For such a tiny gland, the thyroid has a gigantic influence on our health. Located near the base of the neck, the butterfly-shaped organ regulates your metabolism, heart function and digestion, to name a few critical roles. The thyroid also plays a critical role in mood regulation and bone health.
Often called the body’s internal furnace, or, alternatively, the engine of the body, the thyroid gland must function properly to keep our weight in check. In alternative health, having a “sluggish thyroid” refers to an underperforming thyroid gland.
To be sure, traditional Chinese medicine does not recognize “sluggish thyroid.” However, for centuries, TCM has helped with symptoms thought to be associated with it.
Symptoms of Sluggish Thyroid
The most common indications of a under-performing thyroid are:
- Overly sensitive to cold
- Constipation/weak digestion
- Poor sleep
- Hair loss, brittle hair and weak nails
- Unexplained weight gain
- Pale skin appearance
TCM may offer a theory for why this pint-sized gland has such an enormous influence on our health. The reason why may be because meridians of the Small Intestine, Liver, Kidney, Triple Burner (San Jiao), Stomach, Spleen, GallBladder, and Bladder all link (either directly or indirectly) to the area where the thyroid is located.
Chinese Medicine & Thyroid Function
That’s energy from eight organ systems concentrating in one place. Obviously if there’s a deficiency of the body’s primordial life force (Qi) and/or Blood (which moves Qi), the functioning of the thyroid gland may be poor.
in order to be free of symptoms, Yin and Yang energies must be in perfect harmony
It’s important to reiterate that there is no diagnosis by Chinese medicine doctors of a sluggish or poor/under-performing thyroid. The only way to verify thyroid gland function is through an endocrine panel test, which assesses the levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) as well as the thyroid hormones, T3 and T4.
However, based on the symptoms above, Kidney Yang deficiency could be a major culprit. According to TCM theory, in order to be free of symptoms, Yin and Yang energies must be in perfect harmony. The Yin and Yang energies in our bodies that nourish all the organs originate specifically in the Kidney organ system.
Kidney Yang provides warmth for us. If the thyroid gland is considered the furnace in Western medicine, Kidney Yang is the TCM equivalent. If you’re deficient in Kidney Yang, you’ll often feel cold. You may also experience the other symptoms listed above.
The Domino Effect of Kidney Yang Deficiency
Because of the holistic, interconnectedness of the body in TCM theory, if there’s a deficiency of Kidney Yang, there will be other deficiency problems as well. Specifically, Spleen Yang will also be deficient. Spleen is the TCM organ responsible for transforming nutrients from the food we eat into both Qi and Blood. As a result, you don’t need a doctorate in Oriental Medicine to understand why digestion and elimination will be sluggish if there’s Kidney Yang deficiency.
Yang deficiency problems don’t start and stop in the Kidney organ system, as you can see. In fact, the imbalance may also affect the Heart organ system. With Heart Yang deficiency, a disturbed shen (loosely translated as “spirit) may manifest. A more relatable translation of a disturbed shen: lack of joy.
But let’s circle back to the Kidney system. In addition to the most common Yang-deficiency symptoms above, low back discomfort can also manifest. In addition, for men, poor sexual performance can be a consequence of Kidney Yang deficiency. For women, irregular or scanty menstruation is symptomatic of this imbalance.
A Simple Way To Nourish Kidney Yang
There’s an ancient herbal formula called “Kidney Qi Pill from the Golden Cabinet.” Branded as YanVive for our Guang Ci Tang™ line of Chinese medicine, this formula has been the subject of published human clinical trials for numerous applications.
YanVive is perhaps the best-known Yang tonic in all of Chinese herbal medicine.
For Those That Need To “Cool Their Engine”
However, some people have the opposite problem in regards to thyroid function. If your furnace can’t cool down, and you’re frequently running too hot (both literally and metaphorically), from a TCM perspective, the problem is excess heat in the Liver. In this case, our herbal formula, Liver Fireclear can help “cool your engine”.
Besides feeling hot and sweating a lot, excess heat in the Liver meridian often manifests as irritability, anger and short-temperedness.
Keep in mind two things if you’re going to use either YanVive or Liver Fireclear. First, ideally, you will have your symptoms evaluated by a licensed acupuncturist or Chinese medicine doctor.
And secondly, don’t expect overnight miracles; it may take a few weeks of taking the formula to notice positive outcomes. However, with time, you may notice the effects of having better balanced Yin-Yang energies, and therefore, a better-functioning thyroid gland.
Related Reading From The ActiveHerb Blog:
Sexual Wellness In Chinese Medicine: It’s All In Your Kidneys
Depression, Your Liver and Chinese Medicine
Manage Weight the Natural Herbal Way: Easier Than Counting Calories
Cold Feet? These 3 Herbal Remedies Improve Blood Circulation