Hypothyroidism is a common disorder of the thyroid gland in which thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone which can affect every system in the body. Now a day, it is a very commonly encountered problem in clinical practice and more prevalent in females as compared to males.
It is caused when the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. The hormones produced by the thyroid gland are triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) which have an impact on all aspects of the metabolism.
What are the Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?
The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism may vary depending on the severity of the hormone deficiency. At first, there are barely any symptoms, but as the metabolism continues to slow, there may be symptoms such as:
- Dry skin
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle aches, tenderness, and weakness
- Heavier than normal or irregular menstruation in females
- Slowed heart rate
- Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)
- Impaired memory
- Thinning of hair
What is the Ayurvedic Perspective of Hypothyroidism?
The pathogenesis of hypothyroidism according to the principles of Ayurveda is that it is caused due to the dysfunctioning of Jatharagni. The low digestive fire or jatharagni affects Dhatavagni which eventually brings out a pathological sequence and ultimately the diseased condition is developed.
(Reference: Ashtanga Hridyam Sutrasthanam, Chapter No. 1, Shlok No. 7)
Meaning: In this shloka, the types of digestive fire are explained. According to this shloka, there are four types of Agni or digestive fire.
- Vishama Agni: Influenced by Vata. A person having vishama Agni sometimes has a high appetite and sometimes have a low appetite.
- Teekshna Agni: Influenced by Pitta. A person having teekshna Agni will have good digestion power and appetite.
- Manda Agni: Influenced by Kapha. A person with Mandagni will have low digestion power and appetite.
- Sama Agni: It is influenced by a perfect balance of Tridosha, where an individual has the proper appetite and appropriate digestion power.
Looking into the imbalance of the doshas, Kapha dosha associated with Pitta dushti and vitiation of Vata dosha due to Margavarana and predominantly Rasa-vaha, Mamsa-vaha, Medo-vaha and Sroto-Dushti can be considered as the cause of the disease.
In spite of many advances, the treatment of hypothyroidism still remains unsatisfactory. Modern treatment includes the prescription of synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine. But this can cause serious life-long metabolic complications. Therefore, it is necessary to search for safe, effective and cheaper remedies and such remedies can be explored with the huge wealth of Ayurveda.
What are the Foods to Eat and Avoid in Hypothyroidism?
In Ayurveda, Pathya-Apathya is given prime importance.
Foods that Should be included in Hypothyroidism are
- In Ayurveda, it is said that hypothyroidism is caused due to the low digestive fire. To enhance Agni or digestive fire, ginger is the best remedy.
- Moreover, it is rich in magnesium, zinc, and potassium which are necessary for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland.
Take 1-2 slices of raw ginger with little quantity of salt before taking meals. It will rekindle the digestive fire.
2. Coconut Oil
Include coconut oil in the diet as this oil is useful in improving the body’s metabolism in thyroid patients.
Fresh coriander is very beneficial for all kinds of thyroid problems as it is rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C and contains minerals such as iron and potassium. All these nutrients are necessary for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland and help to produce the right number of hormones for the proper functioning of the body.
Soak about 2 tablespoons of coriander seeds overnight in a glass of water. In the morning, boil this water for 5 minutes and drink it after straining on an empty stomach.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar helps in maintaining acid-alkaline balance and also useful in the body’s detoxification. It treats the sluggish metabolism and useful in regulating hormonal imbalance and treats obesity as well.
Mix 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and add a little honey to it and drink this mixture on a daily basis.
5. Vitamin D
The deficiency of Vitamin D can trigger a thyroid problem. So, to get Vitamin D, expose your body to the sun especially in the morning. Doing a walk or exercise early morning help in stimulating the thyroid gland as well.
Flaxseeds regulate the functioning of the thyroid gland. They are a rich source of essential omega 3 fatty acids. So, people suffering from hypothyroidism should include flaxseeds in their daily diet.
Take 1 teaspoon of flaxseed powder with water regularly to balance the thyroid hormones.
Since an enlarged thyroid gland is due to the imbalance of Kapha dosha and meda (fat) tissue, so those foods that increase Kapha dosha should be avoided.
Foods that Should be avoided are
- Iodine is considered controversial for the patients who are suffering from hypothyroidism. If the iodine deficiency is not the cause of hypothyroidism, then iodine supplements provide no benefit to the patients. For patients with the abnormal thyroid gland, too much iodine can cause or worsen the condition of hypothyroidism.
Iodine is found in spinach, garlic, sesame seeds, and soybeans. The iodine content in these foods does not seem to aggravate the thyroid condition, but it is still prudent not to consume these items in large quantities.
- Avoid the intake of heavy and sour foods.
- Avoid soy and soy products.
- Foods such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, radish, etc. decrease the secretion of thyroxin Therefore, these foods should be avoided.
- Cut down sugar as excessive sugar consumption aggravates this condition. So, it is necessary to stay away from processed sugar.
- All packaged, refined, processed foods and drinks must be completely avoided.
In addition to the wrong diet, the wrong lifestyle is also the main factor in the imbalance of hormones.
- To balance the thyroid hormone, one should wake up early in the morning as waking up late disturbs the secretion of hormones.
- Practicing some yoga exercises such as sarvangasana (shoulder stand) and matsya mudra (fish posture) are very helpful as they help to normalize the secretion of thyroxin in the body, thus restoring the metabolic balance and easing problems related to hyperthyroidism such as anxiety, nervousness, sleeplessness, etc. These asanas act like a message for the thyroid gland and enhance its effectiveness.
- For hypothyroidism, practicing ujjayi pranayama is very beneficial. Practice this pranayama for 10-15 minutes regularly.
- Stress should be avoided.