Hypothyroidism refers to the medical condition in which the thyroid gland is unable to produce an adequate amount of hormones. These hormones are extremely important in various body functions. Low levels of thyroid hormone may result in the characteristic symptoms of hypothyroidism. This condition causes exhaustion, weakness, constipation, and dry skin.
There are a number of environmental factors that may affect the healthy function of the thyroid. The main ones are listed below:
- Toxicity: This results from constant or heavy exposure to metal and radiation.
- Deficiency: Iodine and selenium are essential to healthy thyroid function. A deficiency in eother or both may negatively affect thyroid function.
- Food Intolerance: An intolerance or being allergic to gluten or A1 casein can trigger a thyroid problem.
- Hormone Imbalance: Too little fat in the diet, too many carbohydrates, and high levels of cortisol from stress can have a deleterious impact on thyroid function.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
If you are suffering from an illness or a disease, it is very important to be aware of its symptoms. Knowing the symptoms will make you aware of the seriousness of your illness and urge you to seek proper treatment for the disease. Here are some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
- Extreme fatigue
- Weight gain
- Increased menstrual flow, irregular periods, infertility, or miscarriage.
Although these symptoms helps one recognize whether they are suffering from hypothyroidism, without blood tests, the diagnosis for the condition cannot be made.
Conventional Medicine and Non-Traditional Medicine with Respect to Hypothyroidism
Conventional treatment of hypothyroidism works by restoring the levels of the thyroid hormone in blood by giving patients a synthetic form of the thyroid hormone called thyroxine. Complementary and alternative medicine combine approaches from far-reaching parts of the world for the treatment of medical conditions. Many of these treatments do not have concrete scientific evidence that proves their effectiveness in treating their respective diseases.
While non-conventional treatments may be undertaken to complement the conventional regimen prescribed by a doctor, it would be foolhardy to completely do away with thyroid hormone replacement therapy without the advice of a qualified doctor, as one could end up in a serious life-threatening state due to an insufficiency of thyroid hormone levels. Always consult your doctor before implementing anything in managing hypothyroidism.
Reasons for Using Alternative Medicine
- To manage the side effects of medication
- To lower stress and improve overall well-being
- To add support to a regimen of traditional medication
What are the Different Non-Traditional Treatments for Hypothyroidism?
- Healthy Diet – There is no special meal plan proven to control hypothyroidism, but a well-balanced diet will help in keeping your energy levels high. Avoid eating too much of any particular food, but try to include a variety of vegetables and fruits. Restrict your intake of saturated fat and red meat. Include more foods with omega-3 fatty acids.
- Supplements – It is uncertain whether supplements aid in the treatment of hypothyroidism. In fact, some supplements may interfere with conventional medications and produce harmful side effects. Always speak to your doctor before taking any supplements that are supposed to improve your condition. Improving vitamin D levels using supplements is usually suggested for treating hypothyroidism. Vitamin D helps to improve the functioning of the immune system, which is weaker in those with low thyroid hormone levels. Vitamin D supplementation is often recommended during the winter months, when it is most necessary.
- Herbs – A number of herbs are being studied in the treatment of hypothyroidism. Coleus, guggul, and bladderwrack are the most common herbs used in the treatment of underactive thyroid glands. Many herbs are known to interact with medicines, however, and should be used with caution.
- Traditional Chinese Medicine – Traditional Chinese medicine is considered to be good for correcting imbalances in the immune system. It may be helpful in hypothyroidism that results from Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune condition.
- Other alternative treatment methods include naturopathy, homeopathy, bio-feedback, and osteopathy.
- Go gluten and A1 casein free - One of the major reasons or causes of hypothyroidism is allergies to certain food nutrients, and if you get rid of them, a major part of your problem is solved right there and then. Most of the allergies and intolerances are caused by wheat and milk products because they contain hybridized proteins of gluten and A1 casein in large quantities. These proteins are the main cause behind a leaky gut which in turn will result in the inflammation of the thyroid and thus hamper its function. Try to avoid gluten, and in order to do so, consume dairy products made from the milk of A2 cows, goat, and sheep.
- Avoid BPA - This is a chemical found in plastic bottles that disrupts the functionality of the endocrine system, in turn affecting the thyroid as well. To avoid this problem, drink water and other liquids only out of glass, stainless steel, and BPA-free tumblers, liquid containers, or bottles.
- Heavy Metal Detox- As mentioned earlier, one of the major factors that affect thyroid function is exposure to heavy metal. In order to get rid of these heavy metals from your body's organs and cells, you need to prepare a mixture of milk thistle, turmeric, chlorella and cilantro. The mixture will help you detoxify and flush out the heavy metals from your body.
Complementary Therapies for Hypothyroidism
- Acupuncture is used to stimulate the production of organic chemicals that reduce pain and improve blood flow in the body. In hypothyroidism, acupuncture may help in stress reduction, thus decreasing the symptoms of the condition.
- Meditation may help in alleviating symptoms through its effects on the nervous system. Meditation is supposed to restore balance in the endocrine glands that are altered in those who have hypothyroidism.
- Yoga is yet another approach to restoring endocrine balance in the body. The different postures, or ‘asanas’, practiced in yoga have a positive influence on the health of the pituitary, the hypothalamus, and thyroid gland, the three physiological parts most involved in hypothyroidism.
- Massage helps improve blood flow from the heart to the different organs, including the thyroid gland. Massage also works to alleviate the effects of stress on the body, thereby easing the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
- Contrast hydrotherapy is a method in which heat and cold are alternately applied to the neck region to stimulate the thyroid gland. About three minutes of heat and one minute of cold are applied alternately to the affected region. This is repeated three times to form a set. About 3-4 sets per day are done to achieve results.