Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, occurs when your thyroid gland doesn’t make enough thyroid hormones to keep the body running optimally. People are hypothyroid if they have too little thyroid hormone in the blood.
The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located in the front lower part of your neck just below the larynx. It secretes thyroid hormones, which travel through your bloodstream and are then carried to every cell in the body. Thyroid hormones regulate vital body functions including:
- Heart rate
- Central and peripheral nervous systems
- Muscle strength
- Menstrual cycles
- Body temperature
- Cholesterol levels
If you don’t have enough thyroid hormone, your body makes less energy, and your metabolic processes slow down. Many of the body’s functions slow down when the thyroid does not produce enough of these hormones. These hormones are called triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones are vital for the proper function and process of every cell in our body.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Symptoms usually develop slowly and you may not realize you have a medical problem for several years. The symptoms can vary from person to person, the only way to know you have hypothyroidism is with a simple blood test for TSH. The most common signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Unexplained weight gain or losing weight
- Carpal tunnel syndrome (pain, numbness, and a tingling sensation in the hand and fingers)
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Impaired memory
- Dry skin and hair
- Hair Loss
- Sensitivity to cold temperature
- Changes in the menstrual cycle
- Joint and muscle pain
- Hoarse voice
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Causes of Hypothyroidism
An underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism results when your thyroid gland does not produce enough of the hormone. There can be many reasons why the cells in the thyroid gland can’t make enough thyroid hormone.
The primary causes of hypothyroidism can include:
- Thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid).
- Radioactive iodine treatment (Treatment of hyperthyroidism causes the levels of your thyroid hormone to remain low permanently)
- Radiation Therapy for cancer and surgical removal of the thyroid.
- Iodine deficiency (not having enough iodine — a mineral your thyroid uses to make hormones in your body).
- Hereditary conditions (a medical condition passed down through your family).
- The autoimmune disease known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – occurs when your immune system produces antibodies that attack your own tissues.
- Medicines: certain medicines (amiodarone, lithium, interferon-alpha, and interleukin-2) to treat heart problems, psychiatric conditions, and cancer can sometimes affect thyroid hormone production.
- Pituitary gland or hypothalamus disorder: The pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain and regulates the thyroid. Damage to the pituitary gland may lead to an underactive thyroid.
- Congenital hypothyroidism, or hypothyroidism that is present in children from birth
- Pregnancy: Some women develop hypothyroidism during or after pregnancy (postpartum thyroiditis). Left untreated, hypothyroidism increases the risk of miscarriage, premature delivery and preeclampsia — a serious blood pressure condition that occurs during the last three months of pregnancy.
If you have symptoms of hypothyroidism, your doctor will order blood tests to check hormone levels. These may include:
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
- T4 (thyroxine)
According to Ayurveda, the thyroid imbalance in a body occurs when the body’s Ojas, the Ayurvedic essence of health, is depleted. Ayurveda can control the body from pernicious effects of thyroid imbalance by including these things in daily diet:
1. Walnut Oil (Akhrot Thailam)
Cold-pressed walnut oil is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6, which reduces inflammation and often boost energy levels. Walnuts and walnut oil contain selenium, an essential mineral which has antioxidant properties that may protect cells from damage and plays a vital role in the correct functioning of the thyroid.
Massaging walnut oil before sleeping at night into the neck area is a popular treatment for thyroid issues.
2. Coriander seeds
Coriander seed water is highly effective for the thyroid due to its high mineral and vitamin content. It also works well as an Ayurvedic detox for many lifestyle diseases like diabetes, cholesterol, obesity, indigestion, hormonal imbalance, joint pain, acidity, and excessive thirst.
To make coriander water, soak 1 teaspoon of ground coriander seeds in 1 glass of water overnight. In the morning boil it on a low flame till it becomes half the quantity. Strain when it cools down and enjoys this aromatic drink. Consume it in the morning 30 minutes before breakfast for 3 months. Drinking thyroid water every morning not only reduces thyroid symptoms but also promotes overall health.
Moringa helps to naturally balance your hormones. Ayurveda mentions the use of moringa in the treatment of several diseases. Moringa leaves are rich in Vitamins A, B, C, and E that assist in thyroid hormone production and are also abundant in minerals like calcium, potassium, zinc, selenium, magnesium, and Iron.
- Selenium deficiency is often associated with an increased rate of thyroid disease. Moringa contains 10mcg of selenium per 100g.
- Zinc plays an important role in thyroid hormone production by converting T4 into T3 and has been shown to increase T3 levels in the body. 100g of moringa contains 600mcg of zinc.
- Moringa is a natural energy booster, that helps in combating fatigue and lethargy.
4. Coleus forskohlii
Coleus belongs to the mint family and is thought to stimulate thyroid functioning by increasing thyroid hormone production. The extract of coleus forskohlii root stimulates the generation of T4 and T3 thyroid hormones via TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) produced by the pituitary gland. In addition to this, it has been shown effective in weight loss, psoriasis, and glaucoma.
Ginger is rich in essential minerals like potassium and magnesium and has anti-inflammatory properties that help combat inflammation, one of the primary causes of thyroid issues. Ginger can help aid digestion, boost metabolism, and combat constipation. Boil some ginger in water and drink it like tea.
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Curcumin is the active compound in the spice, turmeric, which is a staple of Indian curries. It acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Turmeric can help in reducing inflammation throughout the body. Consuming turmeric daily has also been effective in reducing weight, lowering cholesterol, and balancing hormones related to thyroid conditions. Turmeric has a high level of antioxidants which protects the thyroid.
