Goiter refers to the abnormal enlargement or swelling of the thyroid gland. This causes a lump in the front of the neck which moves up and down when we swallow. The butterfly-shaped endocrine gland which is present in the front of the windpipe (known as the trachea) and just below Adam’s apple or the larynx in the neck is the thyroid gland.
Thyroid glands produce thyroid hormones which are secreted into the blood and then carried to every tissue in the body. The thyroid’s main role in the endocrine system is to regulate metabolic activity which is nothing but the body’s ability to break down the food and convert it into energy. The thyroid hormones also regulate vital body functions, such as body weight, heart rate, breathing, muscle strength, menstrual cycles, etc.
There are two main types of goiter observed affecting the people:
- Diffuse Goiter: The entire thyroid gland swells and feels smooth to touch.
- Nodular Goiter: The development of solid or fluid-filled lumps called nodules within the thyroid. The thyroid gland will feel lumpy to touch.
Causes of Goiter:
The two main hormones produced by the thyroid glands are T3 (tri-iodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). A healthy thyroid gland can produce appx. 20% T3 and the remaining 80% T4, which is sufficient for our body. The pituitary gland and hypothalamus further regulate the rate at which T3 and T4 hormones are produced and released by the thyroid glands.
The major causes for the onset of goiter are identified as:
(i) Deficiency of iodine: It is important to note that thyroid cells are unique and highly specialized in absorbing and utilizing iodine. A lack of iodine can lead to goiters when the thyroid enlarges to obtain more iodine.
(ii) An overactive thyroid gland or hyperthyroidism. This is also known by the name Graves’ disease
(iii) An underactive thyroid gland or hypothyroidism, also known by the name Hashimoto’s disease
(iv) An inflamed thyroid gland
(v) Hormonal change due to pregnancy, menopause, or puberty
(vi) The formation of nodules or fluid-filled lumps in both the sides of the thyroid
(vii) Exposure of the throat area to chemotherapy or radiation
Symptoms of Goiter:
The most common symptoms of goiter are:
(i) Difficulty in swallowing or breathing
(ii) Tight feeling in the throat
(iii) Change in the voice or hoarseness of voice
Diagnosis and Treatment of Goiter:
A thyroid function test can be carried out to identify whether a person is suffering from a goiter. A thyroid function test measures the level of certain hormones in your blood which helps in ascertaining either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, a condition associated with goiter. The next step is to approach an experienced medical practitioner to start treatment for the goiter before the thyroid condition worsens.
6 Best Homeopathic Remedies for Goiter:
Homeopathy has got some excellent remedies for goiter. Some effective homeopathic medicines suggested for goiter based on various symptoms are listed below.
(i) Iodium: Iodium is the most common and effective medicine recommended for goiter. The enlarged thyroid gland, particularly associated with hyperthyroidism, indicates this medicine. When the patient suffers from the symptoms, such as weight loss even after an increase in appetite, this remedy may help. The larynx may feel constricted with an enlargement of the thyroid. In certain cases, hoarse voice and an increase in palpitations after the slightest of activity indicate this remedy.
(ii) Calcarea Carb: Calcarea carb is usually recommended when the patient suffers from hypothyroidism. When the patient experiences difficulty while swallowing saliva, liquid, or other food items, this medicine is recommended. When the stitching kind of sensation is prominent, this remedy is indicated. Patients who are obese or overweight due to a low metabolic activity often leading to constipation may find this medicine helpful.
(iii) Natrum Mur: The patients coming up with symptoms such as swelling of thyroid glands and bulging of eyes, palpitations even with the slightest of physical activity, and lean in appearance are kept on a medication of natrum mur for recovery from the condition.
(iv) Spongia: Spongia is an excellent remedy when the symptoms include swollen thyroid gland and sore throat which turns worse after eating sweet dishes, slightest tickling causes cough, and the development of the habit of clearing throat continuously.
(v) Fucus Vesiculosus: An effective remedy for goiter called fucus vesiculosus is recommended when the thyroid is found enlarged. An obese patient with obstinate constipation can find this remedy helpful. When the forehead feels as if compressed with an iron ring, this medicine is indicated.
(vi) Bromium: Bromium is an excellent remedy for respiratory-related difficulties, particularly in the larynx and trachea. When the patient complains about voice becoming hoarse, tonsils pain while swallowing, and throat feels raw and tickling in the trachea, this remedy may help. The patient may also feel a sense of suffocation, excoriating discharges, profuse sweats, and great weakness.
Thyroid glands play a vital role in maintaining the general health of the body. As we have seen, proper functioning of thyroid glands is required to maintain a good metabolic system within the body. It also has a great significance in controlling body weight, muscle strength, menstrual cycles, etc. Negligence in consulting an experienced medical practitioner or indulging in self-medication can have long-lasting effects on the general health of a person. So, if you have any thyroid issues, consult an expert homeopath without a second thought. Count on homeopathy to obtain relief in goiter gently and safely with no adverse effects.
- Written by Dr. Ashitha, Associate doctor to Dr. Rajesh Shah