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What Is Bugleweed Used for Today?
Several very preliminary studies suggest that bugleweed may be helpful for treating mild hyperthyroidism .
Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland releases excessive amounts of thyroid hormone. Symptoms include weight loss, weakness, heart palpitations, and anxiety. Test tube and animal studies suggest that bugleweed may reduce thyroid hormone by decreasing levels of TSH (a hormone that stimulates the thyroid gland) and by impairing thyroid hormone synthesis. 1 In addition, bugleweed may block the action of thyroid-stimulating antibodies found in Grave's disease. 2
Note: Self-treatment of hyperthyroidism can be dangerous. Physician supervision is necessary to determine why the thyroid is overactive to design a specific treatment plan.
Bugleweed may also reduce levels of the hormone prolactin, which is primarily responsible for the production of breast milk. 3 Elevated levels of prolactin may also cause breast pain in women; based on this finding, bugleweed has been recommended as a treatment for cyclic mastalgia (breast tenderness that comes and goes with the menstrual cycle). However, due to its effects on thyroid hormone, we do not recommend that it be used for this purpose.
- Kohrle J, Auf'mkolk M, Winterhoff H. Iodothyronine deiodinases: inhibition by plant extracts. Acta Endocrinol. 1981;96:15–16.
- Auf'mkolk M, Ingbar JC, Kubota K, Amir SM, Ingbar SH. Extracts and auto-oxidized constituents of certain plants inhibit the receptor-binding and the biological activity of Graves' immunoglobulins. Endocrinology. 116(5):1687-93.
- Sourgens H, Winterhoff H, Gumbinger HG, Kemper FH. Antihormonal effects of plant extracts. TSH- and prolactin-suppressing properties of Lithospermum officinale and other plants. Planta Med. 45(2):78-86.