The thyroid gland is located on the front part of the neck below the thyroid cartilage (Adam’s apple). The gland produces thyroid hormones, which regulate body metabolism. Thyroid hormones are important in regulating body energy, the body’s use of other hormones and vitamins, and the growth and maturation of body tissues.
Diseases of the thyroid gland can result in either production of too much (overactive thyroid disease or hyperthyroidism), too little (underactive thyroid disease or hypothyroidism) thyroid hormone, thyroid nodules, and/or goiter. All types of thyroid problems in women are much more common than thyroid problems in men.
What Is Thyoid?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck. Inside the thyroid gland are millions of follicles. These follicles produce hormones which are used by every cell of the body.
Production of thyroid hormones: The process of hormone synthesis begins in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus releases thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH). The TRH travels through the venous plexus located in the pituitary stalk to the pituitary gland, also in the brain. In response, the pituitary gland then releases thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) into the blood. The TSH travels to the thyroid gland and stimulates the thyroid to produce the two thyroid hormones, L-thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The thyroid gland also needs adequate amounts of dietary iodine to be able to produce T4 and T3.
Regulation of thyroid hormone production: To prevent the overproduction or underproduction of thyroid hormones, the pituitary gland can sense how much hormone is in the blood and adjust the production of hormones accordingly. For example, when there is too much thyroid hormone in the blood, TRH and TSH production are both decreased. The sum effect of this is to decrease the amount of TSH released from the pituitary gland and to reduce production of thyroid hormones from the thyroid gland to restore the amount of thyroid hormone in the blood to normal. Defects in these regulatory pathways may result in hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid problem) or hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid problem).
Thyroid goiter: Thyroid goiter is any enlargement of the thyroid that can occur with hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism but also with benign and malignant (cancerous) nodules. Worldwide, the most common cause of goiter is iodine deficiency. Although it used to be very common in the U.S., it is now less common with the use of iodized salt. Multiple nodules in the thyroid are very common, but only about 5% of the nodules are a thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer is diagnosed after a thyroid ultrasound exam and a needle aspiration biopsy of the nodule.
Symptoms And Causes Of Thyroid
Symptoms of Thyroid Problems
Symptoms of thyroid problems depends on the age of the person and the exact problem with the thyroid. For example, some symptoms of hypothyroidism in children include:
Symptoms similar to adult symptoms
- • Excessive fatigue
- • Poor growth
- • Poor school performance
Symptoms of hypothyroidism in adults include:
- • Easy fatigue, exhaustion
- • Poor tolerance to cold temperatures
- • Constipation
- • Carpal tunnel syndrome (pain at the wrists and numbness of the hands)
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism in adults include:
- • Insomnia
- • Hand tremors
- • Nervousness
First, is Poor nutrition. Some studies have shown that people who develop thyroid problem, most notably hypothyroidism, suffer from iodine deficiencies. Since iodine is a trace mineral found in food that combines with tyrosine to make both T3 and T4, both of the hormones produced in the thyroid, a lack of it can lead to under- production of thyroid hormones. There is information out there that says that certain foods can interfere with the production of thyroid harmones. These include: soy, millet, or cassava. If a person eats too much of these, he or she can throw their thyroid off.
Other studies find that deficiencies in Vitamin A, magnesium and iron can also cause the thyoid to malfunction.
The second factor is Stress. When a person is under stress, certain harmones are released in the body, such as cortisol. Chronic stress can cause hormone disturbances and hormonal deficiencies which affect the endocrine system, and the thyroid.
Third is Genetics. Like most conditions, if a member of your family has struggled with the condition, then you will too.
Ayurveda And Thyroid
Ayurveda is based on the doctrine that certain substances of vegetable, animal and mineral origin have curative values. These medicinal values have been well documented by various writers and compilers of Ayurvedic literature who observed and experimented with herbs, minerals, metals, animal parts, cooked food articles, natural foods and fruits. The details of these substances are given according to their nature, effects, and curative properties.
Thyroid disease is mentioned in detail by Charaka, one of the writers of the Ayurvedicmateria medica. There is a mention that milk, barley, green grams, Bengal grams, sugarcane juice, cucumber and milk products are good for thyroid health. Sour products, on the other hand, aggravate thyroid conditions like hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce the level of hormones that are required for the proper functioning of bodily organs. In other thyroid conditions, the gland may produce more hormones or may be inflamed or enlarged. Each of these conditions manifests in a wide variety of symptoms. The thyroid hormones are essential for metabolism, and like all other hormones, thyroid hormones must also be produced and released in definite quantities. Their excess or deficiency has a detrimental affect on various organs and their functioning.
The Ayurvedic cure for specific thyroid problems involves the use of a potent herb, Kaanchanara (Bauhinia veriegata). Another herb of the genus of East Indian and African trees that yields balsamic products known as Guggulu ( Commiphora mukul ) is widely used for addressing symptoms of thyroid problems like weight gain. Among other herbs, jatamansi, shilajita (purified asphaltum), gokshura andpunarnava are also used for their curative properties and the management of symptoms associated with thyroid malfunctioning.