Depression, weight gain and thinning hair? All these or any of these can happen to you if you suffer from thyroid disease.
Thyroid – you must be familiar with the term. It is a small gland in the shape of a butterfly, situated at the centre of your neck.
Experts say there are about 59 million Americans, suffering from thyroid disorders and the number is growing worldwide. It is indeed alarming that many of them are not getting properly diagnosed and treated. Blame it on lack of awareness, it is the patient who bears the brunt.
Know the common types of thyroid disorders so that you can understand the forms of treatment better.
What are the common types of Thyroid Disorders?
- Hashimoto’s Disease
This is also known as “chronic lymphatic thyroiditis” and is the most common type of Thyroid disease. Though it can occur in any age group, but most affected are the women in middle age group.
Hashimoto’s disease occurs when the body’s immune system starts attacking the thyroid gland, which restricts the gland’s capacity to produce hormones. Some of the symptoms might include weight gain, constipation, fatigue, depression, too much cold (intolerance), dry hair and skin etc.
- Grave’s Disease
Grave’s disease is a type of hyperthyroidism, which basically means, over production of thyroid hormones. The procedure for occurrence is same as in Hashimoto’s disease, i.e. the immune system attacks the thyroid gland mistakenly, thereby causing it to become overactive.
The unique trait of Grave’s disease is that it is hereditary in nature. The symptoms might include altered menstrual cycle, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, sleeping disorders, irregular heart rate, excessive sweating etc.
- Thyroid Nodules
These nodules form on the thyroid gland, in a solid or fluid form, which can be cancerous in some cases. The causes are not known, but mostly, it is caused due to the deficiency of iodine.
Some of the symptoms might include clammy skin, increased appetite, nervousness, weight loss, high pulse rate etc. The symptoms might reverse if these nodules are in any way associated to Hashimoto’s disease, leading to weight gain, hair loss etc.
This is one form of thyroid disease which is mainly because of iodine deficiency in daily diet. This is also the most common type of thyroid disorder worldwide. Goiter is the result of over production of thyroid that leads to a condition of hyperthyroidism.
Apart from iodine deficiency, goiter can also be due to family medical history, pregnancy or exposure to radiation. However, the main reason is always lack of iodine in diet.
On a broader scale, thyroid diseases are classified into Hypothyroidism (under production of hormones by thyroid gland) and Hyperthyroidism (over production of hormones by thyroid gland).
Let us look into the Ayurvedic treatment, for these two types of thyroid:
Can thyroid disorder be treated in Ayurveda?
In the ancient science of Ayurveda, there is a similar concept of thyroidism by the name of galaganda.
Ayurvedic treatment of hypothyroidism involves the removal of kapha element that is covering the pitta element. It means restoring the element of Agni through this process, as in Ayurveda Agni is responsible for all the metabolic functions of human body. Removing kapha from pitta corrects digestion and metabolism, thereby restoring the normal level of hormone secretion by thyroid gland.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism, as you know, occurs in the case when thyroid gland is unable to produce hormones, or its capability is restricted due to the attack on immune system, as in case of Hashimoto’s disease or Grave’s disease. The primary cause is of course, the deficiency of iodine. However, there are certain other reasons like certain medications.
Some of the foods recommended by Ayurveda to curb hypothyroidism are:
- Moong Daal
- Coconut Oil
- Warm Water
- Iodine Rich foods like fish, white onions etc.
- Fresh vegetables
Apart from adequate consumption of these foods, people suffering from hypothyroidism should avoid eating foods that are very heavy and sour like fast food, lemon, lime, rhubarb, tamarind, curd, citrus fruits etc.
According to the science of Ayurveda, herbs help in controlling hypothyroidism. Here is a list of herbs that are beneficial in treating the symptoms of hypothyroidism:
- Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera):
A multi-purpose herb, it helps the body in a multitude of ways. Hypothyroidism, in certain cases includes symptoms like stress, memory loss etc. Fatigue, memory, and bodily weakness are a result of stress induced neurological disorders, and it is here that this herb plays a vital role.
