By Dr Harsh Sharma, DHMS, BHMS
Published May 12, 2015, Last updated November 15, 2016
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which there is a deficiency of thyroid hormones in the body. Hypo means under or below or less. Therefore hypothyroidism means an underactive thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is responsible for the release of the thyroid hormones and an underactive thyroid causes lack of thyroid hromones in the body.
Location and function of Thyroid gland
To be able to understand this disease, one must know what thyroid gland is and what are the functions of the hormones that are released by the thyroid gland. Thyroid gland is a small butterfly shaped gland situated just below the Adam’s apple and above the place where the two collar bones meet. One cannot feel a normal thyroid. It is only when the thyroid gland gets enlarged that one can feel it. The one and only function of the thyroid gland is to produce thyroid hormones. These thyroid hormones regulate the metabolism of the whole body. The metabolism of the body is the process which indicates the way the body uses energy.
Regulation of Thyroid gland
The thryoid gland is itself regulated by the pituitary gland. When the levels of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4 fall, the pituitary gland increases the production of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). This TSH then stimulates the thryoid gland to produce more T3 and T4. When the levels of T3 and T4 increase, the pituitary gland decreases the production of TSH which then causes less production of T3 and T4. This way the balance of thyroid hormones is maintained in the body.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is caused when the functioning of the thyroid gland is inadequate to produce the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. This may be due to the problem in the functioning of the thyroid gland or due to inadequate stimulation of the thyroid gland by the pituitary gland. As mentioned earlier, the pituitary gland releases the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone or TSH which causes the thyroid gland to produce more T3 and T4. So if the levels of TSH are low, the thyroid may not be able to produce enough thyroid hormones.
- When the deficiency of thyroid hormones is due inadequate production of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland, it is known as primary hypothyroidism. When the deficiency is due to inadequate stimulation of the thyroid gland by the pituitary, it is known as secondary hypothyroidism. The prevalence of primary hypothyroidism is much more than secondary hypothyroidism. It is close to 1000 times more common than the secondary one.
- When it comes to primary hypothyroidism, deficiency of Iodine is the most common reason. In areas where the levels of Iodine are low in diet, there is an increased prevalence of hypothyroidism and goitre. Adding iodine to common salt in such areas has shown marked decrease in the incidence of goitre and hypothyroidism.
- In areas where Iodine is adequate, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. Thyroiditis means inflammation of the thyroid gland. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder, which means that the problem occurs when the natural immunity of the body starts attacking the body organs or systems itself instead of protecting them from foreign invaders.
- Viral infections or other respiratory disorders may also sometimes cause hypothyroidism.
- Certain medicines may also cause hypothyroidism. A medicine called lithium used to treat psychiatric disorders has been known to cause hypothyroidism.
- Radiation therapy for some cancers may also induce hypothyroidism.
- Treating hyperthyroidism with anti-thyoid medicine can also cause a shift from hyperthyroidism to hypothyroidism.
- Some people may be born with an underactive thyroid gland
- In some cases, the hypothyroidism develops during pregnancy.
Signs and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism do not develop all of a sudden. They take a long time to develop, may be years. The initial symptoms that the patient usually feels happen to be fatigue and getting tired easily. He or she may slowly start gaining weight. Over a period of time, as the metabolism of the body gets affected more and more and slows down, the signs and symptoms start getting more and more visible and obvious. Following are the common signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism-
- Fatigue- the patient feels tired and fatiguued easily. The stamina for work goes down and is unable to work his or her normal routine.
- Weakness- there is a feeling of weakness in the body. This is also a slow and insidious development and is often neglected by patients.
- Obesity or weight gain- the patient starts gaining weight despite eating little. In some cases, the weight gain may not happen but the patient finds it difficult to lose weight even after keeping a strict exercise and diet regimen.
- Dryness of skin-the skin of the patient remains dry and rough. At the same time, there may be paleness of the skin
- Hair loss- hairfall is often seen and may be quite easily noticed by patients.
- Intolerance of cold- the patient is unable to tolerate cold and feels unduly chilly as compared to other people around him or her
- Constipation- the bowel movements are also altered and one feels constipated or unable to pass stool easily. The stool may be hard or even soft but one may have to strain to pass stool.
- Depression-one tends to feel low and depressed for no rhyme or reason. Even if one does not have any problem in life, one feels sad and low.
- Disturbed menses- in females the menstrual cycle gets disturbed. The periods may be scanty or delayed.
- Irritability- there is increased irritability and one gets irritated at trifles. One may feel repentant later on but at that moment, one is unable to control one’s irritability.
- Decreased libido-there is little desire for any sexual activity.
Treatment or therapies for Hypothyroidism
The mainstay of Allopathic system of medicine is to keep providing thyroid hormones artificially for the rest of the life of the patient. The deficient thyroid hormones are supplied on a daily basis. This practice of giving thyroid hormones on a daily basis has some major disadvantages. On the one hand, this forces the patient to keep taking medicines for the whole of their lives. This is not only costly but cumbersome too. At the same time, it breeds a sense of illness in the patient when the medicine is to be taken lifelong.
Homeopathy for Hypothyroidism is the best Alternative therapy for hypothyroidism
Keeping the above mentioned drwabacks in mind, people look for some alternative therapies or holistic therapies which can cure them of their problem once and for all. Also, there is a discomfort in the mind when it comes to taking synthetic or chemicals based medicines lifelong. One can never be sure of the safety of such chemicals or synthetic medicines. So people look for holistic therapies for hypothyroidism.
While there are many claims when it comes to treating hypothyroidism, the best option remains that of Homeopathy. I can confidently say from my experience in the last 2 decades of Homeopathic practice that Homeopathy is best holistic therapy for hypothyroidism. Homeopathic medicines have been known to correct the imbalance in the thyroid hormones in a very mild and subtle manner. The homeopathic medicines for hypothyroidism are purely natural in origin and have no side effects at all. They are able to improve the functioning of the thyroid gland permanently. Once cured, one has no need to take medicines and can live a disease free as well as medicine free life.
Selecting the right Homeopathic medicine for Hypothyroidism
I daily receive dozens of emails and phone calls asking me to recommend a homeopathic medicine for a particular disease. It is not always possible to do so. Homeopathic medicines work only when the symptoms of the patient match with that of the medicines. Here symptoms of the patient mean not only the symptoms of the disease but also each individual patient’s likes and dislikes, his physical and mental make up, his body’s reaction to temperature, his family history, his sleep pattern, his dreams, his appetite and thirst and so on.
Here it must be mentioned that there are no shortcuts when it comes to selecting the right homeopathic medicine for each individual patient. This is much more true when it comes to treating hypothryoidism. As mentioned earlier, hypothyroidism is an endocrine or a hormonal disorder. This is therefore a deep seated problem and requires medicines that have the ability to correct the abnormalities in the hormonal system. To be able to do this, the complete symptomatology of the patient has to be taken into account to select the right homeopathic medicine. It is only the constitutional medicine for the patient that works well in this disease.