The thyroid gland is one of the most important glands in the body with a far-reaching influence. It is one of the endocrine, hormone-producing, organs and it basically controls the rate at which the body’s various organs and systems function. It has an effect on immunity, energy levels, circulation, sugar regulation and is the overall controller of growth and development, and of metabolism throughout the body. More than that, however, it has an important part to play in mood.
The name thyroid comes from the Greek thyreo-eides, the name from the Ancient Greek “door-shaped” battle shield, which had a notch for the chin, from thyra, meaning door. The thyroid cartilage is such a shape and forms the Adam’s apple prominence on the front of the neck. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland, the two lobes of which lie against the lower half of the thyroid cartilage. The two lobes are united by an isthmus of tissue.
Essentially, the thyroid gland makes the thyroid hormones, thyroxine and triiodothyronine (respectively referred to as T4 and T3) and another called calcitonin, which has an effect on calcium metabolism. Ninety per cent of the body’s iodine is contained in the thyroid gland in organic form. This iodine is needed in order to manufacture the thyroid hormones.
The thyroid hormones are the mediators of innumerable chemical reactions within the body. This is what we mean when we talk about metabolism; basically the thyroid, through the action of its hormones, is the regulator of the rate at which the body functions.
The thyroid hormones function via a feedback loop. The hypothalamus, a collection of specialised cells within the brain, is affected by the circulating levels of the thyroid hormones. If the level is lower than it should be, then it pumps out a hormone that controls the pituitary gland, at the base of the brain. This responds by producing Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), which causes the thyroid to produce more thyroxine until it achieves adequate levels. Once those levels are attained, then a negative feedback ceases further production. Tapping into this feedback loop is the way in which we can biochemically test for over- or under-activity of the gland. Essentially, we find out if there is too much or too little.
Tadpoles into frogs
Let me take you away from human physiology for a moment and consider your common or garden pond and its population of frogs’ spawn. How wonderful it is to see those jelly-like masses develop into little wriggling tadpoles. Remember the wonder with which you watched them during your childhood, as they slowly transformed into frogs? You were witnessing the metamorphosis of a creature from one life stage to another. And it is a profound change because the larval tadpole hatches from the egg equipped by nature to live its life in the water. It is an herbivorous water-dweller with gills. As it develops, however, it grows limbs, lungs and when it emerges from the water as an adult frog, it has become an air-breathing carnivore.
Frogs are amphibians and the whole class to which they belong exhibit this metamorphosis. The name comes from the Greek amphi, meaning double, and bios, meaning life. The stimulus for this profound growth and development is the thyroid hormone, thyroxine. This can be proved by suppressing thyroid function in the tadpole, which will cause it to remain permanently in the larval stage, although it will continue to grow abnormally large. On the other hand, increasing the concentration of thyroxine in the water will induce a rapid metamorphosis to produce a tiny frog. I find this a useful model when thinking about thyroid disorders.
Too much or too little?
Thyroxine is very important in every stage of human development. It is important to the developing foetus and it is important to the newborn baby. In this country we automatically check for congenital hypothyroidism, which is important since early treatment is of vital importance.
Over-activity of the thyroid is called hyperthyroidism, or thyrotoxicosis and occurs when the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone. It is associated with weight loss, increased appetite, palpitations, hot flushes, anxiety and restlessness, muscle weakness, tremor and, in women, often a reduction in menstrual flow. Sometimes the eyes may be affected and seem to bulge, hence the symptom of exophthalmos. Conventional treatment usually consists of taking anti-thyroid drugs, possibly radioactive iodine, and/or surgery. (Just think back to the mini frog and its accelerated metamorphosis. Small – weight loss – fast, fidgety, with bulging eyes.)
Under-activity of the thyroid, called hypothyroidism, is the result of too little thyroid hormone being produced. It is five times commoner in women than men, affecting up to ten per cent of women over the age of 50. It typically produces weight gain, fatigue and listlessness, cold sensitivity, skin dryness, fluid retention, constipation, loss of libido, anxiety and depression. In addition, it may cause brittle nails, lustreless hair and diminished immunity. The conventional treatment consists of taking , a replacement hormone, for life. (Here think back to my large, languid tadpole deprived of thyroxine.) There are actually several causes of both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, but they are beyond the scope of this article. What is important is understanding this concept of too much or too little.
