Updated: May 8
What is the Thyroid?
The Thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland in your neck with a massive job. It produces hormones that regulate many of your body’s vital functions. If you think about all the most important actions in your body, including heart rate, breathing, both the central and peripheral nervous system, weight, muscle strength, menstrual cycles, temperature and cholesterol, well the Thyroid is involved in every one of them.
So, as you can imagine if your Thyroid is out of whack it’s going to have quite a prominent impact on your health.
The Thyroid belongs to our endocrine system. The endocrine system is made up of hormone producing and regulating glands. The Thyroid gland uses iodine from the food we consume to produce just the right amount of two main hormones Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4). It is essential to our body’s balance that these hormones are neither too high or too low and this is controlled by communication between the hypothalamus and the pituitary which are two glands in the brain. To communicate how much T3 or T4 is required the hypothalamus releases a hormone called TRH to the pituitary gland.
What does T3 and T4 do for us? Why is this whole process so important?
Almost every cell in our body receives T3 and T4 via the bloodstream. The hormones regulate the speed the cells metabolism works. When the balance is incorrect you can experience symptoms of excess or deficiency of T3 and T4. For example, if the levels are low then you may experience a slower heart rate, constipation or weight gain. If levels are in excess then the opposite could occur, a fast heart rate, diarrhea and weight loss.
You may have heard of the term hyperthyroidism; this is a condition that develops when the body has an excess of T3 and T4.
Some of the symptoms of Hyperthyrodism include:
Irritability or moodiness
Nervousness or hyperactivity
Sweating or sensitivity to high temperatures
Hand trembling (shaking)
Missed or light menstrual periods
Hypothyroidism in contrast is experienced when the body is not producing enough of the T3 and T4 hormone.
Some symptoms of Hypothyroidism include:
Tiredness and fatigue
Dry skin and hair
Sensitivity to cold temperature
Frequent, heavy periods
Joint and muscle pain
How does Traditional Chinese Medicine view the Thyroid?
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine standpoint, we don’t just observe what is taking place with the Thyroid gland but rather the body as a whole. We consider both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism as a Yin/Yang imbalance. Eight different acupuncture channels relate to the thyroid gland around the neck. These include the Kidney, Liver, Gall Bladder, San Jiao, Bladder, Stomach, Spleen and Small Intestine. Baring that in mind it is understandable that a disturbance of any of these channels can impact the function of the Thyroid. Therefore, in order to achieve balance and restore proper function we must identify the organs / channels in the body that are affected and correct any deficiencies or excess that is being experienced.
Traditional Chinese Medicine considers this Yin/Yang imbalance to be largely the result of the impact of strong emotion on the organs.
The healthy flow of our Qi and Yin/Yang balance of our body is extremely susceptible to our emotional wellbeing and our lifestyle. In the case of imbalances affecting the organs related to our Thyroid we consider the fast-paced world we live in, the over ambitious nature of modern-day people, high levels of strong negative emotion and poor dietary choices to be predominantly the culprit.
The experience of excess in emotion such as, anger, anxiety, fear, worry, sadness or grief, joy and fear impact on the correct flow of our Qi resulting in Qi stagnation. Stagnation of Qi stops it from circulating effectively to all the organs around the body. The flow on effect of this means imbalance and areas of deficiency and excess in various areas depending on where everyone’s individual weakness occurs. You can read more on the impact of our emotions on our health in our blog 'The important link between our emotions and our health'
In many cases a stagnation of Qi can cause a pooling of body fluid and this can manifest as phlegm. Phlegm is not a friend of our Thyroid throwing its function out of gear. Another common occurrence is Kidney and Spleen depletion.
How can we help?
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine look to discover the root cause of imbalances to the impacted organs. We then work to harmonise, nourish and strengthen our body.
We pave the way for your body to repair and recharge when its suffered exhaustion.
This goes hand in hand with taking a close examination of your lifestyle and diet. To make lasting change we must make sure we change patterns in our lifestyle that do not serve us. Understanding the best way to nourish your body, rest your mind and manage your time is crucial to long term health benefits.
If you have questions about how we can help you with your specific health imbalances you can make a time to come in for a FREE 15 min health assessment Health Assessments can take place via phone, skype or in clinic.
Get in touch today by calling (03)59061494 or via our contact page