When patients come to a doctor complaining about fatigue and unexpected change in weight, the first area of suspicion is Thyroid! It is a butterfly-shaped, endocrinal gland that sits under the Voiceboxand is responsible for secreting essential hormones in the body. When the gland underperforms, it produces too little hormones, leading to a condition called Hypothyroidism. In this article, we shall discuss at length the various causes and symptoms of this condition, along with learning some home remedies for Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).
Scores of people across the globe are affected by this disorder. In fact, surveys suggest that an approximate 42 million people of India suffer from Hypothyroidism, out of which women and children are at a higher risk compared to men (1). So, if you are one of them, then this article is a must-read!
Are you diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism? That means you are dealing with an overactive thyroid gland which can lead to several health complications. Fortunately, there are many natural remedies for Hyperthyroidism which can help you manage the condition. These treatments also increase the effectiveness of a prescribed medical treatment by a doctor.
What Are Hypo And Hyperthyroidism:
What is Hypothyroidism?
To understand this term, you need to know the two main hormones produced by the Thyroid gland – T3 (Triiodothyronine ) and T4 (Tetraiodothyronine). These two agents are transported to the rest of the body via the bloodstream through TSH-Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. In a normal case, the ratio of these hormones must be at 20% – 80% of T3 and T4.
Hypothyroidism is a result of low levels of T3 and T4, which can is diagnosed through a basic blood examination.
What is Hyperthyroidism?
It is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too much of tetraiodothyronine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). When an excess of these hormones gets released into the blood, the metabolism gets increased rapidly and results in many symptoms like weight loss, increased appetite etc. Hyperthyroidism is treated by putting the patient on anti-thyroid drugs or surgery (in severe cases) to control the hormone production by the gland.
Causes Of Thyroid:
What Causes Hypothyroidism?
Here are some of the key factors that increase the risk of Hypothyroidism in an individual:
1. Autoimmune Diseases:
Studies reveal that 50% of Hypothyroidism cases are due to Autoimmune diseases, in which the body’s cells attack its own system. The condition is known as Chronic autoimmune thyroiditis in medical terms and affects women 3-5 times more often than men(2).
2. Iodine Deficiency:
Iodine is essential for the proper functioning of the thyroid. When the body cannot make enough levels of Iodine, it causes a poor secretion of hormones, causing Hypothyroidism.
Research reveals that patients who received medicated drugs like amiodarone have shown an increased risk of Hypothyroidism. This condition is called Amiodarone-induced thyrotoxicosis or AIT. (3) Lithium, another widely used drug also slows down thyroid functionality.
Exposure to radiation during chemotherapy can lead to a decrease in thyroid hormones makes thyroid gland underactive. The risk is higher if the therapy is aimed at the neck and head regions, causing inflammation and malfunction of the gland. (4)
Stress is an indirect contributor to Hypothyroidism. It slows down the performance of Thyroid gland and decreases the levels of T3 and T4 hormones. Also, by impacting the body metabolism, stress can boost your weight caused by this disorder and worsen your condition.
See Also: Tips To Reduce Stress
7. Intermittent Fasting:
During Intermittent fasting your thyroid levels, especially the T3 drastically go down. This is our body’s inbuilt mechanism to conserve energy and returns to normalcy once your regular eating patterns are back.
Causes of Hyperthyroidism:
Hyperthyroidism is caused due to a number of factors that range from autoimmune diseases to diet and medication side effects. Let us study each of them in detail:
1. Grave’s Disease:
People with Grave’s disease, an autoimmune disorder, are at the highest risk of getting Hyperthyroidism. The autoantibodies produced by the body stimulate the overproduction of T4 hormones. It is also known that this disease affects women more than men and can also be genetically transferred (5)
In this condition, the thyroid gland undergoes an inflammation, which can impair hormone production. An excess of T3 and T4 can get secreted and leaked into the blood leading to Hyperthyroidism.
3. Thyroid Nodules:
Also called Functioning Adenoma, the condition occurs when the thyroid gland gets enlarged due to the growth of nodule or lump starts producing excess T4 thyroid hormones.
