The human body is perfectly balanced by the various endocrine glands to keep organs their functions just right at any level of wellbeing. When working properly, the thyroid gland secretes just the right amount of hormones to regulate and stabilize the metabolic process in an individual.
The thyroid gland, the metabolic gland, has the shape of a butterfly and is located in the front of the neck. Under normal circumstances the gland is in charge of body weight, energy levels, mental health and immunity, to mention a few. The thyroid gland, being one of the most important glands of the body, works in perfect harmony with the other glands and organs of the human body. When not working properly, an imbalance results, either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. The human body experiences differing symptoms depending on the type of thyroid imbalance that is occurring. Currently, 20 million Americans have some sort of thyroid dysfunction and according to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12% of the US population will develop thyroid problems in their lifetime.
Hypothyroidism is a deficiency of production of the T3 and T4 hormones that burn fat and increase the body’s metabolism. If these hormones are low, some of the noticeable symptoms include feeling sluggish and tired, puffy and swollen eyes, weight gain, an aversion to cold that includes cold hands and feet, depression and constipation.
On the other hand, the excess production of the T3 and T4 hormones is called hyperthyroidism. During this condition, a person may experience heart palpitations, sweaty hands, red skin and hands, low grade fever, bulging eyes, fatigue, weight loss, fidgeting, irritability, a bad temper, hunger, high blood pressure and tremors of the tongue and fingers.
Western medicine as well as Eastern medicine offer several ways to restore proper thyroid gland function. Surgery and drugs are the main treatments offered by the Western medicine, while Oriental medicine sees this imbalance as a problem of yin and yang, which can be approached in a natural way using a variety of modalities ranging from acupuncture and herbal formulation to lifestyle changes, exercise and meditation.
Acupuncture helps the thyroid restore hormonal balance, which encourages proper sleep patterns, regulates energy levels, and helps improve immunity and emotional balance. Ear acupuncture, along with body acupuncture, can also be used to regulate thyroid function. Taking into consideration all of a patient’s symptoms, treatment is aimed to balance the energy of the body in order to optimize health. Herbs are considered one of the most important ways to help these kinds of patients.
Yoga or tai chi are two of the stress reducing exercises that a person can benefit from, besides some lifestyle changes such as avoiding certain foods that are known to cause goiter or nodules in the thyroid gland (pears, spinach, soy, peanuts, cabbage and Brussels sprouts). Also there are some foods that are rich in calcium, magnesium and iodine that should be a regular part of one’s diet in order to support normal thyroid function.
The balance of the thyroid gland is so well orquestrated with other organs in the body but sometimes with an improper lifestyle and not very good eating habits this balance can be lead to an illness. Oriental medicine, though, with its own modalities can help to restore the balance that the body needs.
by Consuelo Camarillo de Gonzalez Lic. A.C.