The thyroid gland is one of the key glands in the human body and is located in the neck region. It is an endocrine gland that secretes hormones, the principal one being thyroxine. The hormones secreted by the thyroid gland perform a host of functions such as controlling the growth of organisms, regulating the body temperature and rate of metabolism, and regulating the heart rate, among others. Abnormal functioning of the thyroid gland can cause the level of the thyroid hormones to either rise or fall in the body.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is unable to secrete sufficient levels of thyroid hormones, and the causes of hypothyroidism are mainly cancer in the thyroid glands or some congenital defects (defects that are present from birth). It has been observed that hypothyroidism can sometimes be a result of certain autoimmune diseases. Doctors believe that a deficiency of iodine in the body may also cause hypothyroidism.
The symptoms of hypothyroidism include excessive weight gain, hair loss, weakness, edema or water retention in the body, and a reduced heartbeat in some patients. The treatment for hypothyroidism is mainly carried out by administering T4 hormone to the patients. T4 is one of the hormones secreted by the thyroid gland and hence this mode of treatment by hormone replacement helps. However, hormone replacement therapies come with their own risks and the T4 hormone therapy for hypothyroidism is no different. A significant increase in the risk of heart diseases is one of the major drawbacks of this treatment. Due to this reason, people are always on the lookout for safer options in alternative medicine, and acupuncture has been found to be an effective remedy for hypothyroidism. In the later part of the article, we'll try to understand how it works and how it can be used to help patients diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
Treating Hypothyroidism with Acupuncture
Acupuncture has been proven to be effective against several illnesses and disorders, and it has been used to treat hypothyroidism as well. This method of treatment does help, even if it takes some time for the results to show. People who practice acupuncture believe that all ailments are a result of the immune system not being strong enough. Acupuncture is practiced in many forms across the world. Traditional Chinese acupuncture includes treatment with herbal medicines too. However, practitioners in other countries, such as Korea and Japan, do not incorporate herbal medicines as part of the treatment.
According to the treatises on acupuncture, there are several meridians passing through different parts of our body, and on these meridians are the various acupuncture points. It is through these meridians that energy or Chi circulates through the body. Any obstruction in the pathways can restrict the flow of energy, resulting in various diseases and ailments. Acupuncture involves the use of fine metal needles (that are as thin as a strand of hair) to remove the blockages in the meridians, resulting in a smooth flow of energy. The needles used in acupuncture are so fine that one hardly feels any pain during the treatment.
Once a patient has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, treatment with acupuncture, along with the intake of herbal potions, can help alleviate the symptoms of the disorder. Not only this, it also has the potential to counter the side effects caused by the conventional treatment of hypothyroidism. However, before going ahead with the procedure, it is important to keep a few things in mind.
- Always consult a qualified practitioner who holds a license to practice acupuncture, to ensure safe and effective treatment.
- Before the intake of herbal medicines, consult your physician to know if they would be safe, especially if you are on any kind of medication.
- Before going ahead with the treatment, make sure that the clinic follows basic hygiene, and uses sterilized equipment and disposable needles.
The treatment for hypothyroidism involves stimulating the meridian or energy path that runs through the kidney, and needles are pierced on the various acupuncture points on the kidney meridian. This results in strengthening of the immune system and lowering blood pressure and stress levels in the patient. Acupuncture is more effective in the earlier stages of the disease, and so one should seek treatment as soon as one is diagnosed with the disorder.
Thus, we see that although acupuncture may not be effective in restoring the proper functioning of the thyroid glands in all patients who undergo this treatment, it can definitely help them cope with the disease in a better and easier way, by reducing the severity of the symptoms. Moreover, the World Health Organization (WHO) has enlisted hypothyroidism as one of the 40 odd diseases and ailments that can be effectively treated with acupuncture. Today, more and more doctors all over the world are recommending it as a trusted method of treatment for their patients who have been diagnosed with various forms of hypothyroidism.