Image by Sunmo Yang
Thyroid problems are at an all-time high. More than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. That equates to an estimated 20 million Americans with some form of thyroid disease, with up to 60 percent of them unaware of their condition.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis affects 14 million people in the United States alone, making it not only the most common form of thyroiditis but also the most common autoimmune disease in America. This highly vulnerable gland is extremely sensitive to any and all stressors: radiation, chemicals, infections, and mental, emotional, and physical stress. Is it any wonder that thyroid problems are skyrocketing?
Americans love to learn all they can about their health problems, incessantly reading about each and every disease on the internet, looking for anything that can alleviate their symptoms. The problem is that people are searching for advice in a country with no genuine tradition of holistic healing.
Exploring Natural Ways of Healing
Ayurveda is the most ancient and yet fastest-growing traditional health care system in the world, especially in the United States, where we thirst for more natural ways of healing. Our modern allopathic doctors and many holistic practitioners would be wise to explore what these ancient healers had to say about health and adapt it to complement, enrich, and expand our otherwise incomplete health care systems.
The ancients talked about principles in nature that govern all the functions of our body. Disruption of these basic governing factors, if not addressed early on, can blossom into full-blown disease. These principles were given the names vata, pitta, and kapha.
Vata is described as the element of space and air, embodying the qualities of quickness, lightness, dryness, roughness, and movement. Pitta is seen as the fiery element, transforming or “burning up” our food after ingestion. It is also seen as the element that digests and transforms our thoughts and emotions. Kapha, the final element, represents earth and water. This heavier element lubricates the body—the brain and spinal cord, the joints, and the stomach—protecting these areas from the burning of pitta and the drying effects of vata. Due to its unctuous nature, it makes for slow and stable digestion and amiable and relaxed personalities. Kapha can balance excess vata or pitta, calming the effects of the quickness or hyperactivity of vata and soothing the effects of hyperacidity in the body as pitta spirals out of control.
As you read and absorb the concepts in this book and come to understand how the thyroid works or malfunctions—and in the latter case, what to do about it—you will always be drawn back to the deeper knowledge presented in the ancient texts. You will constantly be reminded that while, yes, there is a problem with the thyroid gland, the real and deeper issue is that the elements of vata, pitta, and kapha have been allowed to become imbalanced and wreak havoc in the body. Until you learn to correct these imbalances, you will continue to be prone to and frustrated by thyroid problems, which are, in truth, only symptomatic of a much larger picture.
Ayurveda: The Foundation of Modern Medicine
Ayurveda laid the foundations for modern medicine. The early doctors formulated the various disciplines of medicine and described the first surgical techniques. That knowledge spread from the Vedic culture to Indonesia, infiltrating the healing traditions of Tibet, Sri Lanka, Burma, and other Buddhist countries influenced by Chinese medicine.
Eventually the ancient Greeks borrowed this philosophy, renaming vata, pitta, and kapha as air, bile, and phlegm, respectively. Western medical schools followed suit, continuing to emphasize the importance of balance in the body until they began to lose touch with this idea.
By the end of the 1800s, health care began to focus more on the symptoms created by malfunction of these three “humors,” as they were called, compartmentalizing the body into systems of organs and glands and associated disease states. The focus shifted even more as pharmaceuticals were developed to the point where modern medicine today focuses exclusively on the diagnosis and treatment of disease and which pharmaceuticals to take to suppress the symptoms of that particular disease.
Our country lacks a thorough understanding of traditional healing. We never received guidance from wise ancestors to show us how to use our hundreds of herbs for healing. We never developed a firm grasp of what constitutes a good diet and instead developed a taste for highly processed and nutritionally insufficient food. No one ever instructed us on how to rid our bodies of impurities, how to identify imbalances, or how to cultivate our energetic connections with the world in order to remain in harmony physically, mentally, and spiritually. All these issues will be addressed so you come away with a thorough understanding of how to take care of yourself and your family.
Faced with Conflicting Health Advice
If you are like the countless patients I have seen through the years, you are almost totally in the dark regarding your health, caught in the morass of, among other things, conflicting dietary advice: someone recommends you eat just meat and vegetables, someone else suggests you adopt a vegan diet, and yet another voice counsels raw foods only, or perhaps you should go Paleo or low-FODMAP or gluten-, dairy-, or soy-free. What’s left to eat? You read about various cleanses and think that they sound harsh, if not outlandish, and come away feeling that they might not be right for you—for good reason! You hear about the latest fads as they come and go, and you wonder, if they were so good, why did they go?
Most of us are bewildered by or skeptical of all the conflicting health advice that is available today, while at the same time feeling that, somewhere deep inside, there must be some unifying truth, some universal principles that teach us how to attain and maintain optimum health. In my experience, if you educate patients about how their bodies work and why they got sick in the first place, they will develop a better understanding of their treatment protocols and, in the end, have a clear idea of what they are trying to accomplish and how to achieve a good outcome.
My aim in this book is to help you, the reader, trace the origins of your illness. For this work to be successful, you must relinquish preconceived notions about your health. Keep a perspective on your condition—yes, you have full-blown thyroid symptoms, but why? And what can you do about it?
You must understand that taking care of your thyroid gland involves more than popping a pill, whether that pill is a prescription medication, a nutraceutical, or an Ayurvedic herb. Proper health care is holistic, encompassing a range of remedies, healing techniques, and healthful lifestyle practices, and it focuses on, above all, balance and harmony. In many respects, health is an ever-evolving mosaic.
One thing I have heard over and over again from my patients is that the New Ayurveda approach makes sense. It is sound, and it is solid. And though the knowledge comes from India, it doesn’t mean that you have to adopt an Indian diet or superimpose Hindu religious rituals on top of your own spiritual values. The information contained in Ayurveda is true for all cultures and all peoples for all times.
The ancient seers said that the timeless knowledge of Ayurveda is present and vibrating in all the cells of our bodies. It is inherent and already known. And that is what my patients tell me: they had held the keys to radiant health all the time; they only needed someone to show them how to unlock the door.
©2019 by Marianne Teitelbaum. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Healing Arts Press,
a division of Inner Traditions Intl. www.InnerTraditions.com
Healing the Thyroid with Ayurveda: Natural Treatments for Hashimoto’s, Hypothyroidism, and Hyperthyroidism
by Marianne Teitelbaum, D.C.
A comprehensive guide to addressing the growing epidemic of thyroid disease from the perspective of the Ayurvedic tradition • Details the author’s successful treatment protocols for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, hypothyroidism, and hyperthyroidism developed over more than 30 years of Ayurvedic practice • Explores the underlying causes of thyroid malfunction, the thyroid’s connections to the liver and gall bladder, and the importance of early detection • Also includes treatments for common symptoms of thyroid disease, such as insomnia, depression, fatigue, and osteoporosis, as well as for weight loss and hair growth. (Also available as an ebook/Kindle edition.)
About the Author
Marianne Teitelbaum, D.C., graduated summa cum laude from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1984. She has studied with several Ayurvedic doctors, including Stuart Rothenberg, M.D., and Vaidya Rama Kant Mishra. The recipient of the Prana Ayushudi Award in 2013, she lectures and writes extensively about Ayurvedic treatments for all diseases. She has a thriving private practice and lives outside of Philadelphia.