The thyroid gland produces vital hormones that help our body to function. Its primary role is to regulate metabolism and energy use. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormone.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
- Iodine Deficiency
- Autoimmune condition — the most common cause of primary hypothyroidism is an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s disease.
- Physical and mental stress — The physical body becomes stressed when it is not able to accommodate lifestyle factors such as fast food, disturbed sleep patterns, and environmental risk factors. Mental stress can arise from work pressure, emotional weakness, grief, or family disputes.
- Elevated cortisol levels – Cortisol is a hormone which, under normal conditions, acts as a protective mechanism against stress. When stress is prolonged, cortisol causes the tissues to no longer respond to thyroid hormone signals. Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) becomes elevated while T4 and T3 may still show within the normal range.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Fatigue and sluggishness
- Pale, dry, skin; puffy face
- Hoarse voice
- Elevated blood cholesterol
- Unexplained weight gain and/or fluid retention
- Muscle ache, tenderness, and stiffness, especially in the shoulders and hip
- Pain and stiffness in the joints, and swelling in the small joints
- Excessive and prolonged menstrual bleeding
Ayurvedic Management of Hypothyroidism
According to Ayurveda, the the pitta dosha controls thyroid function. Pitta (fire principle) is responsible for all of the metabolic actions carried out by the thyroid hormones. In hypothyroidism, coating by the kapha dosha and fat tissues prevents the pitta dosha from functioning correctly at the cellular level. The treatment principle is to remove the coating and enable the fire principle to perform its normal role in the metabolism.
The thyroid’s function in the metabolism is related to digestive strength (agni) — both within the gland (as T3 and T4 hormones), and at the cellular level.
We recommend food, medicines, and treatment procedures which kindle the agni. In Ayurveda we name the qualities: appetizing (deepana), digestive (pachana), hot (ushna), penetrating (theekshna), minute (sukshma), and scraping (lekhana).
Ayurvedic treatment for hypothyroidism involves detoxification to clear the channels, balance body energies and restore circulation of thyroxin.
Herbal preparations are administered to increase the digestive fire at a cellular level, and restore proper metabolism.
Panchakarma for hypothyroidism
Ayurveda addresses the root cause of the imbalance by recommending panchakarma/cellular detox as the first line of treatment. The treatment protocol and duration is different for every individual. Panchakarma is done under the supervision of an experienced ayurvedic doctor and therapists. Some of the major therapies under panchakarma include:
Virechana or therapeutic purgation – prescribes herbal purgatives that produce a gentle medicated diarrhoea. It removes the toxins (ama) lying in the upper part of digestive tract, the principle home of the digestive fire (agni).
Vasti or medicated enema – cleanses the lower alimentary canal as well as the subtle channels all over the body. It is an effective method of removing the ama/toxins caused by kapha imbalance and restoring balance.
Nasya – a few drops of medicated oil are introduced to the nostrils and followed by facial massage and steaming.
Udwartana (medicated herbal paste massage) –is performed by scrubbing a herbal mixture all over the body followed by herbalised steam sauna. It is effective as a fat burning massage.
Ayurvedic treatments assist with the proper secretion of hormones and encourage proper absorption of nutrients.
Ayurvedic herbal remedies
Ayurvedic herbs boost the immune system and open the body channels that control healthy metabolism.
Depending on your body type, there are many ayurvedic herbs that can be used to treat hypothyroidism. Trikatu, Triphala, Jatarnamshi, Trijata, Shilajit, Shankapushpi and Brahmi are just some of the ayurvedic herbs which may benefit the thyroid. Some of the compound herbs commonly used are Kanchanar guggulu, Trikatu, and Varanadi Kashayam.
Ayurvedic diet recommended for hypothyroidism
Diet is the first medicine in Ayurvedic medicine. Here are some dietary tips for managing hypothyroidism.
- Eat fresh and healthy food.
- Drink plenty of fresh, clean water.
- Avoid fried foods, strong tasting food, or food that is very hot or very cold.
- Avoid stimulants such as coffee, chocolate, tea, yoghurt, vinegar, and meat.
- Use whole grains such as green mung beans, rice, barley.
- Consume healthy fats such as ghee and coconut oil.
- Drink hot ginger tea with basil leaves and peppermint to support your digestive fire.
- Avoid smoking, alcohol, and taking an afternoon sleep.
This article is for general awareness and understanding about the ayurvedic view on hypothyroidism. Ayurvedic herbs and treatments can be individually created for you depending upon the type and severity of your problems. We consider your dosha imbalances, and your body type.
For more information on maintaining proper function of the thyroid gland, book a consultation today at Ayurvedic Wellness Centre, Brisbane or Gold Coast.