Thyroiditis is a condition of the thyroid which is more common than most people believe. There are two types of thyroiditis.
- Sub-acute thyroiditis typically presents as a pain that begins in the front of the neck near the hollow and spreads horizontally to the base and posterior aspect of the ears. This can commonly be misdiagnosed as a sore throat because it typically is caused by a virus. Sub-acute thyroiditis is brief and, like a virus, the body’s immune system will resolve the condition with no residual effects.
- Silent thyroiditis, considered to be an autoimmune disorder, commonly occurs in women post-partum. Patients can present with fatigue, lethargy, depression, hair loss, weight gain, and low libido. Silent thyroiditis can resolve itself however, quite often medication is prescribed for this condition. Nursing mothers should cease breast feeding should they decide to take prescription drugs because they are contraindicated in breast feeding. Silent thyroiditis is an acute condition but can reoccur over time or can develop into a chronic condition. At times, thyroiditis can present in a patient as fluctuating between hypo and hyperthyroidism. This can occur in patients who are already taking thyroid medication. An overview of the medication and dosage should be performed by an m.d. as this can commonly be the cause of fluctuation.
Traditional Chinese Medicine views thyroiditis as an imbalance in the body. In most cases, the diagnosis is a deficiency of Qi (vital energy) and Blood (the quality of the blood) and patients are treated with the combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal pill formulas. This treatment is safe, effective and drug free. The herbal formulas prescribed will not harm a nursing child so treatment allows the mother to continue breast feeding her baby without any adverse effects.
Case Study: A 35-year-old female presented with a diagnosis of silent thyroiditis expressing as hypothyroidism. She delivered a child 2 months prior and was breast feeding. Her chief complaint was fatigue, bradycardia, minimal lactation, dry skin and brittle nails. She stated that her head hair was falling out in clumps (which was visible upon examination) and was considering a wig. Her m.d. had prescribed thyroid medication (Synthroid) but she did not desire to take this direction as she was adamant to nurse her child. After examining the patient, performing pulse and tongue diagnosis, and recording a complete intake of past and present medical history, I determined that this patient was experiencing a deficiency of Qi (vital energy) and Blood (the quality of her pulses was deficient). When the body becomes exhausted and nutrient-deficient (as in most post-partum cases), blood, fluids and all other necessary factors for proper homeostasis become less than premium in quality. This deficiency can lead to hormonal imbalances, hence hypothyroidism. I prescribed a treatment protocol of two (2) acupuncture sessions weekly for 4 weeks with the addition of an herbal pill formula (safe for nursing mothers) to build the quality of her blood and boost her immune system. After 2 weeks, this patient reported having much more energy and less hair falling into the shower drain. After four weeks of treatment, her breast milk was flowing freely, her pulse was a steady 72 bpm and her m.d. encouraged her to continue with my course of treatment. Her treatments continued once weekly for six consecutive weeks. Her hair ceased to fall out, her nails were healthy, she joined a gym and was happily enjoying motherhood. This patient has continued care once monthly to maintain good health.
I cannot guarantee these results in every case. Results vary from patient to patient, and treatment strategies do vary for each individual case. Traditional Chinese Medicine is a medical system which is over 2,500 years old; a natural and drug-free method of treating many pathologies. If you or someone you know is suffering from thyroiditis, share the information and contact my office for a consultation.
Sources: Autoimmune thyroiditis – an ancient approach of Traditional Chinese Medicine to a modern disease, Luzina, Xin, ArchivEuromedica, 1st & 2nd Ed, 2011
Chen HP, He JS, Hu GS. Analysis on the Traditional Chinese Medicine syndromes of the patients with autoimmune thyroid diseases. Changes in the thyroid and immune functions in 109 cases. //Zhong Xi Yi Lie He Za Zhi. 1990 Sep; 10 (9): 538-9, 517.