I work with horseradish quite a bit and I've never heard this contraindication before.
Horseradish is a member of the cabbage family and most of those are not helpful to the thyroid. In Thomas Bartram's encyclaedia of herbs, he says horseradish is "anti-thryoid" and it may be this is where Jekka has taken her warning from.
I'm hoping that our qualified herbalists will speak up and enlighten us all here as to custom and practice with horseradish and hypothyroid conditions.
It is interesting that plants which do get labelled as not being good for something don't always act that way with all people. Lemon balm is another herb which is not supposed to be used if you have hypothyroid, but a discussion last year on the Herbwifery forum found that no-one with that condition had found lemon balm to make their thyroid condition worse and all were happy to use it.
It a bit different when you've got a herb like motherwort which acts specifically to calm an overactive thyroid down - it would do the same with an underactive thyroid and reduce thyroid function, so you steer clear of it.
I admire Jekka a great deal. She is a fantastic organic herbal grower, but she isn't a practicing medical herbalist who treats people on a regular basis (as far as I'm aware!). I would imagine her herbal warnings are taken from other people's works and introduced in a very general, rather than specific way.
If you want to grow herbs and learn about their uses and are a beginner in this area, your best bets are David Hoffman's 'Illustrated Herbal', Penelope Ody's 'Complete Medicinal Herbal', Chris Hedley and Non Shaw's 'Herbal Remedies' and Joyce Wardwell's 'The Herbal Home Remedy Book'. You can't go wrong with any of those.
August 26 2009, 12:19 PM
this is due to the glucosinolates, or mustard oil glycosides, in Cruciferous plants. According to Simon Mills* the evidence that they depress thyroid function is epidemiological and occurrs when large amount of plants are consumed and when low iodine intake is also a factor. Therefore although therapeutic doses or normal culinary consumption shouldn't cause a significant effect with a healthy thyroid, he does note a contra-indication in hypothyroidism.
* a wee gem of a book - The Essential Book of Herbal Medicine - or "the wee brown book" as I call it. Currently 26 new or used from 84p on Amazon...
August 26 2009, 4:57 PM
Thanks very much! Will maybe check in a couple of your suggestions.
August 28 2009, 2:56 PM
As someone who suffers with hypo-thyroidism, but also a hyperactive nervous system, I take lemon balm regularly and can't say I have found it making my 'hypothyroidism' worse. If I stop taking the lemon balm, my nervous system goes even more into overdrive which then has the effect of depleting my thyroid even more.
I am not a qualified herbalist, just someone who has used them all my life to support health issues and I would imagine that it might depend on what is underlying the 'hypothyroidism' - it's not the same for everyone - which is why it's important to treat the whole rather than just the symptom. I can't speak for horseradish, as I have never used it medicinally - I just eat it because I love it - as well as all the brassica family.
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