I am pleased to introduce you to my acupuncturist, Ginna Browning. Ginna has been helpful in treating many issues for me, beginning with sciatic nerve pain when I was pregnant with my oldest son. The information she is sharing as today’s Guest Blogger will hopefully help you understand more about thyroid imbalance and help you see the value of incorporating a holistic or balanced approach to treating hypothyroidism (under active thyroid). Happy Reading! ~Blythe aka Thyroid Mom
In traditional Chinese medicine, thyroid disorders are treated depending on the patient’s symptoms and presenting diagnosis pattern. Low thyroid function often presents as a “Spleen and Kidney yang qi deficiency.” Symptoms of Spleen yang qi deficiency include digestive system bloating, sluggish bowels, feeling tired after eating, weight gain, pale skin and tongue, cravings for sweets, and a tendency to over think and worry. Kidney yang qi deficiency symptoms include puffy eyes, frequent urination, intolerance to cold, weak knees and back, low libido, and fatigue. Sound familiar?
Practitioners who study traditional Chinese medicine strive to balance the body’s energy systems. We assess each patient’s energy for yin and yang harmony. When yin and yang are in balance, you feel good and are relatively symptom free. The roots of this approach to health care are ancient and do not rely on blood tests. Lab values should be considered, but are not as important as how a patient feels. The suggestions below will help balance hypothyroidism and low metabolic function from a yin – yang perspective in traditional Chinese medicine.
Patients who suffer from symptoms of Spleen and Kidney yang qi deficiency need to fortify their yang energy. Boosting yang energy includes eating warming foods like black beans and lentils cooked with ginger and cloves. Healing vegetables include sweet potato, leeks, winter squash, garlic, fennel and parsnip. The following grains, nuts, and seeds will also benefit your yang energy: oats, spelt, quinoa, sunflower seeds, chestnuts, pinenuts, and walnuts. Raw foods that are cold in nature should be avoided.
Herbs that support the yang qi include: ginseng, white atractylodes, honey fried licorice, poria, and rehmannia root. Herbal formulas are very safe and affordable. Most practitioners will customize them to fit your needs. They can be drank as a tea, powder added to water, or swallowed in pill form. Chai tea is considered warming and contains cinnamon which we also know facilitates blood sugar management.
It is important that yang deficient people get moving. Exercising in the midday sun can lift your spirits and support proper wake and sleep cycles. Take a walk after lunch, play Frisbee or catch with your dog, and join a group fitness class after work. Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and yoga classes are a good place to start. Check your heart rate to ensure you are not overdoing it and causing adrenal stress by reaching an anaerobic state. Just like stimulants, this can further exhaust you. The goal is to feel energized after activity, not wiped out.
Receiving acupuncture treatments based on your particular diagnosis will go a long way to enhance yang qi. The practice of moxabustion and far infrared heat applied to the abdomen is used to promote energy flow in the belly. It will help to warm and regulate digestive function. Initially, patients may require more frequent treatments to get the best results. Once their symptoms have improved, most will benefit from periodic, maintenance sessions due to the chronic nature of thyroid dysfunction. Your individual treatment schedule will be decided upon based on your specific needs.
By Ginna Browning, L.Ac., LMBT; Remedy Clinic, Raleigh, NC, www.remedyclinic.com
References: Healing with Whole Foods, by Paul Pitchford, 3rd edition, 2002; Clinical Handbook of Internal Medicine, by Will Maclean and Jane Lyttleton
More about Ginna Browning: A Raleigh, NC native, Ginna practiced therapeutic massage in her hometown for more than 14 years. Upon graduation from the Carolina School of Massage Therapy in 1992, she continued her studies of osteopathic, sensory-motor and neuromuscular bodywork and served as an instructor at the Medical Arts Massage School. She left Raleigh in 2000 to pursue her education in Traditional Chinese Medicine in New Mexico. After three years of post-graduate study at the International Institute of Chinese Medicine and the Southwest Acupuncture College in Albuquerque, Ginna returned to Raleigh to set up her practice, Remedy. Ginna’s mission, as a professional and a person, is to educate individuals about their bodies and total health, and assist them to feel their absolute best, naturally. www.remedyclinic.com
More about Acupuncture: Check out the FAQs on Ginna’s website.