Goiter
27-Apr-2007

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Did you know…?


A goiter is an oversized thyroid gland, which is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. A goiter often causes a noticeable swelling in the neck.

A goiter can be caused by a lack of iodine in the diet, a tumor or nodule on the gland, a thyroid disease, or, rarely, cancer. In many parts of the world, goiters are most common in people who have hypothyroidism, in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, related to a low-iodine diet.. In the United States, most people with goiters have chronic autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto's thyroiditis).

An enlarged thyroid may produce normal amounts of thyroid hormone, or it may produce less- or greater-than-normal amounts. Treatment for a goiter depends on the underlying cause.


Cause

The exact cause of thyroid nodules is unknown. But, they do know that people who have been exposed to radiation have a greater chance of developing thyroid nodules. Exposure to environmental radiation or past radiation treatment to the head, neck, and chest (mostly during childhood) increases your risk for thyroid nodules.

Thyroid nodules can be genetic and do run in families. This means you are more likely to have a thyroid nodule if one of your parents has had a thyroid nodule.

If you have another thyroid condition (such as goiter), you may also have a larger chance of developing thyroid nodules.


Symptoms

Most thyroid nodules do not cause symptoms and are so small that you cannot feel them. They often are found during a physical exam or when another test, such as a CT scan or ultrasound, is done for a different reason.

If your thyroid nodule is big, you may be able to feel it or you may notice that your neck is swollen. In rare cases, you may also:

  • Feel pain in your throat or feel like your throat is full.
  • Have a hard time swallowing.
  • Have a hard time breathing.
  • Feel nervous, have a fast heartbeat, sweat a lot, lose weight, or have other symptoms of hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone).
  • Feel tired or depressed, have memory problems, be constipated, have dry skin, feel cold, or have other symptoms of hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone).


Treatment


Iodine

Iodine is, undoubtedly, most helpful in many cases, but it should be given in its organic form. All foods containing iodine should be taken liberally. These are lettuce, turnips, carrots, garlic, onions, oats, pineapples, whole rice, tomatoes, watercress, strawberries, guavas, citrus fruits, egg yolks, and sea foods.  A particularly helpful herb is Black Walnut.

Kelp (Bladderwrack/Fucus versicolor)

A source of trace minerals, useful in low or enlarged thyroid.  It activates thyroid functioning, often boosts T4 levels if borderline while treating goiter.  It increases basal metabolic rate, lessens edema and balances blood lipids.

Hal Zao (Sargassum fusiforme)

This ancient Chinese herb has been used for centuries for goiter caused by low iodine.  It helps to improve general thyroid function and prevents thyroid disease.  It is also used in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis by treating edema and enlarged glands.

Bugleweed (Lycopus virginiana)

This herb is used for hyperthyroidism, enlarged thyroid, exopthalmos and associated heart or lung troubles.  Calms palpitations, tight chest and heart pain.  It’s a wonderful sedative, anti-inflammatory and astringent.

Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)

Gotu Kola is used in autoimmune and connective tissue disorders, including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.  It is good for nervous system disorders.  It decreases cellular inflammation, improves circulation, venous tone, wound healing, mental functioning and normalizes hair and nail growth.

 


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