Hyperthyroidism Treatment in Ayurveda involves adopting the best diet and lifestyle that can naturally remove the root cause of an overactive thyroid.
Depending on the stage of hyperthyroidism, you may also require support of herbal formulations and Ayurvedic therapies, which will further speed up your recovery. Now, let’s take a look at what is hyperthyroidism.
Approximately 1% of the population suffers from hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces thyroxine hormone in much higher quantities than is required. It includes many conditions such as GRAVE’S diseases, Goitre and Thyroiditis.
While Thyroxine is one of the vital hormones for the functioning of the physical and mental systems, its excess wreaks havoc on our well-being.
Too much thyroxine over stimulates all the thyroid functions such as metabolic rate and heartbeat. It also leads to excessive sensitivity in the nervous system leading to irritability, instability in the mind, and weakness of muscles.
So you see, how excess of an essential hormone can create serious health symptoms!
In this post we will look into hyperthyroidism treatment options as suggested in Ayurveda, best foods, herbs and lifestyle tips that will help you to support natural functioning of thyroid gland. Let’s get started!
Functioning of Thyroid Gland
In normal operation, the small butterfly-shaped thyroid gland located at the front of our neck produces two main hormones T3 and T4.
The thyroid gland also produces another hormone calcitonin that helps in regulating the quantity of calcium in the blood.
- Thyroxine (T-4)
- Tri-iodothyronine (T-3)
The thyroid hormones help in maintaining our body temperature, our heartbeat and our metabolism via the fats, proteins and carbohydrate metabolic pathways.
In simple terms it means that the thyroid gland acts as the energy regulator switch of our body.
Its functions affect almost all organs within the body with the exception of the brain, spleen, ovaries, testes and the thyroid gland itself.
Hyperthyroidism | An Ayurvedic Perspective
According to Ayurveda, our state of good health is directed by balanced functioning of the three dosha – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These are the dynamic energies that regulate each and every functioning of our body and mind.
The three dosha create an inter related cascade of functioning such that every action in our body or mind impacts another action somewhere else.
Hyperthyroidism in Ayurveda is considered to be an aggravation of Pitta Dosha and Vata Dosha and vitiation of Kapha Dosha. Since Pitta is the energy of metabolism, and Vata, in turn, guides the nervous and circulatory functions – we see symptoms related to the excessive presence of both of these energies.
In Ayurvedic texts, the condition of a hyperactive thyroid is related to Ati Karshya. Thyroid disorders are also linked to galaganda and gandamala.
These conditions are associated with swelling of the thyroid gland. We can link this up with goiter, which sometimes presents in the case of thyroid disorders.
The role of the doshas in excessive thyroid activity
- The Pitta dosha
It controls transformations. As such, just like the thyroid gland, it controls metabolism.
When the Pitta fire(Agni), burns too high, metabolism occurs at a very high rate. This will lead to the symptoms as were listed up above. The quick metabolism will, of course, cause other complications.
2. Vata Dosha
It contributes to the overactivity of the thyroid glands indirectly. It does this through a branch of the Vata dosha called Udana Vata.
Udana Vata is located in the chest, but it can move downwards and upwards, to the neck and to the belly. At the neck, it is capable of affecting the thyroid gland. In the stomach, however, it interferes with the functioning of the Jatharagni (the digestive fire).
3. Kapha Dosha
A combination of increased Pitta and Vata in the stomach will depress the Kapha dosha. Kapha is a cool dosha that can protect the stomach area.
However, when it has been depressed, the digestive fire burns unhindered. This can further increase metabolism.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
When the thyroid gland is overactive, it can lead to multiple health problems that often overlap with nutritional deficiencies. This makes a direct diagnosis of hyperthyroidism extremely difficult.
Additionally, medications such as beta-blockers that are used to treat high blood pressure and other problems, can disguise some signs of hyperthyroidism.
When the thyroid gland is working excessively, it swells into a goiter, which can be formed symmetrical or one-sided. Your eyes may appear more prominent causing exophthalmos, and it is known as Graves’ disease.
Signs and symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
- Sudden weight loss without any change in eating habits. This is usually accompanied by excessive hunger.
- Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia) or throbbing of your heart (palpitations). Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), more than 100 times in one minute.
