Healthy Living

Holistic Treatments for Hypothyroidism

Holistic Treatments for Hypothyroidism

Key Takeaways

  • Treatment with the synthetic form of the thyroid hormone, thyroxine or T4, is the most common method used in controlling hypothyroidism
  • A well-balanced diet, supplements, herbs, and traditional Chinese medicine are used as alternative therapies in hypothyroidism. 
  • Complementary treatments include meditation, acupuncture, yoga, massage, and contrast hydrotherapy. 

Hypothyroidism is a very common condition in which the thyroid glands are unable to produce adequate hormones to maintain the metabolic level of the body. A low amount of thyroid hormones in the blood also affects the energy production in cells. This leads to fatigue and exhaustion, even with moderate activities. People with this condition may gain weight, in spite of their efforts to exercise. Treatment methods of hypothyroidism bring the level of thyroid hormones back to normal, thus, improving the symptoms. Holistic treatment includes different approaches like conventional medications, dietary changes, herbs, exercise, traditional Chinese medicine, supplements, and many more.

Conventional Treatment

Treatment with the synthetic form of the thyroid hormone, thyroxine or T4, is the most common method used in controlling hypothyroidism. The synthetic form, levothyroxine, helps to replace the blood levels of the hormone. The dose of this hormone needed to restore the function of the glands may differ from person to person. To adjust the dosage, the patient may have to undergo blood tests for evaluating the levels of hormone after initiating the therapy. This is particularly important as both low and high doses of thyroxine can cause symptoms. Once the dosage of thyroxine is decided, treatment should be continued for a long term.

In some cases, it is hard to establish the dose of the hormone needed, and frequent blood tests may be recommended. The response to a type of hormone may also vary from patient to patient. A combination therapy of T3 and T4 is often suggested in some cases for a better response.  

Alternative Treatments

  • A well-balanced diet is very important in sustaining one's energy levels throughout the day. Have more vegetables, fruits, and sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Saturated fatty acid should be restricted as much as possible. Since iodine deficiency is one of the causes of the disease, including this mineral in the diet help in reducing the symptoms.
  • Supplements are suggested in some approaches for the control of hypothyroidism. However, there is no clear scientific evidence to show that supplements are useful in this condition. One should take utmost care while having supplements as some of them may interact with other medications. This may be more harmful than helpful in the treatment process. Some multivitamins and mineral supplements are helpful in keeping an optimal health. Vitamin D supplements are sometimes suggested in the treatment of hypothyroidism as they are known to improve the functioning of the immune system.
  • Some herbs like coleus and bladderwrack are also being used in the treatment of this condition. Herbs, like supplements, should also be used with caution as they may interact with other medications. It is highly recommended that herbs are used only after discussion with the physician.
  • Traditional Chinese medicine, an approach commonly used in improving the functioning of the immune system, is also used in treating an impaired thyroid gland. This is particularly useful in hypothyroidism caused by the autoimmune condition, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.  
  • Naturopathy, homeopathy, biofeedback, and osteopathy are also being considered in alleviating the symptoms of this condition.

Complementary Treatments

  • Acupuncture may help in improving the blood flow to the different organs including the thyroid glands. It is also known to reduce stress, which is a major factor in controlling the symptoms of an under active thyroid.  
  • Meditation has a positive influence on the nervous system and may help in restoring the hormonal balance that is affected in hypothyroidism.
  • Yoga is also considered to be helpful in improving the hormonal balance in the body. Yoga postures improve the functioning of the hypothalamus, pituitary glands, and thyroids – the three organs that are often affected by the condition.   
  • Massage also helps to reduce stress, and thus, has an indirect positive effect on the functioning of the thyroid gland.
  • In contrast hydrotherapy, thyroid glands are stimulated by alternately applying cold and hot packs in the neck. The application is repeated about 3-4 times a day to improve the symptoms of the disease.