The Benefits of Meditation for Thyroid Patients
Mary Shomon | Nov 15, 2017
The mind-body connection is increasingly recognized as a central component of health, and a key objective is the reduction and management of stress. Research has shown that meditation is an effective and beneficial technique for establishing a mind-body connection and managing stress. The health benefits of meditation can be particularly important for people with chronic thyroid disease and the related symptoms. Let’s take a look at how meditation can benefit a thyroid patient.
Meditation reduces brain fog and improves focus and memory
Brain fog, difficulty concentrating, a racing mind, and memory problems are common complaints of people with thyroid disease. Research shows that meditation practice can greatly improve your focus and memory, and improve your overall cognitive function.
Meditation increases positive feelings and reduces depression
Depression is a common symptom in people with chronic thyroid conditions, even after treatment. (A thyroid test is even recommended before being prescribed an antidepressant!) Before reaching for a pill, some people have had success turning to meditation. A number of studies show that meditation can positively impact your feelings, and reduce feelings of depression ― in some cases as well as or better than medication.
Meditation reduces anxiety
People with hyperthyroidism often complain of anxiety, panic attacks, and obsessive thinking — even after treatment. The conventional treatment for anxiety is medication (such as Valium or Ativan). But research has found that a meditation practice can greatly reduce symptoms of anxiety and the incidence of panic attack.
Meditation improves your sleep
Meditation expert Demo DiMartile summarizes the benefits of sleep: “A good night’s sleep refuels every gland and organ in your body on a deep cellular level to enhance the quality of your life.” If, like many thyroid patients, you have difficulty going to sleep, staying asleep, or getting refreshing sleep, keep in mind that meditation has been shown to improve sleep on a number of levels.
Meditation boosts levels of key hormones and neurotransmitters
Meditation helps your adrenal glands
Cortisol is one of the key hormones released by the adrenal glands when you are under stress. Stress is a known trigger for worsening hypothyroidism and also complicates existing hypothyroidism. That’s why it’s good news that research shows that meditation can significantly lower elevated cortisol levels.
Meditation may help improve your thyroid function
We know that meditation can affect hormones. It’s no surprise, then, that there are anecdotal reports from people who have used meditation to successfully lower their thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level and lower their medication dose, or even go into remission. You can listen to a short excerpt from the popular guided program, The Thyroid Meditation, designed specifically for women with thyroid disease by meditation expert Demo DiMartile.
Meditation improves your immune balance and function
Autoimmune thyroid conditions like Hashimoto’s and Graves’ disease result from dysfunction in the immune system. Even with treatment for the condition, underlying immune imbalances can continue to cause symptoms. Research shows that meditation improves the immune system and balance.
Meditation reduces inflammation
A key element of autoimmune disease is inflammation. For thyroid patients, this inflammation can affect not only the thyroid, but joints, muscles, the digestive system, and even the brain. Experts studying meditation have found that it reduces inflammation. Some studies have shown that meditation can significantly reduce C-Reactive Protein (CRP) levels, a well-known marker of inflammation.
Meditation relieves pain from inflammation
Inflammation is not only a root of many diseases, but it causes pain. A ground-breaking study published in 2013 in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, showed that mindfulness techniques like meditation were very effective in relieving inflammatory symptoms.
Meditation reduces risk of heart diseases and stroke
People with thyroid disease have an increased risk of heart disease, even after treatment. A ground-breaking and well-regarded 2012 study published in the journal Circulation found that meditation is very effective in reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. That study found that over five years, participants taking a meditation class had a 48 percent reduction in their overall risk of heart attack, stroke and death.
Meditation changes your cells, which may reduce the risk of disease
Genes and cells contain telomeres, and longer telomeres are generally thought to help protect us from disease. Research has shown that even three months of meditation practice can lengthen telomeres, and may reduce risk of disease, even potentially reducing the risk of cancer or a recurrence.
Meditation can be done quickly, and anywhere
When you think about meditation, you may be thinking that to get the benefits you need to sit on the floor for hours every day in an uncomfortable lotus position. Actually, research shows that even 15-minute periods of meditation practice while sitting upright in a chair can be as effective as lengthy sessions.
Meditation doesn’t require any special skills or ability
You don’t need special training or skills to effectively meditate. Guided meditation ― simply listening to a meditation guide or audio program ― works just as well. According to meditation expert Demo DiMartile: “If you are not skilled with meditation or have tried and you feel like you simply can’t meditate, don’t worry. Guided meditation works, and simply listening gives you the benefits of meditation, and helps you restore balance.”
To explore more about meditation, here are some helpful resources: One Light One Spirit with Demo DiMartile (thyroid, hormone balance, sleep, and relaxation guided meditation programs); Health Journeys, with Belleruth Naparstak (sleep, wellness, menopause, and other guided meditation programs); Mediagraytion (customized meditation programs); Mindful Resources Directory (featuring meditation products and services).