Is it possible to Naturally Treat Thyroid Nodules?
Do you have thyroid nodules?
If so, you have probably wondered, at least at some point, how to treat or reduce the size of those nodules.
And that's exactly what we are going to be talking about today.
Natural treatments for thyroid nodules and just thyroid nodule treatment in general.
In this discussion, we will talk about both NATURAL therapies as well as MEDICAL therapies (meaning you need a prescription)
Why should you care about your thyroid nodules? Are they really a problem if they aren't causing you any harm?
The problem is not necessarily the nodule itself (though it can be a problem if it is big enough) but instead what that nodule can turn in to.
And, of course, I'm talking about thyroid cancer.
All thyroid nodules have a small risk of being cancerous or turning into cancer at some point in the future.
Because of this, it behooves you as the patient to try and minimize this risk as MUCH as possible.
The good news is that MOST thyroid nodules are benign and NOT cancerous (about 95% (1)) but you should still take care to minimize your risk of thyroid cancer.
You might be asking yourself "why do I have to worry about my nodule?", won't my doctor do that for me?
Well, yes and no.
Your doctor WILL keep an eye on your nodule through ultrasound imaging and certain tests but they most likely will NOT recommend any treatments or ways to try and shrink or reverse the nodule.
I can't tell you exactly why they only opt for this type of approach but because of their approach, it becomes VITAL that you as a patient understand what things you can do to manage your nodules.
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5 Ways to Manage & Treat Thyroid Nodules
Even though your doctor may not be willing to mention any of the therapies available for people with thyroid nodules there are many things that YOU can do.
Below you will find a list of various ways that you can approach managing and potentially shrinking your thyroid nodule to try and prevent growth or potential future thyroid cancer.
These treatments are all based on factors that we know (based on medical research), cause or contribute to the development of thyroid nodules.
So don't be afraid to mention these to your doctor because some of them may require the help of a physician.
#1. TSH Management.
The first thing you should be aware of is the impact that your TSH has on your thyroid gland tissue (and thus, thyroid nodules).
TSH is a hormone secreted from the pituitary gland in your brain and it stands for thyroid-stimulating hormone.
And TSH does exactly what it sounds like it should be based on the name.
It STIMULATES your thyroid gland.
Typically we think of this stimulation of the thyroid gland as a stimulation of the production of thyroid hormone (which it does do) but it ALSO stimulates thyroid gland tissue.
And this stimulation is the thing that we get worried about when it comes to thyroid nodules (2).
The last thing we want is for your brain to send a signal to your thyroid gland via TSH to tell your thyroid nodules to get BIGGER or to GROW.
So, what can you do to prevent this?
It turns out that YOU can manage your TSH levels to prevent this from occurring (or at least do your best to prevent it from occurring).
And you can do this by keeping your TSH in the optimal or LOW range.
You do NOT want your TSH to be higher than it needs to be because a high TSH will send the growth signals that we are trying to avoid.
A high TSH is often seen in people who have HYPOTHYROIDISM or low or sluggish thyroid function.
And, unfortunately, many of these people are not treated with sufficiently high doses of thyroid hormone to cause a REDUCTION in the TSH.
So it is possible, and even probable, that if you have hypothyroidism (and thyroid nodules) that your TSH is higher than it should be.
And this poses a potential threat as it may stimulate the growth of your thyroid nodule if you aren't careful.
The best thing to do is to make sure that you keep your TSH somewhere in the range of 0.5 to 1.0 uIU/ml.
This TSH range is what I consider to be optimal anyway for most healthy adults but you might find that your doctor doesn't necessarily want you to be in this range (or isn't concerned if you are not there).
I would argue that that TSH range is healthy no matter what condition you are in but it is especially important if you have a thyroid nodule (or more than one)!
Most physicians consider a normal TSH range to be anywhere between 1.0 and 5.0 uIU/ml which makes this range MUCH larger than you would ideally want.
Make sure that you look at your TSH values to ensure that it is within this range and don't accept a "normal" range as something that is good for your nodule(s).
The good news is that it is actually quite easy to drop your TSH and all it requires is an upward adjustment in your medication.
