According to the American Thyroid Association, about 20 million Americans have a thyroid disorder. Thyroid disorders can be caused by an overproduction or underproduction of thyroid hormones.

The standard treatment for thyroid disorders usually involves medication to correct the hormonal imbalance. But many people are interested in knowing if alternative medicine can help them manage it.

Ayurvedic medicine can be used alongside standard treatments to help you manage your thyroid disorder, but it shouldn’t be used as a replacement.

In this article, we’ll take a look at Ayurvedic medicine and what the research says about its effectiveness in treating thyroid disorders.

Ayurvedic medicine is one of the oldest traditional medical systems in the world. It originated in India more than 3,000 years ago and aims to prevent disease by keeping the mind, spirit, and body in balance. Today, it’s a widely practiced form of alternative medicine.

In Ayurveda, it’s believed that the universe is made up of five elements:

  • fire
  • air
  • space
  • earth
  • water

These five elements make up the three doshas, or humors, of the human body, called vata, akasha, and vayu. It’s believed that diseases develop when these three doshas become imbalanced.

Ayurvedic medicine uses a holistic combination of exercise, diet, and lifestyle changes to prevent disease. Many of the herbs and unprocessed foods traditionally used in Ayurveda can be healthy additions to your diet. Some of these foods may also help you treat thyroid issues.

There’s no evidence that any particular Ayurvedic medicine can treat Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, otherwise known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease where your body attacks your thyroid. It often leads to hypothyroidism.

Ayurveda encourages the consumption of whole foods like fruit and vegetables. Consuming a healthy diet can help promote your overall health and prevent nutrient deficiencies that may cause an increase in health issues.

Some research suggests that consuming highly processed foods may increase your risk of developing autoimmune diseases, although more research is needed before the link is clear.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogen herb that helps you control your stress levels. It grows naturally in Northern African and India. It’s one of the key herbs in Ayurveda.

A few small studies have found that it may help treat hypothyroidism by lowering levels of your stress hormones. However, more research is needed before it’s clear how effective it is.

In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers examined the effect of Ashwagandha on 50 people with mild hypothyroidism that didn’t reach a clinical level. The researchers gave the participants 600 milligrams of Ashwagandha root daily for 8 weeks.

At the end of the study, the participants who took Ashwagandha had significantly improved thyroid hormone levels compared to a placebo.

A 2014 study looked at the effect Ashwagandha had on the thyroid hormone levels of people with bipolar disorder. The 8-week study found that patients who took Ashwagandha had significant improvements in their thyroid hormone levels compared to a placebo.

However, the researchers concluded that more research is needed due to the limitations of the study.

There’s limited evidence to suggest that Ayurvedic medicine can improve symptoms of hyperthyroidism. One herb that may have a benefit for hyperthyroidism is Convolvulus pluricaulis Choisy (C. pluricaulis).

C. pluricaulis is commonly used in Indian and Chinese medicine for a variety of conditions, such as chronic cough, anxiety, and epilepsy.

The evidence that C. pluricaulis can treat hyperthyroidism is based on a 2001 study performed on rats. Researchers gave mice medication for a month to raise their thyroid hormones. Then they gave the mice C. pluricaulis extract and examined the rats’ thyroid hormone levels.

The researchers found that C. pluricaulis extract lowered thyroid hormone levels as well as levels of the enzymes hepatic 5′-monodeiodinase and glucose-6-phosphatase. It’s thought that the inhibition of hepatic 5′-monodeiodinase was responsible for improvements in hyperthyroidism.

Research on humans needs to done to determine whether this herb has benefits for hyperthyroidism.

Ayurvedic medicine can be used alongside standard treatments to help you manage your thyroid disorder.

Ayurvedic medicine isn’t meant to be a replacement for standard treatments, as there’s limited research backing its effectiveness. But it can be a complementary treatment option. Don’t discontinue standard treatments.

It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before taking Ayurvedic herbs, as some may interact with other medications you’re taking.

Standard treatments for hyperthyroidism

The following treatments are often used in Western medicine to treat hyperthyroidism:

  • Radioactive iodine. Your thyroid gland shrinks and produces less thyroid hormone after absorbing radioactive iodine.
  • Anti-thyroid medication. These medications prevent your thyroid gland from producing excess hormones. Symptoms usually improve within several weeks.
  • Beta-blockers. Beta-blockers may improve some symptoms of hyperthyroidism, like rapid heart rate and tremors.
  • Surgery. Surgery is often a last resort treatment option. It may be used in pregnant women who can’t take radioactive iodine.

Standard treatments for hypothyroidism

The standard treatment for hypothyroidism is a synthetic thyroid hormone medication, such as levothyroxine (Levo-T, Synthroid). Many people take this medication for their entire lives.

If you have a thyroid disorder, it’s important to work with a doctor to find the best strategy to manage your condition. A doctor can test your thyroid hormone levels to help you monitor changes over time.

If your thyroid hormones levels become too high or low, your doctor may recommend changing the doses of any medications you’re taking. They can also help you develop a holistic treatment plan that includes exercise recommendations and dietary changes.

In some cases, your doctor may refer you to an endocrinologist, a thyroid specialist. To find an endocrinologist in your area, use the American Thyroid Association’s search tool.

Ayurvedic medicine is one of the oldest medical systems in the world. At this time, there’s limited research looking at the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine for thyroid disorders.

Ayurveda encourages you to eat a diet high in whole, unprocessed foods, which may help improve your overall health. There’s also some evidence that the Ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha may have benefits for hypothyroidism, although more research is needed.

Ayurvedic medicine can be a nice addition to standard Western medicine practices, with beneficial diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes.

Some supplements can interact with other medications you’re taking, so it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before adding a new Ayurvedic herb to your diet.