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When we talk about supporting the thyroid it’s important to note that every body is different. Autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s are complex.
While different approaches are required for each patient, there are some general principles that will benefit the thyroid and immune system of most patients.
Of course, reducing inflammation is one of these principles.
Removing triggers is another key principle.
Certain probiotics help the T cells know where to go and what to do in terms of supporting the thyroid’s functions: Saccharomyces Boulardii and Just Thrive* are two great choices. (*Enter code BEAUTIFUL10 for 10% off this probiotic.)
Each of these three principles is a post in and of itself. Today we’re just going to focus on this tea recipe, and what each of the ingredients provide. Their goal is to reduce inflammation and to provide energy for those of us who need it!
*The Tea Ingredients*
Ginger is a wonderful all-round herb. It boosts the immune system. It has anti-inflammatory properties and increases circulation. It also soothes the gastro-intestinal tract and aids in digestion. (source 1, 2, 3) Herbalist Lalitha Thomas tells us ginger cleanses the lymphatic system, an important step in our body’s detoxification process. Blended with the MCT oil that I mention below, this beverage is both exciting and calming, creamy and spicy, nourishing and delicious to drink!
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids help to reduce inflammation. The two sources we use in our family are MCT oil and Wild Salmon Oil. While I take salmon oil in capsule form, I add MCT oil to this tea recipe, because it yields BIG energy! I love this ingredient and only a few months ago started using it daily for my family. MCTs are medium-chain triglycerides — a unique kind of saturated fat often missing from our diets. MCTs are easy to digest and are never stored as fat! They’re sent by our bodies straight to the liver where they’re converted into energy– both brain and body energy! They also increase the metabolism and help to reduce weight gain that’s often associated with thyroid issues! MCTs are also excellent news for those who don’t have a gall bladder, because they don’t require bile for digestion. When blended into this tea recipe, MCT oil creates the “bulletproof” texture: creamy and light, yet rich.
The hypothalamus and pituitary glands, which are located in the brain, control and regulate the secretions of the thyroid and other glands. According to Eastern medicine, this complex network can be disturbed and lead to endocrine diseases like hypothyroidism. Herbs can be used to activate this network. Cassia bark, the most flavorful and powerful form of cinnamon, helps to regulate this process, promoting improved digestion, energy, and metabolism. (source and source)
I give this ingredient below, in my Thyroid Anti-inflammatory Energy Tea recipe, as an optional ingredient. It’s wonderfully supporting to the endocrine system, but I know not everyone is a fan of the flavor; so it’s optional. Licorice root has antioxidants that help to protect the thyroid from oxidative damage. It detoxifies and balances hormones. (source and source)
Most folks approach turmeric as if it were medicinal chocolate: when the urge hits, eat it, and consequently feel good about what you’re doing for your body. The problem with this thinking is that turmeric does not work that way. Chris Kresser explains that, “the curcuminoids in turmeric are not very well absorbed.” (source)
I’ve written at greater length about turmeric here. The gist of it is this: very small amounts of turmeric on a regular basis may have an effect on inflammation. That’s why folks in India see the benefit. There’s just a little turmeric in most of their foods. But the best research shows it to be ineffective for inflammation in large amounts or with irregular consumption. I therefore consider it an optional ingredient in this tea. If you’re going to drink the tea regularly, and also put a teeny bit of turmeric in lots of your other foods, then it may have a benefit. Curcumin supplements like this one, with the right co-factors, are more reliable.
Quoted from my article on the topic,
…scientists discovered that curcumin is perhaps not an antioxidant as was once believed. Instead, they now understand that curcumin is actually an irritant, or a pro-oxidant. Curcumin’s mild toxicity actually engages the body’s natural defenses. This result is called hormetic. Turmeric’s healing ability throughout history may indeed have been due to the hormetic reaction. Just as small doses of curcumin in clinical trials are often more potent than large doses, the concept of hormesis is one of low dose stimulation. So eating a bit of turmeric, in curry, for instance, could have good health benefits. This does not mean that it reduces inflammation. Taking large amounts of turmeric or curcumin also has not shown itself to be beneficial. However, bioavailable curcumin can indeed deliver this desired effect (source).” (source)
Of course turmeric is beautiful. It’s part of what gives the tea its exotic visual appeal. I like the flavor, too. However, notice that I do not add a lot. Just a little. And then a little in lots of my cooking may be beneficial.
If you leave the turmeric out, a beautiful alternative to use is saffron threads. They’re even more exotic, being the filaments from the crocus flower, native to the Middle East. I love using these delicate strands. Saffron is indeed medicinal and creates a similarly colored steamer. Saffron improves circulation and balances hormones. This alternative is given below in the recipe.
I always add gelatin to my blended hot beverages. It makes a very fine foam, like the head of a cappuccino. Sustainably-sourced gelatin, like this one, also helps to heal the gut, feeding the cells that line the gut lining with glutamine; and because it contains glycine, it helps the body to detoxify. Gelatin also reduces inflammation, stimulates the immune system, and regulates hormones. (*Enter code BEAUTIFUL10 for 10% off this sustainably-sourced gelatin.)
Butter is optional, if you don’t do well with dairy. You can always use coconut oil in its place. But I love butter. It contains K2, which is a co-factor for vitamin D3; and, as you may know, D is one of those vitamins those of us with thyroid issues need. So butter helps D assimilate. Other essential ingredients for thyroid health are vitamins A, E and the mineral selenium. Butter is a great source for all of these nutrients! And butter contains D too. Butter also contains easy to assimilate iodine. (source) Butter also adds to the creamy nature of this tea, making it oh-so delicious. But, like I said, coconut oil will do that too. If you can have butter, enjoy this lovely addition, and know how good it is for you. It does need to be pasture-raised, like this. (Ghee is another great option, if lactose intolerant or sensitive to casein. Ghee also contains MCTs!) (source)
A compound in black pepper, piperine, helps to make turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties effective. But even without turmeric, black pepper stands on its own for its nutritional benefits. Black pepper aids in digestion, increasing the stomach’s production of hydrochloric acid. It helps the body to detoxify by dispersing mucous. Black pepper contains vitamins A, C, and D. It improves the body’s immune system by neutralizing free radicals with its high antioxidant content. (source) Black pepper also aids the body in weight loss and nutrient absorption. (source)
This post is not exhaustive. There are many other supplements and herbs that help to support the thyroid. Next month I’ll add a link here to a post I’m writing for Traditional Cooking School about recommended supplements. It was actually very hard for me to keep this post short. After all, it’s meant to provide you with a recipe! So more on herbs in future posts…there’s so much to share! But for now, here’s the recipe! I absolutely love the flavor of this tea. It’s super creamy, calming and lovely. As much as I like great, homemade, nourishing, bulletproof hot chocolate, this super healthful tea actually rivals it for me, as far as the pleasure it provides. The fact that it’s so nourishing for my body also, of course, makes me feel great about what I’m consuming.
What “thyroid-boosting” herbs and supplements NOT to take
Chris Kresser explains that cases of Hashimoto’s and other thyroid-related conditions are quite individual. We can’t assume that all herbs that affect the thyroid will be beneficial. Examples of foods to avoid without further guidance from a practitioner who understands immunology include green tea, Gotu Kola, echinacea and astragalus. (source)