Hypothyroidism Treatment Options: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Natural Approaches
Hypothyroidism, also known as underactive thyroid, is a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones that have a crucial role in vital bodily processes. It may not cause noticeable symptoms initially, but it may provoke health problems of different severity levels as the condition progresses. Hypothyroidism often results in obesity, joint pain, heart disease, and infertility.
Fortunately, many hypothyroid symptoms can be successfully managed with adequate therapies and medical approaches. The most efficient treatments originate from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), consisting of 100% safe herbal formulas and natural methods that deliver long-term results.
If you’ve been diagnosed with an underactive thyroid, you should start your treatments on time to prevent further inconveniences. This article will provide you with valuable information about hypothyroidism, its symptoms, causes, and the best treatments to resolve your thyroid problems.
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If untreated, hypothyroidism may lead to severe consequences, affecting your general health. Early stages of this condition aren’t usually characterized by any symptoms, but its effects become more noticeable as it progresses.
The signs and symptoms of hypothyroid issues vary depending on the severity of the hormone deficiency. The hypothyroid-related problems often develop slowly, and several years may pass until you notice any particular sign of underactive thyroid.
You may notice different symptoms depending on the condition’s stage. Still, most patients tend to feel the signs of fatigue and weight gain in the beginning, but as the metabolism slows, more significant symptoms begin to manifest. For example:
- Sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Muscle weakness, aches, or tenderness
- High blood cholesterol levels
- Joint pain, stiffness, or swelling
- Heavy or irregular menstrual periods
- Hair thinning
- Slowed heart rate
- Anxiety and depression
- Impaired memory.
Hypothyroidism is more prevalent in middle-aged and older women, but the truth is that even infants can develop this condition. Babies born without a thyroid gland or those whose gland doesn’t work properly may have problems with decreased thyroid activity followed by:
- Yellowing of the skin
- A large tongue
- Difficulty breathing
- An umbilical hernia
- Hoarse crying.
It is essential to start treating hypothyroidism in infants on time. Untreated cases, even the mild ones, can result in severe physical and mental problems later.
What Causes Hypothyroidism?
Many factors may affect normal thyroid function, including autoimmune diseases, radiation therapy, surgeries, and certain medications. Once affected, a thyroid gland fails to produce enough hormones, including those that play a vital role in our general health and bodily processes – triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones impact critical functions such as body temperature and heart rate.
Primary hypothyroidism is often provoked by the thyroid gland itself, while secondary hypothyroidism occurs when another issue interferes with the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones. More risk factors are leading to an underactive thyroid, such as:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Multiple sclerosis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Celiac disease
- Bipolar disorder
- Down syndrome
- Turner syndrome
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Hypothyroidism Treatment and Diagnosis
If you feel any signs of hypothyroidism, you should consult your doctor or practitioner and do the necessary test that would help diagnose the particular condition and find adequate treatment.
Once you’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, your doctor or practitioner may suggest some of the following low thyroid treatments:
Hormone therapies for hypothyroidism are the most commonly suggested treatment solutions for this condition. They include the regular use of levothyroxine, which is the synthetic thyroid hormone. The benefits of this oral medication include restoring normal hormone levels and reversing the signs of hypothyroidism.
However, it’s essential to talk to your doctor before starting hormone therapy. The right dosage of levothyroxine will be based on blood test results, and it shouldn’t be exceeded. Excessive amounts of the hormone may lead to side effects, including:
- Increased appetite
- Heart palpitations.
Alternative Hypothyroid Treatment Options
Another popular method widely used for addressing thyroid symptoms is alternative medicine. Alternative medicine is entirely based on natural and holistic approaches that won’t affect your general health – therefore, it’s 100% safe and efficient.
Alternative medicine practitioners tend to combine the best natural treatments to create the most efficient formulas for improving one’s optimal health. These treatments often include acupuncture, herbs, and lifestyle modifications to motivate patients to adopt a healthier diet and boost physical activity.
Acupuncture for Hypothyroidism
Acupuncture is one of the most popular Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatments that involves inserting small, thin, and stainless steel needles into specific acupoints located on different body areas.
It is mostly used for alleviating pain, headaches, and migraines. Besides its therapeutical effect, acupuncture has provided significant outcomes in treating more complex conditions, including those associated with the nervous system, eyes, fertility, and chronic conditions, which Western medicine cannot treat entirely.
The efficiency of acupuncture lies in its holistic approach. It doesn’t focus only on resolving the symptoms but addressing the underlying condition that might be causing health issues.
By inserting needles into particular points, a practitioner may help you balance the energy flow, encouraging blood circulation and strengthening the body’s immune system. Apart from being incredibly convenient for treating low back pain, neck pain, osteoarthritis, and other severe conditions, acupuncture has also been proven to help in cases of hypothyroidism.
Acupuncture is often combined with other treatments originating from TCM, including herbs and lifestyle modifications. That way, it can provide more visible and more long-lasting results.
How Can Acupuncture Help Hypothyroidism?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), acupuncture can be successfully used as one of the hypothyroid treatments. Since it is an integrative therapy, acupuncture is an entirely safe and even economical solution.
Acupuncture sessions can ease symptoms of an underactive thyroid, improving the patients’ general health. Both MOK pharmacopuncture, originating from Korea (a new form of acupuncture treatment combining herbs and acupuncture), and regular TCM acupuncture can regulate the indexes related to immune function and improve the immune dysfunction due to hypothyroidism.
