Thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid gland. There are several types
of thyroiditis, but each of them generally produce three phases: overactive
thyroid (hyperthyroidism), underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), and return to
normal. It usually takes one year to complete this cycle. Young to middle-aged
women seem most at risk, although some forms of thyroiditis are seen in both men
and women of all ages. With some forms, hypothyroidism may develop years later
even if the thyroiditis has resolved.
Signs and Symptoms
Depending on the type of thyroiditis, the thyroid gland can have one of the
Firm and enlarged, but not tender
Enlarged and painful, with pain extending to the jaw or
Enlarged but not painful; or enlarged on only one side, hard like a
stone, and sticking to other neck structures
You may also have one or more of the following symptoms.
Cool, dry skin, slow pulse rate (less than 60 beats per minute),
swelling around the eyes, hoarseness, or slow reflexes
No desire to eat, feeling tired and unenergetic, and a slight
A rapid heartbeat, slight nervousness, anxiety, weight loss of 5 to
10 pounds, and increased sweating
What Causes It?
Thyroiditis can be caused by immune disorders, viruses, and fever disorders.
Sometimes thyroiditis develops if you have Graves' disease (a thyroid disorder).
In some cases, there is no identifiable cause.
What to Expect at Your Provider's Office
Your health care provider will feel your neck to see what the thyroid gland
feels like and may order blood tests to check the levels of thyroid hormones and
other factors. You may be given pain medication or something to help you feel
Thyroiditis generally involves three phases: overactive phase, underactive
phase, and return to normal. Treatment is individualized to type and phase.
Depending on the particular type of thyroiditis, a physician may prescribe
one or some of the following treatments:
Levothyroxine: 0.1 to 0.15 mg daily if hypothyroidism or large goiter
Aspirin: two tablets (325 mg) three to four times daily as needed to
relieve pain and inflammation
Corticosteroid medications (such as prednisone or dexamethasone): at
lowest dose that relieves pain; gives relief in 24 hours, but continue 4 to 6
weeks after pain is gone; severe cases only
Propranolol: 10 to 40 mg every six hours for thyrotoxic
Thyroxine: 0.05 to 0.1 mg/daily for hypothyroidism
Short-term beta-blockers: for hyperthyroid symptoms
Surgical and Other Procedures
Partial thyroid removal: to relieve
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Alternative therapies can help when used along with the medications your
Foods that depress thyroid activity are broccoli, cabbage, brussels
sprouts, cauliflower, kale, spinach, turnips, soy, beans, and mustard greens.
These foods should be included in the diet for hyperthyroid conditions and
avoided for hypothyroid conditions.
Essential fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and necessary for hormone
production. Take 1,000 to 1,500 mg flaxseed oil three times per day.
Calcium (1,000 mg per day) and magnesium (200 to 600 mg per day) help
many metabolic processes function correctly.
Your health care provider may also recommend specific nutritional supplements
for a hyperthyroid or hypothyroid condition.
Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites
(glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise
indicated, teas should be made with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep
covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots.
Drink 2 to 4 cups per day.
For hyperthyroid conditions:
Bugleweed (Lycopus virginica) and lemon balm (Melissa
officinalis) help normalize the overactive thyroid.
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) relieves heart palpitations,
and passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) reduces anxiety. Combine two
parts of bugleweed with one part each of lemon balm, motherwort, and
passionflower in a tincture, 30 to 60 drops three to four times per
Quercetin (250 to 500 mg three times per day) is an
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) makes the effect of bromelain
stronger and should be taken between meals, 500 mg three times per
Ginkgo biloba, 80 to 120 mg two times per
For hypothyroid conditions:
A combination that supports thyroid function includes herbs rich in
minerals. Combine the following for a tea (3 to 4 cups per day) or tincture (20
to 30 drops three times a day): horsetail (Equisetum arvense), oatstraw
(Avena sativa), alfalfa (Medicago sativa), gotu kola (Centella
asiatica), and bladderwrack (Fucus
Homeopathy may be useful as a supportive therapy for both "hyper" and "hypo"
conditions of the thyroid.
For hyperthyroid conditions:
Ice packs to the throat will help decrease
For hypothyroid conditions:
Contrast hydrotherapy. Alternate hot and cold applications to the
neck and throat. Alternate three minutes hot with one minute cold. Repeat three
times to complete one set. Do two to three sets per day.
Exercise helps improve thyroid
Acupuncture may be helpful in correcting hormonal imbalances and addressing
underlying deficiencies and excesses involved in
Therapeutic massage may relieve stress and increase the sense of
Your health care provider may need to check you each
If you are pregnant or just had a baby, you may develop Hashimoto's
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Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment.
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Review Date: August 1999
Reviewed By: Participants in the review process include: Lonnie Lee, MD, Internal
Medicine, Silver Springs, MD;Scott Shannon, MD, Integrative Psychiatry, Medical
Director, McKee Hospital Center for Holistic Medicine, Fort Collins, CO;Terry
Yochum, DC, Rocky Mountain Chiropractic Center, Arvada,
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of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage
to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or
otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents
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guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information
provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare
practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts)
regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications
before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed