By Michaël Friedman, ND / Autoimmune diseases are a group of disorders in which the immune system dysfunctions and attacks host tissues. Although the pathogenesis of autoimmune thyroid disease has not been elucidated, there are several factors that have been associated with the disorder. Factors include genetic predisposition, nutrient deficiencies, use of certain medications affecting thyroid function, and environmental factors including exposure to radiation, heavy metals, and chemical contaminants.
Thyroid disorders are often treated with drug therapy, which often have serious side effects and do not necessarily treat the underlying condition leading to the thyroid dysfunction. In recent years there has been increased interest in herbs and supplements as individuals take more interest in their health and well being. For autoimmune disease, vitamin D supplementation is recommended as deficiency in this nutrient has been associated with the disorder. Additionally, it also modulates T cell response and inhibits Th1 cytokines.
In cases of autoimmune hyperthyroid disorder, rosmarinic acid, selenium and iodide supplementation are recommended. For autoimmune hypothyroid disorder, blue flag (Iris versicolor) and guggul (Commiphora mukul), selenium and iodide supplementation are indicated. Each of these supplements plays a specific role in restoring normal thyroid function.
Further, rosmarinic acid found in plants such as rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), bugleweed (Lycopus virginicus), and lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) also calms excess T cell activity and pro inflammatory cytokine release. The use of these combinations of supplements should restore thyroid hormone homeostasis in autoimmune thyroid disorders. Proper medical supervision is required to ensure these herbs and nutrients are used safely and potential adverse effects are avoided.