The Yin and Yang of Thyroid Disease
In Chinese medicine, hypothyroidism would be delineated as a deficiency syndrome; most commonly Yang Deficiency. Hyperthyroidism would be considered a disease pattern of excess likely due to Yin Deficiency.
As with many diseases, Chinese medicine is able to address chronic conditions well because a single disease can be broken down in to many patterns of disharmony allowing for a more specific treatment. Several patterns can, and generally do, occur together, and the herbal formulas can be combined as needed. Here are some of the patterns according to Chinese medicine:
Kidney Yang Deficiency and Hypothyroid
The Kidney energetic organ system is closely related to the thyroid function in Chinese medicine, With hypothyroidism, Kidney Yang Deficiency predominates and would present with a sore lower back, hair loss, cold in the back, weak ache knees, impotence, infertility, a great deal of clear urination, ringing in the ears, aversion to cold, and ankle edema.
Spleen Qi Deficiency and Hypothyroid
Qi (or Chi) is the force within us that allows for animation and movement. Qi provides warmth in the body and allows the Blood to circulate. Spleen Qi Deficiency is marked with fatigue, weakness of the muscles, sweating without exertion, Dampness, coldness, poor appetite, loose stools, bloating, nausea, indigestion, and pale complexion.
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Heart Qi Deficiency and Hypothyroid
As this disease process progresses, general Qi Deficiency as described above will lead to Heart Qi Deficiency marked with palpitations, irregular heart rhythm, trouble or disinterest in conversing, shortness of breath with exertion, poor circulation and cold limbs.
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Hyperthyroidism and Chinese Medicine
While hypothyroidism follows a path of chronic slow degeneration, hyperthyroidism is considered an inflammatory autoimmune disorder with erratic patterns of activity and remission.
Kidney Yin Deficiency and Hyperthyroid
The Kidney is the source of all Yin in the body. Yin represents substance in the body such as blood and tissue that have a cooling and stabilizing affect as opposed to Yang and Qi that are warming and moving. When Yin is deficient, Yang is not well controlled and deficient heat signs develop including night sweats, tidal fevers, and aversion to heat, dry mouth, thirst, and hair loss.
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Liver Fire and Hyperthyroid
As Yin Deficiency persists, the heat begins to consume Blood in the body creating more Yin Deficiency and Deficient Heat. When the Liver Yin and Liver Blood become deficient, the Liver heats up and begins to attack other organ systems. The Liver also helps to regulate Qi flow of the body, and Qi Stagnation is a common issue with hyperthyroidism. Liver Yin Deficiency often develops these signs: high blood pressure, headaches, dizziness, itchy skin, hand tremors, blurred vision, eye bulge, irritability, ringing in the ears that comes and goes.
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Liver-Spleen Disharmony and Hyperthyroid
If the Spleen organ system is deficient or the Liver overly exuberant, the Liver will attack the Spleen and inhibit its ability to control Dampness in the body. Spleen Qi Deficiency is indicated with Phlegm Nodules as seen with hyperthyroidism. Some indications of Spleen Deficiency as it relates to hyperthyroidism would include loose stools, stomach upset, nausea, muscular weakness, and nodules.
Heart Fire and Hyperthyroid
With deficient fires raging internally, the Heart Blood is devoured and Heart Heat
signs develop including palpitations, arrhythmia, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, emotional instability, breathlessness, and insomnia. Additionally, the Heart helps to provide the free circulation of Blood throughout the body, and Blood Stagnation is a common problem seen in hyperthyroidism.