Thyroid Dysfunction

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located in the base of your neck. It releases hormones that control metabolism. The thyroid’s hormones regulate vital body functions, including:

  • Breathing
  • Heart rate
  • Central and peripheral nervous systems
  • Body weight
  • Muscle strength
  • Body temperature
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Fertility
  • Much more

In TCM, thyroid’s function belongs to liver, heart, spleen and kidney. The problems commonly see in acupuncture clinics are:

 

Hypothyroidism

Thyroid gland is under function. At first, you may barely notice the symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as fatigue and weight gain, or you may simply attribute them to getting older. But as your metabolism continues to slow, you may develop more-obvious signs and symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Weight gain
  • Puffy face
  • Hoarseness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Elevated blood cholesterol level
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
  • Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
  • Thinning hair
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory

In TCM, we consider hypothyroidism as Spleen and/or Kidney Yang/Qi deficiency.

 

Hyperthyroidism

Thyroid gland is over active.

  • Sudden weight loss, even when your appetite and the amount and type of food you eat remain the same or even increase
  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) — commonly more than 100 beats a minute — irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) or pounding of your heart (palpitations)
  • Increased appetite
  • Nervousness, anxiety and irritability
  • Tremor — usually a fine trembling in your hands and fingers
  • Sweating
  • Changes in menstrual patterns
  • Increased sensitivity to heat
  • Changes in bowel patterns, especially more frequent bowel movements
  • An enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), which may appear as a swelling at the base of your neck
  • Fatigue, muscle weakness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Skin thinning
  • Fine, brittle hair

According to TCM, hyperthyroidism is due to hyperactivity of heart and liver fire.

Acupuncture can give good results to mild dysfunction of thyroid gland, so you don’t need to take medication for the rest of your lives. Here are some cases that have showed how acupuncture regulate thyroid function:

Case 1: Ms. L.M: 41 years old, 04/2017

Patient suffered hair loss, depression and low energy. TSH: 9.0. She didn’t want to start medication right away and wanted to try alternative medicine first. I applied acupuncture once a week for 6 weeks. TSH decreased to 5.0. Another 6 sessions applied weekly, TSH came down to 4.73. In order to get pregnant soon, her doctor suggested her to take a very low dose medication to bring down TSH to an idea level to conceive.

Case 2: Mr. S.J: 40 years old, 01/17

Patient initially came for anxiety treatment. In April, his blood test revealed a high TSH of 9.63. In addition of stress management, I applied points for thyroid as well. After weekly treatment for 7 times, TSH was down to 4.4. His doctor didn’t think he needed medication at the moment.

Case 3: Ms. O.M: 36 years old, 08/2013

Patient suffered irregular menstruation, bigger appetite, frequent bowel movement and anxiety. TSH was less than 0.01, T3- 4.1, T4- 49. We applied acupuncture weekly for 12 times. T3, T4 and TSH all came to normal range.

Case 4: Ms. K.C: 49 years old, 02/2015

Patient came to my clinic to seek assistance for IVF. Her TSH was 3.3 which was in the normal range but not good enough to ensure pregnancy. She tried medication but it gave her strong side effects. I applied acupuncture for both hormonal balancing and thyroid adjusting. We had weekly treatment for 10 times, TSH was down to 2.7, which played an important role for her twin pregnancy.

All the above cases were treated with acupuncture alone. No herbs added.

Applying acupuncture to help thyroid is suitable for the following situation:

  • You are just diagnosed and haven’t started medication.
  • You have severe side effect from the medication, wanting to decrease the dosage or get off from it. (with your doctor’s permission)
  • Your hormone level is okay but you have shown symptoms of a lazy thyroid, such as slower metabolism.
  • To assist fertility (both man and woman)