There is one tiny little gland that could be termed as the soul of human body, as it regulates so many functions within the body. And that is the Thyroid gland. Thyroid gland creates and produces hormones that play a key role in many different vital systems throughout our body. When your thyroid makes either too much or too little of these important hormones, it is called a thyroid disease. There are several different types of thyroid diseases, including hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, thyroiditis and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
This little gland is in the front of the neck, wrapped around the windpipe (trachea). It is shaped like a butterfly, smaller in the middle with two wide wings that extend around the side of your throat. When the thyroid doesn’t work properly, it can impact your entire body. One of the major functions it controls is that of Metabolism, a process where the food you take into your body is transformed into energy. This energy is used throughout your entire body to keep many of your body’s systems working correctly. Think of your metabolism as a generator. It takes in raw energy and uses it to power something bigger.
The thyroid controls your metabolism with a few specific hormones — T4 (thyroxin, contains four iodide atoms) and T3 (triiodothyronine, contains three iodide atoms). These two hormones are created by the thyroid and they tell the body’s cells how much energy to use. When your thyroid works properly, it will maintain a balance of hormones to keep your metabolism working at the right rate. As the hormones are used, the thyroid creates replacements.
This feedback mechanism to the thyroid is supervised by the pituitary gland. Located in the center of the skull, below your brain, the pituitary gland monitors and controls the right balance of thyroid hormones in your bloodstream. When the pituitary gland senses a lack of thyroid hormones or a high level of hormones in your body, it will adjust the amounts with its own hormone. This hormone is called thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). The TSH will be sent to the thyroid and it will tell the thyroid what needs to be done to get the body back to normal.
Small amounts of nutritional deficiencies – like lack of sufficient iodine, genetic issues, or certain medical conditions can give rise to problems in the thyroid gland. When the thyroid makes too much thyroid hormone, your body uses energy too quickly. This is called hyperthyroidism. Using energy too quickly will do more than make you tired — it can make your heart beat faster, cause you to lose weight without trying and even make you feel nervous. On the flip-side of this, your thyroid can make too little thyroid hormone. This is called hypothyroidism. When you have too little thyroid hormone in your body, it can make you feel tired, you might gain weight and you may even be unable to tolerate cold temperatures.
Thyroid disease is age – sex agnostic and can affect anyone — men, women, infants, teenagers and the elderly. It can be present at birth (typically hypothyroidism) and it can develop as you age (often after menopause in women). Thyroid disease is very common. It is estimated that 42 million people in India suffer from it. A woman is about five to eight times more likely to be diagnosed with a thyroid condition than a man.
You may be at a higher risk of developing a thyroid disease if you have:
A family history of thyroid disease.
A medical condition (these can include pernicious anemia, type 1 diabetes, primary adrenal insufficiency, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome and Turner syndrome).
If you are on a medication that’s high in iodine (amiodarone).
Are older than 60, especially in women.
Had a treatment for a past thyroid condition or cancer (thyroidectomy or radiation).
Diabetics are at a higher risk of developing a thyroid disease than people without diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder. If you already have one autoimmune disorder, you are more likely to develop another one.
For people with type 2 diabetes, the risk is lower, but still there. If you have type 2 diabetes, you’re more likely to develop a thyroid disease later in life.
Regular testing is recommended to check for thyroid issues. Those with type 1 diabetes may be tested more often — immediately after diagnosis and then every year or so — than people with type 2 diabetes. There isn’t a regular schedule for testing if you have type 2 diabetes, however your healthcare provider may suggest a schedule for testing over time.
There are a variety of symptoms you could experience if you have a thyroid disease. Unfortunately, symptoms of a thyroid condition are often very similar to the signs of other medical conditions and stages of life. This can make it difficult to know if your symptoms are related to a thyroid issue or something else entirely.
