Nigella Sativa to Support Hypothyroid
A recent article was published on a study on the positive benefits of using Nigella sativa in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, along with synthetic thyroid to enhance benefits of treatment.1 Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition in which the thyroid is destroyed, this leads to a an increase in TSH, and a decrease in active thyroid hormone. Symptoms include decreased energy, fatigue, weight gain, and skin changes. Most commonly, synthetic thyroid in the form of levothyroxine, is utilized to replace the absent, or extremely low thyroid hormone. Many naturopaths also supplement with cofactors, or herbs which help support the thyroid, to minimize degradation, and maximize output of thyroid hormone by existing organ.
The Nigella Sativa Study
Nigella sativa appears to be of benefit for reducing end organ damage by decreasing inflammation. 40 participants (ages 22-50) with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – 85% women – were included in the trial. All were treated with levothyroxine for 6 weeks leading up to the study, until the end of the study. Participants were randomized into 2 groups and the test group received 1 gram encapsulated Nigella sativa (seed), and the control group received a placebo made from starch. Dosing was twice daily for 8 weeks.
Anthropometric Measures Used to Assess Herbal Effects
Anthropometric measures were used to assess herbal effects, including: body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), hip circumference (HC) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). Biochemical measures were: thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), T3 and T4, antithyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
Significant Reduction Found
At the end of 8 weeks, there was a significant reduction in all anthropometric values in the test group, and none in the placebo group, despite zero changes in diet during the study.
The Nigella group participants also saw a general reduction in TSH and anti-TPO antibodies and an increase in T3 levels. Concentrations of VEGF also decreased.
Nigella Sativa and Synthetic Thyroid Replacements
Even though patients may be on synthetic thyroid replacements, its not uncommon for them to still have difficulty losing weight, or for treatment to have a lesser effect than desired. Nigella sativa seems to show promising results in terms of increasing the effectivity of thyroid replacement therapy, lowering inflammation of the thyroid gland, and helping with positive metabolic changes.
- Farhangi MA, Dehghan P, Tajmiri S, Abbasi MM. The effects of Nigella sativa on thyroid function, serum vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-1, nesfatin-1 and anthropometric features in patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016;16:471.
Node Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine amongst the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend campout where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.