A holistic system of medicine, Ayurveda offers an all natural approach encompassing your diet, lifestyle and herbal support to address the root causes of an underactive thyroid. This not only helps you to treat hypothyroidism but also support your physical and mental health such that disease doesn’t occur in future.
If you are looking for natural solutions to support your thyroid function, then you are Ayurvedic treatment for hypothyroidism is simple, safe, and effective.
Now, if you’re wondering: “is it possible to cure hypothyroidism with Ayurveda?” Then yes, I’m glad to tell you that you can naturally treat an underactive thyroid in most of the cases.
While exceptions will be there in cases, where excessive damage is done to the thyroid gland. But, you will still find that Ayurvedic treatment for hypothyroidism will allow your body and mind to perform at a much better level than the artificial hormonal support.
In this post, we will look into the causes, symptoms and treatment options for Hypothyroidism. You will learn how Ayurvedic diet, lifestyle and herbs can help you to boost thyroid function naturally.
And finally, we will look into specific options to Ayurvedic treatment for Hypothyroidism. Let’s get started.
What is Hypothyroidism?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped, small gland found at the front of our neck. It releases thyroid hormone that is responsible for multiple functions related to brain, heart, skin, calcium absorption, digestion and metabolism.
Hypothyroidism is also known as under-active thyroid or low thyroid. It is a hormone imbalance in which your thyroid gland produces fewer hormones than are necessary for the normal functioning of the body.
Consequently, your body’s metabolism slows down. Also, you begin to experience other symptoms like tiredness, coldness, dry skin, weight gain, muscle weakness, enlarged thyroid (goiter), brain fog, etc.
Signs and symptoms of Hypothyroidism
The symptoms of hypothyroidism differ from person to person. The signs and symptoms depend on the severity of the disease and sometimes it is difficult to diagnose. Here are the common symptoms:
- Feeling cold
- Weight gain with poor appetite
- Decreased sweating
- Dry skin
- Muscle weakness and aches
- Decrease in heartbeat
- Increase in blood cholesterol
- Reduced memory and difficulty in concentrating
- Pain and stiffness in joints
- Hair loss
- Change in menstrual cycles or fertility-related difficulties
- Swollen and sensitive face
Weight gain and fatigue are the most evident symptoms of hypothyroidism. However, these conditions are usually common in aged people irrespective of their thyroid health.
Hence, it is very difficult to detect hypothyroidism at earlier stages without specific tests. This results in condition aggravation and complication in some cases.
Being untreated, the symptoms in many people increase slowly over many years. When the decrease in the thyroid hormone is more, the symptoms will increase and the problem may be easily diagnosed.
Though some symptoms are common in old age, still you need to consult a doctor. The doctor will recommend you to do a blood test to confirm if you have the disorder.
Primary Risk Group
Hypothyroidism is one of the common lifestyle disorders that is affecting people in all age groups, demographics and gender. However, it is much more common in elderly women.
It is estimated that as many as 15% of Indian women are affected by hypothyroidism.
- Hypothyroidism usually affects the menopausal women and elderly, with age greater than 60 years.
- Women during pregnancy and new mothers are also at risk of the condition.
- People suffering from chronic stress are also at risk. High levels of stress can lead to the failure of adrenal gland, which stops responding to signals from the brain. This condition is commonly observed these days.
- Exposure to chemical pollutants may also trigger the condition at an earlier age.
- People residing in highlands, far from the sea, who are more prone to Iodine deficiency.
Causes and Triggers of Hypothyroidism
There are a number of causes of hypothyroidism. They may be an autoimmune disease termed as Hashimoto Disease, Adrenal gland failure, treatment for hyperthyroidism, radiation therapy, thyroid surgery, and certain medications.
1. Autoimmune disease
One type of inflammatory disorder occurs in the human body known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and it gives rise to hypothyroidism. This disease attacks the thyroid gland causing chronic thyroid inflammation. This problem decreases thyroid function.
Our immune system saves us from some harmful bacteria and viruses. Autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system produces antibodies and these attack different body’s tissues including the thyroid gland.
Sometimes, our body is confusing normal, healthy cells as invading cells. This is known as autoimmune response and if it is left untreated, the immune system may attack healthy tissues. This can cause hypothyroidism.