Ashwagandha helps in treating these symptoms of thyroid disease. It is a great modulator for you endocrine system. It boosts thyroid function.It has various antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, providing strength and immunity to the body. It also nourishes the brain and sharpens its abilities.
- Amalaki (Emblica Officinalis):
This is another natural antioxidant which is known for its rejuvenating properties. It regenerates cells and helps in removal of free radicals from the body. It aids the proper functioning of the liver, controls blood sugar, and soothes hyperacidity, thereby aiding digestion. This herb not only improves metabolism, but also helps in developing glowing, healthy and youthful glow of the skin that helps counter dry and itchy skin in thyroid.
- Sonth (Zingiber Officinale):
This herb is known to boost your appetite. It also works soothingly on emotional and nervous ailments, which indirectly has a positive effect on the body system as a whole. It therefore helps in countering sleep problems and anxiety experienced in thyroidism.
- Guggul (Commiphora Mukul):
This is one herb widely known for its rejuvenating and purifying properties, as it is known to revitalize cells. It is used in many health tonics and is especially useful and effective in case of people who have been suffering from thyroid. This is a herb that prevents weight loss, promotes metabolism, curbs pre menstrual syndrome and bloating which are common symptoms of thyroidism . It aids in many more ways to improve metabolism.
- Gandhak (Sulphur Purified):
Gandhak, or purified sulphur is known for its moisturizing and hydrating properties, in both Ayurveda and other sciences. It is an excellent topical exfoliate.
It helps in the generation of a healthier, fresher and younger looking skin, by removing the dead surface on the skin. It is one excellent remedy that flushes out all possible toxins from the body and helps treat itching and dry skin commonly found in thyroid patients.
You can also try some Homemade Ayurvedic Recipes that control the condition of Hypothyroidism. Some of these are:
- Prepare a mixture of black pepper, long pepper and dry ginger powder, taking all three in equal quantities. This Ayurvedic remedy is to be consumed twice daily, in the dosage of half a teaspoon, with warm water.
- Mulethi (Licorice) and black pepper, chewed daily in the ratio of 2 parts is to 1 part, prove to be another excellent ayurvedic therapy in dealing with the condition of hypothyroidism.
Believe it or not, but treatment for hypothyroidism can also be found in the art of Yoga. It not only improves blood circulation, but also nourishes the cells, thereby reducing the effect of abnormal hormonal secretions by the gland:
This is particularly beneficial in order to maintain a healthy metabolism, which is a main issue in case of people suffering from Hypothyroidism. Pranayama is a known cure for two of the worst symptoms of hypothyroidism- inflammation and malfunctioning of the thyroid gland.
Inflammation happens when the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, and malfunctioning is the side effects of many medications. Pranayama is known cure to reverse both these conditions.
Hypothyroidism is accompanied by various symptoms like abnormal weight gain, spasms, headaches, depression. Yoga comes in as an Ayurvedic cure in these cases, by stretching and relaxing your muscles and making them suppler.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Hyperthyroidism
While hypothyroidism is caused by under production of hormones by the thyroid gland, hyperthyroidism is caused due to the exact opposite reason: over production of hormones.
As per the principles of Ayurvedic science, hyperthyroidism is caused by the impaired digestion of food. This is what leads to blockage of channels, subsequently unbalancing the normal functioning of thyroid gland.
Some of the foods that can curb hyperthyroidism are:
- Fruits like peaches and pears.
- Cruciferous vegetables cabbages, kale, mustard greens and sprouts.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine products, as these tend to aggravate the condition of a person suffering from hyperthyroidism.
- Foods rich in iodine and a well balanced diet.
