Goitre, also known as galaganda in Ayurveda, is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. The front and the sides of the neck is what are affected, usually symptomatic of abnormal thyroid secretion, especially hypothyroidism, which is caused due to lack of iodine in the diet. The swelling in the gland initially may be unnoticeable, however, later it becomes visible and at times exceedingly large. Consequently swallowing and respiration becomes difficult. The condition is mostly seen in women and the elderly, they being more susceptible.
Causes and Symptoms of Goitre
Thyroid is a gland, which is situated just below the Adam’s apple. This gland is responsible for producing hormones, which regulate the metabolism of our body. An occurrence of goitre is an indication of improper functioning of this gland. Lack of iodine causes goitre. Iodine is necessary for producing thyroid hormone. Lack of this element results in imbalance in thyroid production thus resulting in enlargement of the gland itself. The deficiency of iodine is most common in under developed countries.
Enlargement of the thyroid gland in front and sides of the neck is the primary evident symptom of goitre. It may start as a tiny nodule, initially not obvious, and grow on to become a massive lump in the throat. The lump is odd to look at. The swelling is accompanied by tightness in the throat and hoarseness in voice. The lump tends to press the food pipe and the respiratory tract. It may make breathing and swallowing difficult. There could be coughing and wheezing too coupled with occasional diarrhea and vomiting. Fatigue and sleepiness could be seen throughout the day.
There are various tests to determine thyroid imbalance such as, serum thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), free T4 and T3 levels, and antibodies against thyroperoxidase and thyroid ultrasound for suspected cases of thyroid nodules.
An enlarged lump in the gland may require surgical removal in severely critical cases wherein a part or whole of the gland may have to be removed.
Ayurveda in Treating Goitre
Ayurveda is a miracle science, which digs out solutions for the commonest of problems to the most complicated and rare ones. It caters to all age groups and is a harmless option. Ayurvedic ‘Panchkarma treatment’ is considered to be especially useful in treatment of goitre. Ayurveda recommends consumption of iodine rich foods like carrot, beetroot, bananas, onion, garlic, oats, tomatoes, lettuce, strawberry, cucumber, guava, pineapple etc. to supplement the deficiency in the body.
Besides consuming foods loaded with iodine, Ayurveda also suggests following certain steps to combat this condition with ease.
- Pay attention to your diet. Not just the diet should include iodine rich foods, it should also be modified to remove foods that are difficult to swallow or cause pain while eating.
- Beverages such as alcohol, tea, coffee, aerated drinks should be refrained from.
- Iodized salt should be consumed.
- Exercise regularly.
- Take adequate rest
- Indulge in yoga
- Do neck exercises
Natural Herbs useful in cure of Goitre as per Ayurveda
- Kanchanara or Kachna is consumed as concoction twice a day to treat thyroid problems.
- Watercress is rich in iodine and is used regularly to prevent goitre.
- Dandelion leaves are very helpful in reducing swelling.
- Flaxseeds paste is used to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Garlic reduces swelling, is an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. It is again very helpful in goitre.
- Kelp, also known as brown algae, is packed with iodine and helps regulate thyroid functions.
- Green tea is also a thyroid functioning booster.
- Coconut oil is also said to be good for people with goitre conditions.
Ayurvedic remedies and treatments are based on the belief that the digestive system and the rest of the metabolism should function properly so that the body absorbs all the nutrients, which are good for us. It aims at promoting thyroid health. Ayurveda aims at treatment of goitre by use of natural herbs and ayurvedic formulations.