2. Hyperthyroidism Treatment
Hyperthyroidism (Excessive thyroid production) treatment is usually conducted via radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications to cut and normalize the thyroid production.
In some cases, the medications may permanently affect the functioning of thyroid gland, leading to hypothyroidism.
3. Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy is given to treat cancers of the head and neck, lymphoma, and leukaemia. So it can affect your thyroid gland and may cause hypothyroidism.
4. Thyroid surgery
In some cases, there is a necessity of removing the thyroid gland or a large part of it. This may reduce full or half hormone production. Therefore, you have to take the thyroid hormone and medication for entire life.
A lot of medications can lead to hypothyroidism. For example, lithium, which is given for certain psychiatric disorders.
Health Complications of Hypothyroidism
If left untreated, an under-active thyroid can lead to multiple health complications for body and brain. Here is a list of few:
Image Credit: Thyroid Centre of Santa Monica
Constant stimulation of your thyroid to release of hormones may make the gland too large. It is known as a goiter. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is one of the reasons behind goiter. The larger goiter does not feel uncomfortable, but it affects one’s appearance and may cause problems with swallowing and breathing.
2. Mental health issues
In early stages of hypothyroidism, depression occurs and it increases with over time. Sometimes, it leads to reduced mental functioning.
3. Heart problems
Hypothyroidism may also increase the risk of heart disease, primarily because of high levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol or the “bad” cholesterol.
A mild or early form of hypothyroidism which does not show any symptoms, can increase the total cholesterol levels and decrease the pumping ability of the heart. It can also cause an enlarged heart and heart failure.
4. Peripheral Neuropathy
Long-term untreated hypothyroidism causes harm to peripheral nerves that transmit information from the brain and spinal cord to the different parts of the body.
The problems of peripheral neuropathy are pain, numbness and tingling in the particular area where the nerves get damaged. For example, muscle weakness or decrease in muscle control.
5. Infertility & Birth defects
Hypothyroidism can cause infertility. Babies born to Women with untreated thyroid disease may give birth to babies with defects than healthy mothers.
These children may have significant intellectual and developmental problems. Babies having untreated hypothyroidism during birth are more susceptible to serious problems with both physical and mental development.
It is an uncommon life-threatening disease and it is caused due to long-term, untreated hypothyroidism.
Its signs and symptoms are poor ability to tolerate cold, drowsiness followed lethargy and unconsciousness. Myxedema may be triggered by infections, sedatives, and stress on the body.
Treatment of Hypothyroidism in Modern Medicine
Hypothyroidism can be detected by a routine blood test or due to the presence of symptoms such as a feeling of tiredness, intolerance to cold, constipation, depression, weight gain and sometimes swelling in the front part of the neck.
At first, the doctor prescribes for a blood test to diagnose hypothyroidism. According to the level of TSH and the level of the thyroid hormone thyroxine, the doctor prescribes medicine.
Hormone based treatment for Hypothyroidism
Most of the modern medical treatments are based on increasing the levels of the hormone with artificial varieties. While these hormones will fill the scarcity which your body unable to produce on its own, making functions of your body normal, they also have multiple side-effects.
Usually, the patient has to take the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine (Levothroid, Synthroid, others) oral medicine regularly. It maintains proper hormone levels, decreasing the symptoms of hypothyroidism. You may feel less fatigued and the medication also helps in lowering cholesterol levels and causes weight loss.
For hypothyroidism, you may take levothyroxine mostly lifelong, but the doctor may change the dosage by checking the TSH level every year. After 2-3 months of starting the treatment, the doctor will check the TSH level.
Side Effects of hormone based treatment for Hypothyroidism
There are multiple side-effects of the hormone therapy, severity of which varies with individuals:
- Increased appetite
- Heart palpitations, High blood pressure and Impaired Diastolic Function
People having coronary artery disease or severe hypothyroidism may be advised to start treatment with a smaller dose of medication and the doctor will gradually increase the dosage.
Why You should Seek Natural Treatment for Hypothyroidism?
Did you know that a whole 90% of hypothyroidism patients do not improve with medication? While sad, but unfortunately this is the reality when it comes to efficacy of modern medicine for the treatment of hypothyroidism.
