What is hypothyroidism?
We all have a small butterfly-shaped gland, known as the thyroid gland, located in the front of the neck. A part of your body’s endocrine system, this gland uses iodine from food to produce two thyroid hormones namely, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
These hormones are responsible for regulating many of your body’s activities and activity levels such as:
- Controlling how your body uses energy (metabolism).
- Regulating your body temperature.
- Regulating your heart rate.
The production of these hormones is determined by your pituitary gland and hypothalamus.
Due to thyroid disorders, the gland may either produce too many hormones (hyperthyroidism) or not enough hormones (hypothyroidism).
Hypothyroidism is a fairly common condition and is amongst the most common disorders of the thyroid in our country. It is a condition that signifies that your thyroid gland is inactive and cannot produce enough hormones.
What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?
There are some clear signs and symptoms that point to the existence of hypothyroidism. However, in some people, the symptoms of hypothyroidism may not be palpable in the initial stages and may develop slowly over the years.
At times these symptoms get confused with other issues. But over time, when left untreated, they become more obvious.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism to look for:
- Constant constipation
- Fatigue that arises without exerting yourself.
- Dry and flaky skin.
- Feeling too sensitive to cold.
- Unexplained weight gain.
- Puffy and swollen face.
- Weakness, pain, or stiffness in the muscles.
- Hoarse voice
- Pain or swelling in the joints.
- Elevated blood cholesterol levels.
- Slower heart rate.
- Feelings of anxiety and depression.
- Thinning hair
- Irregular or heavy periods.
- Noticeable enlargement of the thyroid gland (goitre).
- Problems with memory and concentration.
Although hypothyroidism mostly occurs in older adults, infants and teens may also develop this disorder. In these cases, the symptoms occur as:
- Excessive drowsiness or sleepiness.
- Poor growth or short stature.
- Delayed occurrence and development of permanent teeth.
- Poor cognitive abilities.
- Delayed puberty
What causes hypothyroidism?
Several reasons may cause problems with the ability of your thyroid gland to produce enough hormones. Some of the most common causes of hypothyroidism are:
- If you suffer from health problems such as type 1 or 2 diabetes, goitre, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Hashimoto’s disease, pernicious anaemia.
- You were born with congenital disorders of the pituitary or the thyroid gland.
- You have a deficiency of iodine.
- You have had surgery that included radioactive iodine to cure your thyroid problem.
- If you have undergone thyroid surgery.
- If you have been treated with radiation therapy, especially around your head and neck area.
- If you are dependent on long-term medications such as that for psychiatric disorders.
Besides, these causes of hypothyroidism, some factors increase your risk of getting this disorder. These include:
- Being a woman
- Being over the age of 60 years
- Having a family history of thyroid disorders.
- Are pregnant or have recently delivered a baby in the past six months.
How is hypothyroidism diagnosed and treated?
Before we talk about a natural thyroid remedy, it is important to know the importance of getting hypothyroidism diagnosed and treated on time.
When left untreated, hypothyroidism may lead to several serious health problems such as:
- Heart diseases such as heart failure.
- Peripheral neuropathy leading to pain, tingling, and numbness in the arms and legs.
- Mental health issues such as depression.
- A life-threatening condition known as Myxoedema that causes severe lethargy, cold intolerance, and unconsciousness.
- Birth defects in babies born to women with untreated hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is diagnosed by looking at your physical symptoms, blood and TSH tests.
Once your hypothyroidism is confirmed, it is treated through thyroid hormone medications that replace the hormone that your body is not producing. Available in pill, liquid, and soft gel capsule forms, these medicines need to be taken every morning on an empty stomach.
Just like any other medicine, this medicine also comes with its share of side effects. Not just this, forgetting your daily dosage may lead to a flare-up of your symptoms.
This is where natural remedies for thyroid come in.
Why should you consider natural thyroid remedies?
While they cannot replace your line of treatment, there are some clear advantages of opting for natural treatments of hypothyroidism. These remedies focus on the root cause of your thyroid problem and offer a sustainable solution.
Here are some great reasons to include natural thyroid medications and remedies in your treatment plan:
- A natural thyroid remedy has virtually no side effects.
- One of the most important advantages of natural remedies is that they not just reduce the symptoms of hypothyroidism but also have other important benefits. These include strengthening your immune system, regulating your metabolism, and stabilising your hormones.
- A natural thyroid remedy is easily available.