The more thyroid medication you take (of any type of thyroid medication) the more your TSH will drop or lower.
So if your TSH is higher than you want, and you are taking thyroid medication, all you need to do is increase your dose to see your TSH drop.
Some thyroid medications, such as natural desiccated thyroid hormone, are particularly useful for dropping the TSH.
What if you aren't taking thyroid medication?
More good news.
There are ways that you can naturally IMPROVE and DECREASE your TSH level.
You can do this by naturally increasing your free T3 levels with the use of supplements or other therapies, by reducing inflammation in your body, and by changing up your diet (to exclude foods such as dairy which can block thyroid function).
Better yet, you can combine changes to your medication AND do the natural therapies I've listed above.
And we are just getting started here.
There are many other things that you can still do to manage your thyroid nodules.
#2. Iodine Management.
The next thing you should be aware of is your management of iodine.
We know, through various studies, that the amount of iodine that you ingest (and the amount of iodine which gets into your thyroid gland) impact your risk of developing thyroid nodules.
But, here's the deal:
Both high doses of iodine and low doses of iodine (3) have been implicated in causing thyroid nodules.
The good news is that we know that iodine has some impact on your thyroid nodules and this is a good thing because manipulating how much iodine you take can potentially treat your thyroid nodules.
The difficult part is figuring out how much is too much and how much iodine you should take.
We have several studies that show that unopposed iodine intake (especially in very high doses) does seem to trigger the growth of thyroid nodules in certain people.
On the other hand, we also have concrete evidence which shows that LOW iodine intake (or iodine deficiency) can also lead to thyroid nodules.
So, you can think of iodine as a Goldilocks nutrient in which you want to have just the right amount.
What is this amount?
It's somewhere between 100 MCG and 12.5 MG.
And yes, I understand that this is quite a large range but it actually can help.
100mcg is what I consider to be the basic and lowest dose that all people with thyroid conditions should use.
Unfortunately, many thyroid patients are actually SCARED to use iodine because they heard it was harmful to the thyroid.
This sort of behavior may lead to iodine deficiency and thus thyroid nodule formation.
The 100mcg dose recommended as the base dose is a small enough dose to prevent any issues and will still cover the necessary amount of iodine that the body needs.
On the high end, we have a dose of around 12.5mg per day. I find that many people do quite well on this higher-end dose and don't have any problems as long as they have normal levels of both selenium and zinc.
If you are concerned about what dose you should start at the best course of action is to start with the 100mcg dose and then work your way up to the higher doses.
But most people do fine starting out at the 12.5mg dose.
I do not believe that doses beyond the 12.5mg range (so-called iodine mega-dosing) is a good idea and may contribute to thyroid nodule formation.
The same is true for people who COMPLETELY avoid iodine because of some misplaced fear of this vital and important nutrient.
#3. Autoimmune Management.
Another VERY common trigger of thyroid nodules is that of autoimmune thyroiditis.
What do I mean?
I am referring to the autoimmune disease known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
This disease is both a thyroid disease and an inflammatory disease that causes inflammation and damage to your thyroid gland.
The more inflammation and damage to thyroid gland tissue the more likely that tissue is to become disordered and turn into a nodule (4).
You can, therefore, address some thyroid nodules by attempting to LOWER or reduce the inflammation and damage done by Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
And if you are thinking you don't have to worry about this one because you only have hypothyroidism think again.
It is estimated that up to 70 to 90% of ALL cases of hypothyroidism (5) are caused by this autoimmune disease.
This is true even if you have NEGATIVE thyroid antibodies.
There exists a seronegative (meaning antibody negative) form of Hashimoto's (6) that many people have.
So, regardless of what type of thyroid disease you have (hypothyroidism or otherwise) you should address inflammation and take steps to try and improve your immune function.
There are specific ways that you can help reduce your thyroid antibodies by focusing on immune function and I've listed some of the most effective therapies in this blog post.
You will also want to look at other measures such as inflammatory markers (ESR and CRP), Vitamin D levels, Zinc levels, gut health, and your diet.
All of these things can contribute to inflammation and autoimmunity.
#4. Blood Sugar/Insulin Control.
