Can acupuncture help with thyroid disorders?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that is located at the base of the neck. This gland is very important and is responsible for regulating metabolic processes in the body. Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid is overactive and produces too much hormone. Excessive production of thyroid hormones can result in symptoms such as excessive weight-loss, restlessness, palpitations, sweating, increased heart rate, anxiety, and insomnia. Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid is underactive and produces too little hormones. When the thyroid is underactive it can lead to symptoms such as sensitivity to cold, fatigue, excessive weight gain, slow heart rate, muscle weakness, irregular menstruation, and fatigue. Conventional treatment for thyroid disorder includes medication. There are other natural ways to regulate the thyroid, including acupuncture and herbal therapy. Acupuncture helps to achieve homeostasis in the body, which is the primary function of the thyroid gland. Research from the British Acupuncture Council suggests that acupuncture is said to potentially be useful for treating thyroid conditions. They cite acupuncture as having the following effects: increased thyroid hormones in hypothyroidism, decreased thyroid hormones in hyperthyroidism, reduced sensitivity to pain, increased release of adenosine (which decreases pain sensitivity), improved blood circulation and mobility of joints and muscles, and reduced systemic inflammation. Chinese herbal medicine is also very effective in helping to regulate thyroid function. While there are many different herbs that are indicated for thyroid health, Chinese Herbs are prescribed per the patient’s presenting signs and symptoms. Specific herbs are chosen based on the patient’s needs and combined to create an herbal formula. Chinese herbal medicine requires an individualized approach and formulas will differ from patient to patient.