The side-effects that have been associated with levothyroxine and other pharmaceutical interventions that are used in the treatment of Thyroid disease can be frightening.
Side-effects can include changes in your appetite, sensitivity to heat or cold, weight changes, headaches, anxiety, nervousness, and even hyperactivity1.
This is why people are often looking to turn to alternative methods that can help them manage their Thyroid disease, without necessarily having to expose them to the chemicals that are found in the pharmaceutical drugs used to treat these conditions.
In this post, our focus will be on Aloe Vera.
While this natural plant-based extract has been shown to have healing properties that can be beneficial for topical wounds on the skin, some studies have found that the chemical compounds that are part of the plant might also be useful for helping to regulate the balance of Thyroid hormones in the body.
What Is Aloe Vera?
Aloe Vera is a very popular plant that has a gel-like substance on the inside. The plant is often associated with cactus, due to its appearance.
You will find that Aloe Vera often grows in areas where it is very hot, and the climate is dry. This is because the plant is able to grow and survive for long periods of time with minimal water.
The gel that is found on the inside of the Aloe Vera plant’s leaves is often used for medicinal purposes. This substance is often referred to as Aloe gel. It has a clear appearance and has a substance that is similar to a jelly or gel. There is also Aloe latex, which is a yellowish substance that is extracted from underneath the skin of the plant’s leaves.
In most cases, only Aloe gel would be used for its medicinal properties. There are, however, certain products that contain a combination of both Aloe latex and gel.
What Are The General Health Benefits Of Aloe Vera?
The use of Aloe Vera dates back centuries. People have been using the gel substance that is found in the center of the plant’s leaves in order to treat a lot of conditions for many years. Before we dive deeper into the topic of how Aloe Vera may be of use to those who have developed a Thyroid disease, let’s first focus on what the many health-related benefits of the plant extracts are.
Let’s take a look at some of these benefits that can be expected:
- The use of Aloe gel has been scientifically proven to help with the treatment of burns on the skin. One of the first scientific studies2 that showed this benefit was conducted in 1957, where radiation burns started to heal faster when the gel was applied. A 1981 study provided evidence that Aloe may help to speed up recovery with an average of three days3.
- A specific type of extract from the Aloe Vera plant, known as Acemannan, may be of use in the treatment of mouth ulcers. In one study, researchers proved that the use of a 2% Acemannan gel that was designed for oral use significantly improved the healing rate of mouth ulcers. Pain levels were also significantly reduced with the use of this gel4.
- Some studies have found that the oral administration of Aloe Vera extracts could enhance the body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients. In one study, there was a 20x increase in the absorption rate of vitamin C5. Another study found that the absorption of vitamin E could also be enhanced with the help of Aloe Vera plant extracts6.
- Apart from Aloe’s ability to treat burn wounds, there are many skin-related conditions that may also improve with the topic use of the gel. According to one scientific publication, the use of Aloe gel could be effective against general wounds, skin-related inflammation, frostbite, xerosis, aphthous stomatitis, and even seborrheic dermatitis7.
- Another important potential benefit that Aloe may hold is its ability to assist with regulating the control of blood sugar levels, especially in people who are pre-diabetic, as well as those with diagnosed diabetes. In one study, researchers found that the oral use of Aloe extracts could be beneficial in reducing blood sugar levels8.
- Traditional Indian medicines have used certain Aloe extracts in the treatment of constipation for quite a significant period of time as well. Evidence that Aloe is effective at improving symptoms of constipation has been published as early as 19749. In another study, Aloe extracts were combined with psyllium and celandine. The combination worked effectively to improve the frequency of bowel movements. Participants experienced a softening effect in their stools. The need for laxatives was also reduced10.
How Could Aloe Vera Be Useful For Thyroid Disease?
We have considered how the use of Aloe Vera can be useful for your general well-being. Now, let us take a closer look at how the use of this plant-based extract could assist in the treatment of Thyroid disease.
