What are thyroid disorders?
Are you the one who is suffering from symptoms like puffiness of the face and eyelids, muscle ache, menstrual abnormality, peripheral edema, lethargy, hair loss, dry coarse skin, breathlessness, and constipation? Then you just need to visit your nearest endocrinologist and get your thyroid checked! Because these conditions are signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is one of the most common thyroid disorders, that is characterized by lower production of thyroid in the body. The thyroid is a hormone that is required by each and every tissue of the body for its normal functioning, and thus its deficiency manifests in multiple systems. Many people develop resistance to thyroid hormone and become deficient of this hormone due to higher metabolic demand for thyroid hormone in the body.
Hypothyroidism in women is found to be more prevalent when compared to men and it accounts for high prevalence in society, affecting at least one in 10 adults. Subclinical hypothyroidism is a thyroid disorder without obvious symptoms of thyroid deficiency; due to which a significant proportion of the patient population may go undetected and untreated even as it continues to impair the work performance, daily quality of life and economic productivity of an individual. The primary cause of hypothyroidism is known to be a deficiency in total iodine content; other causes may include certain medications and diseases.
Rising epidemic levels of thyroid disorders have become rampant. The high levels of stress we all experience on an ongoing basis are particularly draining for the endocrine system, especially the thyroid and adrenal glands. Ongoing stress weakens the endocrine system. The ancient doctors who cognized Ayurveda described six stages of a disease process. In the first two stages when an imbalance is developing, the body displays no symptoms yet. By the third and fourth stages, visible and identifiable symptoms become apparent. And if you let these imbalances continue without addressing them, by the fifth and sixth stages you can develop a full-blown disease, which modern medicine can identify and name. By the fifth stage, it is harder to reverse already. The sixth stage is irreversible. Hypothyroidism in women is more common than men.
The goal of medicine, therefore, ideally, should be to detect these imbalances in the earlier stages thus preventing disease. Modern medicine places the most emphasis on diagnosing and treating the disease when the symptoms are visible. With modern medicine, we detect and identify an ailment when it has already advanced to the fifth or even sixth stage, primarily because we do not have an understanding that can help us see and identify and understand things at earlier stages. Modern science monitors patients throughout their lives with bloodwork, scans, etc. and if/when they develop a disease, they administer medicines for suppressing or manage the symptoms of that disease. Identifying the underlying cause is not possible, because the system does not have the tools required for such understanding. And as Vaidya always reminded us, without isolating the underlying cause, it is impossible to correct and address an imbalance at all.
Ayurvedic view of hypothyroidism
As you can guess, it is much easier to reverse imbalances, when we can identify them at their root, than it is to treat a disease. Ayurveda focuses on preventing disease, rather than reacting to it. And this is particularly important in the treatment of thyroid dysfunction.
The major function of the thyroid gland is to regulate the body’s metabolic rate and maintain oxidative metabolism in most of the tissues. According to Ayurveda the metabolic function of the body is related to Agni, and through its management; the normal functioning of the thyroid gland may be achieved. Ayurveda for thyroid offers its holistic approach for a complete cure by various means, which involves cleansing of the body, its macro, and micro-channels (Srotoshodhana), stimulation of the digestion and metabolic system. It also regulates the proper functioning of the excretory system through Vatanulomana. Ayurvedic cleansing of the body through herbal remedies helps balance the body’s energy and restore the normal circulation of thyroxin throughout the body tissues.
It has become common to easily detect thyroid malfunction yet the patient’s thyroid hormones (TSH, T3, T4, thyroid antibodies, etc.) fall within the normal limits. The patient is usually riddled with symptoms of hypothyroidism:
TSH levels are high
The second scenario is where the thyroid hormones are low, and the doctor immediately prescribes thyroid medication, yet the patient presents to me still fully symptomatic, with continuing symptoms of thyroid imbalance even while on the prescribed medication: weight gain, hair loss, depression, swelling in the extremities, heartbeat arrhythmias, constipation, cold hands and feet, muscle cramping, and irregular menstrual cycles.
