During the winter months, as I have mentioned a few times, we want to support our own internal sources of energy production. One of our primary hormone producing centers in the body is the thyroid. Generally speaking, the thyroid helps to regulate how “fast” the body runs. A good way to illustrate this is to talk about what happens when the thyroid gets out of balance: too much thyroid hormone will make the heart beat too quickly and cause weight loss from increased metabolism. Too little thyroid hormone will cause weight gain, slowed production of skin, hair and nails (causing hair loss, weak nails, and dry skin), weight gain, and constipation from slowed digestion.
Seaweed has traditionally been used as medicine for the thyroid. In Chinese medicine, it is seen as cooling and good for dissolving any type of swelling. In autoimmune thyroid conditions such as Hashimoto’s or Graves disease, it has been used to decrease inflammation and swelling. In hypothyroid, the swelling of the thyroid known as “goiter” has also been treated by seaweed. In Western medicine, this is assumed to be related to replacement of deficient Iodine.
The Iodine content in seaweeds varies depending on the variety, but is quite high in any type you find. Iodine is a critical component in the creation of thyroid hormone. In its absence or deficiency, the thyroid will swell to many times its normal size to try to create sufficient thyroid hormone. This swelling is called “goiter”. Before salt started being iodised in the United States in 1924, iodine poor areas had extremely high rates of goiter--a goiter rate of 47% of the population of Michigan was reported at that time.