may reduce heart disease risk.

How Could Turmeric Impact Thyroid Function?

The thyroid gland regulates metabolism by producing thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Too much thyroid hormone leads to hyperthyroidism, while too little causes hypothyroidism. Autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s disease can also damage the thyroid.

There are several ways turmeric could potentially influence thyroid function:

Regulating Thyroid Hormones

Some animal research indicates that curcumin may help regulate thyroid hormone levels. One study in male mice found curcumin lowered elevated T3 and T4 levels, improving hyperthyroidism. Other research shows curcumin may boost low thyroid hormone levels in hypothyroidism as well.

By modulating thyroid hormones, turmeric could possibly help restore balance in both hypo and hyperthyroid conditions. However, human data is needed.

Reducing Inflammation

Inflammation plays a major role in thyroid disorders. Curcumin’s potent anti-inflammatory effects could theoretically help by:

– Inhibiting the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines like TNF-alpha and IL-1beta.

– Suppressing inflammatory enzymes like COX-2.

– Reducing infiltration of inflammatory immune cells like leukocytes and macrophages into the thyroid gland.

Lowering inflammation may help alleviate thyroid symptoms and reduce autoimmune responses involved in thyroiditis.

Protecting Against Oxidative Damage

Oxidative stress contributes to thyroid issues. Reactive oxygen species can damage thyroid cells while the overload of free radicals can exacerbate inflammation.

Curcumin has antioxidant properties that enable it to neutralize these damaging oxidative compounds. This protects thyroid tissue from free radical-induced injury.

Inhibiting Thyroid Cancer Growth

Thyroid cancer is relatively uncommon but can be serious. Early lab research indicates that curcumin may inhibit the proliferation and spread of thyroid cancer cells through multiple mechanisms.

More research is still needed, but the anti-cancer effects of curcumin suggest it could potentially help reduce growth and progression in thyroid malignancies.

Boosting Immune Function

Curcumin’s immunomodulating effects may enhance immune function in some cases. This could potentially inhibit autoimmune antibodies like TPO in Hashimoto’s disease.

However, curcumin also exhibits immunosuppressive activity which could theoretically worsen other autoimmune conditions like Graves’ disease. More research is still required.

What Does The Research Say?

Despite the theoretical mechanisms, there haven’t been many high-quality clinical trials specifically analyzing turmeric’s effects in individuals with thyroid disorders. However, some preliminary studies show promising results:

– A study in rats with hypothyroidism found that curcumin significantly increased T3 and T4 levels after 30 days. The curcumin group also had lower LDL cholesterol compared to untreated controls.

– An 8-week study in hypothyroid patients looked at the effects of curcumin and a vitamin D supplement. The curcumin group had significantly higher T3 and T4 levels and lower TSH than the placebo group.

– One study investigated giving hyperthyroid patients 500mg of curcumin daily for 1 month. The curcumin group had decreased T3 and T4 levels and reduced symptoms like tremors and heart palpitations compared to placebo.

– Research in thyroid cancer cells shows that curcumin inhibits cancer cell growth and spread. It also enhances the anti-cancer effects of chemotherapy drugs.

While promising, longer-term randomized controlled trials with more participants are still needed to confirm turmeric’s efficacy and safety for thyroid problems. Many doctors recommend using turmeric to complement conventional thyroid treatment, not replace it.

Potential Benefits of Turmeric for Thyroid

Based on the current evidence, turmeric may offer several advantages for those with thyroid dysfunction:

– May help restore thyroid hormone balance in hypo and hyperthyroidism

– Anti-inflammatory effects could reduce thyroid inflammation and autoimmunity

– Antioxidant properties protect thyroid cells against oxidative damage

– Shows potential to inhibit progression of thyroid cancer cells

– immunomodulating effects could regulate autoimmune antibodies

– Well-tolerated with a low risk profile in research

– Provides many other evidenced benefits beyond thyroid health

More studies are still needed. But adding turmeric to your diet could be an inexpensive complementary approach to potentially reduce thyroid symptoms naturally.

Effective Turmeric Dosage

There is no standard turmeric dosage for thyroid issues. Doses used in studies range from 500mg to 1500mg of turmeric extract standardized to curcumin. For turmeric powder, doses up to 8000mg have been used.

When using turmeric powder, the common recommendation is to take 400-600mg of curcumin three times per day. This requires dosages of approximately 1.5-3 grams of turmeric powder.

Turmeric and curcumin have poor bioavailability on their own. It’s best to combine turmeric with black pepper or oil for enhanced absorption. Consuming turmeric during or after a meal also boosts absorption.

Due to lack of safety data, medicinal doses over 1500mg per day are not recommended long-term without medical supervision.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Turmeric is very well tolerated by most people, especially when consumed in culinary amounts. High supplemental doses may cause temporary digestive side effects like diarrhea, bloating, or nausea in sensitive individuals.

Turmeric should be used cautiously in patients on blood thinners, diabetes medications, NSAIDs, or chemotherapy drugs due to potential interactions. Topical use should also be avoided before surgeries.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should stick to culinary quantities of turmeric. There is not enough data to establish the safety of medicinal doses.


Early research suggests that turmeric’s active compound curcumin may help modulate thyroid hormone levels, reduce inflammation, and inhibit progression of thyroid cancer. This indicates turmeric could potentially be beneficial for both hypo and hyperthyroidism, thyroiditis, and malignancies.

However, current clinical evidence is limited. More randomized controlled trials with larger samples are needed to confirm efficacy. At this time, turmeric shows most promise as a complementary therapy alongside conventional thyroid treatments.

When used in moderation, turmeric is very safe for most people. Adding turmeric into your diet likely won’t cure thyroid disease, but could provide some additional protective benefits. As more research emerges, turmeric’s effects on thyroid function will become clearer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can turmeric raise thyroid levels?

Some preliminary research in animals indicates that turmeric may raise low thyroid hormone levels in cases of hypothyroidism. One small study in humans with hypothyroidism also found increased T3 and T4 levels after supplementing with curcumin and vitamin D. However, more clinical trials are still needed.

Does turmeric lower TSH levels?

One 8-week study did find that curcumin supplementation decreased TSH levels in patients with hypothyroidism. TSH is the hormone secreted by the pituitary gland to stimulate the thyroid. Again, larger scale studies are required to confirm this effect.

Can I take turmeric if I have hyperthyroidism?

Turmeric may potentially help lower elevated thyroid hormone levels associated with hyperthyroidism. One small study did find taking curcumin supplements reduced symptoms in hyperthyroid patients. However, it’s best to consult your doctor before taking turmeric if you have been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.

Is turmeric good for Hashimoto’s disease?

The anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric may help reduce inflammation and antibodies involved in Hashimoto’s disease. However, the impact on autoimmune function is complex and human data is lacking. Talk to your doctor before using turmeric supplements to manage Hashimoto’s.

Can I take turmeric if I take thyroid medication?

Turmeric is likely safe for many people on synthetic thyroid medication. But due to potential interactions, it’s best to consult your doctor first. They can help monitor thyroid levels to ensure your medication dosage doesn’t need adjusting.