I actually decided to write this article after I saw Amritha’s concern for weight gain & Thyroid issues! Here is the post I had a completely different experience! Sometime back I was feeling tired & lethargy all the time & would even get exhausted after climbing a few steps, I visited a doctor who asked me to get a thyroid test at her clinic & after the test I found I tested positive for thyroid disorder! I was so upset but somehow I wasn’t ready to accept that I was diagnosed with Thyoid disorder! Soon, I did a search on the internet to find out all about thyroid disorder & treatments! I thought I should get a test done once again to reconfirm this time I went to a different place & THANK GOD the test turned out be NEGATIVE. Now I decided to write this article so that most of us who are not aware of Thyroid disorders get to know about it.
Thyroid disorders are extremely common, making up more than 70 percent of the patients in general endocrinology clinics. Despite this fact, awareness regarding common thyroid ailments is strangely missing & the diagnosis is often by chance.
What does the Thyroid Gland do?
The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland. It manufactures thyroid hormones. Hormones are chemical substances secreted into the blood stream, which act as messengers to affect cells & tissues in distant parts of the body. The function of the thyroid gland is controlled by another gland called the pituitary. The thyroid gland lies in front of the neck, just below the Adam’s apple. Thyroid hormones influence the metabolism of the body cells. In other words, they regulate the speed with which the body cells work.
What are the Common Thyroid Disorders?
Thyroid problems can be divided into two categories: functional (over or under activity) & structural (enlargement of the gland/lumps/ bumps which could be benign or cancerous). The common thyroid disorders are Hyperthyroidism & Hypothyroidism.
What are Hyperthyroidism & Hypothyroidism?
If too much of the thyroid hormones are secreted, the body cells work faster than normal & the condition is called hyperthyroidism. On the other hand, if too little of the thyroid hormones are produced, the condition is known as hypothyroidism where the cells & organs of the body slow down.
What are the causes of hypothyroidism?
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is auto-immunity, where the body produces chemicals that act against its own organs. Other causes of hypothyroidism are damage of the gland after infection, inflammation or radiation, birth defect, medicines, post –surgery etc.
What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?
The common symptoms of hypothyroidism are lethargy, fatigue, constipation, cold intolerance, aches, pains, cramps, weight gain, dry skin, hair loss, heavy periods etc. Thyroid blood test shows low thyroid hormones & high TSH (a pituitary hormone).
How is hypothyroidism treated?
One needs to take Thyroxin tablet daily in the morning on empty stomach, practically for the rest of their life. Periodic blood test is required to adjust the dose.
What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?
Weight loss in spite of good appetite, fatigue, sweating, palpitation, frequent loose motions, tremors & protrusion of eyes (only in Graves’ disease) are the usual features of hyperthyroidism. The cause of over activity can be established by thyroid blood test, with or without a thyroid scan.
How is hyperthyroidism treated?
Hyperthyroidism is treated by either antithyroid medication or radiation therapy. Surgery is rarely required. Antithyroid medications mainly act by blocking thyroid hormone production. They need to be taken for a long time & are occasionally associated with some serious but unpredictable side effects. Patients should report to their doctors immediately if they develop a sore throat with fever & skin rashes.
Radio-iodine therapy is comparatively a much safer option for treating hyperthyroidism & the cure rate is much higher. It is not indicated in young children, pregnant women or lactating mothers. Women should avoid pregnancy for six months & men should avoid fathering a child within the next four months following radio-iodine therapy.
Sometimes the thyroid gland has to be surgically removed partly or completely through thyroidectomy. This happens when there is cancer or a cyst in the thyroid gland. Throidectomy may also be required if the gland has become too large or secreting excess hormones.
What is the effect of thyroid disorders in pregnancy?
Underactive thyroid can cause sub fertility. Thyroid hormone requirement goes up during pregnancy.. Under treated hypothyroidism may have some detrimental effects on pregnancy & the growing foetus. Treatment of hyperthyroidism during pregnancy is slightly difficult as both the commonly used medicines can cross placenta, though both of them can be used effectively.
Below are the ways of using herbal medicines for thyroid problems:
For Hypothyroidism- this usually occurs when one lacks the intake of iodine. You can start curing it by eating herbal foods like kelp. The kelp is a very good source of iodine. Other herbs for treating hypothyroidism are commiphora mukul which is a traditional Indian herb. It is being linked to support the loss of fat in the body during the decrease of thyroid function. The ashwaghanda is also another herb from India that helps raise the production
of hormones in the thyroid gland. It reduces the peroxides that are in the liver which leads the secretion of the thyroidal hormones to be limited. The dan shen is another herb that can be found in Mongolia which is known to increase the function of the thyroid. All these herbs have high amounts of iodine. It will supply your thyroid with the mineral that it needs the most to produce the right amounts of hormones.
For Hyperthyroidism- The herb called gypsywort is perfect for this. Just by dropping about 5 drops of this herb’s tincture into your drink, it will help control the very active energy that is going on in the thyroid. This can reduce the common symptoms of this like palpitations and restless muscles. Lemon balm is another herb that can be used for limiting the production of hormones in the thyroid. The bugel herb works the same. It will help slow down the too
active thyroid gland.