The thyroid is a small gland in the neck which produces and secretes thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones play an important role in regulating the body’s metabolic rate. The thyroid hormone has effects on almost every cell of the body including the functioning of the digestive system, heart, muscles, bones, brain, reproductive system, etc.
An underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland is unable to produce enough thyroid hormones. An underactive thyroid is one of the most commonly seen hormonal disorders.
Autoimmunity, genetic tendencies, and iodine deficiency are leading etiological factors for an underactive thyroid. At an early stage, an underactive thyroid may not show significant signs or symptoms, but, if it’s left untreated, it may lead to various health issues, such as obesity, constipation, joint pains, infertility, heart diseases, depression, etc.
Homeopathic Treatment of Underactive Thyroid:
As the name suggests, in underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland is unable to produce enough thyroid hormones called thyroxine due to various reasons. In such a case, there can be two major treatment options.
- Providing supplement to the body in the form of external thyroid hormone (thyroxine).
- Strategic treatment protocol by providing medicines that stimulate the thyroid gland to secrete adequate thyroid hormones naturally.
As per the conventional method, the supplement of thyroid hormone is given to the patient externally in the form of thyroxine. In this mode of the treatment, the body gets used to external hormone and stops producing its very own hormone in the required quantity.
While treating an underactive thyroid, it is important to understand that since there is an inability or sluggishness of the thyroid gland, the treatment should focus on stimulating the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormone adequately, rather than simply supplying deficient Thyroxine hormone through external means. Homeopathy works on the same principle.
Scope Of Homeopathic Treatment: How Homeopathy Helps In The Treatment Of An Underactive Thyroid?
In case of the homeopathic treatment for an underactive thyroid, homeopathic medicines try to stimulate the thyroid gland for normal production of the thyroid hormone. This works as long as the gland is in position to get stimulated.
At Life Force, we work on the cases of an underactive thyroid, particularly in their early-stage up to about two years. External supplement of the hormone is not the treatment but an arrangement. We are trying to correct the internal imbalance. This is possible in many cases if not all. If a successful result is achieved with homeopathy, the lifelong need for thyroid supplement may not be required.
Homeopathic treatment works wonderfully if you have been recently diagnosed with an underactive thyroid.
The individualized homeopathic treatment is based on the study of the patient’s signs and symptoms, the duration of illness, stage of the underactive thyroid, extent of the disease, cause, genetic pattern, emotional state of the patient, level of thyroid hormones and TSH, and other laboratory findings and factors which cause and maintain the disease. In this way, homeopathic treatment not only improves the thyroid function but also gives relief in its discomforting signs and symptoms.
What Are The Limitations of Homeopathic Treatment For An Underactive Thyroid?
As per our experience at Life Force, after treating hundreds of cases of Underactive thyroid:
Homeopathy works in the early stage of underactive thyroid. The patients on thyroid supplement for more than two years may not experience significant results.
The homeopathic treatment for an underactive thyroid works well only if the thyroid gland has some inherent capacity to get activated.
Duration Of Homeopathic Treatment For Underactive Thyroid:
The total length of the homeopathic treatment of an underactive thyroid varies from case to case, depending on the following factors.
Onset and duration of Underactive Thyroid: At Life Force, we are able to achieve the best results in the cases in their early-stage up to 2-3 years duration. The patients taking thyroid supplements for a long time may not respond to treatment.
The extent of thyroid dysfunction: Levels of TSH and T3, T4 hormones in the bloodstream are also considered. The presence of thyroid antibodies found in the blood tests is also taken into account.
Use of thyroid supplement: Patients who are on thyroid supplement for more than 2 years usually do not respond well to homeopathic treatment.
Genetic tendencies: Patients with a strong family history of thyroid dysfunction or autoimmune diseases may take time to respond to homeopathic treatment for an underactive thyroid.
Age of the patient: The patients below the age of 45 years respond better to the homeopathic treatment.
The presence of other systemic or autoimmune diseases
Homeopathic treatment of an underactive thyroid is a long-term process. Initial results are observed within four to six months whereby TSH levels reduce gradually. Patients taking thyroid supplement may take some time to reduce the supplement. In such cases, a regular watch on the thyroid hormone levels is needed.
