A goiter is an enlarged thyroid gland. The thyroid is the gland in front of the neck just below the area of the Adam’s apple. This butterfly-shaped gland plays a critical role in regulating the metabolic processes of the body by producing thyroid hormone. Heart rate, blood pressure, growth, and breathing are examples of the many processes that depend upon thyroid hormone from the thyroid gland. When the gland becomes enlarged due to diseases or tumors, the gland is referred to as a goiter.
Signs & Symptoms:
Not all goiters cause signs and symptoms. When signs and symptoms do occur they may include:
A visible swelling at the base of your neck that may be particularly obvious when you shave or put on makeup
A tight feeling in your throat
There are different kinds of goiters.
A simple goiter can occur without a known reason. It can occur when the thyroid gland is not able to make enough thyroid hormone to meet the body’s needs. This can be due to, for example, a lack of iodine in a person’s diet. To make up for the shortage of thyroid hormone, the thyroid gland grows larger.
Toxic nodular goiter is an enlarged thyroid gland that has a small, rounded growth or many growths called nodules. These nodules produce too much thyroid hormone.
Iodine is needed to produce thyroid hormone.
Simple goiters may occur in people who live in areas where the soil and water do not have enough iodine. People in these areas might not get enough iodine in their diet.
The use of iodized salt in many food products in the United States today prevents a lack of iodine in the diet.
In many cases of simple goiter, the cause is unknown. Other than lack of iodine, other factors that may lead to the condition include:
Certain medicines (lithium, amiodarone)
Certain foods (soy, peanuts, vegetables in the broccoli family)
Simple goiters are also more common in:
Persons over age 40
People with a family history of goiter
How To Cure:
Iodine deficiency is one of the primary causes of goiter. To treat goiter, eat a diet that contains adequate iodine. For adults, the recommended dose of iodine is 150 micrograms daily.
To replenish iodine in your body, include iodine-rich foods in your diet, such as iodized salt, kale, seafood, cod fish, tuna, eggs, shrimp, turkey, natural yogurt, cows milk, navy beans, baked potato with the skin and cranberries.
Note: At times, goiter can also be caused by excessive iodine. So, make sure you consult your doctor before increasing your iodine intake.
Kelp, a kind of seaweed, can also help treat goiter. Its high iodine content helps normalize thyroid functioning. It also has potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron. You can easily find dried or pickled kelp in natural food stores and Asian markets.
As kelp is salty in taste, you can use it in place of salt in soup, salad and other dishes.
Add one to two tablespoons of dried kelp powder to any of your favorite smoothies and have it once daily.
You can also take kelp in capsule form, but you must first consult your doctor.
Watercress is an excellent source of iodine and hence it is considered very effective for treating goiter. Plus, it is high in other minerals and nutrients like sulfur, germanium and antioxidants that are beneficial for your thyroid gland.
Grind a handful of watercress to make paste. Apply this paste on your neck where there is swelling. Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes before washing it off. Do this daily for at least 10 days.
Alternatively, mix two tablespoons of watercress juice in half a glass of water. Drink it three times daily for six weeks.