Electroacupuncture (EA) for Resolving Thyroid Problems
Electroacupuncture (EA) is a form of acupuncture for the thyroid where the needles are stimulated using a small electric current. This practice can bring better results in treating particular groups of conditions, especially those followed by pain.
According to recent studies, electroacupuncture can regulate thyroid hormone and other crucial hormones in the pituitary-target gland axis. Both electrotherapies and standard acupuncture treatments may delay the onset of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Herbs for Hypothyroidism
A certified Chinese herbalist will recommend the right herbal formula that you should take while receiving acupuncture. Herbs can enhance your recovery by strengthening your immune system and encouraging the body to produce its natural painkillers, alleviating pain.
Natural remedies, including herbs, usually cause fewer side effects than medications. Unlike most pharmaceuticals, which tend to ease the symptoms, Chinese herbs and natural remedies aim to strengthen the foundation of a person’s health by treating core issues that lead to the patient’s symptoms.
There are plenty of types of herbs used to address different conditions. A Chinese herbalist will combine them to create the most efficient formula for the patient, suggesting the right dosage.
The most commonly suggested hypothyroidism herbs include the following:
Herbs for Thyroid Support
This group of herbs is used to stabilize hormones while lowering the stress hormone (cortisol) levels and balancing your thyroid hormone – T4. Here are the best examples that support your thyroid function and ease the condition’s signs:
- Ashwagandha: This herb calms the body’s response to stress, boosts endurance, and helps combat inflammation by strengthening your immunity.
- Eleuthero: Also known as Siberian ginseng, eleuthero plays a significant role in the body’s response to stress. It helps balance hormones to prevent high levels of adrenaline and cortisol. Its overall effect may stabilize thyroid function.
- Licorice: It protects the thyroid gland from oxidative damage, lowering cortisol levels. It can also be used to increase energy.
Herbs for Hypothyroidism to Reduce Inflammation: Antioxidants
Antioxidants support thyroid function, preventing the gland from environmental damage. It is believed that exposure to certain environmental factors may affect normal thyroid function, increasing the risk of further disease progression.
Besides, food intolerances and leaky gut syndrome may also result in inflammation that affects thyroid health. Thanks to their high antioxidant levels, the following herbs and spices play a significant role in inflammation prevention:
- Turmeric: Thanks to its scientifically proven health benefits, turmeric is widely used to lower inflammation and reduce the risk of the immune system’s attack on the thyroid.
- Ginger: It has potent anti-inflammatory actions that help stabilize the thyroid gland and reduce the risk of developing Hashimoto’s and Grave’s thyroid conditions.
- Guggul: This herb is excellent for balancing hormones, stimulating thyroid function, and promoting the T4 to T3 conversion.
Best Herbs for Hypothyroidism and Stress Reduction
High cortisol levels, which result in stress, are bad for the body and general health. Stress can lead to severe health conditions, including those associated with thyroid function, which is why it is essential to focus on its reduction and management.
The following herbs can help you ease the signs of anxiety, promote calm and relaxation, and reduce cortisol levels.
- Motherwort: It is excellent for reducing stress and anxiety, leading to thyroid issues, including emotional conditions caused by excess thyroid hormones.
- Lemon balm: Lemon balm can significantly reduce stress levels while promoting relaxation and a tension-free environment.
An experienced Chinese herbalist will prescribe an individualized herbal formula based on your condition, encompassing all the symptoms you have. Make sure you mention all the medications you’re taking to prevent potential side effects resulting from drug interactions.
Hypothyroidism Natural Treatment
Acupuncture and herbs provide the best results when combined with healthy lifestyle habits, a nutrient-rich diet, and natural supplements. Hypothyroidism natural treatment aims to resolve the core issue of altered thyroid function, sometimes resulting from stress, poor diet, and the lack of nutrients in the body.
Here are some essential tips to enrich your hypothyroidism diet and reduce the use of drugs:
Enrich Your Diet with Selenium
Selenium plays a vital role in thyroid health, and it’s essential to include it in your diet as soon as possible. Eat more selenium-rich foods such as tuna, turkey, grass-fed beef, and Brazil nuts, but talk to your practitioner about the right dosage of selenium you should take daily.
Take Vitamin B
Low thyroid hormones may affect the amount of vitamin B-12 that your body produces. Therefore, you should start taking a vitamin B supplement to repair the damages that hypothyroidism caused and prevent the further inconveniences this condition could provoke.
Vitamin B-12 helps with the tiredness, and apart from the supplement form, you can take it through certain foods, such as:
- Beans and peas
- Sesame seeds.
Recent studies have found the link between hypothyroidism and problems with the small intestine. By taking probiotic supplements, you can maintain your stomach and intestines healthy. Still, certain foods and drinks also contain useful probiotics. Consider fermented products such as kefir, kombucha, certain types of cheeses, and yogurt.
Switch to Gluten-Free Diet
Going gluten-free is essential for people with thyroid issues since most patients with celiac disease or gluten intolerance are prone to developing hypothyroidism. Although these problems may not be mutually conditioned, many patients claim that they feel better after removing gluten-containing products from their diet.
Removing processed sugars from your diet will result in a healthier and happier life. Processed sugars often lead to increased inflammation in the body, increasing the risk of insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. Sugar also affects vital thyroid hormones, which is why its reduction may lower stress levels and improve your skin health.