A goitre is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. This can be the result of several factors, including insufficient iodine in the diet, high consumption of certain foods that have a neutralising effect on iodine, such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, and various drugs, such as Lithium. A goitre can occur in both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Thyroglossal cysts and thyroid nodules
In embryonic life the thyroid gland migrates downwards from the pharynx to its position below the Adam’s apple. Sometimes a cyst will develop along the thyroglossal tract. Usually this presents as a swelling above the thyroid in the midline of the neck. They should always be medically investigated.
Thyroid nodules are lumps that develop within the thyroid itself. Although 95 per cent are quite benign, as with thyroglossal cysts, it is important that they be investigated medically.
The thyroid enigma and homeopathy
The thyroid gland is a bit of an enigma. Although the textbook descriptions are quite clear, it is not unusual to see someone who looks to have an over-active thyroid yet who, on testing, is found to be hypothyroid and vice versa. In addition, one often sees someone who has been diagnosed as being under-active and who has been prescribed ever-increasing doses of , yet derives no symptomatic benefit. They may have been told that the thyroid is functioning in the normal range, yet they still have symptoms of fatigue, high cholesterol and are still clearly out of balance.
The aim of homeopathic treatment is to stimulate the body’s homeostatic or inner self-balancing mechanisms. In order to do this the individual ideally needs to be given the simillimum, the right remedy for them at that moment in time. Theoretically, that means that the right remedy could be one out of several thousand. In practice, however, we find that there is a manageable number of remedies that have a propensity to help the thyroid and the ones mentioned have all been found of value in my practice. Interestingly, the same remedies can sometimes be indicated in situations of both over-activity and under-activity. It is the individual that is being treated, rather than the condition.
Let me describe Jacqueline’s case, because I think it illustrates the enigma of the thyroid, especially upon treatment. This woman is 45 years old. She consulted me after a two-year history of ill health, which had started with rapid weight loss and irritability. She had been diagnosed with thyrotoxicosis and had treatment with the anti-thyroid drug Carbimazole. This and other drugs had failed and she then had thyroid surgery, with initial improvement, which was then followed by weight gain, loss of energy and the subsequent diagnosis of hypothyroidism. Then followed a period of slowly escalating dosage of thyroxine, but without any marked improvement. By the time she came to see me she was two stones overweight, irritable, subject to numerous allergies and with a marked suspiciousness bordering on the paranoid. She felt that she would never get well again. This emotional state, especially the irritability, gloom and the suspiciousness highly suggested that she needed the remedy Thyroidinum. This she was given at monthly intervals, with immediate improvement in her emotional state. She became motivated to lose her excess weight and was able to do so. Most importantly, she was gradually able to reduce her dosage to a minimal level, upon which she is still maintained.
The prominent, bulging eyes that I mentioned above makes me think of two excellent remedies. The first is Conium maculatum which is very useful when the individual feels flat and depressed, and when they develop a very hard, smooth goitre. Being very superstitious is characteristic.
The other one is Lycopus virginicus. The characteristic here relates to the heart, with frequent palpitations and shortness of breath.
Ferrum iodatum is a remedy that is useful in the paradoxical situation where an overweight person is afflicted with hyperthyroidism. They can be peevish, sensitive to noise, and subject to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or colitis. Iodum is perhaps indicated in the classic hyperthyroid case. Here the individual is ravenously hungry, yet finds that weight just drops off them. They are incredibly hurried and restless. Very often they will admit to developing little compulsions, or even have developed full blown obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
As mentioned earlier, goitres can occur in both over- and under-activity. Spongia tosta is a useful remedy for someone with a goitre, generally with an overactive thyroid and a background picture of tickling coughs, a tendency to suffocative cough at night (as if having to suck air through a sponge) or asthma. They may feel that their cough or difficulty breathing stems from their goitre.