4. Excessive Iodine Intake:
Consuming high amounts of iodine either in the form of food or supplements can cause the thyroid gland to oversecrete hormones and cause Hyperthyroidism (6).
5. Overdose of Medications:
Taking an overdose of thyroid medication either due to negligence or for achieving weight loss can trigger Hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms Of Thyroid:
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism:
One of the early signs of Hypothyroidism is experiencing severe weakness and lethargy. This is because the condition slows down your body metabolism and leads to poor absorption of nutrients. Here are some of the other symptoms of this problem:
- Dry Skin
- Weight Gain
- Hoarse Voice
- Weak Muscles
- Receding hairline or Hairloss
- Thinning and breakage of hair
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Enlargement in Thyroid Gland
- Swelling in Joints
- Puffy Face
- Sensitivity To Cold
- Difficulty Swallowing
- Blurred Vision
- Cold Hands and Feet
- Shortness of Breath
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism:
Hyperthyroidism leads to many symptoms which often can be mistaken for hypertension, panic attack or other disorders. Let us into the common symptoms experienced during this condition:
- Sudden Unexplained Weight Loss.
- Heart Palpitations and abnormal heartbeat.
- Fatigue and Lethargy.
- Increase in Appetite.
- Increased Sweating.
- Irregular Bowel Movements.
- Muscle Weakness.
- Dry and Itchy Skin.
- Increased heat sensitivity.
- Brittleness of hair.
- Lack of concentration.
How To Prevent Hypothyroidism?
Although Thyroid issues can’t be prevented completely, the risk factors can certainly be reduced by following a few precautions like:
- Watching out the symptoms early
- Taking in enough Iodine
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Conducting regular screening tests
Natural Home Remedies To Cure Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid):
Let us make one point very clear to you! A doctor-prescribed treatment is a must for treating Hypothyroidism and there is no alternative to it. However, diet plays a crucial role in speeding up the results! Eating a healthy dose of certain vitamin and mineral-rich foods can give you quick relief from the symptoms and support your medication. Listed below are some of the natural methods to deal with your underactive thyroid problem by home remedies:
1. Increase Selenium Intake:
Selenium is a micronutrient that is essential for the metabolism of thyroid hormones. Studies reveal that an increase in Selenium intake has shown positive results in Hypothyroid patients suffering from autoimmune disorders. (7). Foods like Brazil Nuts, Tuna, Beef, Turkey, Pasta, Bread or Rice are natural sources of Selenium, which help in balancing the levels of T4 hormone. Intake of selenium-rich food is the best remedy to treat an underactive thyroid.
The dosage of Selenium varies from case to case and is determined by the doctor after examining the reports.
2. Indulge in B-Vitamin Rich Diet:
The group of B Vitamins play an important role in the well-being of the Thyroid gland. They support the health of the endocrine glands, properly utilise iodine for secreting hormones and keep the thyroid cells in working condition. You can increase the percentage of these vitamins from foods like legumes, asparagus, eggs, sesame seeds etc.
Along with this diet, you may also have to amp up your B12 levels by taking supplements. It is proven that Hypothyroidism can lead to Vitamin B12 deficiency, which can lead to neurological and brain-related disorders (8). So, be sure to check with your doctor about this and get an early screening to rule out the risk.
3. Increase Iodine Levels:
Iodine deficiency is one of the common causes of Hypothyroidism. If your body is not producing enough Iodine to support the thyroid functionality, you must supplement it from external sources. An easy way to do it by adding a recommended dose of Iodized salt to your daily diet for underactive thyroid remedy at home. However, you must note that excessive iodine levels in the body can worsen your condition and lead to dangerous side effects.
Apart from salt, other natural ways of iodine-rich food sources include – Saltwater Fish, Seafood, Milk, Eggs and Dairy. Even water disinfected by iodine can also supplement the levels naturally in the body. (9)
4. Harness The Power of probiotics:
Along with boosting your gut health, probiotic-rich foods can also help in treating auto-immune thyroid conditions. One explanation for this is that the good bacteria in these foods can strengthen your stomach lining to prevent toxins from entering the bloodstream. This inturn controls the production of antibodies and the automatic immune response from the system.
