The standard treatment for hypothyroidism is taking daily thyroid hormone replacement medication. Of course, medications often come with side effects, and forgetting to take a pill might lead to more symptoms.

In some cases, natural remedies may cause fewer side effects and fit into your overall lifestyle better.

The goal of natural remedies or alternative medicine is to fix the root cause of the thyroid problem. Thyroid problems sometimes start as the result of:

Changing your diet and taking an herbal supplement are two ways you can help your thyroid condition. These options may have fewer side effects than taking thyroid medication.

Also, taking an herbal supplement to help address a low or underactive thyroid may be helpful for people who aren’t responding well to medications.

Consider the following five natural remedies as additions or alternatives to your treatment plan.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), selenium is a trace element that plays a part in thyroid hormone metabolism.

Many foods contain selenium, including:

  • tuna
  • turkey
  • Brazil nuts
  • grass-fed beef

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an immune system attack on the thyroid, often reduces the body’s selenium supply. Supplementing this trace element has shown to help balance thyroxine, or T4, levels in some people.

It’s important to talk with your doctor about how much selenium may be right for you since every person is different.

Sugar and processed foods can lead to increased inflammation in the body.

Inflammation can slow down the conversion of T4 to triiodothyronine, or T3, another thyroid hormone. This can make your symptoms and thyroid disease worsen.

Also, sugar only boosts your energy level in the short term, eliminating it from your diet may help regulate your energy levels. Additionally, removing sugar from your diet may help your stress levels and skin.

It’s not easy to adopt a sugar-free diet, but the benefit to your thyroid health may be worth it.

Taking certain vitamin supplements can have an effect on your thyroid health.

Low thyroid hormones can affect your body’s vitamin B-12 levels. Taking a vitamin B-12 supplement may help you repair some of the damage hypothyroidism caused.

Vitamin B-12 can help with the tiredness thyroid disease can cause. The disease also affects your vitamin B-1 levels. You can add more B vitamins to your diet with the following foods:

  • peas and beans
  • asparagus
  • sesame seeds
  • tuna
  • cheese
  • milk
  • eggs

Vitamin B-12 is generally safe for most healthy individuals at recommended levels. Talk with your doctor about how much vitamin B-12 may be right for you.

The NIH studied the link between hypothyroidism and small intestine problems.

It was found that altered gastrointestinal (GI) motility commonly seen with hypothyroidism can cause small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and ultimately lead to chronic GI symptoms, such as diarrhea.

Probiotic supplements contain live helpful bacteria that can help keep your stomach and intestines healthy.

Besides supplement forms, fermented food and drink, such as kefir, kombucha, some cheeses, and yogurt contain useful probiotics.

However, the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved the use of probiotics for the prevention or treatment of any condition. Talk with your doctor to see if these supplements might help you.

Adopting a gluten-free diet is more than a fad for many people with hypothyroidism.

According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, a significant number of people with thyroid disease also have celiac disease.

Celiac disease is a digestive disorder in which gluten triggers an immune response in the small intestines.

Research doesn’t currently support a gluten-free diet for the treatment of thyroid disease.

However, many people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hypothyroidism do feel better after removing wheat and other gluten-containing foods from their diet.

But there are some drawbacks to going gluten free. For one, the cost of buying gluten-free foods is often much higher than foods containing wheat.

Also, some prepackaged, gluten-free foods aren’t healthy. That’s because these foods can have a higher fat content and less fiber than wheat- containing products.

For many, the advantages of adopting a natural thyroid treatment plan outweigh the disadvantages.

However, if you’ve had surgery to remove your thyroid, a natural thyroid treatment plan isn’t for you. As always, you should discuss any treatment plans with your doctor before starting them.