Commonly Prescribed Homeopathic Medicines For An Underactive Thyroid:
Homeopathic medicines are selected after individualized case study based on many factors mentioned above.
A few common medicines prescribed as a homeopathic treatment of underactive thyroid are Natrum Muriaticum, Kali Carbonicum, Thyroidinum, Carcinocin, Calcaria Carbonicum, Iodum, Calcaria Iodum, Thuja Occidentalis, Sepia, Silicia, etc.
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland (which secretes hormones) found in the neck on the sides of the windpipe. It weighs about 20-25 grams and has two lobes connected by an isthmus in the middle.
The thyroid gland produces, stores, and secretes a hormone called thyroxine which plays a major role in metabolism and helps to regulate various body functions.
The thyroid gland produces three hormones:
- Triiodothyronine or T3
- Thyroxine or T4
Out of these hormones, T3 and T4 are main thyroid hormones whereas calcitonin is involved in calcium metabolism.
Iodine is the main building block of thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland takes up iodine from our food to convert it into thyroid hormones. The cells of thyroid gland combine iodine and amino acid tyrosine to produce T3 and T4. Then these hormones are released in the bloodstream for the regulation of metabolism (the rate at which the body produces energy from nutrients and oxygen).
The production ratio of T4 and T3 by the thyroid gland is 80:20. However, T3 is 4 times more potent than T4.
Two glands in the brain hypothalamus and pituitary maintain the level of T3 and T4 hormones in the blood.
One of the major endocrine glands situated at the base of the brain that is pituitary gland secretes certain vital hormones such as TSH (Thyroid-stimulating hormone or Thyrotropin) along with other hormones.
When the level of T3 and T4 hormones (thyroid hormones) is below the required amount, the pituitary gland secretes TSH. TSH then stimulates increased production of T3 and T4 hormones by the thyroid gland. As the T3 and T4 level rise in the blood, the pituitary gland senses this and reduces TSH production.
The hypothalamus is that part of the brain which produces TRH (Thyrotropin Releasing Hormone). TRH regulates the production of TSH by the pituitary gland.
Types of Underactive Thyroid:
Underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism can be categorized into two major types.
Primary hypothyroidism: Here thyroid gland itself is at fault and unable to produce sufficient thyroid hormones. There are various causes for the dysfunction of the thyroid gland.
Secondary hypothyroidism: Here the problem lies at the level of the pituitary gland. It fails to produce the required quantity of TSH. Deficiency of TSH leads to a decrease in the levels of T3 and T4 hormone by thyroid gland due to a lack of stimulus from the pituitary.
Around 12%-13% of people worldwide are suffering from abnormal thyroid functions, and around 2% of people suffer from an underactive thyroid.
Women are more prone to develop underactive thyroid than men. It is 10-20 times more common in women than men.
Though it affects middle-aged or older people, it may affect infants as well as children.
Causes of Underactive Thyroid:
You suffer from an underactive thyroid when the thyroid gland is unable to produce enough thyroid hormones. This may happen due to various factors. They are listed below.
1) Autoimmune disease: The most common cause of underactive thyroid is autoimmunity. In autoimmune diseases, the body’s immune system attacks its very own thyroid cells leading to the inflammation and dysfunction of the thyroid gland. An autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is often a cause for an underactive thyroid.
The cause for autoimmune diseases is not known, but the factors, such as genetic tendencies, environmental factors, stress, etc. can contribute as a trigger for an autoimmune reaction.
2) Iodine deficiency: Mineral iodine is essential for the production of thyroid hormones. Our body gets iodine through our food. Iodine deficiency may lead to an underactive thyroid. In some parts of the world, iodine deficiency is common.
3) Thyroid surgery: Removing a part of or whole thyroid gland can affect the production of thyroid hormones. Thyroid surgery is done in case of a thyroid nodule, cancer, or other tumors of the thyroid gland. In such cases, you may need to take thyroid hormone supplements for lifelong.
4) Treatment of hyperthyroidism: Conventional treatment of hyperthyroidism includes radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medicines. Sometimes, correcting hyperthyroidism can lead to low thyroid hormone production.
