Case Study: Healing Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease with Ayurveda

I would like to present a case of a patient with this condition to illustrate my approach.

Rhonda was a fifty-four-year-old female who was struggling with obesity, fatigue, and a sluggish thyroid. Her TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) had been hovering just outside the optimal range for many years, and she had elevated thyroid peroxidase antibodies consistent with Hashimoto’s disease, where her immune system was attacking her thyroid.

She had a strong aversion to taking medications and was opposed even to taking a natural form of thyroid hormone. She felt like she was too fatigued even to exercise, although she had been very active for most of her life. She was following a gluten-free Paleo diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables and loved dairy products of all kinds including milk, cheese, and yogurt. She explained that she was from Wisconsin, where dairy farming is common, and that’s why she loved drinking milk every day.

After talking with her, I determined that she had excess Kapha as well as a very low Agni. I had her follow a Kapha-pacifying diet. Traditionally, Ayurveda recommends eliminating dairy products in the course of such a diet. Even though it was very difficult for her, Rhonda stopped eating dairy products and started following the Kapha meal plan. I also encouraged her to incorporate warming spices such as ginger, turmeric, black pepper, and chili into her diet. Lastly, I suggested that she begin taking an herbal supplement called guggulu, which is effective in reducing excess Kapha and also traditionally used to support healthy thyroid function.

After three months, she was excited to report that she had lost fifteen pounds just from changing her diet. Her energy had improved to the point where she was able to start a regular exercise program. As she began exercising, her energy improved further and she lost another ten pounds. After six months, we repeated her thyroid function tests and found that they had normalized.  In fact, her thyroid antibodies had returned to normal, indicating that her Hashimoto’s disease had been successfully reversed.

Other things to consider in Hashimoto’s disease include the elimination of gluten because of potential cross-reactivity between gluten and thyroid tissue.

Also, consider performing tests for the elimination of other food sensitivities, at least in the beginning.

Ashwagandha — usually not used alone but as part of an herbal formula as it has heating tendencies, and can worsen irritability, especially if someone already has high Pitta. Also, do not use ashwagandha indefinitely because there have been reports of hyperthyroidism, incurred by prolonged unsupervised use of ashwagandha.

 

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24 comments

  1. Hi there, I am 35 years old and have been suffering from hashimato thyroiditis from last 2 years. And the issue is my TSH level is not getting stabilised. I want to conceive but my doc said I must not unless TSH is stabilised. She has also recommended me to remove the thyroid gland. Please please help me out if there is any solution for it!? Thanks

  2. I have an enlarged thyroid with nodules. What should I do? All test come back normal.

    • mm

      Hi Bonnie , Ayurveda treats the person as the whole and that is more valid for chronic disorders. The current condition of dosha , tissues, body channels and the state of digestion are the parameters which are most important for an Ayurvedic practitioner before an advice is given to help the body to deal with a condition. Please see a practitioner near you for assessment and advice.

  3. This article mentions eliminating dairy products. For all cases where eliminating dairy is part of the diet for healing (Hadimoto’s and other conditions), does eliminating dairy include eliminating ghee? I would think so, but I’ve seen conflicying advice on this. Thank you for any guidance you can provide.

    • mm

      Thanks Key for making this observation and bringing it up. Ghee unlike milk and yogurt and other milk products ‘kindles’ the ‘agni’ or the digestive and metabolic fire if taken in appropriate amounts ( in small amounts to begin with). So it can very well be taken.

  4. Hello, there is so much information on Hashimotos but very little on Graves. I’m currently 9 mths in remission (off medication) and have eliminated gluten and dairy from my diet but would love to know what else I can do to support my body to continue to heal. Thanks

    • mm

      Hi Marta, Ayurveda looks at the current condition of dosha , tissues, body channels and the state of digestion to help the body to deal with a condition. Please see a practitioner near you for assessment and advice.

  5. Hello there! Why would we be using Ashwaghanda even in a formula given that ama is the root cause and Ashwagandha is hard to digest unless Agni is strong? Thank you!

    • mm

      You are absolutely right that Aswagandha being a rasayana should be used once the body channels are free of Ama. It should be taken after thorough evaluation by a practitioner. However some herbs have inherent action on the disease condition called ‘prabhava’ and thus will show that effect more or less in any case.

  6. Karen Lee Robertson

    Because of epilepsy medicines, my bones are very thin . I have ostoporosous have shrunk four inches, my rib cage is nearly together and it has compromised my breathing. On oxygen and hips keep me from walking. Have had an under active thyroid for years. Is there any help for me?

    • mm

      Hi Karen, We cannot say if Ayurveda can reverse your conditions. But an oil massage may help you to be more active by pacifying the Vata dosha. A balanced diet of freshly prepared warm, easily digestible food is also beneficial. Some ghee( clarified butter) can be incorporated in the diet. You may consult an Ayurvedic practitioner near you for a complete Ayurvedic diet chart.

  7. I am a thyroid cancer survivor of 11years; struggle with weight and recently fatigue and shortness of breath. Will this work for me? Thank you.

  8. My neck has a lump right where the thyroid is. I had a blood test it came bk normal. what should I DO?

  9. Hi there, I am Vata dosha (body and mind) and have been diagnosed with hashimotos. Do you have any links or recommendations to help reverse the condition? Thanks so much, Sarah

    • The Ayurveda Experience

      Hi Sarah, We have several articles on thyroid health on the blog. In the search box, type in ‘thyroid’ and you’ll see several will come up. Additionally, we have an ‘Ayurveda And Thyroid Health’ course with Harvard trained Dr. Akil Palanisamy. Please check it out! https://goo.gl/xT4Jox

  10. Is this in Australia too?

    • The Ayurveda Experience

      Hi Robyn, the Thyroid Course is online so you can watch it from wherever you are in the world!
      Jennifer

  11. Can you recommend an Ayurveda practitioner in St Louis Mo?
    Thank you

  12. Marie Louise Cutajar

    i’m just beginning to find out about ayurveda because i bought triphala to solve my constipation problem (slow transit and difficulty to defecate) and started receiving articles addressed to Vata people as i am, from the quiz i have undertaken. other problems i have are; hypothyroidism and barrett’s metaplasia. i wonder if ayurveda can be my breakthrough and if someone can guide me. thanks in advance.

    • The Ayurveda Experience

      Hi Marie,
      Ayurveda can be a huge support for many health conditions. Following a diet for your imbalance is a great first step. You may also consider a consultation with a qualified practitioner to assess the best ways to address your health. Additionally, our Thyroid Course may be of interest to you. Click this link for more information: https://goo.gl/NfhNTF
      Best of luck to you!
      Jennifer

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