Calcarea carbonica is very useful in cuddly, doughy people with goitres. They feel easily overwhelmed by life, have multiple fears and crave all sorts of indigestible food. They can be very constipated, yet be unconcerned about it. Their goitre tends to be associated with under-activity.
Bromum is useful in people with respiratory problems, who present with rock hard goitres and who long to be by the seaside, their favourite place. Being overheated makes them feel awful. Their thyroid can be either over-active or under-active.
Fucus vesiculosus (sea kelp) is a classic remedy for generalised under-activity in overweight individuals. They tend to be very constipated and subject to headaches “as if an iron ring is tight about the head”. They may have both a goitre and exhibit exophthalmos.
Graphites is useful for overweight people with cracked, scaly skin troubles. They tend to have under-active thyroids and be weepy, sensitive and quite anxious.
Natrum muriaticum is another very useful remedy for reserved, sensitive, and sorrowful folk who are subject to migraines and who usually like or crave salt. They can develop either over- or under-active thyroids. They are often slim with thin necks and slightly lank hair.
It is not always possible to pin a remedy down and sometimes one can look at the clinical state of the individual as the result of a series of layers that need to be worked through, or be peeled away one at a time, using different remedies for each layer. Yet another approach is to use organ remedies. These are called sarcodes, remedies made from organs of healthy cattle, sheep or pigs, which are prepared in a variety of potencies. The basic principle is the triphasic activity of the remedies. Thus, low potencies (of Thyroid) 3c, 4c and 5c stimulate the gland, medium potencies of 6c and 7c regulate it, and high potencies of 9c up to 30c depress it. When used properly it can be an effective strategy.
Good wholesome food is important if someone has a thyroid problem. They would be well advised to avoid refined foods, saturated fats and sugars and to have at least 50 per cent of the diet as fresh food.
TOP HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES FOR HYPOTHYROIDISM
Calcarea carb , Sepia ,Lycopodium, Graphites and Nux Vomica are the leading homeopathic remedies for hypothyroidism .
- Calcarea Carbonica: Homeopathic medicine Calcarea Carbonica assumes the top most position in homeopathy for treating hypothyroid cases. It is one of the best homeopathic remedy for hypothyroidism. Its use is highly recommended in obese people who are always chilly and cannot tolerate cold air. The patient requiring this medicine is fair complexioned, fatty and flabby. Excessive sweating on head is a leading feature for its use in hypothyroid patients. Certain peculiarities in eating habits like craving for boiled eggs, desire for indigestible things like chalk, pencils, lime, and aversion to take fats also guide towards its use in patients of hypothyroidism. This homeopathic medicine for hypothyroidism can also help in relieving constipation in hypothyroid patients; the peculiar feature is that the first part of stool is hard and is followed by soft stool. This medicine proves to be very efficacious in women with hypothyroidism who suffer from very profuse menses that continue for long durations and occur earlier than the expected date. Coldness of feet is always present during the menstrual period.
- Sepia Officinalis: Sepia Officinalis is also a significant homeopathic medicine for treating the hypothyroid patients. The patients requiring this medicine are very weak, have a pale yellow face and faint very easily especially on exposure to excessive cold temperature. Such patients lack vital heat of body and feel excessively chilly even in a warm room. This medicine can help in treating the menstrual complaints in patients of hypothyroidism where the menses appear too early and are copious in nature. The menstrual complaints are always accompanied by bearing down sensations in pelvis where the patient feels as if the pelvic organs will come out through the vulva and always sit with cross legs to prevent the escape. Sepia Officinalis is also prescribed for controlling the excessive hair fall due to hypothyroidism, especially in women of menopausal age. The next sphere in which this medicine proves very efficacious is the treatment of constipation in hypothyroid patients. The patients requiring this medicine complain of very hard and difficult stool that is passed in small balls with excessive pain during the passing the stool process that continues for long time after the stool. The mental symptoms that are to be considered for its use in hypothyroid patients is extreme irritability and indifferent behaviour towards family members who were earlier very much loved. An unusual excessive craving for acidic things and pickles can also be present.
