Updated: Aug 29, 2019
When you think of the plant aloe vera, what usually comes to mind? Perhaps you think of a hot summer day and the coolness of aloe gel as you rub it on your sunburned skin? Maybe you think of the soothing feeling that aloe provides when you rub it on dry eczema damaged skin?
Possibly you think of aloe as a treatment for you silky smooth moisturized hair? Many of us immediately think of aloe as a laxative.
But very few of us would think that aloe vera had anything to do with regulating our thyroid function. It seems that new research shows that it does just that.
In a paper published in the Journal of Clinical and Translational Endocrinology, an author describes how she fortuitously stumbled upon the discovery of aloe as a thyroid stimulator.
The author was drinking 50ml of aloe vera juice in the morning on an empty stomach as a skin smoother and laxative. The author also had subclinical hypothyroidism which she monitored frequently.
To her surprise, her lab levels showed a great increase in thyroid function on taking aloe vera juice alone. No other medications or supplements were implemented.
The author then enrolled a group of women who were also suffering from subclinical hypothyroidism which was untreated by conventional methods like levothyroxine. These women also had high thyroperoxidase antibodies indicating that they may have had Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis is a common autoimmune condition in which the body attacks the thyroid. The thyroid then becomes damaged and unable to produce enough thyroid hormone for the body's needs. Hashimoto's thyroiditis which was named after the Japanese surgeon who discovered the disorder in 1912, is also known as autoimmune thyroiditis.
During the study, the women recruited were then put on the author's regimen of aloe vera juice and compared to a control group that didn't receive any treatment whatsoever.
The study lasted for 9 months. Thyroid stimulating hormone, thyroperoxidase antibodies, free T3 and free T4 were measured at baseline, at month 3, and month 9.
At baseline all of the women in the study had a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) level higher than 4.0mU/L. TSH is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland in our brains. When our thyroid isn't producing enough thyroid hormone, like T4 and subsequently T3, TSH is secreted in greater quantities.
If the thyroid isn't responding to normal levels of TSH, the pituitary gland secretes more hoping to stimulate the thyroid to produce its much needed hormones. Think of the pituitary gland secreting TSH in response to a damaged thyroid gland, as an annoying sibling poking his brother to gain attention. If the child doesn't get a response, he'll poke even harder.
Therefore, a high TSH means that the thyroid gland isn't responding to the pituitary's request to produce more thyroid hormone.
In essence, a high TSH means that you're experiencing low thyroid function.
The women in the study also had high thyroperoxidase antibodies (TPOAb), greater than 400IU/mL. Thyroperoxidase is an enzyme used to catalyze a reaction involving iodine and tyrosine residues in thyroglobulin to create the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. A normal range of thyroperoxidase antibodies is less than 35 IU/mL although an optimal range can be much lower.
High amounts of thyroperoxidase antibodies indicate that the body is fighting against itself and destroying the thyroid's ability to produce thyroid hormones. In essence, a high amount of thyroperoxidase antibodies means that there is an autoimmune component contributing to hypothyroidism.
In the study, not only did 100% of the women drinking aloe vera juice have their TSH normalize but 63% had lower thyroperoxidase antibodies.
In contrast, the control group, which didn't consume the aloe vera juice, had no positive changes in their levels of TSH or TPOAb (thyroperoxidase antibodies).
Could drinking common aloe vera juice be the key to healing Hashimoto's thyroiditis? Research seems promising. If you do decide to start drinking aloe juice, be mindful of the amount of aloe latex the juice may contain.
While aloe juice itself can be very soothing, aloe latex can have a powerful laxative effect and any juice that also contains aloe latex can contribute to the laxative effect.
Have you tried drinking aloe juice before? What did you use it for? Would you consider it for subclinical hypothyroidism?
Let me know in the comments below!