Do you know that women are 5-8 time more likely to develop thyroid problems and one women in eight will develop a thyroid disorder ?one woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime.Most of them are unaware of the condition.The thyroid gland is one of the most important and sensitive endocrine glands. It easily responds to stress, hence the global incidence of hypothyroidism is rising rapidly.
What Does the Thyroid Do?
Your thyroid’s major function is to control your metabolism through the production and release of metabolic hormones. The thyroid’s function of metabolism is synonymous with the Ayurvedic concept of Pitta dosa and Dhatu Agni,corelated to fire of cellular level metabolism
The level of TSH is the pri- mary indicator of hypothyroidism and a thorough evaluation is needed to know the pathology behind before starting hormone supplementation therapy. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Au- toimmune Thyroiditis are the two main pathogenesis involved in the manifestation of hypo- thyroidism. While analysing the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism in Ayurvedic view, we note the involvement of all Srotas. The Kapha dosha and Vata dosha vruddhi is elicited and Pitta dosha kshaya is seen. Though some physicians consider it as a Sthanika vyadhi un- der Galaganda roga, it’s Dushti lakshanas are seen in whole body. Here an attempt is made to understand Hypothyroidism as a syndrome from Ayurvedic point of view.
Hypothyroidism refers to deficiency of thyroid hormone caused due to various reasons. Underactive thyroid or Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid disorder, and its most common cause is the autoimmune condition Hashimoto’s disease. The level of TSH is the pri- mary indicator of hypothyroidism.
From the Ayurvedic perspective, an underactive thyroid is a kapha condition.Because the qualities of kapha are heavy and slow which align with the symptoms of an underactive thyroid. Slow metabolism or manda agni is common amongst kapha individuals and those with a kapha imbalance.While analysing the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism in Ayurvedic view, we note the involvement of all Srotas( channels ).
Signs of Hypothyroidism
Fatigue and Weakness
Weight gain and hard to lose weight
Tendency for constipation
Tendency to feel depressed
Intolerance to cold
Coarse, brittle or lusterless hair
Dry, scaling, flaking skin, cracked heels
Brittle, splitting, curved or ridged nails
Rounded puffy face
Puffy around eyes or droopy/baggy eyelids
Thinning or loss of outer third of eyebrows or poor hair growth on lower legs
Redness to skin on front of neck
Swollen/puffy ankles or legs
Slow resting heart rate (less than 65)
Hoarseness of voice
Causes of Hypothyroidism
Basic cause of the hypothyroidism is Damage to thyroid. Autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s, damage to the thyroid caused by thyroiditis, An imbalance of iodine in the diet(goiter),radiation or surgery can contribute. Fifth Chakra or throat chakra is often co related to Thyroid gland and blockage and repression causes hypothyroid issue infact.
Stress contributes to an imbalance of vata dosha and high tejas or overwork, it burns ojas or immunity and vitality, causing auto-immune conditions to manifest.This can be like co related to a burn out condition even.A simile to correlate it would be,when there is too much wind forest fire is difficult to control.
So from the Ayurvedic perspective, all three doshas are involved but hypothyroidism can be seen as primarily a kapha imbalance. The symptoms of slow metabolism, weight gain, heaviness, depression and coldness are all kapha qualities. This heaviness or coating by kapha dosha and excess meda dhatu (fat tissue) prevents pitta dosha from its cellular level functions, thus impairing agni.
Ayurveda treatment for Hypothyroidism
All treatment in Ayurveda is individualized and based on the root cause of the illness. First, we work to remove the cause of the illness (diet, lifestyle, stressors, etc) then treat kapha and vata doshas.All individuals will benefit from strengthening agni or digestion and incorporating kapha balancing measures. A focus on diet, exercise, reducing toxic exposure and managing stress (vata dosha) will be highly beneficial. In addition to Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle, herbs can be very beneficial.
Contra indicated food articles(Apathya) mentioned in Ayurveda classicals
The Apathya include Kshira Vikruti ( milk and milk products), Ikshu Vikruti(Sugary substances) Some types of mamsa( meat), Some types of Anupa Mamsa (Seafood) , Pishtaannam ( Food made from flours,Baked food) , Madhura Amla Rasa( Sweet and sour tasting substances) and Guru Ab- hishyandakari Dravya( heavy) .Decreasing the intake of raw cruciferous vegetables, particularly radishes, and other goitrogenic foods is also advised.
Indicated food articles (Pathya) mentioned in Ayurveda classicals
Ghee,Brown and black rice,barley,Lentills,Bitter vegitables,Ruksha Katu Dravya(drying and astringent taste), Deepana dravya( herbs that improve appetite and digestion) and drugs like Guggulu and Shilajatu.
Spiciness and therefore proper digestion of any food can be created with dipanas, which is Sanskrit for digestive spices like cinnamon, fennel, ginger, turmeric, and cardamom. A mono diet of kitcheree (classic mung bean and rice porridge) with pachanas (toxic buildup reducing spices/herbs like cumin and ginger) and lekhanas (thermogenic herbs like ginger and black pepper) help with weight loss.Adding onions, garlic, and ginger, as well as teas of sage, thyme and strawberry leaf may also be useful.
The Yogasanas like Halasanam(plow pose), Paschimothanasanam(seated forward bending pose), Matysaasanam(Fish pose), Sarvangasanam , Pa- vanamuktasanam(wind reviewing pose), Suryanamaskaram (sun salutation). In a clinical trials, when given Ayurvedic herbs, every single patient showed improvement.Herbs and preparations should be used under the guidance of practitioner.
Ayurveda doctor may also recommend therapies of Panchakarma (Ayurvedic cleansing), meditation techniques also.