Hypothyroidism: Common Causes and Thyroid Treatments

Iodine is an essential part of your diet. If iodine is deficient in your food intake, it could lead to hyperthyroidism or the inadequate production of thyroid hormones in your body. This condition is prevalent in women and the elderly aged 60 and up.

Understanding how the thyroid gland works and the different thyroid treatments can help you make an informed decision.

What Is the Thyroid Gland and Why You Need It?

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland found in the anterior part of your neck. It is a component of the endocrine system which manufacture, store, and discharge hormones into the bloodstream so it can be quickly distributed to the various regions of the body.

The two hormones manufactured by the thyroid glands are the triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Your body needs just the right level of these hormones to prevent any problems. When there is an imbalance in the thyroid hormones, you could experience problem with metabolism along with many other signs and symptoms.

What Are the Functions of the Thyroid Hormones?

In order for your thyroid gland to produce T3 and T4, you need to have sufficient intake of iodine. That is why it is important to include iodine in your diet; otherwise a thyroid supplement, containing Iodine, might be needed.

The parts of your body that regulate and maintain the balance of thyroid hormones are the pituitary and hypothalamus glands. These two components communicate with each other to ensure the stability of both T3 and T4.

The thyroid hormones are responsible for regulating metabolic processes in your body such as the processing of food in your intestine and the beating of your heart. So, when there are too much thyroid hormones, referred to as hyperthyroidism, you will encounter palpitations and constant diarrhea. On the other hand, low T3 and T4, known as hypothyroidism, causes low heart rate and constipation.

Various Signs and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Below are the signs and symptoms which may require you to get thyroid treatments:


  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to cold temperature
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Memory loss
  • Constipation

Different Strategies and Thyroid Treatments

Before thyroid treatments are started, the doctors need to confirm your ailment by testing the level of hormones in your blood. The test will help identify the cause of the hormone imbalance. From here, your doctor can come up with a thyroid treatments plan based on your specific condition.

Here are typical hypothyroid medications grouped according to their classifications:

Synthetic preparation

  • Levothyroxine (T4)

Among all other hormone replacement drugs, levothyroxine is the most commonly recommended medication by doctors. It is a synthetic form of thyroxine, and it is used to treat hypothyroidism. If your body can still efficiently convert T4 into T3, then your healthcare provider can prescribe you this drug.

Some brands of levothyroxine drugs include:

  • Synthroid
  • Levoxyl
  • Unithroid
  • Tirosint

Tirosint is a different thyroid medication from the other brands because it is usually given if you have allergies to dyes and fillers which the other brands contain. This particular medication is ideal for those who have digestive problems like atrophic gastritis, Crohn’s disease, and Celiac disease. It comes in a soft gel capsule.

  • Liothyronine  Sodium (T3)

Liothyronine is another synthetic type of drug prescribed if you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism. The T3 medication can be directly used by the cell and no longer needs to be converted.

The only T3 drug available in the USA is Cytomel. Compounding pharmacies can also provide a prescription of time released medication.

Natural hormonal preparation

  • Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT)

It is a thyroid hormone drug produced using animal thyroid gland. Most NDTs are made from pig thyroids, and it contains both T3 and T4 calcitonin as well as other components found in the organic thyroid gland.

Common NDT drugs are as follows:

  • Armour thyroid
  • WP thyroid

Comparing the Efficiency of Different Thyroid Drugs

After knowing the different drugs to treat thyroid problems, you’re probably asking what the best medication for you is. Identifying what medicine to use would mostly depend on your doctors as well as on your body’s response to the drugs you are taking.

If your thyroid function is slightly below average, you may be given levothyroxine. However, if you are an older adult aged 65 and up, the benefit of thyroid treatments may not be consistent.

According to a research conducted by the University of California School of Medicine, an elderly who takes levothyroxine may not get relief from symptoms like tiredness and fatigue. The study involved 700 patients who took levothyroxine  with another 700 patients who received placebo. After testing the results, those taking the drug showed an improved thyroid function, but there is no improvement in blood pressure, muscle strength, and speed of thinking.

Different research that compared the efficiency of levothyroxine to desiccated thyroid extract like NDT revealed that those taking the latter drug showed improved symptoms. The study lasted for 32 weeks, and it involved 70 patients suffering from hypothyroidism who alternately took NDT and levothyroxine. For the first 16 weeks, NDT was given and then followed by levothyroxine. At the end of the 16-week trial, tests are conducted to check the patient’s response.

The results of the research show that when the patient takes NDT, there is a significant improvement in their symptoms compared to taking levothyroxine. Results revealed that about 48.6% of the subjects prefer NDT, 32.9% has no preference, and 18.6% choose levothyroxine.

The key to choosing a thyroid treatment plan is to honestly talk and listen to your doctor’s advice because they know what is best for you. If you feel that the thyroid treatments they recommend you is not working, make sure to inform your doctor so they can alter the medication according to your needs.

Benefits of Ashwagandha on Thyroid

Ashwagandha is a popular Ayurvedic herb that is proven to be effective in regulating thyroid hormones and lowering cortisol. This plant promotes the synthesis of T4 hormone while at the same time reducing cell damage resulting from free radicals. The herb is; therefore, essential for hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, both associated with the thyroid gland. Read on to learn some basic facts about the thyroid, what the Indian Ginseng is, and how this plant helps improve the gland’s functions, the adrenal system, and brain function.

