Yoga Therapy for Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism- Part 1

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

Yoga offers a range of natural solutions and easy lifestyle modification in effectively managing and preventing thyroid disorders. Additionally, the twisting, stretching and compressing yoga poses helps to massage the thyroid gland and thereby release of the thyroid hormone is regulated.

In this Part 1 of the articles "Yoga Therapy for Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism" we will review the thyroid function, the common problems of the thyroid gland and the symptoms one may experience if having hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism or thyroid nodules. Part 2 is dedicated to the emotional causes behind thyroid problems. In Part 3 we will go through the recommended yoga therapy for hypothyroidism, and the last Part 4 is for the yoga therapy of hyperthyroidism.

Thyroid Function

Thyroid hormones control functions such as body temperature, digestion and heart functions. It is a vital hormone gland which helps to regulate many body functions by constantly releasing a steady number of thyroid hormones into the blood stream. Triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), the hormones produced by the thyroid, have an enormous effect on the health, affecting all aspects of metabolism- growth, body development, the rate at which the body uses fats and carbohydrates, heart rate and body temperature.

There are two types of thyroid disorders caused by abnormal production of thyroid hormones- hyperthyroidism (overproduction) and hypothyroidism (underproduction). Women are more affected than men to develop any of those disorders as their hormonal systems are overworked, never resting due to the monthly hormonal changes in women’s body, especially after menopause and pregnancy.

Thyroid gland anatomy

Which are the common thyroid problems?

  • Hyperthyroidism (The pituitary gland releases TSH to stimulate the thyroid to produce its hormones. High thyroxine and low TSH levels indicate that your thyroid gland is overactive.)

  • Hypothyroidism (The thyroid gland is underactive, and it can’t produce enough of its hormones.)

  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (The disease occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and slowly destroys the thyroid gland and its ability to produce hormones. Its symptoms are the same as hypothyroidism.)

  • Graves’ disease (An autoimmune disorder that occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland. This can cause the gland to overproduce the hormone responsible for regulating metabolism. Graves is hereditary and it’s much more common to develop in women ages 20 to 30. Other risk factors include stress, pregnancy, and smoking. Symptoms are as hyperthyroidism.)

  • Goiter (It is a noncancerous enlargement of the thyroid gland. The most common cause of goiter worldwide is iodine deficiency in the diet. Conversely, goiter is often caused by — and a symptom of — hyperthyroidism)

  • Thyroid Nodules (They are growths that form on or in the thyroid gland. The causes aren’t always known but can include iodine deficiency and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The nodules can be solid or fluid-filled. Most are benign, but they can also be cancerous in a small percentage of cases. Most thyroid nodules don’t cause any symptoms. However, if they grow large enough, they can cause swelling in your neck and lead to breathing and swallowing difficulties, hoarseness, pain, and goiter. Some nodules produce thyroid hormone, causing abnormally high levels in the bloodstream. When this happens, symptoms are similar to those of hyperthyroidism. Symptoms will be similar to hypothyroidism if the nodules are associated with Hashimoto’s disease. Cancerous nodules are pretty rare- less than 4% of all population. One type of thyroid cancer—medullary thyroid cancer—is linked to a hereditary genetic mutation in about 25% of cases.)

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism symptoms

Metabolism speeds up

  • Irritability/nervousness

  • Muscle weakness/tremors

  • Light or missed menstrual periods

  • Weight loss

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Frequent bowel movements

  • Enlarged thyroid gland

  • Vision problems or eye irritation

  • Heat intolerance

  • Increase or decrease in appetite

  • Shortness of breath

  • Itchy skin/clammy skin

  • Thinning hair

  • Brittle nails

  • Weak bones

  • Skin flushing (sudden reddening of face, neck or upper chest)

  • Heart palpitations (rapid or irregular heartbeat)

  • Anxiety

  • Infertility

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism symptoms

Metabolism slows down

  • Fatigue, tiredness

  • Frequent, heavy menstrual periods

  • Decreased libido

  • Goiter

  • Cold hands and feet

  • Fluid retention

  • Forgetfulness

  • Weight gain

  • Dry, coarse skin and hair, and hair loss

  • Hoarse voice

  • Trouble dealing with cold temperatures

  • Weakness/irritability

  • Slow heart rate

  • High cholesterol

  • Elevated liver enzymes

  • Constipation

  • Depression

  • Generalized edema (swelling)

Hypothyroidism vs hyperthyroidism

Symptoms of Thyroid Nodules Thyroid nodules may be hard to find and often don’t cause any symptoms. Make sure to check your gland regularly at home and with your doctor.

  • Trouble with swallowing or breathing

  • Hoarseness or voice change

  • Pain in the neck

  • Goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland)

Hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules can lead to hyperthyroidism. Thyroid nodules may also be associated with low thyroid hormone levels, or hypothyroidism.

Thyroid self check

Complications associated with some thyroid nodules include:

  • Problems swallowing or breathing. Large nodules or a multinodular goiter can interfere with swallowing or breathing.

  • Hyperthyroidism. Problems can occur when a nodule or goiter produces thyroid hormone, leading to an excess amount of the hormone in the body. Hyperthyroidism can result in weight loss, muscle weakness, heat intolerance, and anxiousness or irritability.

  • Potential complications of hyperthyroidism include an irregular heartbeat, weak bones and thyrotoxic crisis, a rare but potentially life-threatening intensification of signs and symptoms that requires immediate medical care.

  • Problems related to thyroid nodule surgery. If your doctor recommends surgery to remove a nodule, you may need to take thyroid hormone replacement therapy for the rest of your life.

Risk Factors for Developing Thyroid Issues Include:

  • Are a woman

  • Are older than 60

  • Have a family history of thyroid disease

  • Have an autoimmune disease, such as type 1 diabetes or celiac disease

  • Have been treated with radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications

  • Received radiation to your neck or upper chest

  • Have had thyroid surgery (partial thyroidectomy)

  • Have been pregnant or delivered a baby within the past six months

  • Iodine deficiency (for hypo)

  • Damage or inflammation of the hypothalamus

Stay with us in Part 2 where we will discuss the emotional causes of thyroid problems.

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