By Dr Harsh Sharma, DHMS, BHMS
Published May 21, 2015, Last updated November 17, 2016
Hyperthyroidism means that the thyroid gland has become hyper or is overactive. This overactive thyroid it releases more thyroid hormones ie T3 and T4 than are required for the normal functioning of the metabolism.
Thyroid gland-its location and functions
The thyroid gland is a small butterfly shaped gland. It is positioned just below the Adam’s apple. It is responsible for the release of T3 and T4 hormones which in turn control the metabolism of the whole body. The thyroid hormones affect each and every system of the body, be it the digestive system or the cardiovascular system or the skin or the reproductive system. Therefore any changes in the thyroid hormones are likely to bring about deep seated changes in a human being.
How Thyroid gland is regulated
As mentioned in the earlier article on Hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland is further controlled by the pituitary gland. This pituitary gland releases TSH or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. The TSH further regulates the functioning of the thyroid gland by a feedback mechanism. If the T3 and T4 levels are low, the pituitary gland secretes more TSH and this causes the thyroid gland to secrete more T3 and T4. If the levels of these hormones are high, production of TSH decreases and this gives a signal to the thyroid gland to produce less of thyroid hormones.
When it comes to causes of hyperthyroidism, one needs to understand its mechanism. In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland either keeps on producing too much of the thyroid hormones or the pituitary gland is unable to register the increased thyroid hormones and therefore does not signal the thyroid gland to reduce the production of thyroid hormones. This can happen in any of these conditions-
- Graves Disease-This is an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease is one in which the body’s own immunity starts harming the body instead of protecting it. In Graves disease, antibodies are produced that cause the thyroid gland to start producing more thyroid hormones. Out of all causes of hyperthyroidism, Graves disease is the most frequent cause. It tends to run in families and more women suffer from it than men.
- Thyroiditis- Iinflammation of the thyroid gland is known as thyroiditis. Thyroiditis may be due to a viral infection or due to some immunity related issues. At times, this occurs after pregnancy or after delivery. Usually this comes down to normal in some time after delivery on its own. In some cases, the inflammation of the thyroid gland occurs due to unknown causes. Such an inflammation may remain for some time and resolve on its own.
- Thyroid nodule-Sometimes nodules or lumps can form in the thyroid gland. This causes an increased amount of activity in the gland and more hormones are released in the blood than normal. If the hyperthyroidism is due to a single nodule, it is known as single toxic nodule. In case the number of nodules is more than one, it is known as multinodular goiter.
- Increased intake of Iodine- If the amount of iodine taken is increased, it can also cause hyperthyroidism. This may be due to certain foods that are rich in iodine or some supplements that contain iodine or some medicines containing iodine.
- Tumors-Some tumors can also cause hyperthyroidism. Such a tumor may be present in the pituitary gland or thyroid gland or even in ovaries
- Medicines- Taking medicines for hypothyroidism can also cause hyperthyroidism. At the same time, there are certain other medicines which can cause hyperthyroidism because the chemicals in them are similar to iodine.
It is not difficult to diagnose hyperthyroidism. A simple blood test can measure the levels of the thyroid stimulating hormone TSH. The presence of low amounts of TSH indicate that the pituitary gland is getting feedback from an increased level of T3 and T4 to inhibit the production of TSH and thereby instructing the thyroid gland to produce less quantities of T3 and T4. In some cases, this may even occur due to some trouble in the pituitary gland itself. Therefore getting hormones T3 and T4 checked in the blood can give a clearer picture. Thus, low levels of TSH and high levels of T3 and T4 help in the diagnosis of hyperthyroidism. In some cases, a USG of the thyroid may also help in diagnosing nodular form of hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism
The hyperthyroidism symptoms are related to the excess of the thyroid hormones present in the blood. Since these thyroid hormones are responsible for the body’s metabolism, the increased levels of hormones result in an increased metabolic rate. At the same time, it also increases the activity of the nervous system as well as some other body systems. In most of the cases, the symptoms are mild and undifferentiated or vague. It is often difficult to differentiate it from some other conditions. It is more so when the hyperthyroidism is mild. This is more so in the case of the old aged people. The main hyperthyroidism symptoms are –
- Fatigue- A feeling of fatigue or tiredness or weakness is felt most of the time. It may be difficult for some patients to describe this feeling. Some may explain it as a feeling of having little energy while others may call it muscular weakness. This muscle weakness may be more pronounced in the areas of thighs and upper arms.
- Nervousness- One often feels nervous and anxious for no reason. The slightest thing can cause a hyperthyroidism patient to become anxious. Mental irritability and restlesness may also be seen in some patients.
