Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs due to an underactive thyroid gland. The thyroid will not produce sufficient hormones triiodothyronine (T-3) and thyroixine T-4 required for various functions. This results in different medical problems. Women over 50 are especially prone to hypothyroidism. There are various causes for hypothyroidism like radiation therapy, autoimmune disease, certain medications and thyroid surgery. If left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to joint pain, obesity, heart diseases or infertility. Fortunately, there are tests to determine if the thyroid gland is functioning properly and treatments available. Usually treatments are simple, safe and very effective as long as medical advice is followed.
The initial symptoms of hypothyroidism are fatigue and sluggishness. These are often barely noticed by the individual. If the deficiency of hormones is severe, then other symptoms could occur. Some of these are – constipation, greater sensitivity to cold, dry and pale skin, weight gain, muscle weakness, muscle ache, tender and stiff muscles, heavy menstrual periods, depression, higher blood cholesterol levels, puffy face, hoarse voice and brittle hair or fingernails. These symptoms can grow in severity if left untreated. A rare form of hypothyroidism called myxedema can be life-threatening.
Kelp belongs to the brown algae family and grows in the ocean floor. While kelp is often categorized as seaweed, it does not really belong to this family. Kelp is used as part of human and animal diet in many parts of the world – especially in Asian cuisine and in Alaska and Hawaii. Kelp is also used as a mineral and vitamin supplement because it is rich in these and other nutrients. Kelp is rich in iodine, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, polysaccharides, vitamins B12, B1 and B2.
Apart from benefiting the thyroid gland, kelp also improves digestion, constipation, energy levels, weight loss, liver, pancreatic, brain and pituitary gland functions and reduces inflammation of the joints therefore helping those suffering from arthritis.
The whole kelp plant is sun dried and processed into powder, granules, liquid, capsules or animal feed. Powdered kelp can be added to any dish as a replacement for salt. It can also be used as a garnishing for entrees, salads, smoothies, or soups.
Kelp for Hypothyroidism
Some studies in Japan have found that the high iodine content in kelp makes it an excellent supplement to maintain a healthy thyroid and prevent hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. #
Kelp is an excellent natural remedy for hypothyroidism since it can easily be added in our diets. Although all seaweeds contain iodine, the added benefit of kelp is that it also contains other nutrients like vitamins, minerals, amino acids and trace elements all beneficial for our overall health. Taking kelp can decrease symptoms of hypothyroidism like helping with weight loss, fatigue, depression, and goiter, treat iodine nodules found on the thyroid gland or help with treatment of low blood pressure. Kelp can increase the production of thyroid hormones by stimulating the functioning of the thyroid gland.
Here are some ways that kelp can be used as a natural remedy for hypothyroidism.
For those in-between snacks, consider roasting bits of kelp in the oven for a few minutes. This makes an excellent crunchy, tasty and salty snack. Seaweed soup is an excellent way to enjoy kelp. Add kelp to any soup like bean or protein soup. Salads are generally healthy. Now add kelp to salads after soaking it in warm water for an hour, chopping it and adding to your salad. Kelp flakes or granules can be sprinkled on any dish to give a salty taste.
Some types of kelp contain excess iodine content. Always check kelp supplements and other kelp products you buy for the iodine content. The recommended daily dosage of iodine should not exceed 150mcg daily.
Precautions while using Kelp
Always give a break when taking kelp products. For example, take kelp for 2 weeks, give a 2 week break and use it again. Follow this system and you can avoid an overdose of iodine which can lead to an improper functioning of the thyroid gland, leading to hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised against using kelp products.
Kelp is a natural laxative, hence excess can cause diarrhea leading to dehydration. Always be very careful when taking kelp especially if you have hypothyroidism and are already on medications. Consult your doctor before using kelp products. Some kelp supplements contain high levels of metals like arsenic especially if they are harvested in polluted oceans. Hence, check the label before buying kelp. Kelp which is harvested in waters off Norway, Iceland, North West United States, Canada and Hawaii are considered safe and protected.
Usually people in developed countries rarely suffer from an iodine deficiency for they get their required quantity from iodized salt which is commonly used. Only take iodine supplements if there is a deficiency and symptoms of hypothyroidism.