Many people around the world suffer from different problems related to the thyroid gland. The mode of treatment for most thyroid related treatment is taking medicines but in some cases even surgeries are required, based on the condition of the patient. Most diseases related to the thyroid gland cannot be cured completely, we can only try to mitigate or lower the effects of the disease.

The different drugs or medicines prescribed have to be taken every day by the patent, in most cases for lifetime. These medications are given in accordance with the type of disorder and its stage.


Patients suffering from hypothyroidism are given synthetic thyroid hormone called Levothyroid Sodium, which makes up for the lack of thyroxine (T4) in the body. Other drugs include Levothroid, Levoxyl, Unithroid, Liotrix etc. Earlier, natural thyroid (desiccated thyroid), which is obtained from the lungs of pigs, was the most commonly used drug for thyroid disorders.

However, in the mid twentieth century, after the introduction of drugs like levothyroxine, doctors have stopped using natural thyroid as the synthetic drugs are more effective. Other common thyroid medicines are Triostat, Westhroid, Tirosint, Cytomel, and Synthroid etc.

These medications or drugs are known to have many side effects like nausea, loss of hair, body ache, insomnia, rapid weight loss etc. Thus, these drugs should only be taken under strict medical supervision and in case, the side effects turn severe, the doctor should immediately be consulted.

Apart from western medicines, many people also opt for herbal medicines and Traditional Chinese Medicines, which are also made of herbs and other natural ingredients.

Another alternative treatment option is to take homeopathic medicines. Even though these alternative forms of treatment do not have any severe side effects, the effectiveness of these treatment methods is a matter of debate in the medical world.

Thyroid disorders are very common these days as majority of the people suffer thyroid related problems. People have to take expensive treatments, surgeries and are even required to take thyroid tablets for a long time.

However, these method of treatments have a lot of side effects associated with them and often, they can affect the quality of life of a person. Thus, many people are looking for alternative means of treatment for thyroid related disorders. One such alternative treatment method is herbal treatment, in which, medicines made out of herbs are used to cure patients suffer from thyroid disorders.

Herbal Medicines

Herbal medicines for thyroid are preferred by many people as they do not have any side effects. Different thyroid conditions are treated with different herbal medicines. In case of Hyperthyroidism, medicines made of the herb bugleweed is taken thrice a day by the patient. Hypothyroidism is treated by medicines made of the herb bladderwrack, the dosage depends on the condition of the patient.

In case of other thyroid disorders such as goitar (thyroid gland enlargement) etc., herbs that contain Avena sativa, Equisetum arvense, Centella asiatica, fucu vesiculosis and coleus forskohlii etc. are used.

Even Traditional Chinese Medicines, made of different herbs such as ginseng, Liriope, rehmannia, jujube, peony, monkshood, plantain, yam, Euodia, plantain, lovage, Atractylodes, Shoveler, mandarin, angelic etc. are also used widely for treating thyroid disorders.


The effectiveness of such herbal medicines has been a matter of debate for a long time. Some skeptics believe that these treatments do not show any results as they are ineffective in curing thyroid related problems, whereas many supporters of herbal treatment strongly advocate the effectiveness of such treatments. Besides, these herbs do not have any side effects and so people do not hesitate from trying such treatment methods. However, the medicines could be a little expensive as the herbs are not readily available.

Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCMs) have been known to cure many diseases with the use of natural techniques. These medicines are also effective in treating thyroid disorders. The entire process of treatment is centered around the principles yin and yang energy, which are present in the human body. TCM tries to make the flow these energies normal, so that the body can function as required.

Thyroid Treatment

Thyroid treatment with TCM involves treating the kidney, lung and the liver as these organs are supposed to be responsible for the disorder in the thyroid gland. The goal of treatment in TCM is to invigorate the kidney (yin and yang for hyperthyroidism), release the energy of the liver, nourish the blood to give it a better ability of dissolving tone yin or yang of the spleen, and then tone the yin or yang of the lung as well.

There are three formulas in Traditional Chinese Medicine:

  • In cases of hyperthyroidism, take Canon Zhi (Hyperthyrocalm composed of ginseng, Liriope, rehmannia, jujube, hemp seeds, cinnamon) which works on the vacuum energy of the kidney and blood.
  • In hypothyroidism, take Ba wei (Hypothyrocalm composed of peony, monkshood, plantain, yam, Euodia) which works on the emptiness of the kidney yang and spleen.
  • In case of goiter or nodules, take Xiang bei (Noducalm consisting of plantain, lovage, Atractylodes, Shoveler, jujube, mandarin, angelic) that will handle the accumulation of mucus and the emptiness of Qi of the spleen and kidney.
  • The treatment continues for six months and the medicines are taken only during the day time (4 capsules a day).