- Lycopodium Clavatum:This is an excellent homeopathic thyroid Remedy . This homeopathic medicine is mainly prescribed to those patients of hypothyroidism who suffer from gastric troubles. There is excessive flatulence in the abdomen with acidity that is mainly worse after taking farinaceous food. The complaints are mainly worse from 4:00pm-8:00pm. There is constipation with difficult, hard, incomplete stool. The person craves hot drinks and hot food; craving for sweets may also be found. The person is very weak with yellowish face and blue circles around eyes. The excessive hair falling in a hypothyroid person can be wonderfully tackled with this medicine’s use. The patients requiring this medicine are of very irritable nature and cannot bear little contradiction.
- Graphites: Graphites is mainly used for those patients of hypothyroidism who are very obese and take on cold very easily. The long standing constipation where the stool is hard and passes with great difficulty in lumps can be treated with this medicine. Such patients also complain of fullness in abdomen due to obstruction of flatus and desire to loosen the clothing to get relief. Mentally the patient is very depressed, sad and weeps easily on listening to music. Timidity and inability to take decisions may also be present.
- Nux Vomica: Nux Vomica is a wonderful homeopathic remedy mainly prescribed in those patients of hypothyroidism who are extremely temperamental in nature and get offended very easily; such people are very sensitive to all external impressions. This medicine works wonderfully in treating the obstinate constipation in hypothyroid patients. The stool is scanty and unsatisfactory where the patient feels constant urge to pass stool but with little evacuation. Bloated feeling in the stomach after eating is also present. There is an excessive desire for stimulants like alcoholic drinks and coffee; fatty food and spicy food. Patient is very chilly. This medicine can also help those women of hypothyroidism who complain of prolonged menses where the menstrual blood is blackish and accompanied by fainting spells.
HOMEOPATHIC MEDICINES FOR HYPOTHYROIDISM – WHEN WEIGHT GAIN IS THE MAIN SYMPTOM
Homeopathic medicine Calcarea Carbonica works well in controlling the excessive weight gain in patients due to hypothyroidism. The patient requiring this medicine is fatty, fair complexioned and flabby. Extreme sensitiveness to cold air is always present in the patient. Excessive sweating on the head usually at night time is also a very prominent symptom guiding towards using this medicine in weight gain. Another homeopathic medicine Graphites works well in controlling the weight gain in those persons who are very obese, chilly and suffer from obstinate constipation. Lycopodium Clavatum is also a natural homeopathic medicine for treating weight gain in hypothyroidism where the thighs and buttock region is obese. The patients requiring Lycopodium usually show excessive craving for hot drinks and sweets.
HOMEOPATHIC MEDICINES FOR TREATING MENSTRUAL PROBLEMS IN A WOMEN SUFFERING FROM HYPOTHYROIDISM:
Sepia Officinalis is an excellent medicine to deal with menstrual problems due to hypothyroidism where the menses are very profuse and appear very early. Presence of bearing down sensations in pelvic organs along with excessive menstrual flow is a hallmark in using this medicine to correct menstrual problem. The patient requiring this medicine is very chilly and even faints in an extreme cold environment. Homeopathic medicine Calcarea Carbonica can help where the women complain of heavy bleeding during menses along with extremely cold feet during the flow. Excessive perspiration on the head during sleep can accompany this problem, and the patients requiring this medicine are usually obese. Next homeopathic medicine Ferrum Mettalicum can prove to be very efficacious in those women who complain of excessive bleeding during menses where the blood is pale and watery leading to anemia and weakness. Cinchona Officinalis is yet another useful natural homeopathic medicine for treating menstrual trouble in women suffering from hypothyroidism. The symptom guiding towards its use is profuse menstrual flow containing dark clots.
