How Chinese Medicine, Diet, Exercise and Supplements
Can Help Manage This Auto-Immune Disorder
Hashimoto's disease effects women eight times more often than men. Clinically, the thyroid is enlarged, accompanied by hypothyroidism. The typical medical treatment is lifelong administration of a thyroid hormone.
Patients diagnosed with Hashimoto's complain that they are extremely fatigued, suffer from a cold body, many have chronic joint pain or inflammation; sometimes they even have numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. Some present with allergies to food such as wheat or airborne allergens. In my practice, it seems the severity of complicating symptoms exacerbate with age.
How Can Chinese Medicine Help?
Chinese Medicine treats the root cause of disharmony in your body. During the first visit with your practitioner, she will take an extensive health history and use techniques called Tongue Diagnosis and Pulse Diagnosis. She will connect all of the information she has gathered into a "pattern differentiation". Basically, what that means is she finds your unique pattern of energetic disharmony and treats that instead of administering one cookbook treatment for every patient with the same disease. It is said in Chinese Medicine, "Same Disease, Different Treatment. Different Disease, Same Treatment". In other words, your treatment is based upon specific Chinese medical methodology to create an individualized treatment plan for each patient. Chinese Medicine works so effectively because your practitioner acknowledges that you are not merely your disease. So unlike western medicine which gives all Hashimoto's patients the same treatment, practitioners of Chinese medicine will design a unique Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture treatment protocol especially for you.
How Many Treatments Do I Need?
Treatments for auto-immune disorders are ongoing. At first you may go to your practitioner every week for about 3 months. Then you and your practitioner will decide the best treatment plan for you. Auto-immune disorders are chronic; therefore, acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapies can be used to support your health and energy throughout your life especially in times of stress. I teach my patients the self care techniques listed below so that we can create a healing partnership and so they can take care of themselves on a daily basis.
Self Care Techniques and Home Remedies For Patients with Hashimoto's Thyroid Disease:
- Diet Adjustments
Eat cooked leafy greens, black beans, yellow squash, meat and meat broths for blood vacuity. Patients with blood vacuity are often cold, experience fatigue, have dry skin, hair and nails and possible scant menstruation, skipped, late or missed periods. Therefore blood supplementation is important for Hashimoto's patients. Eat almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and avocado for essential fatty acids which reduce joint inflammation and are shown to level out blood glucose levels. Avoid white refined flour and sugars. Eat whole grains and rice instead. Read the article called Our Food Relationships for more information about a balanced diet.Special attention should be paid to your Spleen Qi. The Spleen produces qi, blood and body fluids essential to health. I have written a special article about diet and the Spleen called Spleen Qi Vacuity Dampness with helpful tips. Don't know what qi is? No problem, Click Here to find out.
Take a complete multi-vitamin daily and a Calcium- Magnesium blend the ratio of which should be two times the amount of Calcium to Magnesium. Use of Essential Fatty Acids especially Omega 3's reduce joint inflammation. EFA's can be found in Flax Seed and Evening Primrose oils, Fish oils, nuts, seeds and avocado.
- Exercise Regularly
If you feel more energized after exercise keep it up, but if you feel drained try a different form of exercise which consume less energy like simply walking everyday. Exercise will help you feel warmer and reduces stress. Yoga, tai-chi and qi-gong build energy and help many people feel relaxed and centered. In the case of my 25 year old patient, she can work out several times a week, and feel energetic after. But when she stops her routine, fatigue worsens, and it is hard for her to get back into the routine because of the increased fatigue. So maintain a regular program even if that simply means you walk 20 minutes a day.
- Dress Warmly
- Reduce Stress
Keep your immune system strong by managing stress. Stress creates over-thinking and worry depleting the Spleen qi. The Spleen transforms and transports food energy into qi, blood and body fluids necessary for balance. Anger, resentment, unfulfilled desires and emotional depression can further stagnate Liver Qi energy. The Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of energy for the whole body so it is important to keep it healthy. Expressing feelings in discussions and in writing can be very helpful. Avoid people who usurp your energy. Strengthen your support system of friends and family. Avoid overworking.
Get enough sleep. Some people find that mediation or prayer is helpful or qi cultivation/relaxation exercises such as yoga, tai chi or qi gong. Seek professional care from a therapist or support group if needed. Make choices that nourish your spirit.
Special Note: Women who take Thyroid medication have a higher incidence of Osteoporosis. That is why it is very important for them to take a calcium supplement 500-1000 mg/daily, eat lots of leafy green veggies and participate in weight bearing exercise regularly. In Chinese Medicine it is the Kidney qi energy that nourishes the bones and marrow. So by eating well and exercising, you can supplement the Kidney energy. You can also supplement the Kidney Qi with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.
Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
41 Union Square West, Suite 519
New York, NY 10003
"Juliette wrote for the Pulse of Oriental Medicine website in its heyday, and we collaborated on a few other such efforts. She is one of the most professional, intelligent, and sensible practitioners of OM I know. She can teach complicated topics in an engaging and even entertaining way. I highly recommend her and her work."
- Dr. Kevin Scrigeour, L.Ac.