Spirulina and Herb Extracts Reduce Thyroid Nodules
Clinical research has found that a combination of herbs and spirulina will reduce the size of benign thyroid nodules after only six weeks of treatment.
What are benign thyroid nodules?
Between 5 and 10 percent of men and women will develop thyroid nodules at some point in their lives. The occurrence is significantly higher among women.
About 95 percent of thyroid nodules are benign. This means that they are not cancerous.
Benign thyroid nodules are quite difficult to treat. Surgical removal has been the most common treatment. Newer treatments include radiofrequency, alcohol injection, ultrasound and laser ablation. These newer treatments have shown to be partially successful, with decreased sizes of the nodules.
Some of the more focused treatments of these have resulted in an average of 40 to 75 percent reduction in the nodules after six months of treatments.
Other non-invasive treatments have remained elusive.
Herbal therapy proves positive
Researchers from the medical school at the University of Crete studied 34 men and women with benign thyroid nodules. They each had thyroid nodules that were between 2 and 5 centimeters wide. The average nodule size was 4.38 at the beginning of the study. None of them had thyroid disease or abnormal TSH levels or T4 levels.
The study was crossover, which means that half were in the placebo group or the herbal combination for six weeks. Then they switched (the placebo group was treated with the herbs) and continued for another six weeks.
The researchers tested the patients for their nodule sizes at the beginning, then at six weeks and again after the next six weeks.
The herbal treatment consisted of:
• 1,600 milligrams a day of Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis)
• 200 milligrams a day of Curcumin (an extract of turmeric (Curcuma longa))
• 200 milligrams a day of Boswellia extract (also called frankincense – a resin from the Boswellia sacra tree)
Half of this dosage was taken in the morning before breakfast and half was taken at lunchtime. These herbs were blended together in capsules.
The average nodule size went down among those treated with the herbs from 4.8 cm(2) to an average of 3.87 cm(2) after the first six weeks, and 3.53 cm(2) after the second six weeks for those who took the herbal combination.
The placebo group showed little change.
Of the patients that took the herbs, 85 percent had more than 5 percent decrease in the size, and 65 percent had more than a ten percent reduction of nodule size. Twelve of the 29 patients had decreases in nodule sizes between 20 and 50 percent. Three patients had between 50 and 99.9 percent reduction.
The researchers concluded that the herbal combination was a success:
“Based on these data it is evident that the active [herbal] combination is effective in reducing the size of the thyroid nodules, even though it was administered for only 6 weeks out of the total of 3 months.”
Taking the herbs for a longer period was intimated by this discussion.
The researchers analyzed the possible mechanism for the success of the herbal combination. A rise in copper levels in the bloodstream may be part of the issue, with possible interactions with TSH levels and ceruloplasmin levels, a copper-based enzyme produced in the liver.
The researchers discussed this:
“In summary, the combination of spirulina-curcumin-Boswellia is effective in reducing the size of benign thyroid nodules and can be safely administered in the doses used in the presented clinical study. The mechanism by which the decrease of the nodule size is facilitated, is probably linked to the anti-inflammatory effects, the improvement of the antioxidant status and the ceruloplasmin actions.”
A 2019 study of supplements that contain curcumin found that curcumin reduced inflammation significantly. Inflammatory markers such as CRP (C-reactive protein), and malondialdehyde levels were significantly reduced by supplementation.
What this all means is that this herbal combination will enhance other non-surgical methods to reduce thyroid nodules, possibly even eliminating them.
Stancioiu F, Mihai D, Papadakis GZ, Tsatsakis A, Spandidos DA, Badiu C. Treatment for benign thyroid nodules with a combination of natural extracts. Mol Med Rep. 2019 Sep;20(3):2332-2338. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2019.10453.
Burman KD, Wartofsky L. CLINICAL PRACTICE. Thyroid Nodules. N Engl J Med. 2015;373:2347–2356. doi: 10.1056/NEJMcp1415786.
Cesareo R, Palermo A, Pasqualini V, Simeoni C, Casini A, Pelle G, Manfrini S, Campagna G, Cianni R. Efficacy and safety of a single radiofrequency ablation of solid benign non-functioning thyroid nodules. Arch Endocrinol Metab. 2017;61:173–179. doi: 10.1590/2359-3997000000246.
Tabrizi R, Vakili S, Akbari M, Mirhosseini N, Lankarani KB, Rahimi M, Mobini M, Jafarnejad S, Vahedpoor Z, Asemi Z. The effects of curcumin-containing supplements on biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Phytother Res. 2019 Feb;33(2):253-262. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6226.