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last updated July 28, 2016 (originally published July 13, 2011)
By Michael Chang,  Contributing Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Doctors and
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of our
Editorial Board.]

Awakening to an unidentifiable swelling of the neck can be a
frightening experience. While your first instinct might be that
it is a cancerous, malignant tumor, it might more likely be a
goiter. A swelling of the thyroid gland, a goiter can also lead
to a protrusion of the neck or larynx. Goiters result when the
thyroid gland is not functioning properly—that is, production
of enough thyroid hormone is not sufficient and thus, the
gland compensates by growing larger in size.

Secondary symptoms include difficulty breathing and
swallowing, a cough, or a sore throat.  Are there any natural
remedies for goiter? Are there foods and herbs that can help
goiter? Or, are there foods you should avoid if you have

Causes of Goiter

While there are several causes of this condition, the most
common one is iodine deficiency. According to the American
Thyroid Association, globally, approximately 90 percent of
cases are a result of insufficient iodine intake.

Iodine deficiency causes goiter because iodine is needed by
two of the hormones of your thyroid glands--- thyroxine and

Moreover, 40 percent of the world -- that's 2.4
billion people
-- remains at risk for developing a goiter. In the United
States, this figure is severely reduced due to iodized table
salt.  Iodine has been added to table salt in the US since the
1920's. (Read more about
how much is too much salt in your

Other causes of this nodular enlargement of the thyroid
gland include:

•        Thyroid Cancer
•        Inflammation of the Thyroid
•        Pregnancy: A hormone produced during the first
trimester of a pregnancy can result in goiters.
•        Autoimmune Disorders, such as
Graves’ Disease and
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Top 10 Remedies for Goiter

We have combed all existing academic studies on goiter to
find the natural remedies that are supported by medical
research. Here is the Top 10 list of remedies, natural and
other, for goiter:

Incorporate Iodine-Rich Foods into Your Diet

Because the majority of goiter cases occur as a result of
iodine deficiency, incorporating iodine-rich foods into your
diet can be a great way to prevent or even cure the
enlargement of the thyroid gland.

Foods rich in iodine include citrus fruits, strawberries,
guavas, garlic, and whole rice, among others.

However, kelp, fish, and shellfish are the iodine-providing
powerhouses. According to the Institute of Medicine, the
recommended dietary allowance for iodine in adults is 150 μg
per day.

With mild to moderate cases, incorporating iodine into your
diet can resolve the goiter; however, with much more severe
cases, you might need further, more intensive remedies.

But before you decide to take iodine supplements, beware.
The amount of iodine you need must be carefully calibrated
by your doctor to avoid overdoing it. In 2006, doctors from
the University Hospital of Tübingen in Germany reported the
case of a 39 year old woman who had goiter and who tried
to treat it by drinking kelp tea which had been prescribed by
a practitioner of Chinese herbal medicine. She ended up
developing "iodine-induced thyrotoxicosis".  The moral of the
story -- adding iodine containing food is generally safe but
never take supplements without first checking with your

Cut out Fattening, Greasy Foods from Your Diet

Eliminating calorie-rich and nutrient-poor food items from
your diet is simply a good lifestyle choice. You will reduce
your risk of many diseases and health issues later in life. In
the case of thyroid gland issues, you lessen the risks of
goiters if you maintain a well balanced diet, minimal of fried,
greasy foods, preserves, and white flour products. Overly-
processed and refined foods are minimal in nutritional value
but packed with calories, reducing the ability of the thyroid
gland to produce sufficient thyroid hormones.

Plus, unhealthy food choices can lead to obesity and,
according to a 2000 North Carolina State University study,
there is a connection between obesity and thyroid issues.

A healthy well-balanced diet ensures that the thyroid gland is
working properly so that the risk of goiter is lessened.
Moreover, if you already suffer from goiter, eliminating these
foods and consuming iodine-rich items can help to combat
the symptoms.  

Eliminate Raw Cruciferous Vegetables from Your Diet

“Eat your vegetables!” is perhaps uttered by every mother
across the country to their young children who leaves their
greens on their plates, followed by “it’s good for you.”
However, in the case of goiters, cruciferous vegetables might
not necessarily be so.

This family of vegetables, including broccoli, brussels
sprouts, kale, cabbage,
Chinese cabbage, horse radish,
radish, turnips, collards, kohlrabi, rutabaga, watercress  
cauliflower, produces a byproduct called

According to a 1995 Cornell University study, isothiocyanates
can produce goiters by inhibiting the absorption of iodine by
the thyroid gland.

Because the number one cause of goiter is iodine deficiency,
the consumption of these goitrogenic foods can hinder the
positive effects that the iodine has on your thyroid gland in
the first place.

If you are showing goiter symptoms, it is best to either
eliminate or reduce the intake your broccoli, kale, or cabbage.

Recently, eating raw food craze become popular in America.
However, there is at least one good reason to not overdo
eating raw cabbage-like vegetables.  By boiling these
veggies, you can eliminate up to
95 percent of their
isothiocyanate levels.

So, if you are at risk for goiter, at the very least chop up and
cook any cruciferous vegetables you eat.

Use a Flax Seed Warm Compress to Relieve the Goiter

Given its high iodine content, flax seed can be a great remedy
for goiter. One home remedy that has been utilized to
mitigate the condition is a warm compress that can be
applied to the actual enlarged protrusion.

Simply grind the flax seed in water, heat it, and apply it to
the affected areas of the neck.  The iodine content can
largely reduce or eliminate the goiter.

Relieve Goiter with Indian Folk Medicine, Kachnar

The incidence of goiter is much more prevalent among the
developing world and India is no different. It's worth a shot
to try this particular natural remedy from India to cure your
own enlargement of the thyroid gland. Kachnar, also known
as Bauhinia variegate, is a bark that should be congested
twice daily in the morning. You should consume about 30 ml
on an empty stomach.

Use Dandelion to Topically Treat Goiter

One particularly useful treatment is to topically apply ghee, a
type of clarified butter, onto dandelion leaves. After warming
it up, you can bandage the leaves of this salad vegetable
onto the goiter for approximately two weeks. You will feel
relief from the discomfort and pain of the swollen protrusion.

Avoid Soy and Soy-Based Products to Help Goiter

While in recent years, soy has been lauded for its many
health perks, it might actually provide more harm than
benefit, when you suffer from thyroid gland issues.
According to a National Institutes of Health report, the
isoflavones in soy products possess certain anti-thyroid
antibodies, which may then trigger or worsen
hypothyroidism or goiter.

If you suffer from any mild to moderate goiter conditions,
you should avoid foods such as soybeans, tofu, and soy milk,
among many other soy-based products.

Due to its goitrogenic properties, soy may worsen any
existing iodine deficiency issues already present by inhibiting
proper absorbing of the necessary mineral.

Drink Filtered Rather than Tap Water to Eliminate Goiter

While the environmental movement is calling for an
elimination of bottled water, drinking from the tap may lead
to a worsening of your goiter. Tap water contains fluoride
and chlorine, which can incite or worsen your thyroid

These minerals can block iodine receptors and thereby,
tricking your thyroid gland into thinking it has sufficient
supply, reducing production.

If your environmental conscious is screaming at you for
purchasing bottled water, simply purchase a water filter.

Surgical Removal to Eliminate the Goiter

After attempting all natural remedies and at-home
treatments, if the goiter is severe, a surgical procedure may
be necessary to treat the enlarged thyroid gland. With
moderate goiters, the aforementioned treatments may
suffice; however, with a larger goiter that causes extreme
discomfort and difficulty breathing, surgical removal may be

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