- Increased appetite
- Nervousness, anxiety, and irritability
- A tremor occurs in your hands and fingers
- Changes in bowel patterns, mostly more frequent bowel movements
- Excessive sweating
- Changes in the menstrual cycle
- Decrease in concentration
- Low tolerance to heat
- A swelled large thyroid gland (goiter), which may appear at the base of your neck
- Fatigue, muscle weakness, and restlessness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Skin thinning
- Hair loss
It is a hereditary condition, and it mostly occurs in women than men. This disease creates antibodies that stimulate the thyroid gland to produce more thyroid hormones.
Signs of overactive thyroid in the Elderly
Older adults may not have any significant Hyperthyroidism symptoms. Or they could have subtle signs such as an increase in heart rate, heat intolerance, heavy sweating, and getting tired by doing ordinary activities.
Other conditions such as atrial fibrillation occur, which is a dangerous condition as it can cause strokes and congestive heart failure. That’s why it is quite important to keep an eye on the thyroid gland functioning as you grow older.
Causes of Hyperthyroidism
Some of the primary causes of an overactive thyroid are as follows.
- Excessive iodine in the body
- Tumors in the ovaries or testes
- Thyroiditis or inflammation of the thyroid, which let T4 and T3 leak out of the gland
- Formation of benign tumors in the thyroid or pituitary gland
- Intake of large amounts of tetra-iodothyronine through diet or medication
- Health conditions such as Graves’ disease, Plummer’s disease (toxic multinodular goiter), toxic adenoma, and thyroiditis, can also lead to this condition.
When to visit a doctor?
You should consult a doctor if:
- you lose weight rapidly without making any changes in your diet or lifestyle,
- experience a rapid heartbeat,
- notice a swelling at the base of your neck,
- unusual sweating or other related symptoms.
You need to describe all the changes you experienced. Additionally, don’t forget to tell about Grave’s disease running in your family or blood relations, should it be the case.
Hyperthyroidism Health Risks
Too many thyroid hormones in your body pose multiple health risks that you need to be careful of:
1. Heart problems
Heart problem is one of the most serious complications of hyperthyroidism. The problems include a rapid heart rate, congestive heart failure in which the heart fails to circulate the required amount of blood to fulfill the needs of the body, and a heart rhythm disorder known as atrial fibrillation.
2. Eye problems
People with Graves’ disease get eye problems, for example, bulging, sensitivity to light, red or swollen eyes, and blurring or double vision and if treated then vision loss will occur.
3. Brittle bones
Untreated hyperthyroidism can cause osteoporosis in which the bones become weak and brittle. The excess thyroid hormone mostly obstructs your body’s capability to add calcium to your bones.
4. Red, swollen skin
In a few cases, people with Graves’ disease have redness and swelling on the skin.
5. Thyrotoxic crisis
Due to hyperthyroidism, thyrotoxic crisis occurs. In this condition, you will have a sudden increase in symptoms like fever, rapid pulses, and even delirium.
Hyperthyroidism Treatment in Modern Medicine
The treatment of Hyperthyroidism in modern medicine includes anti-thyroid medications and radioactive iodine to diminish the production of thyroid hormones.
Besides this, surgery of thyroid gland is another option in severe cases.
These treatments for hyperthyroidism depend on the person’s age, physical condition, the basic cause of the hyperthyroidism, personal choice and the severity of the condition:
1. Radioactive iodine
It has been used for more than 60 years successfully. The drug taken orally is absorbed by the thyroid gland, which helps the gland to contract and reduce the symptoms. It takes three to six months to show the result.
This treatment slows down the thyroid activity significantly; making the thyroid gland underactive (hypothyroidism) and finally, you may require medication regularly to reduce the secretion of thyroxine.
The beta blockers treat high blood pressure. They don’t help in decreasing thyroid levels; rather they can lessen a fast heart rate and check palpitations. Therefore, you may need to take them till your thyroid levels are around the normal state.
3. Anti-thyroid medications
The anti-thyroid medications prevent the secretion of excess thyroid hormones. Within 6 to 12 weeks, the symptoms start improving. However, treatment may be continued for at least one year and often longer according to the necessity.
The side effects of these medications include liver damage and risk of frequent infections. Also, you may be prone to allergies, fever, skin rashes, hives or joint pain.
4. Surgery (Thyroidectomy)
It involves removal of part or most of the thyroid gland. Surgery may damage the vocal cords and parathyroid glands which help in controlling the level of calcium in the blood.