All these medicines are made of herbs, without the use of any chemicals. This system of treatment, which originated in ancient China, has been continuing for hundreds of years. In the last few decades, it has gained popularity in the western world, as an effective method of alternative treatment.

Homeopathy is an alternative field of medicine which has gained a lot of recognition in the last few decades. Even though many mainstream doctors and scientists believe that homeopathy is equivalent to ‘voodoo medicine’, people around the world have found it to be effective in treating many diseases.

Many surveys have found that citizens of developed and developing countries often opt for homeopathic treatment of diseases as such treatment do not have any severe side effects. Even for problems related to the thyroid gland, homeopathy offers many medications, which are prescribed based on the situation of the patient.


Homeopathy can offer more than 50 different kinds of remedies that can help in curing thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism (under – active and over – active thyroid). These remedies are Fucus vesiculosus, Calcarea carb, Bromium, Calcarea, Lapis alb, Lycopus, Iodium, Calcarea phos, Spongia and Calcarea carb, Thyroidinum,Parathyroidinum, Hipofisina, Crotalus Cascavelle, Calcarea iodate, Spongia Tosta, Crotalus Cascavelle, Thioproperazine, Aurum sulphuratum, Sarothamnus scoparius, Morgan etc.

These mediations or remedies are made of natural substances and do not include harmful chemicals. The dosages are administered by the homeopathic doctor, based on the symptoms of the patient and the severity of his condition. This particular system of medication aims at treating the root cause of a disease, rather than treating its symptoms.


Homeopathy does not offer a single medication for all patients; instead, the patients are given the dosage of different medicines based on their body condition. The healing process begins by boosting or improving the immune system of the patient. The whole treatment process is time taking and effective results may be achieved after waiting for a few months. Patients might need to visit the doctor on a regular basis, as he will check the condition of their disease and change the dosage accordingly.

Chemotherapy is a process in which different medications and drugs are used for killing cancer cells. More than 50 different drugs / medications are used in this process and it is aimed at preventing cancer cells from growing, multiplying and disseminating. The different drugs can either be used alone or in combination with each other, based on the stage of the cancer and the patient’s health condition. The duration of the treatment depends on the stage of the cancer, the condition of the patient and the type of the cancer.

Why is it used?

Chemotherapy is often used for different purposes, depending on stage and type of cancer:

  • For curing cancer – by killing the cancerous cells, the tumor can be disappeared, thus curing cancer.
  • For controlling cancer – it can also be used to control the spread of malignant cells that eventually cause cancer.
  • Palliative – to help patients deal with different symptoms of cancer like pain.

How is it given?

The drugs that constitute the process of chemotherapy can be given in different forms such as:

  • Alkylating agents like cisplatin, , chlorambucil, carboplatin busulfan
  • Nitrosoureas like carmustine and lomustine
  • Antimetabolites
  • Antitumour antibiotics like doxorubicin or, mitoxantrone
  • Mitotic inhibitors like paclitaxel and docetaxel

Apart from these drugs chemotherapy can also be administered as immunotherapy in which, different drugs help in improving the immune system of the patient, so that the patient’s body can kill the cancerous cells on its own.

Side effects of Chemotherapy

Different side effects of chemotherapy include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Nausea or vomiting sensation.
  • Loss of air.
  • Acute pain.
  • Anemia or lack of blood.
  • Infections, which are caused by the use of different drugs.
  • Problems with clotting of blood and
  • Gastrointestinal problems like constipation or diarrhea etc.

In external radiation therapy the patient is usually needed to attend a daily treatment session. In these sessions, the patients are exposed to radiations with different energy range, with the use of single or different machines, depending on the energy required.

In radiotherapy, the radiation source is usually a machine containing a natural radioactive source such as a bar of cobalt, or an X-ray tube that emit radiation of different types.

Types of External Radiation Therapy

The different types of external radiotherapy are as follows:

  • Superficial radiotherapy: it is used in cases of superficial lesions, usually of the skin. The energy range used is lower and therefore it is less pervasive.
  • Ortovoltage radiation therapy: given with X-ray equipment with energy slightly above the surface radiation and therefore a slightly higher penetration.
  • Cobalt: it is done with a radioactive cobalt source and has an energy range higher than that of ortovoltage, allowing us the opportunity to improve the distribution of energy within the tumor and the body. A few years ago, it was the standard treatment for most tumors.
  • High energy: sophisticated X-ray machines, known as linear accelerators, can treat patients with very high energies, improving the penetration and distribution in deep internal organs, with minimization of the effect of radiation on the skin.

Side effects of External Radiation Therapy

Thanks to technical progress, the side effects of radiation therapy today are very limited and no long term side effects occur. Localized redness of the skin may appear after 3 or 4 weeks of treatment, it is called radiation sunburn. Other common side effects include loss of hair, occasional lose motion, vomiting sensations, soaring of throat or mouth, swelling of the areas exposed to radiation and so on. There are other long-term side effects of external radiation therapy that occur in patients who are exposed to radiations for a long time.

