Hypothyroidism is a common hormonal disorder in women. 9 out of 10 cases of hypothyroidism are caused by Hashimoto’s disease –  an autoimmune disorder. In this condition, the body mistakenly identifies thyroid gland and the hormones secreted from this gland as foreign invaders and attacks it. The persistent attacks by the immune system on the thyroid gland resulting in reduced efficiency of the thyroid gland.  In allopathy, there is no cure. You are simply put on thyroxine.  Whereas treating hypothyroidism with Ayurveda is better as it works by restoring balance in the body. 

In the early stages, hypothyroidism seldom shows any symptoms, but if the condition is not treated it can cause health problems like obesity, infertility, joint pain and heart disease.

Signs of hypothyroidism 

Initially, hypothyroidism shows up as fatigue and weight gain which overlaps with the side effect of aging. However, as metabolism continues to slow, the patient may get more obvious signs of the disease.

  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Weight gain
  • Slowing of heart rate
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Puffy face
  • Hoarseness
  • Weakness in muscles
  • Increase in blood cholesterol level
  • Swelling of joints
  • Irregularity in menstruation
  • Thinning of hair and hair fall
  • Depression
  • Foggy memory

Ayurveda and hypothyroidism 

According to Ayurveda, hypothyroidism is a dysfunction of kapha and pitta disorder.  Diet and lifestyle factors – stress and overwork can imbalance the digestive fire or Agni which can vitiate doshas.

Once the Ojas is affected then the immune system begins to act improperly, attacking the thyroid gland and resulting in the depletion of the functioning of thyroid gland and body’s metabolism. The father of Ayurveda – Charaka mentions that hypothyroidism does not affect those who drink adequate milk. Old rice, mung dal, cucumber and Bengal gram are recommended to a patient with hypothyroidism, whereas sour and heavy foods are best avoided. The dietary recommendations on other foods are as follows-

 

Foods to have Foods to avoid
Fish Spinach
Potatoes Cabbage
Garlic Mustard Greens
Onions Cauliflower
Nuts
Chicken
Whole grains

 

Top 3 nutrients for a patient with hypothyroidism 

Selenium

Selenium is a trace mineral. Studies have shown that selenium help balances T4 hormone in the body. Foods like nuts, fish, and chicken are rich sources of selenium.

 

B Vitamins

B vitamins improve the function of thyroid gland, particularly vitamin B12 and Thiamine. Vegetarians are deficient in vitamin B12. B vitamin is found in many foods such as poultry, seafood, bananas and green leafy vegetables. 

 

Probiotics

Probiotics are critical for a healthy gut. Thyroid condition is often linked to the leaky gut syndrome. You should consume more foods rich in probiotics to repair the healing gut. Good source of such foods is curd and fermented foods.  

 

Treating Hypothyroidism with Ayurveda

Herbs 

Hypothyroidism is a lifestyle disease and stress has an important role in it. To support the thyroid gland, Ayurveda strongly recommends Ashwagandha, an adaptogen because it increases the body’s capability to deal with stress.

Other adaptogenic herbs are licorice root (mulethi), holy basil (tulsi) and ginseng, Punarnawa, Brahmi, Trikatu and Triphala which help restore the thyroid health.

Therapies 

Other than herbal remedies, Ayurveda works around restoring the imbalance of metabolism by correcting vitiated Agni – the biological fire, sustaining life. The steps are –

  1. Incorporating Panchkarma Therapies in the treatment regimen to detoxify accumulated toxins from the body. The therapies are Vaman ( Emesis therapy ), Virechan ( Purgation therapy ), Shirodhara and Nasya therapy.
  2. The oral medicines are Arogyavardhi Vati, Kanchnaar Guggul, Agnitundi Vati and Chyawanprash. However, do not take these medicines on your own, rather seek the consultation of a qualified Ayurveda expert for optimum results.
  3. In Ayurveda, the treatment protocol for hypothyroidism is centered around reducing stress. Performing yoga and meditation every day can reduce stress significantly. For thyroid disorders, Sarvangasana or shoulder stand is highly recommended. In this pose, an enormous pressure is applied on the thyroid gland which helps improve its function. You should perform Matsyasna or Fish pose after it.
  4. Ujjayi pranayama is particularly helpful in treating hypothyroidism. Ujjayi or the victorious breath helps release your pent-up emotions. It is particularly helpful in releasing stress, insomnia, and tension.
  5. Pratimarshya Nasya is also helpful. It involves instilling two drops of medicated oil in each nostril every day. It also helps prevent vitiation of Kapha.

Hypothyroidism is a metabolic disorder. Along with Ayurveda medicines for correcting it you need to eat right, exercise regularly and learn to release stress. Exercise is particularly useful in releasing stress and people who exercise regularly for half an hour can manage their weight gain due to an underactive thyroid.

Dr. Preeti Chhabra

Dr. Preeti Chhabra is a Senior Consultant, Ayurveda at Sir Ganga Ram, Hospital, Delhi. She specializes in Panchkarma, Agnikarma and Kshaar Sutra therapies. She has over 23 years of experience as a clinician, researcher, and propagator of Ayurveda.