- A thyroid remedy can be easily incorporated into your lifestyle.
- Most of the alternative thyroid remedies are economically priced and at times even freely available.
- A natural thyroid remedy not just reduces the symptoms of hypothyroidism, but when practised regularly, also prevent this condition from occurring in the first place.
How can I boost my thyroid with natural thyroid remedies?
Wondering how to boost my thyroid naturally? The answer to this is to try alternative natural treatments for hypothyroidism.
These natural treatments for thyroid include making holistic lifestyle changes related to your thyroid diet, exercising, and working on your stress levels.
Here are some of the best natural thyroid remedies that you can try:
- Thyroid diet: Deficiencies and food sensitivities can cause hypothyroidism as is seen in people suffering from Celiac disease or those whose diet lacks iodine. One of the best natural remedies for hypothyroidism is to make simple dietary changes to help improve your thyroid health.
The best remedy for thyroid is to include foods that are rich in vitamin B, omega-3 fatty acids, and iodine. You can include foods such as:
- Seafood such as fatty fish, oysters, seaweed, and shrimp.
- Greek yoghurt
- Fortified bread
- Soy-based foods and drinks
- Chicken breast
- Bran cereal
- Green peas
Foods to avoid:
- Full-fat dairy
- Nuts and seeds
- Dried fruits
- Nightshade vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers
- High sugar foods
- Alternative sweeteners
- Processed foods
- Reducing stress: Leading a stressful lifestyle plays a major role in increasing your chances of getting hypothyroidism and increasing its discomforting symptoms if you already suffer from it. Stress stimulates the production of cortisol that suppresses the functioning of the pituitary gland, curtailing the production of TSH. Altering your response to stress triggers is an effective natural thyroid remedy.
Here are some natural remedies for thyroid to reduce stress:
- Practicing meditation and mindfulness is a natural thyroid remedy.
- Include relaxation exercises such as stretching in your daily routine.
- Manage your time well to avoid deadline-related stress and anxiety.
- One of the best natural thyroid remedies is aromatherapy. It helps ease stress and anxiety. Essential oils of lavender, lemongrass, orange, and ylang-ylang are known to help your mind relax and lessen your worries.
- An effective natural thyroid remedy is to spend time amidst nature and greenery.
- Try herbal teas, a natural thyroid remedy, for enhancing your sleep patterns and reducing anxiety.
- Exercising: Keeping yourself active through regular exercises is one of the most effective natural remedies for hypothyroidism. Here is how exercising helps people with hypothyroidism:
- Exercise is a good thyroid remedy because it helps in stretching your joints and muscles while alleviating fatigue, pain, and stiffness.
- It works as an excellent natural thyroid remedy to reduce hypothyroidism-related weight gain.
- By releasing endorphins and curtailing the production of cortisol, exercising helps reduce the stress and anxiety related to your condition.
The exercises that you choose as a natural thyroid remedy must be those that don’t exert too much pressure on your joints. Some great exercises to help with hypothyroidism include:
- Stationary cycling
- Gentle strength training exercises such as lunges, plank, leg raises, push-ups, squats, overhead press, and lateral pull-downs.
However, remember to begin your exercise plan slowly and gradually build upon it. This is essential to avoid injuries and fatigue. Choose such exercises that your body can handle and that you enjoy. This increases your probability of sticking to your exercise regime. Keep progressing your exercises for better impact.
Don’t start any exercise plan as a natural thyroid remedy without consulting your doctor. Listen to your body and if any movement hurts or makes you feel dizzy, stop immediately.
Which are the best natural supplements for hypothyroidism?
In addition to following a thyroid diet, several people turn towards natural supplements for managing their hypothyroidism.
These supplements are usually of nutrients that you may be missing in your diet. The function of this supplemental natural thyroid remedy is that it helps make up for deficiencies that form the root cause of hypothyroidism.
One of the best natural treatments for thyroid, these supplements also help fight the underlying causes of this condition such as inflammation and autoimmune disorders.
Here are some of the most effective supplements for hypothyroidism:
- Iodine: This is the primary nutrient that enabled your thyroid gland to produce TSH. Just be careful not to overdose on iodine supplements as this can be counterproductive and may cause hypothyroidism.
- Vitamin B: This is essential to regulate your thyroid function for adequate secretion of hormones.
- Selenium: Selenium is essential for regulating the metabolism and synthesis of your thyroid gland. Adding it to your daily intake of supplements is an effective natural thyroid remedy.
