butterfly throat

The Butterfly in the Throat–Hypothyroidism

The thyroid is part of the human endocrine system which produces hormones used to regulate bodily processes. It is a small gland, shaped like a butterfly at the base of the neck. Hypothyroidism is a disturbance in which there is too little hormone production to regulate energy, metabolism and weight. Some symptoms of  hypothyroidism are:

  • fatigue
  • poor concentration
  • depressed mood
  • low heart rate
  • cold intolerance
  • weight gain
  • apathy
  • tingling or numbness in hands
  • stomach bloating
  • constipation
  • dry skin
  • delayed menstrual periods
  • sleep disturbance
  • decreased libido
  • muscle tension in shoulders and neck
  • hair loss
  • infertility

There are several types of hypothyroidism, but the most common is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease. As in all auto-immune diseases, the body mistakenly attacks parts of the body.

Mistaken for Depression

Characteristics of poor thyroid functioning mimic symptoms of depressive disorders such as low mood, slowed movements, lack of energy, flat facial expression, loss of interest in usual pleasurable activities, slowed cognition, poor concentration and weight gain.  Consequently, hypothyroidism is often mistaken for depression. Misdiagnosis often leads to the use of anti-depressants while the underlying auto-immune condition is not addressed. It is thought that misdiagnosed or undiagnosed hypothyroidism may affect as many as one in nine adult women in the U.S.  After menopause, that number may increase to one in four (1). thyroid yinyang

Hypothyroidism and Chinese Medicine

Chinese medicine commonly uses herbal treatments for symptoms found in hypothyroidism. The symptoms are considered to be qi and yang deficiencies. In the traditional texts of Chinese medicine, the process of hypothyroidism is described through its features such as fatigue, pale or lusterless complexion, aversion to cold, cold limbs, waist ache, memory loss, slowed mental abilities, hair loss, sparse eyebrows, loss of libido, and kidney-spleen yang deficiency syndrome (2). Several studies have shown the effectiveness of Chinese herbs used to treat hypothyroidism:

  •  19 cases of hypothyroidism were treated for two to four months with qi and yang tonifiers. Patients received either herbs alone or herbs with thyroxine. A control group received thyroxine alone. The Chinese herbs improved symptoms and the addition of thyroxine produced even better results. this suggests that Chinese herbalism as part of an integrative medical approach is very effective in treating hypothyroidism (3).
  • In a study of 22 patients with hypothyroidism, 19 of the cases were caused by thyroid treatments (radioactive iodine, surgery, antithyroid drugs).  Thyroxine tablets were also provided as needed during the treatment period. After two months of therapy, 17 of the 22 patients had no clinical symptoms remaining,  the other 5 patients showed partial improvement in both symptoms and laboratory results (4).
  • 6 patients treated with Chinese herbs and downwardly titrating thyroxine over 3 months improved with 4 returning to normal or near normal lab results and the other 2 showing improvement (5).
  • 5 patients were treated with qi and yang tonifiers over 3 months. Improvements resulted in the mean body weight, heart rate, cholesterol levels and hormonal levels (6).
  • 38 patients over 6 months with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis were treated with Chinese herbs. 93% of those with hypothyroid conditions had normal thyroid levels following treatment (7).

There is a substantial body of research into the use of Chinese herbalism and hypothyroidism. You can see some of that work listed below in Other Sources here. Additionally, acupuncture, another component of Chinese medicine, is used to treat hypothyroidism as well.

If you would like to discuss the use of Chinese medicine to treat hypothyroidism or other endocrine issues, you can contact Jeffrey Russell. He is a practitioner of Chinese herbalism and acupuncture in the Louisville area. You can reach him at his clinic, Abacus Chinese Medicine-Louisville Acupuncture and Chinese Herbalism at (502) 299-8900.

