Common thyroid disorders include hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, subacute thyroiditis, chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, and goiter.
Hypothyroidism is a very common chronic health problem for women in the United States. Thyroid disorders often cause a cluster of health problems simultaneously, and often interfere with the autoimmune, cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, and musculoskeletal systems. The effects on these systems can be accompanied by stress, anxiety, depression, and other emotional problems.
Thyroid disorders come from not only an overproduction (hyperthyroidism) but also underproduction (hypothyroidism) of thyroid hormones as indicated by clinical symptoms, lab tests, and pathology. Hyperthyroidism is commonly treated with anti-thyroid medication, and hypothyroidism is commonly treated with hormone replacement therapy, though surgery is a possibility for both conditions in some cases.
Anti-thyroid therapy for hyperthyroidism can potentially be a long-term therapy, lasting at least 2 to 3 years, and in some patients symptoms can return even after conditions seem to have improved, and therapeutic interventions have stopped. Anti-thyroid medications can easily cause digestive problems such as nausea at the onset of using the medicine. Other potential side effects include allergies, severe injuries to the liver, lowered white blood cell counts, and overall diminished immune function after long term use. Additionally, anti-thyroid or surgical therapy for hyperthyroidism can easily cause hypothyroidism in some patients, especially for patients with thyroiditis and subacute thyroiditis.
Hormone replacement therapy for hypothyroidism can prove to be a long-term, even life-long, therapy, which can easily cause side effects. Most patients who undergo this therapy may go years without notable relief from their symptoms, with lab tests showing only partial, even minuscule, improvement in their condition.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine have been traditionally and successfully employed in China to treat thyroid disorders, with substantial evidence of their effectiveness. These modalities have been used to treat goiter for over 1,500 years, hyperthyroidism since the 1930’s, and hypothyroidism since the 1960’s. The combination of acupuncture and Chinese medicine with Western medicine has been used for thyroid disorders since 1970’s. The research taken from a number of clinical studies suggests that acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be a part of very effective treatments for both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Clinical research conducted in China on the combination of acupuncture and Chinese medicine with Western medicine for hyperthyroidism concluded that treatments of hyperthyroidism with acupuncture and Chinese medicine have been successful, though the course of treatment provides for a relatively slower process when compared to Western treatment. However, the results gained by the utilization of acupuncture and Chinese medicine do not lose their effectiveness, and have no recurring symptoms, after stopping treatment. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine have few, if any, side effects, and can even reduce the occurrence of side effects of Western medicines. These therapies have been shown to be effective and successful for patients who have thyroiditis, subacute thyroiditis and hypothyroidism caused by over use of anti-thyroid medicines.
Similar clinical research in China on hypothyroidism reported that treatments of hypothyroidism with acupuncture and Chinese medicine compare favorably with Western treatments, showing more long-term positive outcomes, and usually showing benefits within a matter of months for most patients. In our clinical experience, the patient generally experiences symptom relief first, followed by improvements on lab results after four to six months. As with all acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments, there are few, if any, side effects, and these therapies can help to reduce the occurrence of the side effects from Western medicines. After successfully undergoing acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments for hypothyroidism, there does not tend to be any recurrence of symptoms once the treatments are stopped. Finally, after successful treatment with acupuncture and Chinese medicine and a subsequent change in their condition, most patients who have taken hypothyroid medications long-term can stop taking them, without seeing a return of symptoms or signs of problems in lab test results.
At the October 28, 2008, a -56- year-old woman came to my office for seeking acupuncture and Chinese medicine to help her hypothyroidism conditions. She was complaining of hypothyroidism with fatigue, weakness and exhaust of the body, depression for 20 years.