5) Radiotherapy: Radiotherapy given to cancer patients may affect the functioning of the thyroid gland leading to an underactive thyroid.
6) Pregnancy: Some females may develop an underactive thyroid during pregnancy due to autoimmunity or other factors. If left untreated, it may lead to complications, such as miscarriage, premature birth, high blood pressure, or birth defects.
7) Stress: Prolonged stress or emotional trauma is one of the common causes of the thyroid and other hormonal dysfunctions.
8) Pituitary disorders: Conditions like autoimmune diseases affecting the pituitary gland, tumors of the pituitary gland may lead to pituitary dysfunction causing the deficiency of TSH. This may cause an underactive thyroid.
Symptoms of Underactive Thyroid:
Often the early signs and symptoms of underactive thyroid are unnoticed. In elderly females, these are mistaken to be symptoms of advancing age or symptoms of menopause.
The condition may remain undiagnosed for many years and symptoms tend to develop slowly over a period.
The signs and symptoms of an underactive thyroid vary depending on the severity of hormone deficiency, age, duration of illness, etc. The patient may present with different combinations of signs and symptoms. Common signs and symptoms experienced by the patients of underactive thyroid are listed here.
- Fatigue, exhaustion
- A sudden unexplained weight gain
- Difficulty in losing weight
- Muscle pain, stiffness
- Dry, itchy, rough skin
- Dry, lustreless hair
- Hair fall and hair thinning
- Puffy swollen face
- Swelling on feet
- Intolerance of cold
- Irregular menstrual cycle, excess or scanty menstrual flow
- Recurrent miscarriage
- Mood swings, depression, irritability
- Difficulty in concentrating, impaired memory
- Hoarse voice
Children suffering from an underactive thyroid may present with poor growth, delayed mental and physical development, and delayed puberty.
Complications of Underactive Thyroid:
If left untreated or poorly managed, and underactive thyroid may lead to several complications. They are listed here.
1) Goiter: The enlargement of the thyroid gland is known as goiter. It may present as
Swelling in the neck ranging from a small lump to a huge mass.
Difficulty in swallowing: If a large goiter is pressing the esophagus (food pipe), you experience difficulty in swallowing.
Difficulty in breathing: If the goiter is large enough to put pressure on windpipe, you may experience difficulty in breathing.
2) Mental health issues: Mood swings and irritability may occur in the early stages of an underactive thyroid. If left untreated, it may lead to severe depression or anxiety disorders over a period. Underactive thyroid also leads to slowed mental functioning, such as a lack of concentration and loss of memory.
3) Infertility: Deficient thyroid hormones and autoimmune thyroid diseases may affect the fertility of female suffering from an underactive thyroid.
4) Cardiac or Heart diseases: Underactive thyroid may cause an increased risk of heart disease. People with an underactive thyroid may suffer from high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol. It may also lead to the enlargement of the chambers of the heart and eventually heart failure.
5) Myxedema: If an underactive thyroid is undiagnosed and is left untreated for a long time, it may lead to a life-threatening condition known as myxedema. The signs and symptoms include profound lethargy, drowsiness, intolerance of cold, loss of consciousness, etc. This condition needs immediate emergency medical treatment.
6) Birth defects:
The babies born to women with untreated thyroid disease may have a higher risk of birth defects. These children, as they grow up, can develop serious intellectual and other developmental problems.
Infants having hypothyroidism present at birth and if it is undiagnosed and untreated, they are at a high risk of developing serious problems related to their physical and mental development. If an underactive thyroid is diagnosed within the first few months of life, the chances of normal mental and physical development are excellent in such infants.
Diagnosis of Underactive Thyroid:
After detailed case history and thorough physical examination by a physician, the following diagnostic tools may help in the diagnosis of an underactive thyroid:
1) Blood tests:
Diagnosis of an underactive thyroid is based on your symptoms which can be confirmed by measuring the levels of thyroid hormones (T3, T4) and TSH in the blood.
Most commonly, while diagnosing an underactive thyroid, T4 and TSH levels in the blood are measured. A low level of thyroid hormones and a high level of TSH indicate an underactive thyroid.
