Ayurved Doctor

Goitre (aka goiter): Ayurvedic Management and Home Remedies

Have you seen people with the swollen neck? It is because of the abnormal enlargement of a very important endocrine gland known as Thyroid. It is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck which helps in regulating the body metabolism and thereby ensures general health. The condition in which the thyroid gland becomes abnormally enlarged is known as Goitre. In Ayurveda, it is explained under the kantagata rogas as Galaganda.

In the ayurvedic view, Galaganda is a swelling formed by the localization of the vitiated Vata and Kapha dosha along with medho dhatu in the manya( neck) region and has a shape like that of the enlarged scrotum(mushkavat) .

Causes of goiter:

  • Iodine deficient diet is found to be the primary cause of goitre and is seen especially in people living in the hilly areas than in the coastal belt.
  • Graves’s disease or hyperthyroidism in which there is an overproduction of thyroid hormones may cause the gland to enlarge.
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition in which the thyroid gland is damaged leading to hyposecretion of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism). To counterbalance, the pituitary sends more thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and as a result of this overstimulation, in the long run, may cause the gland to enlarge.
  • Benign or cancerous nodules in the thyroid gland. Sometimes, there may be multinodular goitre in which many benign nodules develop in the thyroid leading to swelling of the gland.
  • Pregnancy, often the HCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin) hormone may cause the thyroid gland to swell slightly.
  • Other inflammations affecting the gland.

Types of Goitre

  1. Simple goitre– due to deficiency of iodine
  2. Toxic goitre– hypersecretion of hormones is seen, mainly because of goitrogenic substances. (E.g. Goitrin in cabbage).

Ayurvedic acharyas have classified it based on the predominance of the Prakupita dosha as

  1. Vataja Galaganda
  2. Kaphaja Galaganda
  3. Medoja Galaganda

Clinical manifestations:

Usually people won’t experience any signs and symptoms, manifestations mainly depend on the root cause involved, and in general people may have

  • Swollen neck, with a tight feeling in the neck.
  • Coughing or hoarseness of voice
  • In severe cases there may be difficulty in breathing as well as swallowing.

Other common problems are menstrual abnormalities, hot and cold intolerance, excessive or lack of appetite, weight gain or weight loss depending upon the hypo or hyper secretion of thyroid hormone.(Have to monitor your thyroid levels if you have any of them).

Goitre is usually diagnosed by the doctor while doing the physical examination, or may require a thyroid function test (TFT), ultrasonography (USG), or rarely a biopsy.

Is it manageable?

Of course, in the initial period one can try iodine rich diet and if there is thyroid hormone variation medications should be taken to normalize the hormone level. If it disturbs you much like breathing difficulties and problems with swallowing, your doctor may advice to have a thyroidectomy (total or partial) depending on the severity.

Can Ayurveda help?

In the ayurvedic perspective, the hypothyroid state is considered as srothodushti in the form of apravrutti, or goitre as nija shotham with Kapha predominance. Thus basically, correction of Agni, Kaphamedhohara, and shophahara chikitsa is to be followed.

Classical medications:

  • Amrutotaram kashayam
  • Varanadi kashayam
  • Guggulutiktaka kashayam
  • Guggulu panchapalam choornam
  • Shaddharanam choornam
  • Vyoshadi choornam
  • Kanchanara Guggulu
  • Amrita Guggulu
  • Navaka Guggulu
  • Amritarishtam and ayaskriti are found to be effective.

Marsha nasyam with sarshapa taila (mustard oil) or with any shiro virechana gana dravya like Apamarga (Achyranthes aspera), Vidanga (Embelia ribes), or Shigru (Moringa oliefera).

Ayurveda also advocates Raktamokshana (bloodletting) by siravyadha (venesection) at urumula (the root of the thigh) for effective cure.

Along with medications, you can try some of the home remedies for faster action,

  • Give mild fomentation of the throat with kashaya prepared from tender leaves of eranda (Ricinus communis), or with milk or kanchi (a fermented ayurvedic preparation).
  • Lepa prepared out of Shigru (Moringa oliefera), Punarnava ( Boerrhavia diffusa) and root of Arka (Calotropis gigantea).
  • Fomenting around the neck by a hot towel will give some relief.
  • Applying a paste prepared with flax seeds and water over the neck is a common practice.
  • Practising Pranayama like Bhramari is found to be very effective.
  • Gunja (Abrus precatorius) lepa over the neck.

What to take and what not to?

PathyaApathya
Foods prepared with iodized salt, seafood, milk, oats, egg yolk, onion, citrus fruits, banana, tomatoes, legumes, flax seeds.Cabbage, Spinach, broccoli, Soya bean, Peanuts, coffee, cigarettes and alcoholic drinks, sweet potato and carbonated drinks.

It’s always the root cause that needs to be treated rather than controlling the symptoms. Always be aware of the needs of your body and mind, eat healthy, do regular exercise #Stay healthy # Stay happy.

Author:

Dr Arya Raveendran, BAMS,
With experience in treating skin disorders, pain management, lifestyle disorders, hair and cosmetic problems.

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