- Zinc: Adding zinc to your diet is one of the best natural treatments for hypothyroidism. This mineral is essential for improving the functioning of your thyroid gland and the production of hormones.
- Vitamin D: Low levels of vitamin D in your body are associated with thyroid disease. Especially, people with hypothyroidism have significantly low levels of this vitamin. Adding a supplement fortified with vitamin D is one of the best natural thyroid medications.
- Diindolylmethane: This is a great natural thyroid remedy that is particularly used to treat women who suffer from thyroid-related hormonal problems.
- Curcumin: This is a powerful antioxidant that has excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin is known to help reduce the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
- Ashwagandha: This is a common ayurvedic supplement that works as one of the most effective natural remedies for thyroid. It helps boost the functioning of your thyroid gland and alleviates your stress levels, preventing flare-up of your hypothyroidism symptoms.
- Desiccated thyroid extract: Also known as thyroid extract, desiccated thyroid extract also serves as a significant part of natural thyroid medications. It is used to replace the hormones that your thyroid gland is not producing. In use since the 1800s, this natural thyroid remedy is made from the tissues in thyroid glands of animals. Desiccated thyroid extract is used for improving stunted physical and mental growth, reduce enlarged goitre, and hypothyroidism-related infertility. This extract also helps reduce weight, which is the most common symptom as well as a health risk associated with hypothyroidism.
A natural thyroid remedy has quite a positive impact on hypothyroidism. This is precisely the reason why natural and alternative treatments remain relevant. However, you must ensure that before incorporating any natural remedies for thyroid you need to consult your doctor on whether you can complement such natural interventions with your existing line of treatment.
The safety of natural treatments for hypothyroidism depends on several factors, including the specific remedy, your individual health condition, and potential interactions with medications. While some natural options like dietary changes and stress management offer potential benefits, it's crucial to proceed with caution.
- Limited scientific evidence: Many natural remedies lack robust scientific research to fully understand their effectiveness and safety for hypothyroidism.
- Quality and regulation: Natural supplements vary in quality and purity, raising concerns about potential side effects or interactions.
- Individual needs: Your unique health situation and existing medications influence whether a natural approach is suitable.
Therefore, always consult a healthcare professional before using any natural remedies for hypothyroidism. They can help you weigh the potential benefits and risks, considering your individual needs and ensuring safe integration with your treatment plan.
Like any medication, natural remedies can have potential side effects, especially if not used appropriately. Some common concerns include:
- Nutrient interactions: Certain supplements might interfere with the absorption or effectiveness of your thyroid medication.
- Overdosing: Exceeding recommended dosages of some natural remedies can lead to adverse effects.
- Adverse reactions: Individuals might experience allergic reactions or other side effects depending on their sensitivities.
To minimize risks, discuss any natural remedies you consider with your doctor. They can advise on appropriate dosages, potential interactions, and monitoring requirements.
Currently, no natural cure exists for hypothyroidism. The underlying cause, often autoimmune in nature, requires ongoing management. However, natural approaches can play a supportive role:
- Dietary changes: Maintaining a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients like iodine, selenium, and zinc can benefit thyroid function.
- Stress management: Chronic stress can worsen hypothyroidism symptoms. Techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing can help manage stress and improve overall well-being.
- Exercise: Regular physical activity can contribute to better thyroid function and overall health.
Remember, natural approaches should complement, not replace, conventional medical treatment for optimal thyroid management.
The "most effective" natural treatment depends on your individual needs and symptoms. However, some well-researched options with potential benefits include:
- Selenium: This mineral supports thyroid hormone production and conversion. Consult your doctor for appropriate dosage guidelines. (Source: National Institutes of Health)
- Tyrosine: An amino acid used by the thyroid gland to produce hormones. However, its effectiveness as a sole treatment requires further research. (Source: National Institutes of Health)
- Probiotics: Studies suggest gut health may influence thyroid function. Maintaining a diverse gut microbiome through probiotics might offer benefits, but more research is needed. (Source: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
It's crucial to discuss these options with your doctor to determine if they're suitable for your specific case and avoid potential interactions with medications.
Deciding if a natural approach is right for you requires careful consideration and collaboration with your healthcare provider. Here are some key factors to evaluate:
- Your individual health profile: Underlying health conditions, medication interactions, and personal risk factors need to be assessed.