This is why experts recommend Thyroid affected patients to eat a probiotic-rich diet, which includes fermented foods like Yoghurt, Kombucha, Miso, Kimchi etc. In many cases, probiotic supplements like acidophilus and Bifidobacterium are also prescribed as part of the medication.
See Also: Healthy Probiotic Drinks Available In India
5. Essential Oils To Activate Thyroid:
Essential oils used as part of the Aromatherapy can help you deal with hypothyroidism. These highly concentrated extracts from plants have many therapeutic properties to alleviate the symptoms of Hypothyroidism. However, they cannot be used as substitutes for real medication and nutrient-rich diet.
You can try adding a few drops of these essential oils to a diffuser or as part of massage therapy dilated with a carrier oil:
Boosts your metabolism and helps in speedy digestion of food to balance your weight.
2. Rose Geranium Oil –
This oil can be applied topically to reduce inflammation of the thyroid gland and also offer instant relief from anxiety and stress-related to the problem.
3. Cedarwood Oil –
Dry skin associated with hypothyroidism can be treated with this oil. Mix a few drops of Cedarwood oil with some Jojoba oil and apply it all over the affected areas.
6. Herbs As Remedies For Hypothyroidism:
Herbal formulations and supplements may have a small, but significant effect in treating Thyroid disorders. They work by supporting your Thyroid medication and deliver faster results. Here are two such herbs which are studied for Hypothyroidism:
Also called the Indian Ginseng, Ashwagandha is a traditional Ayurvedic herb used in a powder or capsule form. As per research, patients who were given this herb in a dosage of 600mg per day have experienced a reduction in the thyroid abnormalities associated with Hypothyroidism. (10)
- Excessive use of Ashwagandha may lead to Hyperthyroidism and in worst cases, a condition called Thyrotoxicosis.
2. Stinging Nettle:
Another powerful herbal remedy for an underactive thyroid is the Nettle plant. It has metabolism-boosting properties, which can contribute to the activation of the Thyroid gland. Scientists opine that this could be because of the hot and dry nature of the herb, that also offers many other medicinal benefits.
- Nettles are usually mild for oral consumption. But, an overdose may lead to a burning sensation in the stomach, excessive sweating and rashes on the body.
Lifestyle Changes To Manage Hypothyroidism
Although there is no replacement for medications to treat Hypothyroidism, making simple lifestyle modifications can help you manage the condition better. Listed below are some of the tips to get faster relief from the symptoms:
1. Take Up Yoga or a Physical Workout:
The benefits of Yoga to our body and mind needs no special introduction. According to recent studies, Yoga is found to be a beneficial remedy for a stress-related underactive thyroid. With a perfect combination of asanas, meditation and Pranayama, Yoga can alleviate stress and anxiety to improve the performance of Thyroid. (11) It is also known that regular practice of Yoga for at least 6 months can reduce the dependency of hormonal replacement medicines.
If yoga is not your cup of tea, then you can also sign up for a weight-training program to counter the effects of poor metabolism.
2. Get Adequate Sleep:
Quality sleep can help you overcome fatigue and sluggishness caused by Hypothyroidism. Switch off your bedroom lights before you sleep as darkness can slowly induce sleep by calming down your nerves. Regulate your room temperature and make sure it neither too warm not too cold. Stay away from gadgets of any sort (laptops, smartphones and even e-readers) at least 1 hour before the bedtime. Eat light meals and avoid spicy or heavy foods that can give you discomfort.
Make sure to sleep for at least 6-8 hours per day. If you face any discomfort while breathing or frequently wake up, you must seek medical help.
3. Cut Down Sugars In Your Diet:
One of the side effects of Hypothyroidism is developing an increased risk of Diabetes – both Type 1 and Type 2. Eating a high sugar diet can worsen the condition of a body, which is already struggling with poor metabolism. This is why doctors recommend a low-sugar or sugar-free diet for these patients. This includes staying away from sugars, juices, sweeteners and desserts.
