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Is Alvidar for Thyroid Conditions Actually a Scam?

What's Actually IN Alvidar Anyway?


Updated June 12, 2006

Is Alvidar for Thyroid Conditions Actually a Scam?

What is in Alvidar?

Alvidar's ingredient list sounds quite official and impressive, and includes a variety of names -- all in Latin, probably to make them sound more serious and so you won't recognize them by their more common names.

Here are the Alvidar-listed ingredients in italics, along with their more common names in bold.

Alvidar Ingredients
Laminariae Stipites = Kelp
Fucus Vesiculosus = Bladderwrack
Serenoa Repens = Saw Palmetto
Gentianae Radix = Yellow Gentian
Capsicum Frutescens = Cayenne Pepper
Echinacea Purpurea = Echinacea
Ananas Comosus = Pineapple
Ginkgo Biloba = Ginkgo
Panax Ginseng = Ginseng
Ilex Paraguariensis = Yerba Mate
Filipendula Ulmaria = Queen of the Meadow/Meadowsweet
Hypericum Perforatum = St. John's Wort
Valeriana Officinalis = Valerian
Let's take a closer look at these ingredients, and whether there is any evidence that they help the thyroid, and any potential dangers.

Laminariae Stipites (Kelp) and Fucus Vesiculosus (Bladderwrack)

The point of including kelp and bladderwrack is that both deliver high levels of iodine, which is thought to help thyroid function.

Alvidar doesn't tell you how MUCH iodine you are getting however, nor does it include any of the warnings regarding iodine. For example, one of the best authorities on herbal medicine is the German Commission E Monographs, which were published by the American Botanical Council. According to the Monographs, anything above the dosage of level of 150 µg of iodine per day -- from all sources, including food, iodized salt, and supplements -- increases the danger that hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism are both induced or made worse.

Iodine can also have other side effects, including:

  • Onset of or aggravated acne
  • Heavy-metal contamination (Seaweeds that grow in heavy-metal-contaminated waters may contain high levels of these toxins.)
  • Sensitivity -- allergic reactions
  • Brassy taste in the mouth
  • Increased salivation
  • Stomach irritation.
Serenoa Repens (Saw Palmetto)

Saw palmetto is used primarily for urinary tract problems and for reducing enlarged prostate glands. Why it is included in Alvidar is not clear.

Interestingly, the Plants for the Future database says that: "Regular consumption of the fruit is supposed to be very beneficial to the health, improving the digestion and helping to increase weight and strength." This would be exactly opposite the claims of Selmedica about Alvidar to help with weight loss.

Saw palmetto can cause some side effects, including:

  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bad breath
  • Erection problems, testicular discomfort and changes in sex drive in men
Experts caution use of saw palmetto in anyone taking hormonal medications (such as the hair loss drugs finasteride/Proscar®/Propecia® or birth control pills) or who have hormone-sensitive conditions.

Saw palmetto should also not be used with any drugs that increase the risk of bleeding, such as aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).

Gentianae Radix (Dried Yellow Gentian)

Yellow gentian is a bitter compound that herbalists report can be useful as an antinflammatory and general strengthener.

It is generally considered safe, but in sensitive persons may cause headaches.

Capsicum Frutescens (Tabasco Pepper)

Tabasco pepper is very high in Vitamin C, and herbalists claim that it is a general tonic and to detox the gastrointestinal system.

It is generally considered safe, but in some people can be extremely irritating to the gastrointestinal system.

Echinacea Purpurea (Echinacea)

Echinacea is considered an immune stimulant, but its effectiveness has been significantly questioned in various studies.

Since most hypothyroidism is caused by Hashimoto's disease, an autoimmune condition, there is also a question regarding the safety and benefit of using a potential immune enhancer. Some experts do not recommend immune-enhancing supplements for people with an autoimmune disease, where the immune system is already misdirected, and inappropriately attacking tissues, glands and organs.

Ananas Comosus (Pineapple)

Why pineapple is included in Alvidar is not clear.

The anti-inflammatory enzyme bromelain is derived from the pineapple plant, but it's assumed that if bromelain itself was the ingredient, it would be listed.

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