What is the Role of the Thyroid?

The thyroid gland is a member of the endocrine system. It is a small gland situated in front of your neck below your larynx or voice box on each side of the windpipe. The thyroid gland draws the iodine from ingested foods and uses it to synthesize the thyroid hormone. This hormone controls brain and body growth, energy levels, body temperature, and metabolism. Thyroid hormones regulate the functions of all the tissues and cells in your body.

The thyroid gland is essential in the production of two hormones: thyroxine, also known as T4, and triiodothyronine, also known as T3. The pituitary gland and hypothalamus have a huge influence on the thyroid gland. The pituitary gland secretes thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) that travels through your blood and stimulates the thyroid gland to produce T4 and T3 hormones.

These hormones control metabolism, protein synthesis, bone growth. Thyroid hormones also increase your body’s reaction to hormones that are released when responding to stressful situations. When you do not have enough T4 and T3 cells, you become hypothyroid; however, when you produce excess T4 and T3 cells, you become hyperthyroid.

Hypothyroid Vs Hyperthyroid

An underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism involves symptoms such as weight gain, depression, constipation, and fatigue. An overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism involves symptoms such as muscle weakness, irritability, sleeping problems, diarrhea, fast heartbeat, weight loss, and an enlarged thyroid.

An Underactive Thyroid and Liver Damage

The thyroid hormone plays a crucial role in lipid accumulation and metabolism in your liver. Problems with an underactive thyroid are linked to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease also known as NAFLD.

Thyroid Dysfunction and Mental Health Issues

A dysfunction of the pituitary and hypothalamus-thyroid connection leads to bipolar and depressive disorders. In addition, symptoms like memory impairments, depression, and mental slowing occur when one has an underactive thyroid.

What is the Indian Ginseng?

In Sanskrit, the meaning of Ashwagandha is “the smell of a horse”. The herb derives its name from the attributes of a horse- vigor and strength. It has been traditionally used to strengthen the immune system. It is also called the Indian ginseng owing to its ability to improve stamina. The Indian ginseng belongs to the tomato family. It is a shrub that has yellow flowers. It produces red fruit. The herb grows in the dry areas of Northern Africa, the Middle East, and India. Today, it is possible to find this shrub in mild climatic regions such as the U.S.A.

The Indian Ginseng contains many medicinal properties such as alkaloids, fatty acids, withanolides, and amino acids. Although the fruit and leaves of this shrub have therapeutic properties, it is the root of this plant that is mostly used in herbal remedies.

Some of the healing benefits of Ashwagandha for the thyroid include:

  • Combating stress
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Reducing depression and anxiety
  • Reducing degeneration of brain cells
  • Improving learning and memory
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Stabilizing blood sugar
  • Promoting sexual potency

The Indian Ginseng and Its Effects on the Thyroid Glands

The Indian Ginseng and the Treatment of Hypothyroidism

Ashwagandha, scientifically known as “withania somniferous” or the Indian Ginseng, has proven helpful in treating an underactive thyroid. The herb stimulates the production of T4 hormone by the thyroid gland, which helps in curing an underperforming thyroid, a condition afflicting people with Hashimotos.

In 2014, a placebo-controlled study was carried out to measure the TSH, T4, T3 levels of patients treated for bipolar disorder using the Indian Ginseng. According to the findings of the study, patients experienced increased levels of T4 while their TSH levels returned to normal. It was concluded that the herb was beneficial in elevating T4 levels, and for its anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, anti-oxidant, and nerve-protecting properties.

High levels of T4 can cause oxidative stress. When your body is suffering from oxidative stress, you cannot fight free radicals which pose a huge threat to cells. However, the Indian Ginseng is an anti-oxidant that is capable of scavenging free radicals and reducing oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation. Therefore, the herb does not only stimulate your thyroid to produce high levels of T4, it works to control the risks of excess levels of T4.

The Indian Ginseng and the Treatment of Hyperthyroidism

The Withania Somniferous stimulates your thyroid to boost T4 levels and at the same time reduce oxidative stress; this in turn regulates and slows the production of T3, a key player in problems associated with an overactive thyroid. The Indian Ginseng is effective in curing Graves’s disease, a condition arising from an overactive thyroid.

Indian Ginseng and Adrenal Function

The Indian Ginseng also promotes adrenal function by relieving you of chronic stress and adrenal fatigue. The adrenal glands release two essential hormones- adrenaline and cortisol- both of which help your body respond to stress.

When your adrenals become overburdened by emotional, mental, or physical stress, you suffer from adrenal fatigue. Studies show that the Indian Ginseng boosts cortisol levels by improving your body’s sensitivity to insulin and maintaining the natural balance of hormones.

Indian Ginseng and Brain Function

Physical, emotional, and chemical stress can have damning effects on the nervous system. Research has shown that the Indian Ginseng protects your brain from degeneration, improves symptoms of anxiety, Alzheimer’s, and depression. One of the reasons this herb is effective in improving brain function is due to its ability to destroy the free radicals associated with aging.

The Indian Ginseng is a traditional herb that is popular for its numerous health benefits. This herb is known to cure almost all the conditions affecting the human body. One of the main areas associated with this ayurvedic shrub is the treatment of problems affecting thyroid function.