Approximately one person in five is thought to suffer from a thyroid dysfunction. The main disorder is hypothyroidism (low thyroid), which affects about l9 out of 20 patients, and then there’s the rarer condition of hyperthyroidism (thyrotoxicosis), where the excessive production of thyroid hormones has a toxic effect on the body.
The thyroid gland curves across the windpipe at the front of the neck. It produces power-generating hormones that are released into the blood and transported to all pans of the body where they regulate the metabolism – the chemical process in your body that releases energy.
The normal function of thyroid hormones is to elevate oxygen and energy consumption in cells, and increase the heart rate. This raises blood pressure, stimulates the formation of red blood cells and enhances oxygen delivery. It also stimulates the activities of other hormonal glands and facilitate bone formation, especially in young children.
Iodine, found in sea kelp and many vegetables, is the main raw material employed in synthesising these hormones, so it follows that anyone who has hyperthyroidism should avoid iodine-rich foods, including iodised salt.
Two organs in the brain – the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland – control the production of thyroxine from the thyroid with thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). If TSH levels are high, the thyroid is instructed to accelerate its output, resulting in a hyperthyroid state where the metabolic rate climbs drastically. The demand for oxygen by the cells of the body is so high that it accelerates the heart rate and breathing, and the skin becomes flushed and moist. Sometimes the heart rate is so high that it leads to an irregular heartbeat which in turn can lead to complications, such as blood clots forming in the heart, which can travel to the brain and cause a stroke.
The individual can become exhausted, breathless, suffer from palpitations and tire very easily. The bowels may become very active too, with frequent and softer motions, and the eyes begin to bulge, as if in an extreme-anxiety state.
In the case of severe thyrotoxicosis, taking the anti-thyroid drugs prescribed by your doctor is the best option. These drugs act as a chemical block bringing the symptoms under control. However, while taking the medicine, you can try natural methods of treatment to try to help your body cope.
This is what I suggest:
- Drink eight to ten large glasses of still pure water daily: dehydration can cause a racing heart and sticky blood.
- Don’t smoke.
- Eat fish, but otherwise stick to a predominantly vegetarian diet. Avoid salt, coffee and alcohol.
- Take gentle, regular exercise.
- Massage the neck and spine twice weekly for ten minutes. In my opinion, it is important to improve the functioning of the pituitary gland and hypothalamus, which control the thyroid. Massaging this area improves the blood flow to the brain and so may help to regulate TSH.
- Breathing exercises are essential to gain control of the heart rate, breathing and muscle tension. Practise retention breathing: inhale to a count of three using the diaphragm to draw in the maximum amount of air; hold your breath for a count of three to six, and then gently exhale, pushing the diaphragm right up as you count very slowly to six. Do this for ten minutes, twice daily. For detailed instructions, write to Ms Jiwan Brar at the IMC.
- Take the herbal supplement Rasagandha (tablets): one tablet twice daily for two months, to help regulate the heart and blood pressure.
- Also try high doses of omega-3 fatty acids to help regulate the brain, such as BioCare Mega EPA l000mg (capsules).