4. Say No to Junk and Processed Food:
Foods like Pizza, Burgers, Baked goods, Processed foods and Fried stuff exceptionally increase the calorie count in the body. As such, weight gain is an aftereffect of Hypothyroidism and addition of these calories increases your body mass at a rapid rate. Instead, eat a healthy, well-balanced diet comprising of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, high proteins, low-carbohydrates and gluten-free for speedy digestion.
5. Take Your Medication On Time:
There is no shortcut to success, especially in the case of Hypothyroidism. You must take your medications regularly and on time to cope up with the condition. Get regular blood tests done to gauge the thyroid levels and take the right course of action. Typically, you will be prescribed hormonal supplement pills or tablets, with dosage varying from case to case.
Using them for the prescribed period of time can make it possible to reverse the signs of Hypothyroidism and restore normalcy in your life!
Natural Remedies For Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid):
An effective way of treating Hyperthyroidism is by administering the patient with antithyroid drugs. In addition to these medical treatments, following some natural ways to reduce Hyperthyroidism can speed up the results and reduce the severity of the problem. Here are some of the best home remedies for overactive thyroid:
Bugleweed is a type of herb that has a bitter and pungent taste. It belongs to the mint family and is traditionally used for treating a variety of health conditions, including Hyperthyroidism. Studies show that Bugleweed has thyro-suppressive properties and can control the oversecretion of hormones (12). It can also inhibit the stimulation of antibodies in autoimmune diseases like Grave’s and control the symptoms of the syndrome. This is why Bugleweed is used as one of the best home remedies for an overactive thyroid.
NOTE: You must not take Bugleweed without consulting a doctor. Also, it is known that prolonged use of this herb can lead to enlargement of the thyroid gland. Abruptly discontinuing its usage may worsen the condition.
2. Essential Oils:
Essential oils used as part of aromatherapy, work as one of the natural ways to reduce Hyperthyroidism. They do not directly treat an overactive thyroid gland but alleviate its symptoms. Studies show that applying lemongrass essential oil can reduce the inflammation of the thyroid gland and control the severity of the problem (13). Oils like Frankincense also has anti-inflammatory properties which can reduce itching and dryness of skin associated with Hyperthyroidism (14). Other oils like Spearmint, Cedarwood, Rose Geranium etc. reduce depression, pain, stress and anxiety in thyroid-affected patients and help them recover fast.
NOTE: Essential oils must not be applied directly on the skin. They must be diluted in carrier oils like coconut, almond or olive. They are highly toxic when swallowed by mouth and can lead to serious health complications.
3. Lemon Balm:
Lemon balm, commonly known as balm mint is one of the natural herbs for Hyperthyroidism caused by Grave’s diseases. The herb is known to prevent the antibodies from getting attached to the thyroid cells and reduce thyroid-stimulating hormone or TSH. Studies also show that the antioxidants present in this herb have thyroid-regulating properties (15). However, not much evidence is available on its effectiveness on Hyperthyroidism caused by other causes.
Precautions: Lemon balm is reported to be unsafe for consumption during pregnancy, breastfeeding or in children. Patients who are on sedatives or with thyroid disorders must refrain from taking this herb directly without consulting doctor.
Foods To Eat And Avoid With Hypo And Hyperthyroidism:
Foods To Eat And Avoid With Hypothyroidism
Several nutrients support a faster recovery from Hypothyroidism, while other agents may worsen your condition. Listed below are different foods that you must eat and avoid during this phase:
Foods To Eat
∗ Antioxidant-Rich Foods –
During Hypothyroidism, the oxidative damage due to free radicals is quite high. To combat that effect, indulge in an anti-oxidant rich diet which includes berries, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, cherries, bell peppers etc.,
∗ Zinc Foods –
Just Selenium, Zinc also plays a supportive role in improving T3 levels. Some of the Zinc-rich sources are legumes, nuts, shellfish, chicken and oysters.