The world of medicine have seen a lot of phenomenal changes in the last few decades and many new innovative treatments have been created to treat and cure harmful diseases. Radioactive Iodine Therapy is one such treatment in which Radioiodine (i-31) is used for the treatment of overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism.

What is Radioactive Iodine?

Radioactive Iodine or radioiodine (I-131) is actually an isotope which is created from iodine in a way that it emits radiation, which can be used in medical treatment. A small portion (dose) of this isotope is ingested into the patient’s body, it mixes with the blood and due to the flow of blood, it reaches the thyroid gland and eventually destroys all cancer cells.

This procedure is normally carried out by specialists like endocrinologist or oncologist and the patient has to be under strict supervision. The patients are allowed to return home however, they are asked to take certain precautions. In most cases, the iodine leaves the patient’s body in a day or two, throw passing of urine. Small amount of the iodine is also discharged through saliva, tears, sweats, feces and vaginal secretions.


  • Use only the toilets at home and avoid public toilets.
  • Take proper care of personal hygiene by bathing daily and regularly washing hands.
  • Drink sufficient water and other fluids.
  • Avoid body contact with other people and try sleeping alone.
  • Wash towels, beddings and other clothes that you use on a daily basis.

While the radioactivity from this treatment remains in the thyroid for a while, it greatly decreases after a few days. Its effect on the thyroid gland usually develops within one to three months and the maximum effect can be felt between three and six months after treatment. Most people who take this treatment also experience a momentary pain in their thyroid.

The lack of thyroid hormones can lead to the malfunctioning of many organs in an individual. Organ systems like central nervous system, digestive, circulatory and hematopoietic systems will not be able to function properly, if our body lacks thyroid hormones. In such situations, patients are given doses of thyroid hormones in the form of pills and these pills are taken on a daily basis. Taking these pills will help in maintaining the normalcy of body metabolism and it will also help in stopping the growth of cancerous cells (mostly by lowering the TSH levels).

When is this treatment prescribed?

The loss of thyroid hormones happens mainly after surgeries like thyroidectomy, when the body becomes incapable of producing these hormones on its own. This is when people have to take thyroid hormone treatment in the form of pills. Even people who had to suffer thyroid cancer are often prescribed this treatment so that the cancer does not re-appear. Thyroid hormone treatment is also given to patients for controlling the thyroid gland from thickening (goiter) or forming lumps (nodules).

Thus, we can say that this treatment is mainly prescribed to patients whose thyroid gland does not function as expected.

How is it prescribed?

The doctor will first run some tests to check the level of TSH in the patient’s body, TSH or Thyroid stimulating Hormone is secreted by the pituitary gland. It stimulates the thyroid gland in a person, and when the gland is stimulated, it creates thyroid hormones. Thus, low TSH level in the body could require a person to receive Thyroid Hormone


The thyroid hormone which is generally prescribed is synthetic in nature and is called synthetic thyroxine or T4. Nowadays, the naturally occurring thyroid hormone triiodothyronine or T3 is not prescribed as it is not as effective as T3.

Thyroid surgeries are conducted in patients who have different types of thyroid related conditions such as thyroid nodules cancerous and non cancerous (benign), large thyroid gland (goiter) and overactive gland (hyperthyroidism).

There are quite a few thyroid surgeries or operations that a doctor (surgeon) could perform:

  • Biopsy: Removing a small portion of a person’s thyroid gland through biopsy (FNA = Fine Needle Aspiration).
  • Lobectomy: in this procedure, 50 % of the patient’s thyroid gland is removed.
  • Sub – total thyroidectomy – only a small portion of the thyroid tissue is left or near – total thyroidectomy, in which only a single gm / cm of the thyroid tissue is left on each side.
  • Total thyroidectomy: in this procedure most of the thyroid tissues (identifiable) are removed.


These operations are carried out based on different types of indications which are specific in nature. The different types of risks associated with such thyroid surgeries include possible damaging of anatomical structures close to it (thyroid), mainly the parathyroid glands (which are responsible for regulating calcium levels in the body) and recurrent laryngeal nerves and external (that control a person’s vocal cords). Thus, before opting for thyroid surgery, it is necessary that a person is sure that there are no other treatment options, because of the risks associated with the surgery.

When is surgery needed?

Surgery is often recommended if any of these results are found in a biopsy:

  • Cancer (papillary, follicular, mixed, etc.).
  • Possible cancer.
  • Benign: Node/s, is size is unknown or large.

Surgery is could also be recommended as a treatment option for hyperthyroidism for multi-nodular goiters and large goiter that causes any symptoms like difficulty in swallowing, acute pain etc.

Thus, thyroid surgery has a lot of complications associated with it and so it should be the last option for treatment of any thyroid problem.