No scientific evidence that castor oil-cayenne pepper poultice can cure hypothyroidism

By: Soham Shah
July 18 2023

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No scientific evidence that castor oil-cayenne pepper poultice can cure hypothyroidism


The Verdict False

According to medical experts, only thyroid hormone supplements can treat hypothyroidism— a condition caused by an underactive thyroid gland.

Claim ID 3c80579a


A video is going viral on Facebook with the claim that the external application of castor oil-cayenne pepper poultice can help cure an ‘underactive thyroid.’ The video shows the preparation of a poultice, using copious amounts of castor oil and three tablespoons of cayenne pepper, as a woman’s voiceover runs in the background. The woman describes the alleged benefits of the preparation and claims she helped a patient get off her thyroid medication using it. She explains that the application of the mixture ensures that “blood is being drawn into the thyroid gland to wake it up.” An archive link of the post can be accessed here

The thyroid gland is at the base of the throat and produces the thyroid hormone, which is an important part of the endocrine system. When the thyroid gland produces less hormone than required (‘underactive thyroid’), the condition is known as hypothyroidism. Excess production of the thyroid hormone by the gland is called hyperthyroidism, a less common condition. At the end of the video, the woman also says that putting ice on the thyroid gland will help with an ‘overactive thyroid,’ i.e. hyperthyroidism.

Facebook account ‘BigGod Entertainment TV’ shared the video with the caption, “Great Knowledge of what castor oil can do.” The post had garnered over 18,000 views and had been shared by 285 users at the time of publishing. 

However, there is absolutely no medical evidence to back the claims made in the video.

In Fact

Logically Facts was able to locate the original video from where the woman’s voiceover was picked up. We found the video on TikTok, and it showed Barbara O’Neill, a discredited Australian health practitioner and a known medical misinformation spreader, talking about how castor oil and cayenne pepper poultice can help those with an underactive thyroid. O’Neill is an alternative medicine practitioner (naturopath) and is prohibited from providing any medical advice in Australia. She has been fact-checked by Logically Facts on several occasions in the past. 

We could not find any scientific literature online that validates the claim that the external application of cayenne pepper or a cayenne pepper poultice made using castor oil can help treat or cure hypothyroidism. There is also no scientific evidence to claim that ice can treat hyperthyroidism.

The U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the American Thyroid Association also maintain that hypothyroidism can only be treated by replacing the hormones that your own thyroid can no longer make. This can be done by taking a single daily tablet adjusted at a dose required to produce normal thyroid hormone levels. The American Thyroid Association adds that hypothyroidism cannot be cured but can be completely controlled in almost every patient in this manner.

Logically Facts spoke to Dr. Chaitanya Buva, an endocrinologist at Sahyadri Hospital in Maharashtra’s Nashik, to check the authenticity of the claims made in the viral clip. He said, “There is no validity to the claim that external application of castor oil and cayenne pepper can help with underdeveloped thyroid or hypothyroidism. An underactive thyroid cannot be cured; it is a lifelong condition. We treat hypothyroidism by giving thyroid hormone supplements.” He further explained using an analogy: just as brain cells or neurons do not come back to life after they have died, an underactive thyroid cannot be activated again. When asked if the external application of any substance on the throat is known to help with hypothyroidism, Dr. Buva replied with an emphatic “No.”

Other experts agree with Dr. Buva’s assertions. On the claim about cayenne pepper poultice helping with the treatment of hypothyroidism, Dr. Vinayak Harale, an endocrinologist at the Supreme Clinic in Maharashtra’s Pune, said, “God no! There is no scientific validity for the application of such a mixture. In my practice, every day, I come across cases involving people seeing some videos online and trying some remedies which worsen their medical condition.” Dr. Harale also denied the claim that ice could help with hyperthyroidism.

The Verdict

According to experts, an underdeveloped thyroid cannot be cured or treated using a castor oil-cayenne pepper poultice. Scientific literature has established that hypothyroidism can only be controlled using thyroid hormone supplements. Therefore, we mark the claim false.

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