Steadily Idling

The standout line of one of the best UK punk bands, Idles, came from their 2019 song, “Never Trust A Man With A Perm” which shouted, “You look like a walking thyroid”.

In this context, lead singer Joe Talbot, alludes to the urban definition of a thyroid as a mood which is heavily based in anger and points fingers at the upper class and their nose in the air and lack of grace.

Of course, we all have a thyroid and of all the problems that can affect health, none may be more confusing and more problematic to treat than an overactive thyroid.

The thyroid gland is found in the neck just below the Adam’s apple (also known as the thyroid cartilage) and is the body’s internal thermostat, controlling body temperature and regulating how quickly the body burns calories and uses energy.

Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. These hormones influence a wide variety of functions in the body, including cardiac, nerve, gastrointestinal, and mental function.

The majority of cases are caused by Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that damages the thyroid gland, causing it to overproduce thyroid hormone.

The most severe form of hyperthyroidism is what is known as a “thyroid storm”, which can be caused by acute stress, infection or increased iodine intake, but which is usually also transient.

Symptoms of an overactive thyroid can include a fast heart rate, palpitations, weight loss, restlessness, anxiety, tremors, heat intolerance and nausea and vomiting.

Bugleweed, an oddly named perennial herb, is a member of the mint family (which always has square stems, a great way to be able to identify these plants in the wild) and has been used traditionally to treat cases of an overactive thyroid.

The plant’s juice yields a black dye which was used by the Romany gypsies to tan their skins to mimic the Egyptians in Europe at that time, hence the common name of Gypsy Weed.

Bugleweed, formally known as Lycopus virginicus, has shown to be effective in treating the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

A controlled open study by the Ruhr University in Germany and published in the International Journal of Phytotherapy in 2008 showed that the symptoms of an overactive thyroid were alleviated by taking a bugleweed tincture which cleared excess thyroid hormones from the blood stream.

Motherwort is another valuable herb when treating an overactive thyroid and is another member of the mint family.

Motherwort has a long history of use as a herb and, like many other plants, it has been used for a variety of conditions. Midwives used it as a uterine tonic and in preventing uterine infections, hence the name Motherwort.

Motherwort contains an alkaloid called leonurine which relaxes the smooth muscles of the heart which can help to calm the palpitations and anxiety associated with hyperthyroidism.

Herbal medicine can help calm an overactive thyroid but it is important to get a diagnosis from your GP to help you with your treatment plan.