Hypothyroidism: Causes and Top 4 Natural Remedies
While science related to the allopathic medication has taken great strides over the years, treatment for some ailments still comes with some major side effects. For such ailments, remedies using natural extracts with fewer known side effects may still be the way forward. One such ailment is hypothyroidism.
What is hypothyroidism?
Did you know that some specific hormones can affect nearly every organ and function in your body, including your heartbeat? These are the triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) hormones produced by the thyroid gland. This is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located below your larynx (the ‘voice box’). Without the thyroid hormones, the body’s metabolism slows down.
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is a fairly common condition where the thyroid gland fails to produce enough hormones.
Causes of hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism can be caused due to autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, hyperthyroidism treatments, radiation therapy, thyroid surgery, and certain medications. While these are the medical causes, environmental factors including sedentary lifestyle, Iodine & protein deficiency, unhealthy eating habits, obesity, high levels of stress also play a major role in developing Hypothyroidism.
Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism
The symptoms and signs of hypothyroidism vary, depending upon the severity. A few common signs and symptoms are fatigue, dry skin, weight gain, hoarseness, muscle aches, swelling in the joints, depression, impaired memory, and irregular menstrual periods.
A fairly common condition, the recommended standard treatment for hypothyroidism is consuming thyroid hormone replacement medication daily. However, considering that these often come with side effects, one can always go back in time and include these ayurvedic remedies to heal the gland from within.
Top 4 natural extracts for hypothyroidism
This evergreen short, tender shrub grows in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa and goes by other names like winter cherry, Indian ginseng, or poison gooseberry. Ashwagandha has been used as a traditional medicinal herb for centuries. Depending upon the treatment, different parts of the plant are used differently. The leaves are used for fevers, the flowers as a diuretic, and the root for helping fight anxiety.
One of the most common causes of hypothyroidism is chronic stress. Known to lead to an increase in cortisol levels, chronic stress leads to a drop in T3 and T4 hormones. Known for properties that stimulate the endocrine system, ashwagandha helps in reducing cortisol levels, thereby helping the body in boosting the T3 and T4 hormone production.
Various Ashwagandha supplements, containing approximately 300–600 mg of the extract, help promote healthy thyroid function. It is also recommended to look for Ashwagandha supplements with root powder containing at least 0.3% withanolides or root extract containing at least 1.5% of withanolides while choosing the supplement. It is advisable to consume them after consulting a healthcare professional
Besides helping thyroid function, Ashwagandha calms anxiety, fights chronic inflammation, boosts immunity, and supports the nervous system. However, pregnant, breastfeeding women, individuals having stomach ulcers or low blood pressure should avoid consuming ashwagandha. For someone taking medicines for diabetes, high blood pressure should keep a gap of 2 hours before consuming Ashwagandha.
2. Shodit Guggul:
Made from the oily sap of the guggul tree, Shodit guggul is found in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. It has been used as an Ayurvedic medicine for centuries and contains plant steroids.
Shodit guggul is believed to increase the thyroid hormone production, both T3 and T4, in the body, thus helping in fighting hypothyroidism. Guggul, a part of many supplements, is consumed orally.
Guggul is not only considered beneficial in lowering triglycerides and cholesterol, but it also helps in curing acne, weight loss, and arthritis. However, intake of Shodit guggul is discouraged during pregnancy and breastfeeding. If you’re on BP medications or birth control pills, then keep a gap of 2 hours then consume Shodit guggul.
3. Varun Chal:
Native to India and Bangladesh, this medium-sized tree has been used in Ayurveda for over 3000 years. Varun chal (bark) is a good blood purifier.
Varun chal is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It helps stimulate the thyroid gland to release thyroid hormones, thus helping in stabilising hypothyroidism.
Varun chal also helps treat kidney stones, urinary tract infections, constipation, and gout. It is also known to have laxative properties and appetite-increasing properties. Due to its anti-inflammatory property, it is used for joint pain and inflammation. The dosage normally advised is 50–100 mg. Varun chal is a very common ingredient in Ayurvedic supplements. However, patients with heart disease are advised against using Varun chal.
Bacopa monnieri or Brahmi is a creeping herb native to Southern and Eastern India, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, and America. It is commonly known as water hyssop, thyme-leaved gratiola, herb of grace, and Indian pennywort. Brahmi has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries.
Brahmi stimulates thyroid activity and helps in increasing the amount of T4 and T3 produced by the thyroid gland. Hence, it is helpful in hypothyroidism treatment. Bacopa, today, is used in many dietary supplements with doses up to 600 mg daily. However, Brahmi should be strictly avoided by people with heart, lung, and gastrointestinal tract blockages.
Hypothyroidism can become a lifelong condition if not controlled in time. In such cases, the idea of herbal therapy sounds like a safe way to prevent and control the disease. Some herbal supplements help optimise thyroid function. Thyro-Ved is one such product that allows thyroid gland function. It is made with 100% natural extracts like Ashwagandha, Guggul, Varun, and Brahmi.