The enlargement of the thyroid, a gland that is located in the center of the throat is called a goiter. The enlargement can cause minor discomfort in movement especially if it is too big; however, it is quite painless in itself. Situated just below the Adam's apple the thyroid is a gland that folds itself around the front of the upper trachea. The hypophysis in the brain that functions itself as a gland is the command center for the thyroid which is bilobed and produces hormones on the orders of the hypophyseal gland or the hypophysis. The speed of the metabolism in the human body or the metabolic rate is largely a function of the hormones released by the thyroid. An overactive thyroid gland can produce too much hormone, this overproduction can cause nervousness, induce a state sleeplessness and recurring hunger with accompanying weight loss. The symptoms of an under active thyroid on the other hand include fatigue, a low initiative, an increased sensitivity to cold, clumsiness and a tendency to gain weight as appetite improves. Changes in hormone production are not the only reasons for the appearance of a goiter in a person. There are certain physical signs such as a hoarseness in the throat, a difficulty swallowing or breathing or an intense feeling of pressure on the throat, in all such cases, the first thing to do would be to rule out the possibility of cancer of the thyroid.
The growth of a goiter and its enlargement can be because of either an overactive or under active thyroid, because in essence the goiter has been formed in both types of reaction as the thyroid tries to compensate for the production of thyroid hormone, which may have been impaired. Even when the blood-hormone levels are normal, the majority of goiters can still seem to occur. In such situations it could be that the production of hormone is lower than it should be and the thyroid is increasing in size in an attempt to keep the hormone levels constant. When iodine, available in seafood and seaweed, is lacking from the diet or present in insufficient quantities in the diet, this can come about, this may be the number one reason for goiter in the developing world, where iodine may be hard to find in the diet. Periods of hormonal change, as in puberty, during pregnancy and menopause sees the largest number of thyroid problems in a person. A professional evaluation is always advised as any enlarged gland can be cancerous or become malignant. An enlarged thyroid suggests a sluggish and congested liver in Chinese medicine.
Supplements and herbs
Supplementation can be an effective treatment especially in cases when a goiter forms even with a normal or low thyroid hormone level. The rich iodine content of seaweeds like kelp is a good way to get this substance naturally as iodine is essential for the synthesis of all the thyroid hormones, a deficiency of iodine almost always causes goiter. This trace mineral iodine is the single most essential substance for the maintenance of a healthy thyroid gland, even though there are other substances necessary for thyroid hormone synthesis. More so than iodine tablets, natural food bases iodine is to be preferred as the organic iodine found in kelp is more easily assimilated by the body and much safer. This seaweed is available in many forms, and even as capsules and tablets, for those who prefer this in powder form, kelp is also available powdered and can be sprinkled on food, needless to say, sufficient iodine can be made available to the body in this way.
The substances such as the vitamins A, C and E, several B vitamins, the amino acid tyrosine and the trace mineral iodine are the main constituents in the synthesis and manufacture of the thyroid hormone. The imbalance in the body of the thyroid can be improved and corrected if these vitamins are supplemented in the diet. The reduction and dissolution of the scar tissue formed in the thyroid gland is also achieved through the vitamin E , this scar tissue may lower or hamper the production of the hormone. For a healthy and normal thyroid function some of the essential fatty acids are also necessary. GLA or gammalinolenic acid- which is an essential fatty acid-is found in abundant quantities in the oil of the evening primrose herb.
The stimulation of an under active thyroid can be achieved using some of the herbal remedies below, this is desirable as the result of a sluggish thyroid is goiter or enlargement of the thyroid.
Poultices of clay and cabbage can be alternated around the neck; these in turn can be prepared with a decoction of oak bark. The time that these poultices are used can be increased in a gradual manner even when starting out with just five minutes initially. Iodine, other kinds of minerals and many vitamins are found in the watercress herb. In the production of the most important hormone of the thyroid called thyroxin, the mineral iodine acts as a catalyst. For a topical application on the enlarged goiter, equal parts of sorrel leaves and olive oil can be mashed to prepare a poultice. For effective treatment 2 tbsp. of watercress juice diluted in water can be administered thrice a day for a period of six weeks in total.
Additional things you may do
Lot of sleep is important.
Exercise, take steam baths, and saunas. It induces perspiration.
Exercise increases circulation. one-minute water stepping ankle-deep in a bathtub of ice-cold water, and walking barefoot.
- Evening primrose oil, two 500 mg capsules 3 times a day.
- Kelp, one tbsp.
- Vitamin A, 25,000 IU (avoid during pregnancy).
- Vitamin B complex, 50 mg.
- Vitamin C, with bioflavonoids, 1,000 mg 1 to 3 times a day.
- Vitamin E, with mixed tocopherols, 400 IU.
- Tyrosine, 500 mg, with amino acid complex, daily.
Other beneficial herbs