Most thyroid patients are familiar with the importance of selenium, iodine, and zinc, but have you heard of the nutrient myo-inositol? There’s a lot of exciting research showing that it may be a powerful tool in thyroid recovery!
Myo-inositol is a form of natural sugar alcohol that is produced within our bodies. It helps with hormone signaling throughout the endocrine system, including thyroid hormones, sex hormones, and blood sugar regulation.
Although myo-inositol is synthesized by your body and found in certain foods, your needs may be higher due to underlying imbalances, poor nutrient absorption, high blood glucose levels, or a genetic predisposition. This is when supplementation can be highly beneficial.
Health Benefits of Myo-inositol for Hashimoto’s Patients
Let’s look at the benefits of supplemental myo-inositol for Hashimoto’s patients, according to the latest research.
1. Myo-inositol Helps with TSH Regulation
One important marker we look at in thyroid health is your level of TSH or thyroid-stimulating hormone. TSH is produced by your pituitary gland and tells your thyroid to create and circulate more thyroid hormones. It’s part of your body’s internal feedback loop to regulate thyroid and metabolism levels. (Note that this is not the only thyroid marker that matters, even though conventional medicine sometimes acts like it is. See this article for a full list of thyroid labs I recommend).
One mechanism of TSH signaling is myo-inositol dependent. Low levels of myo-inositol can lead to TSH resistance where your pituitary creates more and more TSH as your thyroid responds less and less. Increasing myo-inositol helps improve TSH sensitivity for better internal regulation.
2. Myo-Inositol Decreases Thyroid Antibodies in Conjunction with Selenium
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system attacks the thyroid gland and causes it to underproduce its hormones. In lab testing, this typically presents as high TSH levels, low levels of circulating thyroid hormones (T4 and T3), and elevated levels of thyroid antibodies.
Studies have found that myo-inositol can reduce thyroid antibodies when taken with selenium, indicating a decrease in the autoimmune attack on your thyroid. The pairing is shown to have a synergistic effect in that selenium alone can improve thyroid health, but it is more effective when taken alongside myo-inositol.
Most importantly, the patients in the studies saw an improvement in their symptoms in conjunction with the improvement in lab values.
3. It’s a Helpful Tool for PCOS
An analysis from 2018 found women with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) are 3 times more likely to have Hashimoto’s than those without PCOS. Since they are both endocrine conditions, it makes sense that the two often occur together and can impact each other (along with blood sugar, which we’ll get to next).
Research has shown that PCOS patients have naturally lower inositol levels and that supplementing with myo-inositol can decrease excessive testosterone levels to promote ovulation and healthy hormone balance.
4. Myo-Inositol Supports Blood Sugar Balance
For many thyroid patients, spikes in blood sugar can cause an increase in thyroid antibodies. Blood sugar issues are even more common in PCOS patients, with an estimated 50 to 70% reporting insulin resistance.
Metformin is a drug commonly prescribed to women with PCOS because it supports insulin regulation, but it carries many risks and side effects.
Myo-inositol may be a much safer and more natural alternative for PCOS patients because it helps regulate glucose levels and increase glucose sensitivity (similarly to its effect on TSH levels).
5. It Promotes Sleep and Relaxation
Stress is a major driver of hormone imbalances, inflammation, and numerous health challenges. I’ve written previously about the link between chronic stress, thyroid imbalances, and thyroid fatigue and I recommend that all of my patients implement simple stress-relief strategies.
Taking myo-inositol before bed can help promote relaxation and rest, with research showing it improves sleep duration and quality. Scientists have also found evidence that it stimulates the production of your “feel good” neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine.
Taking a Myo-Inositol Supplement to Support Hashimoto’s Recovery
Given the extensive research on its benefits, I frequently utilize myo-inositol supplements in the protocols for my Hashimoto’s patients.
In the clinic, we use RootFix Hormone Zen. It contains 2g of myo-inositol along with GABA, taurine, and magnesium to support healthy sleep and mood balance. Since nearly every Hashimoto’s patient is also dealing with stress and adrenal issues, I love that it supports multiple pathways to healing in one product.
For Hashimoto’s patients, we recommend pairing this with a high-quality multivitamin that contains therapeutic levels of selenium, since the two work synergistically to decrease Hashimoto’s antibodies.
Make sure to work with your doctor while taking myo-inositol so you can monitor your thyroid levels and symptoms. You may find that you can decrease your thyroid medications as your hormone levels normalize.
About the Author: Dr. Seth Osgood is a Doctor of Nursing Practice, Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) Certified Practitioner. Dr. Osgood received his post-graduate training in Functional Medicine through the IFM and from working with Dr. Amy Myers. He has helped people from around the world improve their health utilizing a Functional Medicine approach.