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Hypothyroidism: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment in Ayurveda

Hypothyroidism is one of the most common thyroid disorders in India which affects one in ten adults. It is estimated that about 42 million people suffer from thyroid disorders in India out of which Hypothyroidism is the most common with a prevalence of 5.4%. The lack of thyroid hormone w.r.t. metabolic demand results in Hypothyroidism. Thyroid hormone is required for the normal functioning of each and every tissue in the body. Hence, its deficiency manifests as a multisystem involvement. 

What are the symptoms of Hyperthyroidism?

  • Puffiness of the face and the eyelids
  • Dry coarse skin
  • Constipation
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle ache
  • Menstrual abnormality such as heavy menstruation in females
  • Hair loss
  • Breathlessness
  • Slow resting heart rate (less than 65)
  • Peripheral edema
  • Weight gain
  • Intolerance to cold
  • Tendency to feel depressed
  • Coarse, brittle and lustreless hair 
  • Vertigo
  • Redness of skin on front of neck

What are the causes of Hypothyroidism?

In most of the cases of Hypothyroidism, a specific cause is not apparent.  It is believed that Hypothyroidism is usually secondary to an auto-immune disorder. In auto-immune disorders, the immune cells do not recognize the cell as “self” and develop an immune response against them. This self-attack increases the inflammation in the body and this inflammation has a profound effect on all aspects of the thyroid metabolism and physiology of the system.

Causes of Hypothyroidism according to Ayurveda:

In majority of the cases, it is caused due to stress. Women suffer from Hypothyroidism more than men. The major function of thyroid gland is to act as a spark for the maintenance of oxidative metabolism in most of the tissues. In Ayurvedic terms, this is attributed as the function of Agni (digestive fire) – system that is related to metabolism. So, according to Ayurveda, the pathogenesis of Hypothyroidism is related to the digestive fire and through its management, wholesome normal activity of the thyroid gland may be achieved.

In Hypothyroidism, the etiological factors mainly vitiate all the three doshas of the body with the predominance of the Kapha dosha and Margavarana janya (hindrance of function) which leads to provoking of Vaata dosha. This tridosha imbalance further deranges the Jatharaagni (digestive fire) which ultimately leads to the derangement of Dhatavaagni (metabolic system) and formation of Aama dosha (toxins). This Aama leads to the blockage of channels of the body (Srotasavrodha), thereby afflicting the contents of channels causing the vitiation of srotas (channels) and dhaatu (tissues) within the system.

Also Read: Cataract: Symptoms, Medicine, Diet and Lifestyle

What is the treatment of Hypothyroidism?

The modern system of medicine is still exploring the treatment for effective management of Hypothyroidism. Modern treatment involves the prescription of synthetic thyroid hormone derivatives that are aimed to bring the value of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) and T4 to normal range but this dosage makes the person drug dependent for lifetime. Moreover, these thyroid pills fail to provide relief in clinical manifestations and the excessive thyroid replacement carries the potential for serious and long-term metabolic complications such as osteoporosis.

Treatment of Hypothyroidism according to Ayurveda:

The Ayurvedic treatment is individualized and based on the root cause of the illness. The objective of Ayurvedic treatment of Hypothyroidism is to address the problem at its root by regulating the digestive fire and decreasing inflammation. The Ayurvedic treatment of Hypothyroidism involves Srotoshodhana (cleansing of micro and macro channels of the body), correcting the immune system, Paachana (digestion), Agnideepana (stimulation of the digestion and metabolism) and Vaatanulomana (proper regulation of the excretory system).

Some Ayurvedic medicines that are useful in the treatment of Hypothyroidism are:

  1.  Triphalaadya Guggulu: Triphalaadya Guggulu is cited in Yogaratanakara Gandmala Chikitsa in Ayurveda. Its formulation includes Guggulu in combination with Trikatu, Triphala and Kanchnaar. Trikatu and Triphala are known to have digestive and Vaata-Kapha pacification properties. These digestive herbs also prevent the formation of toxins (Aama), thereby keeps the digestion in a balanced state. 
  1. Punarnavadi Decoction: Ayurvedic practitioners also prescribe the decoction of Punarnava (Boerhavia diffusa) for the management of Hypothyroidism.
  • Punarnavadi Decoction contains Punarnava, Devdaru and Shunthi along with Guggulu as its adjuvants.
  • The roots of Punarnava have diuretic and laxative properties. Therefore, they are functional in alleviating swelling which is the most common complaint of the patients suffering from Hypothyroidism.
  • Another herb Devadaru possesses anti-inflammatory, diuretic and immune-modulatory properties. The active component present in Devadaru is Vitamin C.
  • Many studies have shown that natural oxidants such as Vitamin C can reverse the thyroid gland damage and optimize the function of thyroid gland. Moreover, Devadaru herb has lekhana (scrapping) action. These properties of Devadaru help in reducing weight in hypothyroid patients.
  • Shunthi (Dry ginger) has pain-alleviating, digestive and Vaata-Kapha pacifying properties which prevents the formation of Aama. The prevention of formation of Aama can correct the pathogenesis at the beginning itself.

Diet: 

1.Prefer balanced and wholesome diet: Food should not be preserved and canned. Try to eat freshly prepared meals having natural ingredients.

  • Avoid the use of hydrogenated oils, vegetable oils, refined flour, artificial colours and flavours.
  • Include sesame oil in cooking as in Ayurveda it is said that sesame oil helps in burning fat quickly and nourishes the muscle tissues as well.
  • Fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables boost the immunity and reduce the effects of Hypothyroidism.
  1.  Avoid soy products: It is best to avoid soy products and soybeans as they contain goitrogenic compounds that interfere with the levels of thyroid hormone in the body and worsen the symptoms of Hypothyroidism.
  1. Include essential oils and fatty acids: The essential oils and fatty acids are important for thyroid health.
  • They promote the function of thyroid hormones and act as immunity enhancers as well. 
  • They are also anti-inflammatory.
  1. Avoid caffeine and sugars: Intake of coffee and high calorie starchy foods should be avoided.
  • Starchy foods reduce the metabolism and aggravate the symptoms.

Thus, the condition of Hypothyroidism depicts a strong correlation between Agnimandya (low digestive fire) and excessive Aama (toxins). It can also be concluded that Ayurvedic treatment of Hypothyroidism is effective in its management without any side effects. Ayurveda offers solutions beyond taking synthetic thyroid medication.

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