Sea Moss for Thyroid Health: Pros vs. Cons
In today's world, stress, poor nutrition, and exposure to toxins all take a toll on our bodies and affect the delicate balance of our hormonal systems. One gland that's particularly vulnerable to these environmental factors is the thyroid, which plays a vital role in regulating our metabolism, mood, and energy levels.
According to the American Thyroid Association, thyroid disorders affect more than 12% of the U.S. population, causing symptoms like chronic fatigue or weight gain and sometimes severe health complications.
While medical treatments can be helpful, many people are turning to natural remedies to support their thyroid health. One such remedy that's been gaining popularity is sea moss, a seaweed with an exceptionally rich nutrient profile.
What does the science say about sea moss and thyroid health? In this article, we'll take a deep dive into the research and explore the potential benefits and risks of taking sea moss if you have thyroid disorders.
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What is The Thyroid Gland?
The thyroid gland is located in the neck, just below the Adam's apple. It is responsible for secreting hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism, growth, and development. These hormones are crucial for body temperature regulation, heart rate, blood pressure, energy levels, brain, and nervous system.
Common thyroid disorders
Thyroid function can be affected by several factors, including nutrient deficiencies (especially iodine), stress, environmental toxins, and autoimmune diseases.
Abnormal thyroid function can have severe consequences on one’s health and wellness. The most common thyroid problems include:
- Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. It can lead to symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, constipation, dry skin, and depression. Common causes of hypothyroidism include iodine deficiency, autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s disease, and other medical conditions or treatments.
- Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, leading to weight loss, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, tremors, and diarrhea. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is an autoimmune disorder called Graves' disease. But it can also be caused by thyroid nodules, excess iodine, certain medications, thyroiditis (thyroid gland inflammation), or other factors.
- Thyroid nodules are growths or lumps in the thyroid gland. Most thyroid nodules are benign (non-cancerous) and do not cause any symptoms or health issues other than difficulty swallowing or swelling in the neck when they're large. However, thyroid nodules can sometimes cause hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism or be malignant (cancerous), requiring prompt treatment.
- Thyroid goiter is a condition where the thyroid gland becomes enlarged. It is often caused by an underlying thyroid disorder, such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, or iodine deficiency. Most goiters do not cause symptoms, but larger ones may require medical attention.
- Thyroid cancer is a rare but severe form of cancer, accounting for only about 1% of all cancers. Symptoms can include a lump or swelling in the neck, difficulty swallowing or breathing, or others. In most cases, thyroid cancer is treatable when detected and treated early.
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Natural remedies for thyroid disorders
While medical treatments are often recommended for thyroid disorders, some natural remedies are proven to help support thyroid health, including:
- Iodine-rich foods: Iodine is an essential mineral the thyroid gland needs to produce thyroid hormones. Eating iodine-rich foods such as seaweed, Irish moss, bladderwrack, fish, dairy products, and eggs helps ensure the body has enough iodine to support thyroid function.
- Selenium: Selenium is another mineral crucial for thyroid health. Foods high in selenium include Brazil nuts, tuna, chicken, and eggs. Other minerals essential for thyroid health include magnesium and zinc.
- Ashwagandha: This herb is believed to help support the thyroid gland by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. It may also help regulate thyroid hormone levels.
- Physical exercise: Regular exercise helps improve thyroid function by reducing inflammation and increasing circulation.
- Stress reduction: Chronic stress has a negative impact on thyroid function. Stress-reducing practices like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises also help prevent thyroid disorders.
If you have thyroid disorders or take thyroid medications, talking to a healthcare provider before trying natural remedies is essential. Remember that these should never be used as substitutes for medical treatment but rather as complementary therapies and always under medical supervision.
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Sea Moss Benefits for Thyroid Health
Sea moss, a nutrient-dense seaweed, is considered one of the most potent natural remedies for thyroid disorders, especially hypothyroidism.
While still at its early stage, research indeed suggests that sea moss is beneficial for thyroid health thanks to its high concentration of iodine and other minerals.
So, let’s dig a bit deeper to understand better how sea moss can help with thyroid.
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What is sea moss?
Sea moss, also called Irish moss or Jamaican moss, is a type of red seaweed that naturally grows on the rocky parts of the Atlantic coastlines of North America, Europe, and the Caribbean Islands.
