The thyroid gland influences almost all metabolic processes in the body through the hormones it produces. However, this gland is prone to various diseases or disorders that jeopardize patients’ health and quality of life. According to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12% of the US population will develop a thyroid condition at some point in their lives. It is estimated that 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, and that 60% of people aren’t even aware of their condition.
The most common thyroid problems are associated with either excessive or insufficient production of thyroid hormones i.e. hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Nowadays, various herbs and plants are thought to have a beneficial impact on the thyroid gland, which is why supplements containing these ingredients are gaining popularity. Bacopa monnieri is one of these plants, but exactly does this plant help your thyroid?
Can Bacopa Monnieri Benefit Your Thyroid?
First, let’s get to know bacopa monnieri, also called brahmi a little bit better. It is a perennial plant native to the wetlands of southern and eastern India, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and North and South America. Bacopa is one of many herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine due to its potent health benefits. It was primarily used to address epilepsy, asthma, tumors and anemia.
Make sure not to confuse bacopa monnieri with gotu kola and other medicinal plants which can also, sometimes, be referred to as brahmi. In fact, bacopa goes by multiple names, which is why some people don’t even notice they’re taking a supplement containing this ingredient. Other names for bacopa monnieri include herb of grace, herpestis herb, herpestis monniera, hysope d’eau, Indian pennywort, jalanimba and water hyssop.
The primary reason why bacopa monnieri’s usage in medicinal purposes persisted for centuries is the fact that it acts as an adaptogen, meaning the plant helps your body adapt to new or stressful conditions.
Bacopa monnieri and your thyroid
Bacopa is associated with a wide array of health benefits, but what most people don’t know is that this powerful plant can also help improve the functionality of the thyroid gland; it addresses a problem called hypothyroidism.
What is hypothyroidism? Underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism is defined as a condition wherein the thyroid gland doesn’t produce sufficient amounts of important hormones. Women are more likely to develop this condition than men, and it affects individuals older than 60 primarily. Causes of hypothyroidism are numerous including autoimmune disease, hyperthyroidism treatment, medications, thyroid surgery, and many others.
Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism vary, and they depend on the severity of the hormone deficiency. The most common symptoms of include fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, dry skin, puffy face, hoarseness, weight gain, impaired memory, depression, and muscle weakness. It is not uncommon for patients to experience higher blood cholesterol levels, muscle aches, thinning hair, slowed heart rate, heavier or irregular menstrual periods, and tenderness, pain, and stiffness in the joints.
How can bacopa help? It appears that the bacopa monnieri leaf extract has the potential to reverse the function of the thyroid gland in a bid to regulate hormone levels. This is why bacoba is gaining popularity among those who prefer a natural approach towards health and wellbeing; they are starting to realize the plant can benefit the thyroid. That said; this subject is poorly studied. There is only one, but highly significant research on this subject, and its findings not only shed the light onto thyroid problems, but they also pave the way for future studies and the potential use of bacopa for hypothyroidism.
What did the study find?
This particular study was carried out by a group of researchers at the Devi Ahilya University in India. The primary objective was to analyze the impact of bacopa, aloe vera, and angle marmelos on the regulation of thyroid hormone concentrations. For the purpose of the research, scientists used male mice. Their findings, published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, showed that while other plants decreased the production of thyroid hormones, bacopa monnieri increased it.
Based on these results, the group of researchers concluded that bacopa monnieri has a thyroid-stimulating role. In fact, the effect of bacopa on thyroid hormones production wasn’t meager; the plant increased the concentration of T4 by 41% without enhancing hepatic lipid peroxidation. Here, T4 is a thyroid hormone called thyroxine. The results suggest that bacopa monnieri can be used as a thyroid-stimulating drug.
It’s important to mention that during the study, mice were given 50% ethanolic extract of bacopa at an oral dosage of 200mg/kg a day for 15 days.
Do bacopa monnieri supplements have side effects?
Generally, if you have hypothyroidism, you shouldn’t use supplements or any other forms of treatment without discussing it with your doctor. The ingredients in any supplement can interfere with the efficacy of your medications, and that’s a scenario you want to avoid.
Since bacopa monnieri is a plant and is usually included in dietary supplements made of natural ingredients, the risk of adverse effects is low. Of course, it is highly important that you take only the suggested dosage. Don’t increase or decrease the dose of the supplement out of your own accord.
If you want to consume organic bacopa monnieri i.e. in leaf form, then t things can be a bit tricky. At this point, when it comes to bacopa in its plant form, there is no standard dosage that a person should take to stimulate thyroid hormone production.
It is very important to point out the obvious fact that you shouldn’t take bacopa monnieri if you have hyperthyroidism as the plant could only aggravate your condition.
Other benefits of bacopa monnieri
Now that you know how bacopa monnieri can benefit the thyroid gland, let’s discuss some other benefits associated with this plant.
- Brain health and cognitive abilities – active compounds in bacopa positively influence brain cells and support the regeneration of brain tissue. For instance, one study showed that bacopa has a tremendous potential to safely enhance cognitive performance in elderly participants
- Liver health – bacopa is also useful for encouraging liver function following toxin damage
- Addresses neonatal hypoglycemia – low blood sugar or hypoglycemia in newborn infants can lead to serious and immediate brain damage and other negative health outcomes. Active compounds from bacopa exhibit neuro-protecting effects in hypoglycemic babies
- Promotes healthy blood pressure – bacopa increases the utilization of nitric oxide and encourages vascular muscle function. Both these factors are essential for healthy blood pressure
- Antioxidant – antioxidants fight free radicals in order to protect our body from oxidative damage. Bacopa is known for its powerful antioxidant properties, which is yet another reason this plant is popular
- Sexual function – bacopa monnieri is also used to treat sexual dysfunction and fertility problems. Due to the utilization of nitric oxide and the fact it promotes healthy blood flow, bacopa is a standard ingredient in male enhancement supplements that aim to help men have stronger and long-lasting erections
How to take bacopa monnieri
Although bacopa monnieri can be found in nature, most people find it easier to take it as a supplement. As mentioned above, if your doctor approves the use of bacopa monnieri, you should stick to the dosage he recommends. In most cases, the dose is 300mg. It is also possible for some patients to to get the plant in leaf or powder form, and the dose in that case is usually, 750-1500mg.
Back in time, bacopa was consumed with ghee which is a clarified butter that originated in India. This tradition was actually useful because bacopa is fat soluble, which means it needs a lipoid transporter in order to be fully absorbed by the body and exhibit its benefits.That’s why the right way to take bacopa is alongside a meal.
Tips to improve thyroid function
- Eat cruciferous vegetables
- Munch on Brazil nuts
- Lower consumption of gluten
- Increase intake of Omega-3 fatty acids, and foods containing iodine, selenium, zinc
- Manage stress
- Exercise regularly
- Use sauna and heat to eliminate the stored toxins known for their negative impact on thyroid functionality
- Decrease the consumption of soy products
The thyroid is an important gland which produces hormones that play a role in a wide array of metabolic processes. It is not uncommon for people to experience different thyroid problems, and besides following doctor-recommended medications, making certain lifestyle changes is a good way to manage that condition. Bacopa monnieri is well-known for its medicinal properties, which is why the plant plays a major role in Ayurvedic medicine. According to Thyroid Advisor and other studies, bacopa has the potential to increase the production of thyroid hormone and help individuals suffering from hypothyroidism.