Thus, after a long period of using hypothyroidism drugs, a patient actually gains nothing but slight short term relief that goes away swiftly till the dosage is increased. In the long term, there is improvement in symptoms, neither in the improvement of their thyroid function. So, what’s the point? In some cases, medications can even make the symptoms of hypothyroidism worse!
More and more research is pointing towards using different combinations hormones to treat and manage hypothyroidism rather than using single hormone. While combinations of hormones may turn out to be slightly better than current treatment options.
Yet, the hard fact about their inefficiency in treating the root cause of hypothyroidism combined with their multiple side effects stays! This is because most of such treatments simply work as patchwork solutions.
On the other hand, when you take a holistic approach to treat hypothyroidism at the root cause level as we do in Ayurveda; then the possibility of curing your thyroid and enabling it to stay in healthy state is much higher. Let’s see how!
Hypothyroidism | An Ayurvedic View
- As Pitta dosha regulates your digestive fire, its depletion leads to a much lower metabolic rate and hence improper digestion, and subsequent accumulation of toxins in the body.
- Also, aggravated Vata dosha leads to dryness in the body and also creates difficulty in bowel movements. This is reflected with constipation, dry skin, and hair loss.
- Aggravated Kapha dosha on the other hand, induces lethargy and mucous related disorders. Lack of activity and interest makes one sedentary and hence thyroid weight gain happens.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Hypothyroidism | Herbs, Therapies and Natural Remedies
Here are the primary objectives of Ayurvedic treatment for hypothyroidism:
- Detoxification of the body to clear the blockage in the tissues due to toxin build up. This will help you find relief from inflammation and symptoms related to toxin build up in the body as lethargy, brain fog, and sleep problems.
- Ignite the digestive fire at the cellular level or induce metabolic activity and bring the digestive system on track. This helps to regulate the bowel movement, boost your metabolism and get rid of excess weight.
- Pacify and balance the vitiated doshas. This will help to remove the root cause of hypothyroidism symptoms.
- Promote mental wellness. This helps to reduce stress and improves emotional balance
Now, Let’s look into the specifics of what you should eat, what to avoid, lifestyle practices and Ayurvedic herbs that support thyroid function.
1. Ayurvedic Herbs for Hypothyroidism Treatment
Ayurvedic herbs and medicines aims to restore the Dosha balance and to facilitate proper thyroid function.
All the herbs and formulations that have been shared in this post are for information purpose only. All of these are potent Ayurvedic medicines that should be taken under the supervision of a qualified Ayurvedic doctor only. Do not indiscriminately use Ayurvedic herbs as it may cause more harm than benefit.
It is useful for its detoxifying qualities. It also works well to reduce cholesterol levels.
That is not all. It is an anti-inflammatory agent, so it removes free radicals and helps restore hormonal balance in the body.
It reduces anxiety and stress and increases our body’s strength. Regular consumption of Ashwagandha elevates the brain chemicals, helps to relax, and establishes hormone balance. 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 reliving herb.
It acts strongly on some of the liver enzymes and helps in improving symptoms of hypothyroidism. Also, it helps in combating digestive issues as observed in hypothyroidism.
The Gugguisterones in Guggulu helps increase the production of thyroid hormones. They also increase metabolism, burn fat and help to detox the body.
Regular consumption of Kachnar guggulu may help to establish regular and pain free periods, better metabolism for proper nourishment and improved health.
However, guggul alone is usually very strong for the body. Hence, it is often blended with synergistic and complimentary Ayurvedic herbs to achieve health benefits.
Triphala consists of three herbs, namely haritaki, amla and bibhitaki. Its functions are a whole lot. Some are thus:
- It helps in maintaining immunity (Ojas or life force)
- Triphala has powerful antioxidants to rejuvenate and inhibit inflammation
- Ensuring proper heart and respiratory functions
- Triphala can as well serve as an Ayurvedic supplement for your skin and hair
2. Your Diet | Ayurvedic Treatment for Hypothyroidism starts with Eating Right
You must have heard a lot of times that you are what you eat. That’s why your diet should include foods that will help you to provide the right nourishment, cleanse the body and heal your thyroid naturally.
Your thyroid hormones are in charge of your metabolism. So, when you have hypothyroidism, you have less thyroid, therefore, slower metabolism. That means that your digestion will also be slower.