See Also: Diet For Thyroid
Foods To Avoid:
× Goitrogen laden foods:
Goitrogen is a compound which can trigger the enlargement of Thyroid gland associated with Hyperthyroidism. Some of the foods containing Goitrogens are Tofu. Cabbage, Peaches, Kale, Cauliflower, Spinach, Millets etc.,
× Caffeine Beverages:
Consuming excess caffeine can slow down the performance of Thyroid gland. This is why you must have drinks like green tea, coffee or tea in moderation or if possible, avoid them till the situation gets better.
× Excess of Iodine:
While Iodine is very essential to cope up with Hypothyroidism, taking in excess can aggravate the problem. So, think before you add that extra spoon of salt in your food!
Diet For Hyperthyroidism
It is known that eating certain foods and avoiding certain other foods is very important to increase the effectiveness of your thyroid medication. Let us look into the list of foods to take and avoid as part of the hyperthyroidism natural treatment diet:
Foods To Consume:
1. Low-Iodine Foods:
Iodine can stimulate the production of thyroid hormones and worsen the condition. Hence, it is wise to switch to these low-iodine foods to reduce the hormonal secretion and bring down the severity.
- Unsalted Butter
- Unsalted Nuts
- Non-Iodized Salt like Pink Salt, Rock Salt
- Black Coffee or Tea
- Fresh Fruits
- Egg whites
- Pasta and Rice
2. Vitamins and Minerals:
The risk of Hyperthyroidism increases with a deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, Vitamin D etc. Here is a list of recommended foods to consume to lower the chances of this disorder:
- Fortified Cereals
- Meat like beef, lamb
- Poultry like Chicken, Turkey
- Whole Grains
- Green Leafy Vegetables
Selenium is a trace mineral that helps in producing antioxidant enzymes to prevent cell damage in the body. A study shows that low Selenium levels are linked to thyroid disorders and one way to lower the risk is by increasing Selenium intake (16). Here are some Selenium foods to Hyperthyroidism:
- Brazil Nuts
- Oat Bran
- Sunflower Seeds
- Chia Seeds
- Meat and Poultry
- Milk and Yoghurt
4. Calcium Foods:
It is known that patients who are suffering from Hyperthyroidism experience an increased loss of Calcium through urine and stools. This can lead to brittle bones in the long run. This is why you must maintain Calcium levels in the body by including these foods in your diet:
- Collard Greens
- Almond Milk
- Calcium-Fortified Cereals and Juices
- White Beans
5. Gluten-Free Foods:
Living on a Gluten-free diet while taking medication for Hyperthyroidism is known to increase the effectiveness of treatment. Continuing this diet for a period of time can even reduce the dependency on thyroid medicines. Here are some of the best Gluten-free foods for Hyperthyroidism:
- Almond Milk
- Gluten-Free Flours
- Nuts and Seeds
Foods to Avoid
Here is the foods list to say NO to, when you have Hyperthyroidism:
- High iodine foods like salt, seafood, milk and dairy, egg yolks etc.
- Nitrate rich foods like celery, beetroots, spinach
- Gluten foods like wheat, barley, yeast, rye, malt etc.
- Soy products like Soy milk, beans, tofu etc.
- High Caffeine products like coffee, tea, dark chocolate
- Junk foods like Soda, Baked Goods, Burgers, Pizzas etc.
- Alcoholic Beverages
Health Risks Of Hypothyroidism:
Other than the symptoms mentioned above, Hypothyroidism can lead to serious problems when left untreated, such as:
- Goiter, which enlarges Thyroid Gland that can restrict breathing and swallowing
- Mental Disorders like Depression and slowing down of brain functionality
- Heart Problems due to elevated “LDL” cholesterol levels in the body
- Mydexema, a life-threatening disease that can cause lethargy and unconsciousness
- Peripheral Neuropathy, which causes pain and tingling sensation in arms and legs
- Children who are born to a mother with an untreated Hypothyroidism during pregnancy may have congenital disabilities and impaired skills.
