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Acupuncture for Thyroid Disorders



Acupuncture is increasingly recognized for its effectiveness in treating various thyroid disorders, including hyperthyroidism (often referred to as "thyrotoxicosis"), thyroiditis, simple goiter due to iodine deficiency, and benign thyroid tumors or nodules. While the treatment approach remains fundamentally similar across these conditions, acupuncture offers both immediate and long-term benefits, making it a viable option for patients.


Treatment of Hyperthyroidism (Thyrotoxicosis):

  • Clinical reports indicate that acupuncture is effective in treating hyperthyroidism, especially in patients experiencing side effects from anti-thyroid medications or those who relapse after stopping medication.

  • Although effective, acupuncture treatment for hyperthyroidism can be slow and typically requires an extended course to consolidate the therapeutic effects. It can be used in conjunction with conventional medicine for enhanced results.

  • Combining acupuncture with anti-thyroid drugs is considered an optimal integrative approach in hyperthyroidism treatment.

  • Acupuncture also plays a role in modulating the immune functions of patients with hyperthyroidism, ideal in cases where autoimmune factors are involved.


Mechanism of Action in Thyroid Disorders:

  • Acupuncture exerts a bidirectional regulatory effect on thyroid function.

  • In autoimmune thyroid disorders like Graves’ disease, the presence of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) receptor antibodies (TRAb) in the serum is a primary factor leading to hyperthyroidism. Acupuncture works by reducing the activity of TRAb, mitigating its pathological stimulation on thyroid cells, and thereby normalizing thyroid hormone levels and thyroid function.

  • Moxibustion, a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves burning dried mugwort on particular points of the body, has also shown similar effects in managing thyroid function.


General Approach:

  • The treatment generally starts slower and is prolonged to ensure lasting effects. It is particularly beneficial for patients who have adverse reactions to conventional anti-thyroid drugs or for those seeking a more holistic treatment approach.

  • While acupuncture is not a cure-all solution, it provides a complementary option that can significantly improve the quality of life for those suffering from thyroid disorders.


In conclusion, acupuncture offers a promising alternative and adjunctive treatment for thyroid disorders, particularly beneficial for managing symptoms and improving overall thyroid health. This approach, when combined with traditional medical treatments, can lead to more comprehensive and effective management of thyroid-related conditions.

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