With over 90 minerals and vitamins, it is one the most nutrient-dense foods and contains high levels of essential minerals and vitamins such as iodine, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Scientifically known as Chondrus Crispus, this alga has been harvested for centuries for its medicinal properties. It helps prevent and treat numerous health conditions, including thyroid disorders, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, infertility, skin conditions, mood disorders, digestive issues, and respiratory ailments, to name but a few.
Following recent studies that backed up its benefits for health, sea moss is finally widely available across the United States. It comes in various forms, including raw, capsules, gel, powder, or gummies.
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Sea moss for hypothyroidism
With an average of 47 mcg per serving (2 tbsp), sea moss is one of the foods with the highest iodine content. One serving accounts for about 30% of the daily iodine intake recommendations for an adult (150 mcg per day – increased to 250 mcg for pregnant or breastfeeding women).
Iodine is absolutely essential for thyroid function, iodine deficiency being of the most common causes of thyroid disorders. The thyroid gland uses iodine to make two main hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Without enough iodine, the thyroid gland cannot produce enough thyroid hormones, which can lead to hypothyroidism.
Because the body cannot produce iodine alone, it must be brought through diet, foods, or supplements like sea moss.
Additionally, sea moss contains other nutrients beneficial for thyroid health, likemagnesium, selenium, and zinc. These minerals are highly involved in various aspects of thyroid function and help support healthy thyroid hormone levels and combat hypothyroidism.
Sea moss benefits for thyroid health also come from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which help protect the thyroid gland from damage caused by oxidative stress and inflammation.
A 2020 study published in the Marine Drugs Journal found that the high levels of fucoidans found in seaweeds, like sea moss, may help treat thyroid disorders and autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
Related article: Does Sea Moss Detox and Cleanse Your Body?
Sea Moss Dangers for Thyroid
While consuming sea moss can improve thyroid function, excessive or inappropriate consumption can also lead to thyroid dysfunction.
There is limited scientific evidence to suggest that sea moss may negatively affect thyroid health, but it is not entirely clear.
Excessive consumption of iodine-rich foods or supplements, including sea moss, may interfere with thyroid function and lead to thyroid problems, such as an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism). This is especially true for individuals who already have an underlying thyroid condition or are taking medication for thyroid disorders.
Therefore, we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare provider before adding sea moss or any other iodine dietary supplement to your routine, particularly if you have a history of thyroid problems or are currently taking thyroid medications. They can help you determine the appropriate dosage and advise you on potential risks or interactions.
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Sea Moss and Thyroid: FAQs
Can sea moss help with Hashimoto’s disease?
There is limited research on the effects of sea moss and similar seaweed on Hashimoto's disease, an autoimmune disease affecting the thyroid gland and causing hypothyroidism.
However, sea moss is rich in nutrients such as iodine, magnesium, zinc, and selenium, which are essential for thyroid function.
While Hashimoto's disease is an autoimmune disorder not caused by iodine deficiency, consuming iodine-rich foods or supplements, including sea moss, may help support thyroid function in individuals with Hashimoto’s disease.
Always ask for your doctor’s advice before consuming sea moss or if you have a history of thyroid problems or are currently taking medication for thyroid disorders.
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Is sea moss good for an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)?
Sea moss may not be the best option for individuals with an overactive thyroid, also known as hyperthyroidism, as it is rich in iodine and may worsen the condition.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, and treatment typically involves medication to reduce hormone production. Consuming iodine-rich foods like moss may further increase thyroid hormone production and exacerbate hyperthyroidism symptoms.
Can sea moss help with thyroid nodules?
Sea moss may be able to help with thyroid nodules, which are growths on the thyroid gland that can be benign or malignant.
Consuming iodine-rich foods, like sea moss, helps support thyroid function and prevent iodine deficiency, which is a common cause of thyroid nodules. However, excessive iodine consumption can also increase the risk of developing thyroid nodules.
If you have thyroid nodules, consult a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause and ensure consuming sea moss supplements is a safe and efficient remedy for you.
Can sea moss cause thyroid cancer?
Sea moss consumption has never been associated with thyroid cancer, and sea moss is considered a safe and health-supporting ingredient when consumed in moderation.
Related article: Sea Moss & Cancer, What the Research Says.
What about you? Do you have hypothyroidism or other thyroid disorders? Have you tried taking sea moss?
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