Risks of Hyperthyroidism:
If left untreated, Hyperthyroidism can lead to many serious health complications, such as:
1. Cardiovascular Diseases:
The heart is the most affected organ of Hyperthyroidism. Symptoms such as heart palpitations, the rapid heartbeat can increase the risk of heart strokes and may eventually cause heart failure.
2. Eye Problems:
People with Hyperthyroidism caused due to Grave’s disease may develop redness and swell in the eyes, light sensitivity, blurring, double vision and, in severe cases, even vision loss.
Due to depleting Calcium levels in Hyperthyroidism, many patients experience weakness and brittleness of bones. Also, the condition inhibits your system from supplying enough Calcium to your bones.
4. Skin Problems:
Patients with Grave’s disorder may experience red and swollen skin in rare cases.
5. Thyroid Storm:
In exaggerated cases of Hyperthyroidism, a dangerous condition called Thyroid storm may get triggered, in which patients experience a very high heart rate, high fever, diarrhea, delirium and decreased consciousness.
Overproduction of thyroid hormones can lead to inflammation of the goiter gland.
When Should You Consult A Doctor?
You must see the doctor when you notice one or more of the symptoms of Hypothyroidism like fatigue, dry skin, hoarseness in voice, swelling of neck and face, etc.,
Even if you already on medication, be sure to follow up with the doctor regularly. This can help in determining the right course of treatment and dosage for a speedy recovery
If you are experiencing more than one of the above-mentioned symptoms, you can suspect a possible case of Hyperthyroidism. To prevent it from getting serious, it is always recommended to consult an endocrinologist who can confirm the condition based on blood tests and physical examination. During pregnancy, it is a must to get your thyroid levels checked frequently to rule out any possible cases of Hyperthyroidism.
Before we wrap this article, let us assure you that these home remedies for thyroid make the condition less-challenging than before. You can easily maintain the thyroid levels and with time, even reduce the need for external medicines. Do let us know how you are dealing with this syndrome!
DISCLAIMER: This article does not provide any medical advice and is intended for informational purposes only. It must not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. How do I know I have Thyroid problems?
The thyroid is usually identified by common symptoms like weight gain, puffiness and lethargy. However, this cannot be a sure-shot way of determining a problem without proper medical tests. A doctor usually recommends a Thyroid profile, which is a blood screening test. The test comprises of T3, T4 and TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) levels. Proper treatment is provided based on the result.
2. Can Hypothyroidism lead to Hyperthyroidism?
There is a definite link between Hypo and Hyperthyroidism. Taking medicines for Hypothyroidism can activate the gland and allow for better secretion of hormones. When consumed in excess, be it terms of dosage or prolonged duration, the gland starts overperforming than normal. This leads to a condition called Hyperthyroidism.
3. What are the environmental causes of Hypothyroidism?
Studies reveal that environmental factors have a fair share of contribution towards auto-immune thyroid. Issues like Vitamin D deficiency, prolonged exposure to radiation, Cigarette smoking, alcohol and Viral infections increase the risk of thyroid dysfunction. (17) However, careful analysis must be done to determine the reasons before taking the next steps.
4. Can Hyperthyroidism cause hair loss?
Yes! Studies show that thyroid disorders like Hyperthyroidism can lead to hair loss and poor hair quality (18). The distribution of hair loss can be equal across the scalp and may continue until the hormones get regularized. Once the treatment is successful, the patient is very likely to experience hair regrowth in a few months or even more.
5. Is there a risk of Cancer due to Hyperthyroidism?
Research suggests that the occurrence of thyroid cancers with Hyperthyroidism is very rare (19). However, if the syndrome is caused due to thyroid nodules, then they must be tested for malignancy. Also, patients with Grave’s related Hyperthyroidism have not recorded any cases of Cancer so far.
6. Does Hyperthyroidism lead to diabetes?
There is a certain connection between Hyperthyroidism and diabetes. It is known that thyroid dysfunction can disturb body metabolism and may lead to elevated blood sugar levels. This increases the risk of getting Type-2 Diabetes and those who already have diabetes may have worsened symptoms.