This makes it more necessary to check your diet because you have to mind the difficulty with which the food will be digested. Also, if you eat the right kinds of food, you can boost your thyroid function.
Not only that. The right diet will help the support the health of your gut microbiome. These microorganisms present in your gut help your metabolism also.
Nutrition for Hypothyroidism
Here is a list of nutrients with food sources that you would need to balance thyroid gland with your diet.
- Iodine: oysters, shrimp, yogurt, and cheese.
- Selenium: tuna, sardines, eggs, legumes.
- Probiotics: Probiotics are good bacteria and they can help improve thyroid function.
- Vitamin D: the primary ready source of vitamin D is the sunlight, so you should get sufficient sunlight in the morning.
Best Foods and Diet for Thyroid Support
- Prefer smaller meals during the day and do not hold hunger. Always take timely meals at fixed time everyday.
- Eat freshly prepared healthy meals at the right times.
- Your ideal breakfast should be foods rich in complex carbohydrates and whole proteins. Choose foods as eggs, millets, beans, seed and oats.
- Keep hydrated with warm water. It serves as natural detoxification water and supports metabolism.
- Have a diet rich in protein. This helps your stomach feel full for longer and reduces the frequency of your hunger.
- Take a lot of fruits and vegetables, and a lot of high-fiber foods too.
- Favor ghee, nuts like almonds, walnuts, pecans, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, buttermilk, avocado, beets, lentils.
- Take warm and unctuous foods such as porridge, curries, gruel, and soups.
- Include spices and herbs to maintain healthy digestive fire and to get the micro nutrients.
Foods that you should avoid | Worst Foods
- Avoid artificial sugars like that in packaged foods. These could worsen your symptoms.
- Don’t skip a meal. Maintain a steady, regular meal pattern. This will help your metabolism deal better with the situation.
- Reduce your consumption of red meat and deep-fried foods.
- Reduce and remove caffeine, alcohol and any other stimulants from your meals and daily routine.
- Remove chili and peppers from your diet. Both of these cause excessive stimulation and push Vata out of balance.
- Remove cold temperature foods and drinks.
- Reduce your intake of dairy, except curd or buttermilk.
- Avoid sugar in any form as much as you can. Strictly avoid artificial sugars and low sugar foods.
3. Yoga to Support Your Thyroid Naturally
Yoga can help you to find relief from thyroid symptoms and also boost the functioning of thyroid gland. Research indicates that yoga promotes physical and mental health in people struggling with hypothyroidism.
You should practice yoga asanas that promote flexion and extension of the neck. This will naturally help you to regulate the production of thyroid hormones. Also, you should also practice meditation and breathing exercises to reduce your stress levels.
Cleansing Yoga Asana
- Kapalbhati Pranayama | Head shining breath
- Ujjayi Pranayama | Warrior Breath
- Bhujangasana | Cobra Pose
- Surya Namaskar | Sun Salutation
Thyroid Stimulating Asana
Here are some yoga asana that you should perform on regular basis. Do make sure that you begin with poses that are easier for you to do. Alternatively, you should adjust the poses to suit your requirements.
- Matsyasana | Fish Pose: Improves blood circulation to the thyroid glands. It helps to regulate hypothyroidism by stretching the throat and neck. It also improves spinal health.
- Halasana | Plough Pose: It helps to activate the butterfly gland while strengthening the back muscles, toning abdominal glands, and relaxing the nervous system. (PS: It is not recommended for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis)
- Brahmari Pranayama | Humming Bee Breath: It helps to stimulate the thyroid gland, promote blood and oxygen circulation in the head region and helps to balance the hormones overall.
- Dhanurasana | Bow Pose: It helps to massage and stimulate the thyroid gland. This boosts the production of thyroid hormones and also reduces inflammation in the gland.
- Ustrasana | Camel Pose: This stretches and stimulates the thyroid gland, reduces spinal issues and back pain. Regular practice of ustrasana improves thyroid hormone production.
- Setu Bandhasana | Bridge Pose: Improves blood circulation to the thyroid glands. It helps to regulate hypothyroidism by stretching the throat and neck.
