Thyroid gland is one of the most important and sensitive endocrine gland. As it easily responds to stress and stimuli the global incidence of hypothyroidism is increasing day by day. The major function of thyroid gland is to control the rate of metabolism. The principle function of thyroxine is to act as a catalyst –of the nature of a ''spark'' for the maintenance of oxidative metabolism in most tissues. Cells in the body take their "cue" from thyroxine. The amount of stimulation the cells receive from thyroxine will determine how "quickly" they perform their functions. These functions similar with the description of agni “angati vyapnoti iti va agnihi” and “agnyate mreeyate iti va agnihi”.
Hypothyroidism results from inadequate production of thyroid hormone. Any structural or functional defects of thyroid gland that significantly impairs its output of hormones will lead to the hypo metabolic state of hypothyroidism.
The symptoms of hypothyroidism are notorious for their nonspecific nature and for the way in which they mimic many symptoms of other diseases. So it often remains undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Vertigo, weight gain, mood disturbances, easy fatigability, tiredness, lethargy, slowness of memory, intellect and thought, menstrual irregularities, cold intolerance, dry rough skin, thin brittle hair, hair fall, Muscle stiffness, aching, myalgias, cramps, weakness and fatigue, myxedema, constipation, hoarseness of voice, goiter etc
There is no direct mention of thyroid gland in ayurveda. But a disease by the name galaganda is mentioned in samhitas. The earliest description of neck swelling is found in atharva veda by the name apachi. Charaka first described about the disease under the 20 varieties of sleshma vikaras. Susutha has described that out of seven layers of the skin, the sixth layer Rohini is galaganda rogadhistana (Su.Sa.4/4). In nidana sthana he described galaganda as two encapsulated small or big swellings in the anterior angle of the neck, which hang like scrotum (Su.Ni.11), whereas charaka mentioned galaganda as solitary swelling (Ch.Ch.11).
The etiological factors in galaganda include climatic conditions, water supply, dietary conditions and other surroundings etc. Susrutha stated that rivers flowing towards east might give rise to the occurrence of galaganda. Bhela described that sleepda and galaganda are more common in prachya desa1 (eastern part) of the country, and the persons consuming predominantly fish are liable to develop galgaganda2. Harita3 samhitakara described the role of dustambu and krimi dosha in the precipitation of Galaganda. Kashyapa samhitakara added that any part of the country which is cold, damp, with densely grown long trees, water stagnation and heavy rains may be prone for the development of Galaganda.
From the above descriptions Galaganda can be correlated with goiter or some tumour pathology, where thyroid functions may or may not be affected. But hypothyroidism is not just a localized disease. It has many symptoms related to many systems of the body. So it is better not to restrict hypothyroidism with galaganda.
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