- Scientific evidence: Research the specific natural remedy and its potential benefits and risks for hypothyroidism.
- Doctor's guidance: Seek professional advice to determine if a natural approach aligns with your treatment plan and individual needs.
Remember, self-treating with natural remedies without medical supervision can be dangerous. A healthcare professional can guide you towards safe and effective strategies for managing your hypothyroidism.
Absolutely! Discussing any natural remedies you consider with your doctor is crucial for several reasons:
- Safety assessment: They can assess potential interactions with your medications and underlying health conditions.
- Dosage guidance: They can recommend appropriate dosages based on your individual needs and avoid potential overdosing.
Monitoring: They can provide guidance on monitoring for any side effects or changes in your thyroid function.
Yes, some natural remedies can interact with your medications, potentially affecting their effectiveness or causing adverse reactions. This is why discussing any natural treatments you consider with your doctor is crucial. They can assess potential interactions based on your specific medication regimen and ensure safe integration.
Here are some examples of potential interactions:
- Thyroid medication: Certain supplements like iodine or tyrosine can interfere with the absorption or effectiveness of your thyroid medication.
- Blood thinners: Herbs like garlic or ginger might increase the risk of bleeding if you're on blood thinners.
Remember, this is not an exhaustive list. Always disclose all medications and supplements you take to your doctor to avoid potential harm.
Navigating information about natural remedies for hypothyroidism can be overwhelming. Here are some reliable sources to consider:
- National Institutes of Health (NIH): They provide evidence-based information on various health topics, including thyroid conditions and complementary therapies.
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH): This branch of the NIH researches and provides information on complementary and integrative health approaches, including some natural remedies for thyroid conditions.
- American Thyroid Association: This patient advocacy group offers resources and information on thyroid health, including sections on complementary therapies.
Remember, these sources can provide general information, but personalized guidance from your healthcare professional is essential for safe and effective use of natural approaches for your specific needs.
Iodine plays a crucial role in thyroid hormone production, making it relevant for hypothyroidism. However, supplementing with iodine requires careful consideration:
- Hypothyroidism types: Most cases are autoimmune (Hashimoto's), where additional iodine might not be beneficial and could even worsen symptoms. Consult your doctor to determine if you have iodine deficiency-related hypothyroidism.
- Dosage and sources: Excess iodine can be harmful. Stick to recommended daily intakes (RDI) from natural sources like seafood, seaweed, or iodized salt (if recommended by your doctor).
- Potential interactions: Iodine can interact with medications, so disclose all supplements to your doctor.
While studies suggest potential benefits for iodine deficiency-related hypothyroidism, research remains ongoing. Always prioritize your doctor's guidance in managing your specific condition.
Selenium is another essential mineral for thyroid function, but exceeding recommended dosages can lead to side effects:
- Hair loss, nausea, fatigue: These are potential side effects of exceeding the tolerable upper intake level (UL) of selenium (400 mcg/day for adults).
- Interactions with medications: Selenium can interact with some medications, so inform your doctor of all supplements you take.
Remember, selenium shouldn't be used as a sole treatment for hypothyroidism. Its role is mainly supportive, and optimal dosage depends on your individual needs and doctor's recommendations.
Currently, no robust scientific evidence supports using coconut oil to treat hypothyroidism. Some studies suggest potential benefits for overall metabolism, but it's unclear if it directly impacts thyroid function.
Research on coconut oil is ongoing, but for now, focus on your doctor-prescribed treatment and established dietary recommendations for managing hypothyroidism.
The gut microbiome might influence thyroid function, and preliminary research suggests probiotics could offer some benefits:
- Improved gut health: Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is crucial for overall health, potentially impacting thyroid function indirectly.
- Reduced inflammation: Chronic inflammation is linked to various health issues, including thyroid conditions. Probiotics might help manage inflammation, potentially benefiting some hypothyroidism symptoms.
However, more research is needed to confirm these potential benefits. Discuss the use of probiotics with your doctor, considering your specific gut health and other factors.
Yoga offers a holistic approach to well-being, potentially benefiting people with hypothyroidism in several ways:
- Stress management: Chronic stress can worsen hypothyroidism symptoms. Yoga incorporates relaxation techniques like mindfulness and breathing exercises, promoting stress management.
- Improved sleep: Adequate sleep is crucial for thyroid health, and yoga practices like gentle restorative poses can enhance sleep quality.