In Ayurveda treatment for hypothyroid, the protocol is trying to wean off from medication over several weeks’ to months’ time, at the same time address the malfunctioning thyroid. As we go through life, stress can weaken the glandular system and it can malfunction. So proper rest for the body is essential. Only when the body is getting proper rest can and do herbs help to strengthen the glands so they can regain their full function.
Studies in Ayurveda for Hypothyroidism Treatment
1. In a study entitled a clinical study to evaluate the role of Triphaladya Guggulu along with Punarnavadi Kashaya in the management of hypothyroidism.1. Fifteen eligible hypothyroid patients were included in the study whose thyroid-stimulating hormone and serum levels were found to be lower than the normal range. The patients were advised to stop taking all the medications one month prior to ayurvedic treatment. All the patients who met the criteria were subjected to ayurvedic treatment that included Triphladya Guggulu. Vati – 500 mg twice a day with lukewarm water after meal, Punarnavadi decoction 30 ml twice a day before meals. The treatment was continued for 45 days. After the completion of treatment, patients were clinically evaluated for various parameters like thyroid profile, hematological parameters, and lipid profile. Significant improvement was observed on all the parameters, showing that both Triphladya Guggulu and Punarnavadi decoction are effective in the management of hypothyroidism. The results were reported as excellent, marked, moderate, mild with percentage improvement of 33.33%, 53.33%, 6.66%, and 6.66%.
2. In another case study named Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Subclinical Hypothyroid Patients: A Double-Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial.2.
50 subjects with subclinical hypothyroidism were included in the study whose serum level of thyroid-stimulating hormone was found to be elevated slightly. These 50 patients were divided into two groups who were randomized in either the treatment or placebo group. The treatment for 25 patients included treating with Ashwagandha root extract (600 mg daily), and the other 25 patients received starch as a placebo. The treatment was administered for 8 weeks. After which the results were reported were it was found that 8 weeks of treatment with Ashwagandha improved serum TSH levels in a significant manner and proved to be beneficial for normalizing thyroid indices in subclinical hypothyroid patients.
The following herbs and remedies have been researched in depth for thyroid healing:
a) Indian Herbs and Remedies for Hypothyroidism
Ashwagandha is one of the best herbs for both the thyroid and the adrenal glands, however, this herb carries “heating” properties in ayurvedic terms. Ashwagandha cream can be applied to the lower spine twice a day. There are two strengths to the Ashwagandha drops. We use the less potent one (plain Ashwagandha drops) if the thyroid and/or adrenals are a little weak. We use the more potent one (Maha Ashwagandha drops) if the thyroid and adrenals are completely exhausted and the patient can barely function.
b) Shilajit (mineral pitch) is also great for the thyroid gland, yet it too is extremely heating in ayurvedic terms and may give numerous reactions when taken, especially if the patient has high ranjaka pitta or an overworked liver.
Research has been conducted to prove the efficacy of Ashwagandha for normalizing thyroid indices. A double-blind placebo-controlled trial was conducted in India on 50 patients with high TSH levels. To conclude, Ashwagandha was considered safe and effective for the normalization of thyroid functions.
Success Stories in Ayurveda for Hypothyroidism
1. KANCHNAR GUGGULU AND VARUNADI KASHAYA IN HYPOTHYROIDISM – A CASE STUDY. 4. A 45- yr-old female patient was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and complained about puffiness of the face, swelling of body and hoarseness of voice, general debility and lethargy, hair fall, and constipation for 3 months. The patient could not find any relief from hematinics and multivitamins which she was taking for general weakness. She visited an ayurvedic clinic with an aim to find relief from hypothyroidism. A treatment plan was designed to keep the disease and symptoms in mind. She was administered with Tab Kanchnar guggul TDS with lukewarm water, Varunadi kashaya 15ml TDS with water, and Trivrit avleha 1tsp BT with lukewarm water. Along with these she was also advised Pathya and Apathya Pathya like flowers of Kanchnar were advised in her diet in the form of vegetable and curd raita, Apathya like cabbage and cauliflower were excluded from her diet. The patient was then advised to undergo TSH investigation. After 15 days of treatment the intensity of symptoms reduced and she started to feel well. Her TSH total was also reduced and was asked to continue the treatment for a further 15 days.