Additionally, you will require permanent treatment with levothyroxine (Levoxyl, Synthroid, others) to provide normal levels of thyroid hormone to your body. If the parathyroid glands are also removed, then you’ll need medication to maintain the calcium levels normal in your blood.
Ayurvedic Natural Treatment for Hyperthyroidism
An Ayurvedic treatment plan for overactive thyroid condition includes various herbs, foods and lifestyle changes including pranayama and yoga.
Thus, Ayurvedic treatment for hyperthyroidism is holistic and natural way to support the functioning of thyroid hormones and to regulate the imbalance in the doshas.
When you follow these, you can balance the functioning of thyroid hormones and treat the root cause of overactive thyroid as in this case.
1. Ayurvedic Diet and Best Foods for Hyperthyroidism Treatment
Your diet and foods that you consume should help you to balance your digestive fire and clear up the blocked channels that triggered hyperthyroidism in the first place.
Here is a list of foods that help to balance thyroid hormone functioning. These foods and dietary habits also promote balance of vata and pitta dosha.
1. Worst Foods that You Should Avoid for Hyperthyroidism Treatment
According to Ayurveda sour, salty, and bitter tastes can aggravate Pitta and Vata dosha. Hence, foods that are naturally tasting any of these should be consumed in moderation.
Additionally, you should avoid processed foods and all the stimulants that create toxins in the body. Here’s a list of foods and dietary habits that you should avoid:
Dietary Habits to Avoid
- Avoid raw, stale and burnt foods
- Stay away from alcohol and smoking
- Avoid nightshades such as tomatoes, white potatoes, peppers, and eggplant
- Reduce and remove caffeine
- Avoid skipping meals or staying hungry for too long
- Fermented and excessively sour foods
- Avoid acidic and inflammatory foods
- Reduce and remove hot, spicy foods
- Avoid all raw and cold foods
Avoid the goiterogens as cruciferous vegetables or consume them in moderation. They should always be cooked and not consumed raw.
- Mustard greens
Processed Foods and Stimulants
- Nicotine (from cigarettes)
- white bread,
- refined flour,
- red meat,
- refined oil, margarine, fried foods
- stale foods
2. Best Foods and Diet for Hyperthyroidism Treatment
Sweet taste “madhur rasa” pacifies both vata and pitta doshas and it also helps to promote Kapha dosha. That’s why naturally sweet foods should form the basis of a hyperthyroidism diet. These food items are best eaten when properly cooked, steamed or stir-fried.
Also, you should support digestive fire with appropriate herbs and dietary habits that are listed below:
Some of them are:
Get omega 3 fatty acids from plant based foods as nuts (cashew, walnut, and almond), seeds and fatty fish to support healthy hormone function.
Omega 3 fats are a good tonic for the brain and are good muscle relaxants too. Nuts and seeds also contain the minerals magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin E. They pacify all three dosha, yet may aggravate Kapha when taken in excess.
Omega 3 foods act as antioxidants that help relieve oxidative stress of the brain cells. This prevents oxidative damage to the brain and muscles.
- brown or unpolished rice
- red rice
- whole wheat
Take in well-cooked or steamed veggies such as:
- yellow squash
- winter squash
- sweet potatoes
- sweet peas
Favor sweet, juicy fruits such as:
- ripe mango
- soaked raisins
- fresh figs
- ripe apricots
- sweet plums
4. Herbs and Spices for Natural Hyperthyroidism Treatment
Spices have anti-inflammatory abilities. This can help counter the effects of hyperthyroidism. Some include:
- Fresh ginger
- Coriander or cilantro
2. Ayurvedic Herbs for Hyperthyroidism Treatment
Ayurvedic herbs and medicines aims to restore the Dosha balance and to facilitate proper thyroid function.
Amla fruit extract was found to decrease the levels of both thyroid hormones, T3 and T4. The T3 decrease was achieved by inhibiting the conversion of T4 to T3 in the body tissues.
It reduces anxiety and has a calming effect on the mind. By extension, it treats high blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart diseases.
This herb has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it good as an antidepressant and stress relive herb.
It acts strongly on some of the liver enzymes and helps in improving symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Also, it helps in combating ulcers and hyperthyroidism.
Guggulu is a natural antioxidant. As a bonus, it regulates menstrual cycles.