4. Ayurvedic Therapies to Treat Hypothyroidism
Apart from Ayurvedic medicine, diet and lifestyle changes, a hypothyroidism patient may also benefit from Ayurvedic therapies. These Ayurvedic treatment options are employed on case by case basis.
Depending on the dosha that have gone out of balance and the intensity of hypothyroid symptoms, your doctor may recommend any of the following Ayurvedic therapies:
- Udhvartana: This Ayurvedic practice involves the use of medicated powder for massage. Udhvartana stimulates your nervous system and glands. It also detoxifies your body and helps with an underactive thyroid.
- Abhyanga: This is the use of medicated oils for massage. It helps you relax and it also helps you relieve the pain in your muscles.
- Panchakarma: It follows a sequence of 5 Ayurvedic medical therapies. Here the focus is to eliminate the excessive Dosha and toxins out of your body. This helps you to regain balance of hormones, digestive fire, and also improves the functioning of your body systems.
- Nasya (Oil in Nostrils): It promotes regular flow of hormones by establishing Vata dosha balance. Nasya involves regular insertion of medicated oil or ghee in both nostrils. It promotes flow of prana, supports vitality and longevity.
Other than these Ayurvedic therapies, “Swedna” or induced sweating via heat treatment or physical activity is recommended.
5. Ayurvedic Lifestyle Guidelines to Support Thyroid Function
Your lifestyle and daily routine is key to the flow of your circadian rhythms and natural flow of thyroid hormones throughout the day.
How you choose your daily activities really affects how your body will be. Here are some Ayurvedic tips for you to support thyroid function.
- Engage in regular physical activity in nature such as walking, hiking, and bicycling.
- Balancing exercises such as yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi to improve stability and groundedness.
- Spend less time with screen and technologies, especially towards bedtime. This disturbs sleep and raises cortisol, stress hormone in the body.
- Avoid irregular schedule with untimely meals, erratic sleep and wake cycles.
- Do not suppress natural urges such as urination, defecation, sneezing, belching and flatulence.
- Improve your sleep habits. Staying up late at night and insufficient sleep poorly affect our Circadian Rhythms. It often triggers anxiety and fuzziness.
- Take less caffeine, alcohol and recreational drugs.
- Engage in spiritual practice helps you feel a connection to something higher than yourself, making you worry less.
6. Manage and Reduce Stress
Stress and hypothyroidism go both ways! This means, if you are chronically stressed out then it is highly likely that the constant Cortisol surge will make you prone to thyroid problems.
Also, if you have thyroid problems then you also happen to have higher stress levels due to poor metabolism and constant fatigue.
That’s why it is really important to manage and reduce your stress levels to stop risking your thyroid function.
Here are few things that you can do to reduce stress:
- Plan ahead if you can and avoid last minute deadlines that build stress.
- Stay away from situations and people that cause stress to you.
- Learn to say no to things that you find stressful.
- Do not delay your meals, always eat on regular intervals.
- Practice deep breathing exercises and pranayama to fill your body and lungs with oxygen.
- Spend time in nature, close to water bodies and in the greenery.
- Develop a new hobby or learn new language.
- Spend time with family and friends in activities that involve interaction and positive communication.
So, are you ready to try natural cures for hypothyroidism? With these Ayurvedic natural ways to balance your thyroid, you do not need to worry about side effects, and numerous testimonies prove their effectiveness.
In any case, you should visit your doctor before exploring, more so if you’ve been taking medications before.
Do write to us for any queries, comments, and feedback. We will try to get back the soonest we can!
Now we want to hear from you. Do write to us for any queries and feedback. If you have tried any of the above Ayurvedic remedies, then do share your experience with us. We will get back to you the soonest.
Wishing you vibrant health!
- Ayurvedic medication for hypothyroidism with clinical experience
- Diagnosis and management of primary hypothyroidism in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Traditional Indian Medicine (Ayurveda)
- The Ayurvedic Management of Hypothyroidism By Cassandra McDonough
- A clinical study to evaluate the role of Triphaladya Guggulu along with Punarnavadi Kashaya in the management of hypothyroidism
- Aswathy Prakash C& Byresh A. – Hypothyroidism in Ayurveda
- The History and Future of Treatment of Hypothyroidism
- Effect of yoga on depression in hypothyroidism: A pilot study