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No, don’t treat thyroid troubles with herbal mixtures

A message posted on Facebook in Nigeria claims that a “home remedy” can aid the thyroid, preventing “mouth odour, infection of the lung sometimes swelling of the neck (goiter)”. 

It advises making a concoction from “Aidan”, blue alum, lara seeds and honey, and to “drink half glass cup every morning before food”. 

Tetrapleura tetraptera, known as “aidan” in the Yoruba language, is a fruit tree indigenous to tropical Africa, believed to have medicinal and nutritional properties. 

“Lara” is the Yoruba word for the castor oil plant, cultivated for pharmaceutical and commercial purposes.

But is this concoction good for your thyroid? We checked.


Goitre is a swollen thyroid gland

The thyroid is a gland found in the front of the neck. It makes hormones vital to a variety of functions in your body. 

A goitre is an abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland, usually painless. It may not affect the functioning of the thyroid, or cause an increase or decrease in thyroid hormones.

Causes of goitre include inflammation of the thyroid gland, an overactive or underactive thyroid gland, hormonal changes, thyroid cancer and, most commonly, not enough iodine in diet. There are very few cases of goitre in countries where iodine is added to table salt. 

Small goitres usually cause no symptoms, but severe cases may lead to coughing, trouble swallowing and difficulty breathing.

Treatable with medicine or surgery

Aihanuwa Eregie, a professor of medicine and endocrinology at the University of Benin in southwestern Nigeria, told Africa Check she does not agree with treating the thyroid with this herbal mixture. 

“Goitre is simply an enlarged thyroid gland, and treatment depends on the underlying cause, and will be either medical or surgical,” she said.

If a goitre does not respond to treatment and is causing problems with breathing or swallowing, the UK’s National Health Service says surgery may be needed to remove part or the entire thyroid gland.

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