Hypothyroidism + Impaired Gut Health
Hypothyroidism is one of the most common thyroid disorders and it has been estimated that 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Although there is no direct mention of the thyroid gland in the ancient teachings of Ayurveda there is, however, a condition by the name galaganda mentioned by certain manuscripts as we shall soon explore.
Hypothyroidism is often associated with weight gain, mental slowing, depression and dementia, constipation, dry skin, hair loss, cold intolerance, hoarse voice, irregular menstruation, infertility, and a wide range of other not-so-desirable symptoms.
Old School vs. Ancient Wisdom
Long gone are the days of managing hypothyroidism with a synthetic or bio-identical hormone thinking that this will somehow reverse the course of the disease. Some studies reveal that 90% of people with hypothyroidism produces antibodies to thyroid tissue. In fact, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common autoimmune disorder in the U.S. Our goal is to question what might set off and trigger this inflammatory cascade causing the most common autoimmune condition. By doing so, let us first consider some correlations mentioned thousands of years ago according to the science of Ayurveda.
Metabolism – Immune Function – Agni
Nearly ever single cell within the body has receptors for the thyroid hormone. Similarly, the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda states metaphorically that there is a flame of digestion which permeates all aspects of the body. This alchemical flame is called “Agni” – which means ‘fire’. This flame of digestion is thought to be responsible for all transformations required to sustain life. The ancient wisdom of Ayurveda further explains a much more subtle expression of this digestive flame called “Jatru Agni”. Jatru Agni is thought to represent both the thyroid and thymus gland and therefore assumes the role of both cellular metabolism and immune function.
Hypothyroidism May Not Be A Thyroid Issue
What is even more interesting is that – it is not uncommon for patients who have Hashimoto’s to demonstrate a “polyendocrine autoimmune pattern” which implies having antibodies to other tissue and enzymes other than that which is specific to the thyroid gland. For example, polyendocrine autoimmune pattern includes antibodies directed at transglutaminase [celiac disease], the cerebellum [neurological disorders], intrinsic factor [pernicious anemia], and glutamic acid decarboxylase [type 1 diabetes] just to name a few.
Is Hypothyroidism Due To Gut Disturbance?
In ancient times food was considered medicine and people valued food much differently then. However, as the integrity of food increasingly becomes compromised, so too – digestive concerns continue to increase. The ancient wisdom of Ayurveda has always placed great emphasis on the importance of digestion and even explained the detriment of absorbing elemental by-products of improperly digested food. According to Ayurvedic literature, the products of poorly digested food [“ama”; toxins], if absorbed, is considered to be the root cause of all diseases; especially autoimmune conditions.
The Ancient Wisdom Of Ayurveda …
“When food is digested improperly because agni [the digestive flame] is low the undigested food becomes vitiated [disturbed] and collects in the stomach. It is known as ama [toxins]. – Astangahrdaya Samhita
Great Video – “Natural Remedies For Thyroid Health” by Dr. Josh Axe
The video discusses natural remedies for thyroid health. There are more people than ever before that are struggling with conditions like hypothyroidism, hashimotos disease, hyperthyroidism, and graves disease. If you have a sluggish thyroid or metabolism, this is a big warning sign that you may have a thyroid issue. Top five natural remedies that are safe, healthy, and effective for improving thyroid health are:
3. B Vitamins (Thiamine and Vitamin B12)
5. Proteolytic Enzymes
What’s The Connection?
Several studies show a strong link between autoimmune thyroid disease and gluten intolerance. As this correlation has become more well-established, researchers are even now suggesting that all people with autoimmune disease to be screened for gluten intolerance. This is just one of many examples which makes a direct correlation of impaired gut health and the origin of disease [i.e. autoimmunity]. Ayurveda goes on to explain that this expression of disease [i.e. autoimmunity] is, in essence, an impairment of body’s cellular intelligence and that this cellular intelligence is orchestrated largely by both the neuroendocrine and immunological systems. These systems of course are controlled by both the thyroid and thymus gland [i.e. “Jathru Agni”] which has been explained comprehensively many thousands of years ago.
One Flame – Many Embers
The ancient wisdom of Ayurveda also talks about the transformative quality of agni as being influenced by its various levels of expression. More simply, the digestive function within the gastrointestinal tract [Jathara Agni] influences the biotransformative actions in the liver [Bhuta Agni] which ultimately correlates with more subtle expressions of metabolism both at the tissue [Dhatu Agni] and cellular level [Pilu-Pithara Agni]. In other words, it’s all connected; one and the same.
Modern Understanding + The Antiquity Of Ayurveda
T4 is the inactive form of the thyroid hormone and requires the conversion to T3 via the liver before it can properly function to regulate metabolism at the cellular level. This connection between the thyroid hormone T3 secreted by the thyroid gland [jathru agni] and the conversion of T3 into T4 via the liver [bhuta agni] with T4 being the major hormone to regulate tissue [dhatu agni] and cellular metabolism [pilu-pithara agni] reveals the sophistication and understanding demonstrated by the teachings of Ayurveda.
“The thyroid is a bridge between bhuta agni [liver function] and the seven tissues [peripheral tissue], maintaining the functional integrity of the bhuta agni and dhatu agni [tissue metabolism].” – Dr. Vasant Lad; Ayurvedic Physician
Management of hypothyroidism [galaganda] from an Ayurvedic perspective is to increase the digestive fire [agni] at the cellular level and to restore metabolism. Just as an example, Yograj guggulu and Ashwagandha powder have long been recommended in the management of hypothyroidism. Likewise, a study on Liv-52, an Ayurvedic liver tonic, has revealed that it stimulates thyroid hormone secretion, particularly T3. In fact, the action of one of the most recommended Ayurvedic drugs [Kanchnar guggulu] reveals much similarity to the allopathic medication Eltroxin.
The goal of this post was to establish some interesting correlations with gut health and overall well-being. Rather, the goal was to stress the importance of how impaired gut health may be the root cause of many autoimmune conditions. The connection is now well understood that poor gut health can suppress thyroid function and trigger Hashimoto’s disease, and low thyroid function can lead to an inflamed and leaky gut resulting in systemic toxicity which can manifest as “polyendocrine autoimmune pattern”. Although Ayurveda is a subtle science which deals with energetics of bodily humors there is still much overlap and much to be gained by appreciating these subtleties.
This is strictly for educational purpose only and not to be considered medical advice.
Always first seek the advice of your primary care physician before considering any new health regimen