Homeopathic medicines for dealing with cold intolerance in hypothyroid patients:
Homeopathic medicines Psorinum, Silicea, Calcarea Carbonica are wonderful medicines to deal with sensitiveness to cold in hypothyroid patients. All these are equally good for decreasing the sensitivity towards cold but the selection of the medicine solely depends upon the constitutional symptoms given by the patient. Psorinum may be given to those patients who always feel chilly and even in hot weather desire extra coverings to combat the extreme chilliness. Patients requiring Psorinum may also give a history of some sort of skin complaint during their life time. Next medicine Silicea mainly suits obstinate kind of people who are extremely sensitive to cold and who have offensive perspiration on feet. For using Calcarea Carbonica, the symptoms of excessive perspiration on scalp, obesity and craving for boiled eggs along with chilliness are given utmost importance.
Homeopathic medicines Alumina, Nux Vomica and Bryonia Alba for treating the constipation in a person suffering from Hypothyroidism:
The first homeopathic medicine Alumina gives excellent results in treating the trouble of constipation in a hypothyroid patient. Patient requiring this medicine passes many days without going for stool, he feels no desire for stool until a large accumulation has occurred in intestines. The stool is mainly soft and clay like but it requires great straining to expel the stool due to sluggish action of rectum. Next medicine Nux Vomica works well in relieving those cases of constipation where the patient feels constant desire to pass stool but only scanty stool is passed. The stool is insufficient and does not give satisfaction to the patient. Pain in abdomen usually precedes the expulsion of stool. Intake of spices and coffee makes the patient worse. The last medicine Bryonia Alba can help in relieving those patients who complain of excessively hard and dry stool. An unusual thirst for large quantities of water may be present in patients requiring Bryonia Alba.
Homeopathic Remedies for treating hair fall in patients of Hypothyroidism:
There are no patent medicines in homeopathy for treating hair fall in a patient of hypothyroidism and the medicine has to be selected depending upon the constitutional symptoms of the patient. Natrum Muriaticum is a very good homeopathic medicine for dealing with hair fall cases in persons suffering from hypothyroidism. The symptoms that guide towards its use for hair fall are excessive craving for salty things, inability to bear the heat of sun. The patient requiring this medicine is usually of reserved nature and may show weeping tendencies especially when alone. Lycopodium Clavatum is yet another natural homeopathic medicine for treating hair fall. This medicine can be prescribed to those patients of hair fall who crave hot drinks and sweets. Some sort of gastric trouble like extreme flatulence usually accompanies hair fall in patients requiring this medicine.
Homeopathic Medicines for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis:
There is no specific medicine in homeopathy for treating Hashimoto’s thyroiditis but the required medicine has to be selected from a wide range of homeopathic medicines that depend entirely upon the constitutional symptoms of patient taken down after proper case taking. Homeopathic medicines Calcarea Carbonica, Graphites, Sepia Officinalis are few of the good homeopathic medicines to deal with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Calcarea Carbonica suits mainly persons complaining of weight gain with excessive perspiration on head and extreme chilliness. Graphites may be recommended in obese, chilly patients with obstinate constipation. The last medicine Sepia Officinalis is mainly indicted for treating the menstrual irregularities in thyroiditis patients.
WHAT HOMEOPATHY COSTS?
Your first consultation with a private homeopath will usually cost between INR 500 to INR 10,000. Further appointments usually cost less – about INR 500 to INR 5000 depending on the location of the place and experience of homeopath. It will also depend on the skill level of his staff or assistants who usually take the first case and prepare it for the main consultant.
Your remedy will usually be included in the consultation price, but do check this first. Homeopathic tablets or other products usually cost around INR 100 to INR500 if you need to buy them separately in India.
Imperial clinics Mumbai
Dr. Shreepad A. Khedekar, BHMS, MD (homeopathy), a specialist for over 17 years, he has used homeopathy in his Switzerland, Belgrade and Mumbai practice for the last 17 years. He lectures in homeopathy at Switzerland, Croatia and at the Serbian Doctors Association (SLD) Teaching Centre in Belgrade and has a busy private practice in Dadar, Mumbai and at Shushrusha Citizens co-operative hospital, Mumbai and is the only Homeopath in their 60 year history.
Dr. Shreepad Khedekar is the Clinical Director, Imperial clinics Mumbai and Imperial clinics Belgrade, Consultant at Shushrusha Citizens Co-op Hospital Mumbai and Physician to several international stars and celebrities.
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