She was diagnosed with hypothyroidism for twenty years. Her blood test was 25.5mIU/L after she taken prescribe medicine six years. She still has been taking Synthroid and Xanax when she first visit my office. At her first visit, she had fatigue, felt weakness of her whole body, and always exhaust. She couldn’t work or do any household jobs and she needs a friend to help driving her came to my office due to she felt weakness of whole body. She suffered from poor sleep night, easily to wake up 4 to5 times a night and difficultly to go back sleep. She had stress, anxiety, nervousness, depression, overthinking and worry too much, hyperactivity of her mind, and her emotional changes. Her appetite was normal, she had no acid reflux but experienced occasional gas and belching. She had once bowel movement a day. Her urination was also normal. Her period ended five years ago. She doesn’t have cold in body or hot flash, sometime mild sweating only.
She was high and loud voice, and speaking was very fast. She was thin of body, had dry skin and slim and depression facial complexion. Her tongue body was thin and small with a pale red color and teeth marks on the edges and a thin, white tongue coating. Her pulse was thin, weak and wiry; pulse rate was 70; her BP was 110/80mmHg. Her face, arms, hands and legs were warm to the touch, but cold in ankles and feet to the touch. Ears Pressure Test to points corresponding to the head, neck, back, leg and shenmen generated significant pain at a level of 6-8/10. Her blood test showed the TSH 25.51mIU/L at 07/18/2008.
Based on Traditional Chinese Medicine, her conditions were due to yang qi deficiency in spleen and kidney, with shen disorders. The treatment principle was to warm yang and tonify spleen and kidney, and clams shen. Acupuncture included electric acupuncture of points in DU20, Yintang, Anmian; the manual acupuncture points included SP6, ST36, LI4 and KI3. These were applied 15 minutes once a week. Auricular (ear) points included head, lower back and shenmen, among others.
The Chinese herbal formula for her conditions included herbs: Huang Qi, Dang Shen, Bai Zhu, Shan Yao, Yin Yang Huo, Ba Ji Tian, Xian Mao, Gui Zhi, Dang Gui, Chuan Xiong, Zhi Gao Cao and Da Zao. It was 50g power of an herb Rx for one week, to be taken orally 3 times a day, 2g per dose, and mixed with about 2 to 3 oz warm water within half hour before and after meals. The treatment during follow up visits modified some points of the acupuncture protocol, and herbs in the Chinese herbal formula, according to patient’s progression.
Result: after one week when she second visited and reported that she didn’t feel change of her conditions but her husband and daughter said that they felt she had some change and better than before. I felt she had sometime change because her speaking voice was lower and speaking slow and more peaceful compare her first visit. At third visiting, she reported her condition appeared change, her fatigue and weakness of body is improved. Fourth visit, she reported her stress, anxiety and depression was improved and her sleep was better than before. Her TSH decreased to 21.20mIU/L at 01/15/2009, further more, her TSH was 7.017mIU/L at 03/05/2009. She stopped all medicines prescribed by her Doctor. Furthermore, she didn’t have hypothyroidism symptoms and her blood test result in normal range after stopping treatment of acupuncture and Chinese herbal formula for 3 years when she came back visited for her gall bladder problems at 04/12/2012, and she could work for a full time job.
I used acupuncture to help a patient who was diagnosed with hypothyroidism’s heart disease and had taken medicines for 20 years. She had most of the symptoms of hypothyroidism with TSH in normal range, and also was diagnosed atrial fibrillation with heart palpitation, and unregulated pulse beat and headache. It was reported below.
At the December 22, 2013, a -70- year-old woman came to my office for seeking acupuncture and Chinese medicine to help her hypothyroidism conditions. She was complaining of hypothyroidism’s symptoms with anxiety and fatigue for 30 years, pain in the neck and back for 10 years, heart palpitation for 7 years, and pressure sensation in the left head and ear with headache for 3 months. She was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and had been taking medicine for twenty years, her blood test showed that normal level in the T3, T4 and TSH after taken medicine. She had a history of arrhythmia with atrial fibrillation for 7 years and was diagnosed hypothyroidism’s heart disease, and had been taking medicines. She also was diagnosed with hypertension for 1 year and had been taking medicine. She had still taken medicines such as Synthroid, Lexapro, Losartan and Cardizem when she first visited.
