The body is made up of intricate systems that regulate everything from blood flow, heartbeat and breathing, just to name a few. All organs and glands work together to support the whole. Your thyroid gland is no exception. The function of the thyroid gland is to take iodine, found in many foods, and convert it into thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of its metabolism.
So what is hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism—or an underactive thyroid—is a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn't produce enough T3 and T4 hormones. If T3 and T4 levels are low, it can cause several symptoms such as a slower-than-normal heart rate, constipation or weight gain, among others. These hormones are of paramount importance to your cellular and overall health. T4 makes T3, which controls the body’s metabolism, temperature and digestive system.
What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?
There’s a litany of symptoms to look for if you suspect you’re suffering from hypothyroidism. For your convenience, we’ve compiled a general list of symptoms to look out for that may suggest you’re suffering from hypothyroidism.
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
- Puffy face
- 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
- Impaired memory
- Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)
How does Western medicine treat hypothyroidism?
Rather than addressing the root cause of hypothyroidism, Western medicine is great at masking and managing its symptoms. Standard treatment involves daily use of synthetic thyroid hormone for life. While this sounds great, prolonged use of these medications creates drug dependency, eventually resulting in the body ceasing to produce what little hormones it was doing previously. The body’s dependence on synthetic hormones is in the opposite direction we’d like our patients to go in.
In fact, a case study on the effectiveness of acupuncture and herbal therapies in treating hypothyroidism performed by a group of Korean doctors found that the women in the control group experienced significant relief. During the study, two women with hypothyroidism received treatments of herbal medicine decoction, acupuncture and electroacupuncture therapy. The first woman, a 30-year-old, presented with continuous dandruff, accompanied by dysmenorrhea. The second woman, a 55-year-old, presented with symptoms of coldness of the limbs and fatigue. After a few rounds of treatments, their symptoms started to diminish. They found that thyroid-stimulating hormone and free-thyroxine levels improved. For more information on this study visit Treatment of hypothyroidism using Korean medicine: 2 case reports - PubMed (nih.gov).
So how can The Point of Health help?
At The Point of Health Wellness Center, we take a holistic approach to your health. We start with suggestions that can change not only your overall health by helping manage the symptoms of hypothyroidism, but also improve your quality of life. We recommend a well-rounded approach to treating hypothyroidism by using essential oils, dietary adjustments, simple lifestyle changes and, of course, regular acupuncture treatments to bring the body back into its natural homeostasis.
If you’re suffering from hypothyroidism:
Avoid fluoride and chlorine. These elements may block the iodine receptors in the thyroid glands, leading to reduced hormone production and eventually hypothyroidism. Drink steam-distilled water only and minimize intake of foods that suppress the production of thyroid hormones, such as brussels sprouts, peaches, pears, spinach, turnips, cabbage, broccoli, kale and mustard greens.
Use essential oils and home remedies. Apply topically to the base of throat, hands and feet one drop of lemongrass and one drop of either peppermint or clove essential oils. A good home remedy to treat hypothyroidism is to make soup from dried orange peels, carrots and seaweed. Seaweed is great for and really benefits the thyroid gland.
Exercise regularly. Due to the pandemic and current climate in our country, we know that stress eating is at an all -time high and exercising is at an all-time low. And who could blame any of us? Exercise raises the basal body metabolism, stimulates thyroid hormone secretion and increases tissue sensitivity to the hormone.
Treat yourself to hot water baths. Hot baths, as well as saunas or steams baths after your workout induce perspiration, which helps treat and support the thyroid.
As you may well know, the diagnosis terminology of Western medicine isn’t used in the acupuncture community. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), hypothyroidism is a condition characterized by kidney yang deficiency. Symptoms of kidney yang deficiency include:
- Lack of energy
- Hoarse voice
- Drooping eyelids
- Puffy and swollen eyes and face
- Weight gain
- Aversion to cold
- Dry hair and skin
- Decrease heart rate and blood pressure
- Muscle weakness or sluggishness
If you suffer from hypothyroidism, we totally understand that this disorder can be debilitating. But have no fear, The Point of Health Wellness Center is here to guide you on your path back to health. With regular acupuncture treatments, simple yet effective lifestyle and dietary changes, using essential oils and a positive attitude, the sky's the limit for your health and wellbeing goals. The year 2020 was insane and 2021 has started off rocky, to say the least. But that means we must be vigilant in taking care of our health and mental stability. Remember, we can’t control the world, but we can control our world. Stay healthy and safe out there.