Integrated Yoga and Naturopathy module in the management of Metabolic Syndrome: A case report.3. A 50-year-old male living a sedentary lifestyle was found to be suffering from metabolic syndrome like obesity, hypothyroidism, and diabetes mellitus was treated with integrated Yoga and Naturopathy (IYN) for 6 weeks. The naturopathic treatment included therapeutic fasting and calorie-restricted diet, hydrotherapy, manipulative therapies, mud therapy, all with a focus on detoxifying the body. An integrated yoga program included asanas, meditation, kriyas, pranayama, relaxation techniques, educational lectures, and yoga-based counseling sessions. After the treatment, the patient reported an improved feeling of wellness and overall functional health. The levels of TSH were also normalized from 6.90mIU/ml to 3.052mIU/mlt reported.
All his parameters were within the normal range at the 12-weeks follow-up, as he had incorporated the lifestyle program into his daily routine. This suggests that lifestyle change by the integration of specific non-drug Yoga and Naturopathic intervention is useful in the management of MetS.
Ayurvedic home remedies for hypothyroidism
You can encounter thyroid-related problems due to missing nutrients in your food, stress, or due to poor lifestyle habits. But one can manage these issues through natural herbal remedies or alternative medicine like Ayurveda. Following these remedies may not help to cure the disease completely but may help prevent it and provide you a good option to face fewer side effects than taking thyroid medicine. A good and healthy diet is essential. Below are some dietary tips for handling a thyroid gland that is debatable: Some of the remedies are listed below-
– A sugar-free diet can boost your immunity and regulate your energy levels helping fight the weakness and fatigue caused due to hypothyroidism.
– Foods that are rich in Vitamin B12 like asparagus, milk, cheese, and fish can help fight the tiredness caused by thyroid disease.
– Limiting foods that contain saturated fat and including a wide range of fruits and vegetables, seafood in your diet can nourish your body with healthy omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
– Eat fresh and wholesome food.
– Drink lots of clean, fresh water.
– Avoid strong tasting food, fried foods, or food, which is quite hot or very cold.
– Consume green Mung beans, cucumber, barley, old rice, and coconut oil.
– Avoid stimulants like chocolate, tea, coffee, yogurt, vinegar, meat.
– Use daily recommended doses of multivitamins and minerals to finish your nutrition requirements.
– Hot ginger tea with basil leaves and peppermint is beneficial
– Avoid smoking, alcohol, and taking a day’s sleep.
– Based on your body type, many Ayurvedic herbs may be used, which can be discussed with your naturopathic doctor. Trikatu, Triphala, Jatarnamshi, Trijata, Shilajit, Shankapushpi, and Brahmi are some of the Ayurvedic herbs that benefit the thyroid gland.
– A body massage and massage of the body called Panchakarma is an Ayurvedic treatment that’s quite valuable, and Nasya (sinus therapy), Dhara over Vishudda Chakra, and Shirodhara are useful thyroid treatments.
– Breathing exercises like Ujjaya, KapalaBhata, and AnulomaViloma are invaluable tools to use. They’re simple to learn and must be practiced daily for ten to fifteen minutes as part of your morning routine.
– Yoga postures called Sarvanga asana, Suryanamaskara, Paschimottan asana, JanuSirsasana and Halasana, and bending positions, are excellent in promoting the correct role of the thyroid gland. Consider practicing yoga and avoid sleeping during the day time.
Ayurveda for thyroid is based on natural healing methods; it aims to provide a natural cure with the use of herbal medicine. Ayurvedic formulations flush out the body toxins and help attain physical and mental regeneration. Ayurvedic formulations have gained much importance in recent times even though the modern drugs are proven to be effective in bringing the TSH level down to normal. With the help of ayurvedic remedies, one can cure hypothyroidism permanently, because Ayurveda focuses on the root cause while treating disease and possess fewer side effects.
Various studies have also proved that an integrated approach of yoga that comprises of physical postures, breathing and meditation can also help to manage thyroid and other related disorders by providing physical and mental well-being.