References

  1. http://thyroidacupuncture.com/specializations/thyroid-acupuncture/
  2. Panthi S, Gao T (2015) Diagnosis and management of primary hypothyroidism in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Traditional Indian Medicine (Ayurveda). Int J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1(1): 009-012.
  3. Kuang Ankun, et al., Observation on curative effects of Chinese herb and Western drug therapies for primary hypothyroidism, Chinese Journal of Traditional and Western Medicine 1988, 8(2).
  4. Li Changdu and Li Peili, Treatment of hypothyroidism with Chinese herbs, Journal of Guiyang Traditional Chinese Medicine College 1990, 1.
  5. Huang Zhixin, et al., Observation on curative effect of Licorice and Ginseng Decoction plus a small dose of thyroxine tablet in treating hypothyroidism, Clinical Medicine 1989, 9(4).
  6. Kuang Ankun, et al., Effect of traditional Chinese medicine on primary hypothyroidism in relation to nuclear T3 receptors in lymphocytes, Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine 1988, 8(11).
  7. Chen Zhichai and Xu Ziyin, Clinical observation on Fuzhen Xiaoyin formula applied to treat 38 cases of autoimmune thyroiditis, Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine. 1992, 12(10).
Other Sources
  • Chen Zhimin, Huang Shuhua, et al., Fufang Baijiezi used to heal 54 cases of hyperthyroidism, Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine 1988, 8 (7).
  • Chen Zhichai and Xu Ziyin, Clinical observation on Fuzhen Xiaoyin formula applied to treat 38 cases of autoimmune thyroiditis, Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine. 1992, 12(10).
  • Dong Zemin and Zhang Zaolian, Observation of curative effects of Jia Kang Pian for the treatment of 90 cases of hyperthyroidism, Guangxi Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 1988, 11(4).
  • Fu Qingchen, Hyperthyroidism accompanying anemia treated with Jaiwei Guipi Wan, Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 1984, 25(10).
  • Guo Xiaozong, et al., Acupuncture treatment of benign thyroid nodules: clinical observation of 65 cases, Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine [English] 1984, 4(4)
  • Hu G., Chen H., Hou Y., Cheng Z., Wang R. A study on the clinical effects and immunololgical mechanism in the treatment of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis by Moxibustion. Shanghai research Institute of Acupuncture & Meridian. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. March 13, 1993 pg 14 – 8.
  • Hu Daihuai, Xia Duhung, and Luo Jijie, Clinical observation of 60 cases of hyperthyroidism treated with a modified Jia Kang Fang, Journal of Hunan College of Traditional Chinese Medicine 1989, 9(1).
  • Jiang Liji and Jiang Yunxiang, Jiawei Sili San used to treat hyperthyroidism, Shanghai Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 1982, 1.
  • Li Weifan and Zhang Guiliang, An experience of treating hyperthyroidism by differentiation of syndromes according to traditional Chinese medicine, Middle Medical Journal 1980, 3.
  • Li Yingquan, Jiawei Haizao Yuhu Tang used to heal hyperthyroidism, Hunan Medical Journal 1980, 1.
  • Liu Cuirong, Li Jianming, et al., Observation on curative effect of Jia Kang Ling for the treatment of hyperthyroid disorders, Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine 1988, 8(12).
  • Liu Jing, Yin Jian, et al., Hyperthyroidism treated with Shuanghai Xiaoying Tang-a clinical observation of 60 cases, Sichuan Medical Journal 1982, 3(5).
  • Qu Zhijin and Zhou Liang, Hyperthyroidism treated with Shanhaitang Pian, Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 1989, 30 (8).
  • Qu Zhuqiu, Lu Xiuluan, et al., Clinical observation on 60 cases of hyperthyroidism treated with Jia Kang Jian, Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 1987, 28 (2).
  • Rothefeld G., Romaine D. 2003. Thyroid Balance: Traditional and alternative methods for treating thyroid disorders.  Adams Media Publishing Co.
  • Yu Jixian, 100 cases of hyperthyroidism treated with modified Bupleurum and Dragon Bone Decoction, Journal of Hunan College of Traditional Chinese Medicine 1986, 6(2).
  • Yu Yunpu, Wang Jian, et al., Clinical observation of 50 cases of hyperthyroidism treated with Fufang Jiakang Gao, Zhejiang Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 1980, 15(8).
  • Yuan Wenxue, Observation on curative effect of Pinyin Fufang in treating 110 cases of hyperthyroidism, Middle Medical Journal 1980, 3.
  • Zhang Suzhi, 152 cases of hyperthyroidism treated with Jia Kang Wan, Heilongjiang Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 1987, 1.
  • Zhang Zhenyan, 50 cases of hyperthyroidism treated with Jia Kang Wan, Beijing Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 2, 1983.
  • Zhang Kaizhen, Lin Zhezhang, et al., Clinical observation of 12 cases of hyperthyroid malignant exopthalmos treated with integrated traditional and Western medicine, Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 1982, 23(1).
  • Zhang Jueren, A special formula for senile patients in treating hyperthyroidism, Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 1990, 31(3).