Symptoms of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can include:
Experiencing anxiety, irritability and nervousness, having trouble sleeping, losing weight, having an enlarged thyroid gland or a goiter, having muscle weakness and tremors, experiencing irregular menstrual periods or having your menstrual cycle stop, feeling sensitive to heat and having vision problems and eye irritation.
Symptoms of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can include:
Feeling tired (fatigue), gaining weight, experiencing forgetfulness, having frequent and heavy menstrual periods, having dry and coarse hair, having a hoarse voice, experiencing 0intolerance to cold temperatures and hair loss.
Those who suffer from thyroid problems can look at home remedies to deal with the issue more comprehensively. Here are a few home remedies that work in thyroid problems.
Coconut oil: Coconut oil, specifically when taken in a non-heated form, helps lose weight, increases metabolism and balances body temperature. Unlike other types of oils, coconut oil has high content of saturated fat (healthy). With the right combination of exercise and the proper balanced diet, coconut oil could be good for thyroid glands.
Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar helps in balanced production and expression of hormones. It improves metabolism and helps to alkalize the body environment. Apple cider vinegar can be added to water along with honey and can be taken every morning.
Ginger: This is one of the easiest home remedies for thyroid as it is easily available. Ginger is rich in essential minerals like potassium and magnesium and helps combat inflammation, one of the primary causes of thyroid issues. It is easiest to have ginger tea.
Vitamins B: Vitamins help to fight the underlying causes for thyroid problems. Vitamins from the ‘B’ family are essential for proper thyroid function. Vitamin B12 is especially instrumental in helping people with hypothyroidism. Including eggs, meat, fish, legumes, milk, and nut in daily diet might help with a steady supply of Vitamin B. Since the diet may not be able to meet the daily requirements, taking supplements will help.
Vitamin D: Deficiency of vitamin D can lead to thyroid problems. Since the body can produce it only when exposed to the sun, ensure that you get a minimum of 15 minutes of sunlight daily. This will also lead to better calcium absorption and good immunity. Some foods that are rich in Vitamin D are fatty fishes like salmon and mackerel, dairy products, orange juice, and egg yolks. If Vitamin D levels in the body are very low, supplements will be necessary. However, one must be cautious and consult with a doctor about dosage because too much of vitamin in the body can be harmful.
Almonds: Most nuts are beneficial to the body in some way or the other. Almonds are best suited for proper thyroid expression. They are a good source of protein, fiber, and minerals. Almonds have selenium that is thyroid healthy nutrient. It is also very rich in magnesium that can keep the thyroid gland working very smoothly.
Dairy products: Milk, cheese, and yogurt are very beneficial for thyroid as these are high in iodine, the mineral that is essential for proper thyroid functioning. Consuming dairy products will also help with increasing vitamin levels which in turn will help with thyroid problems.
Beans: Beans are a powerhouse of nutrition. They are rich in fiber, protein, essential minerals and vitamins. Beans are rich in antioxidants and complex carbohydrates. Since beans are also very high in fiber, it helps with constipation which is a common side effect of hypothyroidism. Eating beans regularly has been shown to improve thyroid function.
Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds are rich in good fatty acids that are good for the heart and the thyroid. They help in the production of the thyroid hormones. Rich in magnesium and vitamin B12, flaxseeds fight hypothyroidism.
Iodine supplements: Another thing that works in improper thyroid functioning is taking iodine supplements. This becomes more important for those who are vegetarians. These supplements restore the balance of iodine in the body and help with thyroid health.
Regular exercise: This is one of the most important and most overlooked aspects of maintaining good thyroid functioning. Medicines and natural remedies are fine but it has to be teamed up with proper exercise. Regular exercise helps with proper hormonal balance and leads to better weight management that helps with dealing with thyroid problems.
Here are a few more ways you could help regulate your thyroid through mudras and Su-Jok:
(From increasing metabolism to overcoming physical problems, Prof Luthria speaks about the art of self-healing through simple techniques. For more information on treatments and remedies, visit www.artofselfhealing.in)