Hypothyroidism is a hormonal disorder caused by reduced amounts of thyroid hormone. It is more common than hyperthyroidism and affects women more than men. Iodine is a main ingredient of the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and iodine deficiency leads to hypothyroidism.
TSH is required for effective metabolism and reduced amount leads to affecting overall metabolism of the body and causing the following symptoms.
- Slow pulse
- Weight gain
- Reduced attention/concentration span
- Intolerance to cold
- Hoarseness of voice
- Inability to concentrate
- Depression/low mood
- Swollen face and droopy eyes
- Dry skin
- Premenstrual tension
- Muscular pain
Ayurveda believes that this is due to an imbalance between the 3 body systems - vata, pita, and kapha. In hypothyroid people, the pita is supposed to be overpowered by kapha which reduces metabolism.
Treatment is aimed at bringing out balance between the two.
The various Ayurvedic components include:
Panchakarma and external therapies like Vamana, shirodhara, virechana, basti, udwarthana, Kashaya Seka are shown to play a significant role in managing symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Specific Asanas and Pranayamas that are directed at the thyroid have been proven to be beneficial.
- The most effective asana is sarvangasana or the shoulder stand. It improves blood flow to the thyroid and thereby improves its function. Matsyasana, surya namaskara, pavan muktasana, and halasana are also beneficial for hypothyroid patients.
- Ujjayi is the most common pranayama which acts on the throat area and stimulates reflexes in this area.  Nadi shodhana pranayama also is proven to have beneficial effects on the metabolism.
Appetizers and digestive agents are given to improve metabolism. These include herbs and whole grains and specific food products including dairy products.
Food has a major role to play, and some of the do's and don't's are as follows.
- Increase water consumption, preferably warm water, to improve digestion
- Include more iodine-containing foods like white onions, fish, shellfish
- Include more whole fibers like brown rice, barley, green gram, Bengal gram, cucumber, and sugarcane juice
- Increase consumption of milk and milk products
- Avoid sour food items
- Herbal products recommended for hypothyroidism include kanchanara, (purple mountain ebony), jatamansi, shilajita, gokshura, Brahmi, and punarnava
- Apply a paste of jalakumbhi which helps by supplying iodine to the goiter directly
- Jalakumbhi juice can also be consumed daily (11 to 22 g)
- Coconut oil, being rich in medium chain fatty acids, increases the body's metabolism and helps in managing symptoms of hypothyroidism
Lifestyle Changes: In addition to the above, meditation and regular exercises to maintain a healthy lifestyle, reduce stress, and manage weight have shown to help control symptoms to a large extent.
Hypothyroidism is a chronic condition but can be managed with a combination of food, exercise, and lifestyle changes.