Add ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder and a pinch of ground black pepper powder (for better absorption of Curcumin) into 1 cup of boiling water. Once the water cools down, add ½ tsp virgin coconut oil. Consume this drink in the morning on empty stomach.
Natural and Home Remedies
Diet plays a key role in the overall function and health of your thyroid. Whether you have a normally functioning thyroid or a thyroid disorder, balanced nutrition is important. Here are a few things which you can do to overcome hypothyroid conditions.
- Goitrogens can affect thyroid health when eaten in high amounts such as soy products, cruciferous vegetables, sweet potatoes, turnip, cassava, strawberries, peach, and peanuts. Moderate consumption of these as a part of a wholesome diet is recommended for everyone.
- One should avoid eating raw cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and kale.
- Tannin and caffeine-based drinks like tea and coffee do hinder thyroid healing. Keep it to a minimum.
- Avoid all forms of processed foods, sugar, carbonated, Trans fat foods, and alcohol that can lead to increased inflammation in the body. Inflammation can slow down the conversion of T4 to T3.
- Avoiding Gluten foods in the diet may help alleviate some symptoms of Hashimoto’s.
- Avoid Iodized Refined salt where Iodine is synthetically added. The refining process includes the use of many chemicals which may affect the hormonal balance. Instead switch to rock salt which naturally contains iodine.
- Consume more dairy products (Milk, cheese, and yogurt are very beneficial for the thyroid as they are high in iodine), low glycaemic index foods, protein foods, Iodine-rich foods, and selenium-rich foods.
- Virgin coconut oil is high in healthy saturated fat, lauric acid, and medium-chain fatty acids that stimulate metabolism and boost energy. Cold-pressed virgin Coconut oil, when taken in a non-heated form, helps lose weight, increases metabolism, and balances body temperature.
2. VITAMINS AND MINERALS
Iodine: Thyroid hormones require iodine for production, the thyroid gland takes iodine from various food items to produce thyroid hormones. The various sources of iodine include iodized salt, dairy products, meat, poultry, shellfish, saltwater fish, edible seaweed, lentils, iron-rich foods like bananas, carrots, eggs, and whole grains.
Women need more iodine when they are pregnant because the baby gets iodine from the mother’s diet. If you are pregnant, talk with your health care provider about how much iodine you need.
Selenium: According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), selenium is a trace element that plays a part in thyroid hormone metabolism. Selenium facilitates the conversion of T4 to the active T3. Seafood, organ meats, nuts, chicken, cottage cheese, eggs, tuna, brown rice, sunflower seeds, beans, mushrooms, oats, and spinach among others may boost the supply of selenium in your body. 1 Brazil nut a day or 3 Brazil nuts a week can help overcome this but it shouldn’t be consumed in excess,
Zinc promotes the production of T3. Whole grains, milk products, baked beans, chickpeas, and nuts (such as cashews and almonds) also contain zinc.
Vitamin D: The Deficiency of vitamin D can lead to thyroid problems. The human body synthesizes vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. Ensure that you get a minimum of 15 minutes of sunlight daily. This will also lead to better calcium absorption, stimulates thyroid glands, and good immunity. Some foods that are rich in Vitamin D are fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, dairy products, orange juice, and egg yolks.
Vitamin B Complex are essential for proper thyroid function. Vitamin B12 is especially instrumental in helping people with hypothyroidism. A lack of B-12 can cause symptoms like fatigue. Including eggs, meat, fish, legumes, asparagus, sesame seeds, whole grains, beans, bananas, milk, and nut in daily diet might help with a steady supply of Vitamin B.
Vitamin A: Eat foods high in vitamin A, such as spinach, and most dark green leafy vegetables, as well as fruits like apples and bananas.
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3. Regular Exercises
Exercises help in releasing Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) which is released by the pituitary gland. Yoga techniques increase the circulation of the thyroid gland and activate the pituitary gland. All back bending asanas are important to increase your energy and for the normal functioning of your thyroid gland.
7 – 8 hours of sleep in a day is required to release T3 and T4 hormones. Also, stress is the major cause of all endocrine problems. The release of TSH and T4 are highly affected because of stress. Meditation helps our mind and body system to be calm and alleviate stress, anxiety and lessen symptoms of hypothyroidism.
5. Be smart with cookware
Stop using plastic containers, nonstick, and aluminium cookware, as they hinder hormone function. The chemicals used in the nonstick cookwares are responsible for causing thyroid dysfunction by interfering with iodine absorption. Instead switch to glass, clay, brass, stainless steel, ceramic, or cast iron cookwares as it will not leach chemicals and metals into your system.
Millions of people worldwide are taking thyroid medications on a daily basis and going on with their lives without any problem or inconvenience. The thyroid can be managed to an extent by changing your lifestyle. By incorporating all these remedies and tips, we can boost our thyroid health. That will not only help your body in a long run but also decrease your dependence on medications. Talk to your doctor about any treatment you’re considering before you start it.
Stay Happy! Stay Healthy!
Disclaimer: Content on this site is for reference purposes and is not intended to substitute for advice given by a physician, pharmacist, or other licensed health-care professional. You should not use this information for self-diagnosis or for treating a health problem or disease. Contact your health-care provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem. Please take professional guidance or a doctor’s advice before taking these medicines as every individual is different and circumstances are different for all. We by no means will be held responsible for any bad effects that can come out of using these medicines.