Black Cumin – A New Herbal Treatment for Hypothyroidism and Thyroid Autoimmunity

Let’s review an interesting study regarding the ability of black cumin, a medicinal spice, to improve hypothyroidism and thyroid autoimmunity.

Dr. R’s Fast Facts

The effects of Nigella sativa on thyroid function, serum Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) – 1, Nesfatin-1 and anthropometric features in patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: a randomized controlled trial.

  • 49 patients were given Nigella sativa or placebo daily for 8 weeks
  • Dose: 2 grams per day as powder
  • Nigella sativa – also known as
    • Black cumin
    • Black caraway
    • Black sesame
    • Onion seed
    • Roman coriander
  • Results
    • 2.8 pounds of weight loss
    • Reduction in TSH* (meaningful)
    • Reduction in antibodies (non-meaningful and non-significant)
  • What does this mean?
    • Interesting findings, but there are other therapies that may work better for body composition
      • One study showed a low carb, low-grain diet led to a higher reduction in weight loss and a greater reduction in thyroid autoimmunity antibodies
      • Other compounds, like selenium, vitamin D, CoQ10, and magnesium, have shown to have a significant effect on antibodies

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Black Cumin – A New Herbal Treatment for Hypothyroidism and Thyroid Autoimmunity

Dr. Michael Ruscio: Hi, this is Dr. Ruscio, and let’s discuss an interesting new plant medicine that may help with hypothyroidism and with thyroid autoimmunity.

A study was recently published looking at a compound known a black cumin. And I’ll put this study up here on the screen. The study was entitled—I’ll shorten it up for you—but essentially “The effects of Nigella sativa on thyroid function Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source.”

Nigella sativa has many a.k.a.’s, and I’ll read a few for you here: black cumin, black caraway, black sesame, onion seed, and roman coriander. But essentially, in this study, they took 49 patients and they gave them either 2 grams per day as a powder or a placebo for eight weeks. And they tracked different markers, like body composition and weight, and also thyroid markers, and compared the placebo group to the control group.

Now, what they found was interesting. They did find a reduction in body weight. But 2.8 pounds over eight weeks, that’s something. I wouldn’t say it’s highly meaningful, but it is something. They did show what I would consider as significant reduction in TSH. They showed a non-significant and what I would consider a non-meaningful reduction in TPO antibodies. And this is important, because if something is non-significant and also non-meaningful—there was a change, but the change wasn’t really meaningful or significant.

So let me put the table up here on the screen that will help out on this a little bit. And I’ve highlighted for you the reduction in TSH. From 6.4 to 4.1, that is a significant and a clinically meaningful reduction in TSH. That essentially takes someone from positive to normal for a TSH value. So that’s significant. Again, weight not in a stable—we discussed 2.8 pounds. It was considered significant. Would I consider that meaningful? Maybe.

But then the TPO antibodies is the thing I really wanted to draw your attention to. So, thyroid antibodies are when your immune cells attack thyroid tissue, and it’s the underlying cause of hypothyroidism in most westernized countries. So the autoimmunity, the thyroid autoimmunity, and the antibodies that correspond to the severity of the thyroid autoimmunity is something that’s important to keep in mind and to look at. Now, in this case, we did see a reduction from 294 to 147 compared to the control right next to it that went from 278 to 274. Now, to the untrained eye that change from 294 to 147 may look significant. However, statistically it was not significant, but also clinically I do not consider that to be a clinically meaningful change.

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So, when we zoom way out, what does all this mean? Well, this is an interesting herb that may have a place in thyroid care for either hypothyroidism or for thyroid autoimmunity. And I’m certainly glad this study was published and I certainly hope there’s more research published on this herb. However, I wouldn’t rush out and put yourself on black cumin just yet.

There are other treatments for body composition that would certainly work better. Namely, there was one study that showed a low-carb, low-grain diet essentially led to a much higher level of weight loss and also a greater reduction in thyroid antibodies. Also, other compounds have been to shown to have a significant impact on those antibodies like selenium, vitamin D, CoQ10, and magnesium.

So, this is definitely something interesting, the study on black cumin here. However, it wouldn’t be my top choice for thyroid, at least not at this point. Certainly happy to keep an eye in the oven to see if anything else exciting is published. But for right now, I would say don’t rush out because you read a catchy headline saying that people lost weight and saw improved thyroid autoimmunity from black cumin. Because, technically, both those statements are true, but when you look at the details here, they’re really not significant or not even significant at all.

So, black cumin may have a place in the future for thyroid health. For right now, I would say it’s interesting, something to keep an eye on, but not necessarily something that you need to move on.

So, this is Dr. Ruscio, and I hope this information helps you get healthy and get back to your life. Thanks.

What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.

Dr. Ruscio is your leading functional and integrative doctor specializing in gut related disorders such as SIBO, leaky gut, Celiac, IBS and in thyroid disorders such as hypothyroid and hyperthyroid. For more information on how to become a patient, please contact our office. Serving the San Francisco bay area and distance patients via phone and Skype.

Discussion

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