- Tachycardia, palpitations or irregular heartbeat- There may be increased heart rate, with hearbeats touching 100 beats per minute. In other cases there is irregular heartbeat or palpitations which is a sensation of loud beating of the heart.
- Trembling of the hands- This is quite often observed in most patients. The patient seems unable to hold his hands still. The hands shake despite the patient trying to hold them still.
- Increased bowel movements- The peristaltic movements increase and there is increased frequency of motions. This does not mean that the patient has diarrhoea. The consistency of the motions is normal but the frequency is more than normal.
- Weight Loss- One often observes that there has been some weight loss. This is despite the fact that the patient has been eating well and his appetite may even be more than normal.
- Sleep disturbance-One may often have disturbances in sleep like difficulty in sleeping or getting up in between.
- Menstrual disturbances- In females, there may be a disturbance in her menstrual cycle. The bleeding may be light and periods may be delayed.
- Increased nail growth- The growth of the fingernails increases and one is often surprised at the rate at which the fingernails grow.
- Hairloss and other hair changes- There is increased loss of hair. At the same time, the hair become thin and brittle.
- Eyeball protrusion or exophthalmos- In Graves disease, the eyeball tends to protrude.
- Sweating- There may be increased sweating and increased intolerance to heat.
- Eyebrow changes- There may be loss of eyebrows, more so in the outer one third of the eyebrows.
Choosing Homeopathy for Hyperthyroidism treatment-the best natural and holistic medicine for hyperthyroidism
There are many options available for treatment of hyperthyroidism. This includes ayurvedic medicines, some traditional medicine or any holistic medicine and also the more prominent allopathic system of medicine. Out of all these, Homeopathy is the best bet for a cure of hyperthyroidism. I shall tell you why I say so.
When it comes to treatment of hyperthyroidism, the allopathic system of medicine makes one dependent on medicines for the whole of one’s life. One has to keep taking the medicines lifelong and this is often a reason for poor compliance in patients. The mode of treatment is that some medicines are given which tend to suppress the activity of the thyroid gland. Some medicines are also given to treat the symptoms like palpitations or anxiety. The biggest disadvantage of the allopathic system of medicine here is that one tends to become dependent on the medicines lifelong.
Similarly, when it comes to the ayurvedic or some other traditional systems of medicines, one often has to see the suitability of the medicines for each person. Some of the medicines may or may not suit you. That is because some ayurvedic medicines are hot in nature while the others are cool in nature. It is often difficult to match the right medicine according to your body constitution.
When it comes to Homeopathy, there is no such dilemma. Homeopathic medicines are absolutely safe and have no side effects. At the same time, they are not habit forming. You need to take them for a certain length of time. This is necessary to cure the disease completely. Once the disease is cured, you need not take the medicines after that.
Can Homeopathy cure Hyperthyroidism
A question that is often asked by patients is how effective Homeopathy is for hyperthyroidism. The answer to this question is that Homeopathy is very effective for hyperthyroidism. Another question that patients often ask is how much time it takes to cure hyperthyroidism with homeopathy. One needs to understand this thing in context with the other alternatives available. The advantage of Homeopathy for the treatment of hyperthyroidism is that it tends to help the thyroid gland optimise its functioning. Homeopathic medicines do not try to artificially suppress the functioning of the thyroid gland or the production of thyroid hormones. The homeopathic medicines are natural medicines and intend to get the functioning of the thyroid up to the normal levels. Therefore, the homeopathic treatment for hyperthyroidism does take some time. But the advantage of homeopathy when it comes to treatment of hyperthyroidism is that once cured, you will not need to take any medicine at all.
Homeopathic medicines for hyperthyroidism treatment
It may be disappointing for some of my readers that I am not going to give a list of the most commonly used homeopathic remedies for hyperthyroidism. This is because the treatment of hyperthyroidism is constitutional in nature, just like that of hypothyroidism. This means that one has to take all the symptoms of the patient into account before prescribing the right medicine. When I say all the symptoms, I do not mean the symptoms of the disease, which have been listed above. I mean all the individual symptoms of the patient. This includes all peculiar symptoms of the patient which may not seem related to the disease. Such symptoms also include the eating or drinking habits of the patient. It also means that the temperament and the mental make up of the patient is also taken into account before selecting the right medicine. This is a highly individualized method and requires a skillful homeopathic doctor to elicit all the symptoms of the patient. The added advantage of this approach is that it not only cures hyperthyroidism but also improves the general health and ends up curing other unrelated diseases also. Last, but not the least, one needs to mention here that these are all natural homeopathic remedies and are absolutely safe. There is no possibilty of any side effects.