Have you been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder? Is your thyroid medication not working? In my over 30 years of clinical practice, I have realised that most thyroid issues can be helped by identifying and treating certain internal organ disorders.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, we don’t just treat your thyroid gland but the body as a whole. Therefore, to rebalance your thyroid function, it is very important to find out which internal organs are disordered according to your symptoms.
1. What is the connection between the thyroid and internal organs?
The thyroid is a gland located at the front of the neck. Although its size is very small compared to the whole body, hormones produced by the thyroid gland affect nearly every cell in the body.
There are eight acupuncture channels which are directly or indirectly connected with the thyroid gland around the neck. These are the Kidney, Liver, Gall Bladder, San Jiao, Bladder, Stomach, Spleen and Small Intestine channels.
This indicates that a disorder in any of these channels in the rest of the body can also affect the function of the thyroid gland in the neck.
The following information is very important to give you an idea about how to prevent thyroid disease and to look after the health of your thyroid.
2. Hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid function
a) Symptoms of hypothyroidism
A medical diagnosis of hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid function often presents with the following symptoms:
- Fatigue, feeling heavy and puffy
- Stomach bloating especially after eating, sluggish bowel movements
- Easily gaining weight or hard to lose weight
- Delayed periods (longer than 30 days), breast fullness before periods
- Low mood, depression, impotence or low libido
- Lower back pain, stiff neck and shoulders
- Very light sleep or waking early
All of these symptoms indicate there may be an underlying Liver Qi Stagnation with Spleen and Kidney Yang Deficiency syndrome according to Chinese medicine.
b) Diet suggestions for hypothyroidism
We suggest avoid eating and drinking frozen or very cold temperature foods straight from the fridge. It’s best to leave them to warm up to room temperature before eating.
Avoid eating salads and raw foods in the winter time.
It is suitable to eat the following warming foods more often: pepper, onion, ginger tea, lamb, beef, lamb or beef soup, venison.
c) Lifestyle and exercise suggestions for hypothyroidism
People who experience these symptoms are better suited to being in warm and sunny environments. Avoid living in damp and cold environments.
It is best to choose warm colours to decorate your home such as red or orange.
Get plenty of sunshine, at least 30 minutes a day.
Slightly vigorous exercise is suitable, but ensure that the exercise you do is suitable for your body’s energy levels. If your body feels very tired the next day, this is a sign you did too much exercise the previous day.
3. Hyperthyroidism or hyperactive thyroid function
a) Symptoms of hyperthyroidism
Many people who have hyperthyroidism diagnosed with a blood test, will often have the following symptoms:
- Insomnia (taking a long time to fall asleep or waking up frequently), vivid dreams, frequent urination at night
- Stiff neck and shoulder pain
- Hunger and food cravings, heartburn
- Short menstrual cycle (less than 28 days)
- Dry and uncomfortable eyes, dry skin, constipation
- Thirst especially at night
- Weight loss
If you experience many of these symptoms, it may be an early sign of a hyperactive thyroid disorder. These symptoms suggest there may be an underlying Liver Heat and Kidney Yin Deficiency syndrome according to Chinese medicine.
b) Diet suggestions for hyperthyroidism
Avoid eating spicy and hot flavoured foods such as ginger, chilli, onion, pepper, lamb, garlic, chestnuts.
Eat more cooling foods such as cucumber, watermelon, pear, green vegetables, Chinese cabbage, eggplant, fish, duck, mung beans, green tea, peppermint tea.
c) Lifestyle and exercise suggestions for hyperthyroidism
It is most suitable for people with overactive thyroid symptoms to stay and live in cool environments. Especially exercising in cool and green environments such as gardens, parks and forests.
You can decorate your living area with green, blue and white colours.
It is best to do slow and relaxing exercises such as swimming, gentle walking, tai chi, yoga or slow cycling.
4. How does Chinese medicine help thyroid disorders?
In my experience, most thyroid disorders can be helped with traditional Chinese medicine using a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.
This will not only correct the thyroid disorder, but also take away the symptoms associated with the underlying organ imbalances.
Even through the thyroid is such a small gland, don’t ignore the small things or they can turn into a bigger problem for your health later.
If you find that you have many of the early stage symptoms mentioned in this article, we can help you to find out the cause and rebalance your body quickly, to prevent thyroid disorders and help you live a more healthy and comfortable life.