Another factor that can CAUSE thyroid nodules is that of insulin resistance.
And with as many as 50% of people suffering from this condition (based on the latest research) it is a problem that plagues MANY people.
Insulin resistance is the same condition that leads to high blood sugar which is why these are lumped together.
You can think of insulin as a growth hormone because one of its main functions is to push to make its target grow.
So the higher your insulin level is, the more insulin resistance that you have, the more likely you are to have a thyroid nodule.
This means that treating and managing insulin resistance is a powerful way to treat and manage your thyroid nodules!
You can identify if you have insulin resistance by looking at certain blood tests such as your fasting serum insulin and fasting blood glucose or fasting blood sugar.
Another way to identify the presence of high blood sugar is with the use of the Hgb A1c test.
If any of these markers are abnormally high AND you have thyroid nodules then you should do your best to address this problem.
You can treat insulin resistance and high blood sugar naturally by focusing on your diet and by taking certain supplements.
Consuming fewer carbs than normal (utilizing diets such as the keto diet or low carb diets) can help drop your blood sugar and lower insulin levels.
All of these supplements have been shown to help reverse insulin resistance by either affecting insulin levels directly or by reducing inflammation in your body.
Radiation is probably not as common as some of the other things we have discussed so far today but it is still something you should be aware of.
Exposure to radiation is both a cause and a risk factor for developing thyroid nodules.
The good news is that most of you have probably not been exposed to radiation without proper protection, at least not recently.
When I talk about exposure to radiation here I am mostly talking about exposure to high powered radiation such as exposure from certain medical imaging tests such as CT scans and perhaps x-rays.
Nowadays, we are well aware of the damage that radiation can cause to the thyroid gland (which is exquisitely sensitive to radiation) that most radiation technicians will do their best to protect your thyroid gland with a special lead guard.
But this guard isn't always possible to use, especially if you need imaging of your neck or upper chest.
We are also exposed to radiation when we eat food, when we sleep next to our partner, and when we fly on airplanes.
This is not the type of radiation (and dose) that you should be worried about, however.
Instead, you really want to avoid unnecessary medical imaging tests that can expose you to unnecessary excess radiation and may contribute to the growth of your thyroid nodules and the potential for thyroid cancer.
#6. Vegetables and Produce Consumption.
Lastly, you should be aware that consumption of vegetables and produce from the grocery store has been associated with a decreased risk of developing thyroid nodules (7)!
We can reverse engineer this and apply it as a therapy, which is why we are talking about it now.
What do I mean?
I mean that we can infer that produce provides some protection against the development of thyroid nodules so by consuming a lot of fresh produce we can potentially treat existing thyroid nodules.
This is how I want you to think about it.
If you have a thyroid nodule, your goal should be to consume as much fresh produce as you possibly can.
Don't worry about the potential negative effects that certain produce has on your thyroid gland (from so-called goitrogens) as this risk is largely overblown.
Instead, eat as much organic or non-organic produce as you can find and afford.
The protective plant compounds found inside of this produce can help reduce inflammation and potentially treat your thyroid nodule(s).
The main thing I want you to take away from this article is that you DO have options when it comes to treating your thyroid nodules.
This is sometimes lost on people who suffer from nodules because MOST doctors focus solely on identification and long-term monitoring of thyroid nodules.
They rarely ever offer up any treatments because they are only ever trying to rule out cancer (which is a good thing but doesn't help those who want to try and improve their situation).
Treatment can come in the form of either natural therapies (such as consuming healthy foods or taking supplements) OR it can come from the use of certain medications such as thyroid hormone.
One last thought:
You may have to try several of the therapies above before you find something that works well for you.
Don't be surprised if you need to manage your TSH, reduce inflammation in your body, eat more healthy produce, and take some iodine.
This is the type of approach you want to take, especially with LARGE nodules that may look cancerous.
Now I want to hear from you:
Do you have thyroid nodules? If so, what size are they?
Have you tried any of the therapies listed here?
If so, did they work for you? Why or why not?
If not, are you planning on trying any of these therapies?
If you have please leave your experience below by leaving a comment or a question!
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