4. Lifestyle Tips to Balance Thyroid Hormone Levels
Aside from what you eat, how you live can also goes a long way to affect you. You also need to optimize your lifestyle to alleviate hyperactivity in your thyroid gland.
Specifically for hyperthyroidism, one needs to slow down and provide ample rest to your body which is already in an overdrive. Engage in physical activity and daily routine that will help you to calm down.
- Sleep early and deeply. Good sleep goes a long way to promote the function of thyroid gland.
- Live a healthy and cheerful lifestyle.
- Avoid physical and mental stress.
- Practice daily abhyanga (massage). Abhyanga relaxes muscles, stimulates blood flow, and helps eliminate toxins from the body.
- Consume a Vata and pitta pacifying diet.
5. Yoga poses for Hyperthyroidism Treatment
The benefits of yoga go beyond balancing thyroid hormones. Regular practice of yoga support all stages of thyroid imbalance. It relaxes the mind and supports natural functioning of our hormones.
Yoga helps to keep the thyroid gland healthy and regulate metabolism, thereby preventing any further complications.
Yoga asanas (or poses) can also benefit your thyroid health by balancing the chakras.
Hyperthyroidism patients should avoid neck-stretching asanas.
What yoga poses can reduce thyroid activity?
- Shavasana (corpse pose)
- Balasana (child’s pose)
- Shirshasana (headstand pose)
- Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
- Matsyasana (fish pose)
6. Pranayama | Deep Breathing Exercises for Hyperthyroidism Natural Treatment
Pranayama is one of the best ways to regulate both Vata and Pitta dosha. It naturally calms down the mind, supplies ample of oxygen throughout the body and supports metabolism.
Here are some of the breathing exercises that you should regularly perform for natural hyperthyroidism treatment.
1. Slow exhalations
Yes, this is the one you’re much familiar with. Almost everyone does this, And truly, it is one of the best of them. Inhale and exhale slowly.
Physiologically, your heart rate picks up when you breathe in and slows down when you breathe out. Therefore, inhale, and then exhale slowly.
In that way, you can bring your heart rate down.
2. Bramhari (Bumble bee breath)
This asana is called the bumblebee breath because of the sound you have to make while performing it. It is like that of a bumblebee.
As before, you inhale and exhale slowly, but this time you keep your lips sealed and make an ‘M’ sound while exhaling.
Exhale for as long as you can. However, don’t stretch to the limits of your endurance. Else, it will have the opposite effect. Your heart rate will pick up and you will feel more stressed instead.
3. Ujjayi breath (ocean breath)
This is quite common also. You make a sound like the ocean.
It is also performed with the mouth closed and the throat constricted. This brings about a restriction in airflow, causing the ‘ocean sound’ to be made as you are breathing.
4. Sahita khumbaka Breath
Khumbaka means ‘retention of breath.’ This is not to be confused with ‘holding of breath.’
The essence of this breathing technique is to be aware of your breathing cycle, not to control it. You are to pay attention to the point where your breathing switches from inhalation to exhalation. Take note of it with each breath. You will find this a very relaxing exercise.
5. Nadi shodhana (Alternate nostril breathing)
The technique is quite obvious from the name. It’s like you breathe through one nostril and then through the other.
Here is how it goes.
- First, inhale with both nostrils and exhale as you normally would.
- Next, block your right nostril with your thumb and index finger(preferably of your right hand), and inhale through the left.
- Release the right, block the left nostril, and then exhale through the right nostril.
- Next, inhale through the right nostril.
- Then release the left, block the right, and inhale through the left nostril.
This is one round, and you can perform five rounds.
Before you Go!
Hyperthyroidism treatment in Ayurveda goes beyond just curing the thyroid function. The holistic natural ways of Ayurveda support the functioning of your body and mind while addressing the root cause of thyroid disease. These are the guiding principles to enable you to achieve optimal health in the long term.
Now we want to hear from you. Have you tried natural treatment of Ayurveda for your health issues? If yes, then what are you currently doing to support your health and which natural ways do you find the most effective?
Do write to us for any queries and feedback. We will get back to you the soonest.
Wishing you vibrant health!
- Herbal approach to management of thyroid disease – a review, ISSN: 2454-5023
- Healing the Thyroid with Ayurveda: Natural Treatments for Hashimoto’s, Hypothyroidism, and Hyperthyroidism
- Graves’ Disease: A Hyperthyroid Condition – The Western & Ayurvedic Perspective