There are various conditions that may affect the Thyroid gland. This gland plays an important part in the metabolism of the body, as well as heart rate and temperature regulation. The two most common conditions that people suffer from include Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism. It seems like Aloe Vera extracts could be useful for both of these conditions.
There are two studies that we want to look at here.
The first study has been published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology11. The researchers that were involved in the study tested the effects of extracts that were taken from three different medicinal plants on the regulation of thyroid hormone.
The three different extracts that were used consisted of the following:
- Bacopa monnieri
- Aegle marmelos
- Aloe vera
Catalase and superoxide dismutase levels decreased in the participants who were provided a supplement that contained Aloe extracts. The researchers involved in the study concluded that this effect would ultimately lead to a reduction in thyroid hormones. What this means is that Aloe extract supplements could be potentially useful in the treatment of hyperthyroidism.
While this study did not find a useful impact of Aloe extracts in patients with hypothyroidism, there is another study that was able to provide such evidence. A study in the Journal of Clinical and Translational Endocrinology12 found that this particular plant extract could also have potential in people who have hypothyroidism. The participants included in the study all had hypothyroidism caused by the presence of an autoimmune disease. Hashimoto’s disease is the most common type of autoimmune condition that contributes to the development of hypothyroidism.
Aloe Barbardensis Miller Juice was the compound used in this particular study. A 50ml daily concentration of this juice was provided to each of the participants who were part of the study. All of the women who participated had a significant reduction in autoimmune antibodies associated with the presence of an autoimmune thyroiditis condition.
How Do You Know If You Have Thyroid Disease?
Thyroid disease is actually quite common in women. Some men also suffer from the condition. The symptoms associated with the condition often starts out small. You may not pay much attention to the symptoms that you are developing, but the thing is – treating the condition during an early stage yields more effective results compared to waiting until complications start to develop.
Hypothyroidism affects an estimated 2% of women and may affect about 0.4% of men. In some studies, however, the prevalence of the condition has been observed to be as high as 7%, especially among older women. Hyperthyroidism also affects up to around 2% of the female population.
Looking out for the symptoms that these conditions cause is the best way for early intervention. If you notice such symptoms, it might be a good idea to talk to your doctor about the issue at hand. Blood tests will be needed to confirm a diagnosis.
Symptoms that you may experience if you have hypothyroidism include:
- A puffy face
- Dry skin
- Being sensitive when it gets cold
- Muscle weakness
Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, tends to cause the following symptoms:
- An increase in your bowel movements
- Weight loss
- Heat intolerance
- Increased sweating
- Heart palpitations
- An irregular heart rate
How To Use Aloe Vera For Improved Thyroid Health?
The most popular way of using Aloe Vera is to apply the gel that is extracted from the plant leaf to the skin. In most cases, the gel will be applied to a wound in order to promote healing. It is also possible to apply the gel to itchy areas and even to rashes.
While topical use of the compound is most popular, oral administration is also possible. There are several brands that develop high-quality juices and liquids that make use of Aloe Vera extracts. These can be exceptionally useful and allow you to obtain appropriate amounts of the compound to benefit your body – including your thyroid gland.
Capsules have also been developed that utilize Aloe extract. These make obtaining the extract and exposing your Thyroid gland to the natural chemicals found in the plant even easier.
The dose that you will take depends on what you are treating. Up to 50mg of Aloe extract is often used to assist in the treatment of constipation, while up to 1000mg of powdered Aloe Vera is sometimes used to help treat diabetes and provide an improvement in the regulation of blood glucose levels.
Doses for Thyroid health, in particular, varies between different studies. It is a good idea to start with the average amount of around 50mg Aloe extract and then adjust the dosage accordingly from there. The majority of studies also seem to prefer a 50mg daily dose of the extract. This is considered a relatively safe amount, but can still yield impressive results.
Are There Any Side-Effects To The Use Of Aloe Vera?