As in case of an underactive thyroid, the thyroid gland is not able to produce adequate amounts of T4 and T3, the pituitary gland senses this and increases TSH (Thyroid-stimulating hormone) production which in turn stimulates the thyroid gland to increase the secretion of T4 and T3 hormones.
In secondary hypothyroidism, the pituitary gland is unable to produce and secrete the required amount of TSH. Hence, the levels of TSH, T4, and T3 hormones will be below the normal range in the blood.
Measuring TSH level in the blood (TSH test) also plays an important role in the treatment of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). It helps your treating doctor to decide the right dosage of medication, initially while starting the treatment and over a while in managing your disease.
Hormone Age Normal levels in uIU/ml
(Thyroid-stimulating hormone) Adult Females or males
(> 20 years) 0.35– 5.50
5 days – 5 months
5 months – 20 years 1.00-39.00
0.70 – 6.40
T3 (Triiodothyronine) < 18 years
> 18 years 2.60-4.80
T4 (Thyroxine) >20 years 0.89-1.76
2) Diagnosing Autoimmune Thyroid disease:
To diagnose Hashimoto's Thyroiditis or autoimmune thyroid disease, Anti-TPO antibody testing may be done. The Anti-TPO Antibody is a useful marker for the diagnosis and management of autoimmune thyroid disease.
3) Ultrasonography (USG) of the neck and thyroid can be used to detect nodules and infiltrative disease.
Some important things in the diagnosis of an underactive thyroid:
In some patients, symptoms of an underactive thyroid may not always correspond to the severity or level of the lab test abnormalities i.e. some patients may have severe underactive thyroid as per their laboratory values (level of T3, T4, TSH) but they may have very mild symptoms.
On the other hand, some patients may not have significantly abnormal laboratory values of T3, T4 and TSH level, but they may be showing significant symptoms.
The treatment protocol for an underactive thyroid should be designed in such a way that it corrects the laboratory values and also make the patient feel better.
During the initial stages of an underactive thyroid, increased conversion of T4 to T3 occurs and hence T3 levels are maintained but T4 levels may be low to normal.
Supportive Treatment (Diet, Lifestyle, & Exercise) for Underactive Thyroid:
If proper treatment for an underactive thyroid is augmented with diet and other measures, it can help to restore the thyroid function and help to minimize symptoms.
Food to avoid: Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower etc), Soyfood, food that contains gluten (Wheat, maida, bakery products, pasta, macaroni, etc.), highly processed food and fatty food, Red meat, coconut, alcohol, food with preservatives, excess table salt, canned aerated drinks, shellfish, etc. should be avoided
Food to include: Include foods, such as fresh green vegetables and fruits (except Cruciferous vegetables), gluten-free grains and seeds (rice, quinoa, flaxseeds, chia seeds, etc.), sprouts, pulses, skimmed milk, etc. in your diet.
Adequate water intake: Drink adequate water and other liquids (like buttermilk, juices, soups, etc.)
Healthy lifestyle: Regular exercise, yoga, and meditation can prove beneficial.
Conventional Treatment of Underactive Thyroid:
As per conventional method supplement of thyroid hormone (thyroxine) is given to the patient externally, which is not wrong. But, in this treatment of underactive thyroid, the body gets used to external hormone and stops producing its hormone naturally in the required quantity.
Our Experience In Treating An Underactive Thyroid At Life Force:
As per Dr. Rajesh Shah’s rich experience and expertise in treating different cases of an underactive thyroid, homeopathy is highly effective in treating recently diagnosed cases of underactive thyroid. Since last more than 30 years at Life Force, we have been treating patients from 180 plus countries under the direct care of Dr. Shah. We have treated and documented a few hundred cases of different types of underactive thyroid. As per our experience, after using homeopathy, the patients of underactive thyroid in an early stage (up to 2 years of period) respond better to the treatment. Patients who are taking thyroid supplements for more than 2 years may not respond to homeopathic treatment in the same way. Homeopathic medicines stimulate the thyroid gland and improve thyroid function as well as offers you relief in the signs and symptoms. Once patients respond to homeopathic treatment, they may not need thyroid supplements for lifelong.