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The Use of Potentilla (cinquefoil, bloodroot) in Thyroid Disorders and Colitis

By Elaine Moore on 7/25/2016

In Central Europe, roots from plants of the Potentilla species have been found to be effective in the treatment of thyroid disorders, diarrhea, ulcerative colitis and other chronic intestinal diseases. Potentilla species, which are native to Central Europe and include Potentilla alba (most commonly used), Potentilla erecta, and Potentilla reptans are commonly called white cinquefoil root, bloodroot, alba, and potentilla white.

The pharmacological activities of Potentilla extracts are due to their high level of polyphenols, which include saponins, flavonoids, iridoids, and tannis. These plant phytochemicals build stable complexes with metal ions, proteins, and polysaccharides, which explains their benefits in healing wounds, burns and infections; preventing intestinal secretion while protecting the gastric mucosa from toxins and irritants that lead to leaky gut syndrome; reducing hemorrhoids, eczema, and gingivitis; and preventing dental caries. The polyphenols in Potentilla along with traces of natural iodine have in recent years been found to normalize thyroid tissue, including thyroid cells affected by multinodular goiter and autoimmune thyroid diseases.  

Potentilla has been shown to be particularly effective in reducing goiter size. In one study of 92 patients with nodular goiter, goiter node size decreased by 50 percent in 63 percent of test subjects. In 20 percent of the patients, goiter size decreased by 1.5 times, and in 17 percent of patients the goiter size remained the same. In the control group comprised of patients with goiter who received a placebo, 89 percent of patients experienced no change in their goiter while 11 percent saw an increase in goiter size.

Commercial preparations of Potentilla alba are available but patients with thyroid disorders should be aware that some of these products contain high concentrations of iodine in the form of kelp. We are fortunate in that one of our readers has just been prescribed treatment with white cinquefoil root for her condition of Graves' disease and will be giving updates on her progress, which will be described in upcoming blogs.


Franklyn JA and K Boelaert. 2012. Thyrotoxicosis. The Lancet. March 24: 1155-66.

Cilvic E, Bosnic T, et al., TLC Analysis of Rhizomes Potentilla alba, Potentilla erecta, Potentilla reptans, and their application in therapeutic purposes. 2015. Pharmacia 18(1):36-42.

Renter, Elizabeth. 2013. "Herb From Central Europe Offers Potential Thyroid Treatment." Natural Society.

Adams, Case. 2013. Russian Herb Treats Thyroid Disorders. GreenMedInfo. Accessed July 16, 2016.

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