Thyroid Disease and Eastern Medicine

Thyroid Disease primarily affects women in their 20’s -40’s, with an incidence 7-8 times higher in women than in men. Typical symptoms may be overlooked as they can be mistakenly attributed to other factors such as one’s constitution, temperament, or external factors.

The thyroid gland is located in the front and centre of the neck and weighs about 15-20g. It secretes hormones which regulate body metabolism, and it plays a role in producing and regulating heat. Thyroid diseases can be divided into 3 categories: inflammation, functional disorder, and enlargement of the gland (goiter).

Inflammation caused mainly by autoimmune disorder leads to hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism consequently (Graves Disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis). Patients may experience just its symptoms. Hyperthyroidism displays characteristics such as increased production of body heat and accelerated metabolic function due to excessive thyroid hormone secretion. Symptoms include heat intolerance, heart palpitations, insomnia, increased appetite, weight-loss, increased perspiration, oversensitivity (including increased rate of speech, quick-temper, irritability, and more), protrusion of the eyes, and lighter menstrual flow or amenorrhea in women.

In contrast to hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism is related to a lack of thyroid hormones. Sufferers may experience such symptoms as: cold hands and feet, weight gain, shortness of breath, decreased heart rate, tiring easily and fatigue, constipation, dry skin, reduced ability to concentrate, excessive menstrual bleeding, and more.

Western medicine typically offers 3 types of treatment for thyroid disease: radioactive iodine treatment, drug therapy, and surgery (in less than 1% of cases). There is a high potential for radioactive iodine treatment to lead to permanent hypothyroidism. And thyroid drugs have many side effects, as well as a high rate of reoccurrence (70%) if the drugs are discontinued, even if taken for 1-2 years.

So, what is Eastern Medicine’s perspective on thyroid disease? A blockage of qi and blood circulation, caused by an accumulation of stress such as anger and irritability, or an accumulation of heat in the liver, can lead to hyperthyroidism. Treatment involves dissolving these accumulations and clearing heat from the liver as well. Hypothyroidism occurs due to weakness of the kidneys and spleen, and is treated by regulating water metabolism and strengthening yang qi. Goiter is treated by soothing the hardness and the accumulation of qi and blood.

A few years ago, one eminent Eastern medicine doctor in Korea developed an herbal formula for both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. It causes no side effects and has a greater than 70% cure rate within 2-6 months. Fortunately I got his formula which recommends herbal medicine and acupuncture twice weekly.

Thyroid disease occurs mainly in women who experience deep emotional pain and are unable to let go of anger, worry and anxiety. This kind of stress breaks down homeostasis in the body and paves the way for autoimmune diseases. So it is important for us to try to live our lives with a thankful, joyful and positive mind.

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