As a topical treatment, Aloe Vera is considered very safe. The majority of people who do decide to use Aloe gel to treat wounds on their skin would not experience adverse events. The gel would assist in speeding up the recovery process of the wound.
When taken by mouth, however, it is important to be cautious. Generally, when appropriate dosage instructions are followed, there are no serious risks that a person should be aware of. Aloe extracts are not advised for women who are pregnant. Breastfeeding women should also be cautious about using products that contain Aloe that is consumed orally.
There is a couple of warnings that should also be noted, especially when using Aloe Vera extracts orally. People with diabetes need to be careful, especially if they are already using medication to lower their blood glucose levels. This is because Aloe Vera has been shown to reduce blood sugar. Thus, glucose levels may become dangerously low when the two are combined.
People with Hemorrhoids and those with ulcerative colitis or Chron’s disease should be wary of taking supplements that contain Aloe Latex. These conditions may be aggravated with this particular ingredient. Aloe gel supplements might be safe for these people, however.
Appropriate dosing is also important. High doses of Aloe Vera supplements have been linked to severe complications. For example, when taking a high dose of supplements that contain Aloe latex, kidney failure can develop, especially in people with existing kidney disease.
The development of a Thyroid disease can be harmful to the body, causing fluctuations in weight and changes in metabolism, as well as problems with the heart and the body’s ability to regulate the temperature correctly.
Various treatment options have been developed to assist in reducing symptoms and effects caused by these diseases.
Studies have also found that the use of Aloe Vera extracts could be useful in providing an improvement in the regulation of Thyroid hormone production.
1 Levothyroxine, Oral Tablet. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/levothyroxine-oral-tablet
2 F.L. Ashley, B.J. O’Loughlin, R. Peterson, L. Fernandez, H. Stein, A.N. Schwartz. The use of Aloe Vera in the treatment of thermal and irradiation burns in laboratory animals and humans. Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Nov 1957. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13505124
3 E. Heck, M. Head, D. Nowak, P. Helm, C. Baxter. Aloe vera (gel) cream as a topical treatment for outpatient burns. Burns Journal. Mar 1981. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0305417981901121
4 N. Babaee, E. Zabihi, S. Mohseni, A.A. Moghadamnia. Evaluation of the therapeutic effects of Aloe vera gel on minor recurrent aphthous stomatitis. Dental Research Journal. Jul 2012. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23162576
5 M. Montgomery. Evaluating the Safety and Efficacy of A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Cross-Over Trial. Fenestra Research Labs. 2007. http://www.lilyofthedesert.com/wp-content/uploads/LODC-Absorption-Study.pdf
6 J.A. Vinson, H. Al Kharrat, L. Andreoli. Effect of Aloe vera preparations on the human bioavailability of vitamins C and E. Journal of Phytomedicine. Nov 2005. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16323295
7 A. Feily, M.R. Namazi. Aloe vera in dermatology: a brief review. Pubmed. Feb 2009. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19218914
8 A. Okyar, A. Can, Dr. N. Akev, G. Baktir, N. Sutlupinar. Effect of Aloe vera leaves on blood glucose level in type I and type II diabetic rat models. Wiley Online Library. 16 Mar 2001. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ptr.719
9 D.D. Chapman, J.J. Pittelli. Double-blind comparison of alophen with its components for cathartic effects. Journal of Current Therapeutic Research. Aug 1974. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4217249
10 H.S. Odes, Z. Madar. A double-blind trial of a celandine, aloevera, and psyllium laxative preparation in adult patients with constipation. Journal of Digestion. 1991. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1800188
11 A. Kar, S. Panda, S. Bharti. Relative efficacy of three medicinal plant extracts in the alteration of thyroid hormone concentrations in male mice. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Jul 2002. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S037887410200048X
12 D. Metro, V. Cernaro, M. Papa, S. Benvenga. Marked improvement of thyroid function and autoimmunity by Aloe barbadensis miller juice in patients with subclinical hypothyroidism. Journal of Clinical and Translational Endocrinology. 14 Feb 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5842288/
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