Clinical research has confirmed that an herb that grows throughout Central Europe and used for centuries in traditional medicine is useful for the treatment of several thyroid conditions. The herb comes from a plant called White Cinquefoil, botanical name Potentilla alba.
Potentilla alba tested in clinical trials
In 2012, Russian researchers reviewed a combination of clinical data and traditional application to arrive at a conclusion that Potentilla alba has been utilized with success for the treatment of hypothyroidism, goiter, hyperthyroidism, and thyrotoxicosis.
“Investigation has shown, that phytodrug of Potentilla alba could be recommended for monotherapy and for combine conservative therapy of diffuse and mix benign euthyroid goiter, and also for complex treatment of toxic and hypothyroid goiters,” concluded the researchers.
A certain Ukranian-approved herbal medicine drug made from White Cinquefoil underwent a clinical study at the Pyatigorsk State Medicine Scientific Research Institute of the Federal Medical and Biological Agency of Russia. The study used 92 patients diagnosed with nodular or multinodular euthyroid goiter, while 36 patients were used as a control group. The tested patients were given the drug containing Potentilla alba extract drug for two months, followed by further diagnostic testing.
Among the patients given the Potentilla alba drug, the size of the goiter nodes in 63% of the patients had decreased by at least one-half. In nearly 20% of the patients given the treatment, goiter size decreased by at least 1.5 times. Goiter size remained the same in only 17% of the patients. Meanwhile, 89% of the control group – given the same therapy but without the Potentilla alba drug – had no change in goiter size while 11% had increased goiter nodule size.
The research also detailed a long history of clinical use of Potentilla alba elsewhere in Russia and Central Europe.
White Cinquefoil’s constituents
White Cinquefoil contains a host of constituents, including various saponins, flavonoids, iridoids and tannins. It contains rutin, n-coumaric acid, ellagic acids, meletin, cyanidine, kaempferol, and a host of minerals and other nutrients. The plant is a low-lying bush that grows amongst the forest regions of Northern and Central Europe. Its roots contain much of its medicinal activity.
A 2011 study of the roots of White Cinquefoil found them to maintain significant proanthocyanidins. These are potent antioxidants that have been shown to exert antioxidant and adaptogenic properties in the body.
Traditional Russian folk medicine has utilized Potentilla alba for centuries for various intestinal issues, abscesses, cysts, carbuncles, rheumatism, hemorrhoids, eczema and gingivitis. Other research has showed that it has antibacterial and antifungal properties as well as anti-inflammatory effects.
The importance of the thyroid
The thyroid gland is located in the lower neck region. Diseases of the thyroid can come in the form of an overactive thyroid gland – referred to as hyperthyroidism – or an underactive thyroid – considered hypothyroidism. The thyroid can also become infected or damaged by toxins – often referred to as thyrotoxicosis.
Because the thyroid produces hormones that are critical for cellular metabolism, an underactive, overactive or toxic thyroid gland can wreck havoc on a person’s well-being and energy levels.
Three important hormones the thyroid gland produces calcitonin, triiodothyronine (also called T3) and tetraiodothyronine or thyroxine (also called T4). The later hormones regulate cell metabolism activity while calcitonin regulates calcium production along with vitamin D.
An underactive thyroid can often accompany a simple goiter – which is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. Another type of goiter is a toxic nodular goiter, which can be not only enlarged, but can contain multiple round growths called nodules.
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Kiselëva IA, Tëplaia EV, Kaminskiĭ AV. Application of herbal medicine alba in treatment of thyroid. Lik Sprava. 2012 Dec;(8):116-9.
Mishagin VA, et al. Report of Investigation: Potential of Treatment of Nodular and Multinodular Goiter with Endonorm. Fed Med Biol Ag Russia. Acc. Feb 2013.
Damien Dorman HJ, Shikov AN, Pozharitskaya ON, Hiltunen R. Antioxidant and pro-oxidant evaluation of a Potentilla alba L. rhizome extract. Chem Biodivers. 2011 Jul;8(7):1344-56. doi: 10.1002/cbdv.201100043.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.