You can use the following herbs that help in curbing hyperthyroidism:
- Brahmi (Bacopa Monneiri)
This is one herb that has not only been scientifically approved for having successfully dealt with stress, anxiety and depression commonly found in people with thyroid disease, but also in curing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
It is rich in antioxidants that remove toxins in body, nourishing blood cells. This is also the reason why this herb is used in medicinal preparations. It helps in improving both the mental and emotional capabilities. It helps treat symptoms of stress induced headaches, anxiety and depression in thyroid patients. This herb acts as a tranquilizer, and recommended for people who have been suffering from ADD.
- Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera)
While Brahmi helps in relieving a person of mental and emotional stress, Ashwagandha helps in treating the physical aspects of hyperthyroidism like constipation, diarrhea etc. This is because Ashwagandha is a herb which affects and heals the whole human body.
The stress and anxiety induced by thyroidism, often take a toll on our lifestyle and effect our balanced diet. This leads to most of the physical repercussions of the disease and that is where this herb proves beneficial.
Ashwagandha is both anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. Also, it helps nourish the brain, making it stronger and sharper, facilitating and enhancing its functioning in the human body. You can find many Ashwagandha capsules in medical stores.
- Shatavari (Asparagus Racemosus)
This herb is known to cure gastric and nervous disorders, which are prone to pop up during thyroidism, as you can decipher from the aforementioned symptoms of the disease.
This is specially a great herb when it comes to treating the symptoms that effect females. It is an excellent herb for healing female health and sexual system as a whole.
Fatigue and loss of libido are common symptoms of thyroidism. Shatavari not only increases the libido, but is very effective in reducing the stress induced by daily work at home or work. Shatavari is a herb known to increase stamina, energy levels and boost your confidence if you have thyroid disease. This is also available in the form capsules, at any medical store.
Apart from these, try these lifestyle changes to take care of the condition of hyperthyroidism.
- Consume more fruits like pears and peaches as these have proven effects on preventing hyperthyroidism.
- Fill up your platter with cruciferous vegetables like mustard greens, cabbage, Brussels sprouts reduce the over activity of thyroid gland, thereby controlling hyperthyroidism.
- Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol, as it can increase and worsen your condition.
- In the end, all you need is a proper and well-balanced diet.
As is the case of hypothyroidism, here too, yoga can play an essential role in improving your condition and getting rid of the disease. Three neck exercises, can play an important role here:
1.Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana)
This is nothing but a methodical and periodical pressing of the thyroid gland in the form of a yoga exercise. In this way, it not only brings the thyroid back to its normal course of function, but also facilitates the proper functions of pineal and pituitary glands.
- Lie flat on your back.
- Raise your legs straight up and keep moving them towards yourself in one single movement, till the point your feet can touch the ground behind your head.
- Now move your legs off the ground, and rest them at right angles, in line with your torso.
- In this way, the only parts of your body that would be touching the surface would be your shoulders, neck and head, thereby supporting your weight.
- Keep your whole body in this pose for a few minutes, before returning to normal posture.
2.Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
This pose should immediately be followed after the shoulder stand. This involves the stretching of the thyroid muscles and relaxing them.
- Lie on your back and cross your legs in the same posture, arching your head and neck backwards.
- Remain in this posture for 5 minutes before relaxing.
3. Legs Up The Wall Pose (Viparitakarani)
This is one pose that can be done absolutely in your comfort zone, anywhere, even while lying in bed. It improves the efficiency of thyroid gland, thereby improving its efficiency.
- Lie on your back with your legs up and against the wall.
- Make sure that your legs and thighs completely rest against the wall, at right angles to the remaining body which is lying horizontally on the resting surface (floor, bed etc.)
- Be in this pose for around 5-10 minutes, before relaxing.
While these yoga poses will help you in treating hyperthyroidism, shoulder stand and fish pose are also effective in reversing the symptoms and effects of hypothyroidism. This makes these yoga postures the most practiced and effective yoga treatments for thyroid conditions.
The best way to deal with thyroid conditions is to identify its common symptoms, get proper diagnosis and get medical help as early as possible. You may adopt an Ayurvedic line of treatment by consulting an Ayurvedic expert. Follow the given diet and exercises. It will facilitate the process of your recovery. Stay safe and healthy!