At her first visit, she had stress, anxiety, depression, and sometimes felt panic attacks in the morning, worry too much, overthinking and hyperactivity of the mind. She had fatigue, felt weakness of her body and sometimes exhaustion and coldness sensation of her body. She had poor sleep in night and easily to wake up and difficult to go back to sleep again. She always suffered from pressure sensation in the left head, ear, face and neck and chest and she had ear ring. She had migraine headache most times and sometimes severe headache on left side, neck pain, upper back pain, shoulders pain, lower back pain and hips pain. She had heart palpitation and sometimes felt heart beat fast with short breathing and stiffness sensation on her left chest, and she had dizziness. She had nasal congestion and sometimes white discharge and postnasal dropped. Her appetite was normal, she didn’t have acid reflux or heart burning sensation. She had once bowel movement a day. Her urination was normal.
She is thin of body, has dry skin and slim and depression facial complexion. Her tongue body was thin and small with a pale red color and teeth marks on the edges and a thin, white tongue coating. Her pulse was thin, weak, and irregular and vibration, her pulse rate was 90, and her BP was 120/80mmHg.
Further examination showed tenderness and painful sensation with a slight touch or pressure as detailed below. There was obvious pain on her head, neck, back and hips. She qualified the pain as 6-7/10 in her left head and face, and 3-4/10 in her right head and face. There were painful sensation in her neck, shoulder and upper back with at 4-5 /10. There were painful sensations in her lower back at the L3 to S1, and hips with a slight touch, which she placed at 4-5/10. The Ears Pressure Test showed that there was significant painful sensation to touch in the corresponding parts of her face, head, neck, chest, waist, leg, shenmen, stomach and rectum. She described her level of pain with these areas as 8-9/10 at left side and 5 to7/10 at right side of her ears.
Based on Traditional Chinese Medicine, her conditions were due to yang deficiency in spleen and kidney, qi and blood stagnation, with shen disorders. The treatment principle was to warm yang and tonify spleen and kidney, invigorate the blood and dispel stasis to stop pain and calms shen. Acupuncture included electric acupuncture of points in DU20, Yintang, RN12, 14; the manual acupuncture points included ST36, 25, SP6, UB10, 11, 13, 15, SI11, GB20, 21, LI4, 14, 15. These were applied 15 minutes once a week. Auricular (ear) points included head, neck, waist, leg and Shenmen, among others. Cupping on her upper and lower back that from DU14 to 10, UB11 to 15, and DU2 to5, UB22 to28.
After process of her first treatment, she felt nasal congestion was opened and breathe was better, pain in body and headache was improved, and felt calms. Her heart palpitation improved after a few sessions of acupuncture treatment, her pulse beat was normal after acupuncture sessions. At May 29, 2014 when she visit, reported that she stopped her prescribe medicines besides hypothyroidism medicine by her Doctor. Sometimes she comes back to visit for other problems but was free of atrial fibrillation symptoms for three years on May, 2017.
I have got a phone call from a man in New York for his health problem. His question was whether acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can benefit subacute thyroiditis, because he has been diagnosed as subacute thyroiditis and has been taking medicines for three weeks. He has a history of goiter pain, fever, sore throat, and high level of T3 and T4. His fever was controlled and goiter pain was somewhat improved after taking medicines for two weeks. Now he fears for that his medicines maybe result in hypothyroidism from his medicines for hyperthyroidism, and he wants know how to prevent recurrence of the subacute thyroiditis.
I suggested to him that he could use acupuncture and Chinese herbal formula combined with his medicines, because acupuncture and Chinese herb medicine has certain advantages in treatment of the subacute thyroiditis fallowing the clinic research in China and my personal practicing experience. It was shown that acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatment of subacute thyroiditis can effectively relieve pain in patients with goiter, and avoid the side effects of hormone therapy in some people taking medicines, and can be effective in preventing recurrence of the conditions of the subacute thyroiditis.
Following up my experience, using only acupuncture and Chinese herbal formula can help subacute thyroiditis with mild to medium conditions, they benefit the subacute thyroiditis with sever condition or with side effects of medicines such as weight problems and/or low of the T3, T4 after taking medicines.