According to the American Thyroid Association, about 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. While there is no cure for thyroid disease, there are treatments that can help manage the condition. The use of medicinal mushrooms, Lion’s Mane in particular, is being studied for its efficacy on improving thyroid disease.
What is thyroid disease?
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck. It produces thyroid hormone, which helps regulate the body’s metabolism. It helps to convert food into energy, and it also helps to regulate the body’s temperature. Thyroid hormone levels can affect a person’s weight, heart rate, and mood. The most common thyroid related diseases include:
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Graves’ disease
- Thyroid cancer
- Thyroid nodules
- Thyroid storm
- Subclinical hypothyroidism
- Thyroid hormone resistance
- Type 1 diabetes
- Rheumatoid arthritis
The exact cause of thyroid disease is unknown. However, there are some risk factors that may increase your chance of developing thyroid disease. These include:
- Family history: If you have a family member with thyroid disease, you’re more likely to develop the condition yourself.
- Autoimmune diseases: thyroid disease is more common in people with other autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.
- Pregnancy: thyroid disease is more common in women who are pregnant. This may be due to changes in hormone levels during pregnancy.
- Age: thyroid disease is more common in adults over the age of 60.
Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism
Thyroid disease can be classified into two main types: hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. This can lead to symptoms such as weight loss, anxiety, irritability, and difficulty sleeping.
0.2% to 1.3% of the world’s population (residing in iodine-sufficient parts) suffer from hyperthyroidism.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. This can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, constipation, and depression.
A third of the world’s population lives in iodine-deficient areas which can lead to hypothyroidism. The prevalence of overt hypothyroidism in the general population ranges from 0.2% and 5.3% in the European continent and 0.3% and 3.7% in the United States.
What are the risks of thyroid disease?
If left untreated, thyroid disease can lead to a variety of serious health problems. These include heart failure, osteoporosis, and infertility. Thyroid disease can also be fatal.
Thyroid disease treatment
The treatment for thyroid disease depends on the type of thyroid problem. Hyperthyroidism is typically treated with medication or surgery. Hypothyroidism is usually treated with medication. In some cases, thyroid disease can be managed with lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise. However, thyroid disease is a lifelong condition that will require lifelong treatment.
Medicinal mushrooms and thyroid disease
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that medicinal mushrooms may be effective in the treatment of thyroid disease. Mushrooms such as Lion’s Mane, reishi, and cordyceps have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries and are now being studied for their potential role in treating thyroid disease in the Western world.
Can Lion’s Mane improve thyroid disease?
One treatment option that’s gaining popularity is the Lion’s Mane mushroom. This medicinal mushroom has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries and is now being studied for its potential role in treating thyroid disease.
Lion’s mane mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus) are rich in nutrients and bioactive compounds that offer various health benefits. These mushrooms are a good source of antioxidants, beta-glucans, and herinecones, a compound that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.
So far, studies on Lion’s Mane and thyroid disease are promising. One study found that Lion’s Mane extract was able to reduce inflammation in the thyroid gland and improve symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune form of thyroiditis.
The immunomodulatory activity of the polysaccharides isolated from Hericium erinaceus mushroom was evaluated in this animal-based Taiwanese study published on 2013. 50 μg/mL of the mushroom polysaccharide activated and stimulated the maturation of key cells of the immune system, known as the dendritic cells.
Researchers found that compounds in Lion’s mane mushroom modulate the TH1 immune response, which is altered in autoimmune thyroid diseases like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Results also showed that the bioactive compound beta-glucan has the potential as an immune-potentiating agent, which means it can make our immune system stronger.
Likewise, the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effect was explored in a 2013 study published in the Korean Journal of Medicinal Crop Science. Researchers found that the mushroom extract contributed to cell proliferation and exhibited anti- lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced-inflammation activity. LPS is a major component of the bacterial cell wall and triggers an acute inflammatory response by releasing a vast number of inflammatory mediators.
LPS is also a potent activator of monocytes and macrophages which are also seen in various immune thyroid disorders. The anti-LPS activity of Lion’s mane mushrooms may therefore have a promising role in the prevention and treatment of such conditions.
If you are interested in trying Lion’s Mane supplements in the United States and Canada, check out our recommendations of the best quality Lion’s Mane supplements.
Alternatively, if you are in Australia, read our guide of how to buy the best Lion’s Mane mushrooms in Australia.
While more research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of Lion’s Mane for treating thyroid disease, this natural remedy may offer hope for those struggling with this condition.
Please consult with your doctor before aiming to treat thyroid disease with medicinal mushrooms. Medicinal mushrooms should be in conjunction with a holistic health program of nutrition, exercise and lifestyle, and should not be a substitute for any medication you are taking for Thyroid disease.