Friday, 18 January 2019

Aloe Vera and Underactive Thyroid

Aloe Vera Photo & Article by Ann Walker

Aloe vera leaves are the source of two medicines with diametrically opposite effects on the digestive system: the inner gel (or juice) taken in sufficient doses can be used as a remedy for diarrhoea (it helps to normalise a digestive microbiome in disarray) and the outer part of the leaf – thanks to a yellow exudate (turning to a black resin on drying, called bitter aloes) – is a strong laxative. The article I describe here (PMID: 29527506) concerns the juice. An Italian researcher, who had Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (an underactive thyroid caused by autoimmune inflammation) just happened to self-medicate with 50 ml of aloe vera juice per day to improve her digestive function. Three months later she was surprised to find that, despite taking no modern medication throughout this time, her raised blood thyroid antibodies and thyroid function test results were moving towards normal and this effect was even more marked after six months.

This chance finding inspired the research group she worked for to plan a clinical trial to investigate further. They recruited thirty women with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, who had not been treated with thyroxine medication, to take 50 ml aloe juice daily for nine months. At three months, evidence of normalisation of thyroid function was already evident and by nine months all subjects were within the normal range for all markers! By contrast, a control group (fifteen women, untreated and with the same condition) showed no significant changes in any of their raised markers. Although the mechanism of action is not yet understood, aloe vera juice does have a ‘dampening down’ effect on overactive immune systems. There is plenty of evidence from laboratory investigations on cultivated cells that aloe vera juice modulates immune function in several ways that would be beneficial in autoimmune inflammatory conditions.

Over the last 10 years, clinical trials reported on aloe vera on PubMed have been increasing to around ten a year. These have included investigations into the internal use of the juice for gastric reflux and its external use for burns, wound-healing after surgery and radiation damage following cancer treatment. This present study is the first indication that the internal use of aloe vera juice may be beneficial for normalising thyroid function disrupted by autoimmune disease - the most common cause of thyroid under-function.

PMID = PubMed identifier

Ann Walker PhD, FCPP, MNIMH, RNutr
Course Director DHM
Herbal Practitioner