- Overall well-being: Regular physical activity contributes to general health and well-being, positively impacting various hypothyroidism symptoms like fatigue and mood.
Remember, yoga shouldn't replace your prescribed treatment. Consider it a complementary approach to support your overall well-being under your doctor's guidance.
There's no single "best" diet for everyone with hypothyroidism. However, certain dietary strategies can support thyroid function and overall health:
- Balanced and nutritious: Prioritize whole, unprocessed foods rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats.
- Essential nutrients: Focus on foods rich in iodine, selenium, and zinc, essential for thyroid hormone production.
- Gluten-free (if applicable): Some individuals with hypothyroidism have gluten sensitivity, requiring a gluten-free diet to manage symptoms. Consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and dietary guidance.
Remember, individualized dietary plans are crucial. Collaborate with a registered dietitian or nutrition
While conventional medication remains the cornerstone of hypothyroidism treatment, healthy lifestyle changes can support your overall well-being and potentially aid management:
- Balanced diet: Prioritize whole, unprocessed foods rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats. Focus on essential nutrients like iodine, selenium, and zinc, crucial for thyroid function. (Source: American Thyroid Association: [invalid URL removed])
- Regular exercise: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most weeks. Consider moderate activities like brisk walking, swimming, or cycling. Consult your doctor before starting any new exercise program. (Source: National Institutes of Health: [invalid URL removed])
- Stress management: Chronic stress can worsen hypothyroidism symptoms. Techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing can help manage stress and improve overall well-being. (Source: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: [invalid URL removed])
- Quality sleep: Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. Develop good sleep hygiene practices like establishing a regular sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and avoiding screens before bed. (Source: National Sleep Foundation)
Remember, these lifestyle changes shouldn't replace your prescribed treatment. However, they can complement your doctor's recommendations and contribute to better overall health management.
Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for managing hypothyroidism effectively. Here are some common signs and symptoms to be aware of:
- Fatigue and tiredness: This is a frequent symptom, often described as feeling constantly tired, even after adequate sleep.
- Weight gain: Unexplained weight gain, despite maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine, can be a sign of hypothyroidism.
- Sensitivity to cold: Feeling colder than usual or needing more layers of clothing than normal could indicate thyroid issues.
- Dry skin and hair: Dry, brittle hair and skin are potential symptoms of hypothyroidism.
- Muscle aches and weakness: Unexplained muscle weakness or aches can be associated with hypothyroidism.
- Changes in mood and memory: Depression, anxiety, or brain fog can sometimes occur with hypothyroidism.
- Heavy or irregular menstrual periods: Women with hypothyroidism might experience changes in their menstrual cycles.
Remember, these are just some common symptoms, and not everyone experiences all of them. If you experience any of these concerns, consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Diagnosing hypothyroidism involves a combination of:
- Medical history and physical examination: Your doctor will discuss your symptoms and perform a physical exam to check for signs of hypothyroidism.
- Blood tests: Thyroid function tests measure levels of thyroid hormones and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) to assess thyroid function.
Depending on your specific case, your doctor might recommend additional tests to rule out other conditions or determine the cause of your hypothyroidism.
The primary treatment for hypothyroidism is thyroid hormone replacement medication. It's typically a daily oral medication that helps regulate thyroid hormone levels and manage symptoms.
Your doctor will determine the specific medication and dosage based on your individual needs and blood test results. Regular monitoring and adjustments to medication might be necessary over time.
In addition to medication, some individuals with certain types of hypothyroidism might benefit from iodine supplementation. However, this shouldn't be undertaken without medical supervision.
Leaving hypothyroidism untreated can lead to various potential health complications over time. These include:
- Heart problems: Untreated hypothyroidism can increase your risk of developing heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
- Fertility issues: Women with untreated hypothyroidism might experience irregular periods, difficulty conceiving, or increased risk of miscarriage.
- Mental health concerns: Depression, anxiety, and brain fog can worsen with untreated hypothyroidism.
- Joint pain and stiffness: Untreated hypothyroidism can exacerbate joint pain and stiffness.
- Goiter: A goiter is an enlarged thyroid gland, which can develop in some cases of untreated hypothyroidism.
- Coma (Myxedema coma): In rare cases, severe and untreated hypothyroidism can lead to a life-threatening coma called myxedema coma.
Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to prevent these potential complications and ensure optimal health management. If you experience any signs or symptoms of hypothyroidism, consult your doctor promptly for proper evaluation and treatment.