The thyroid gland produces hormones that have two primary functions: they enhance the synthesis of proteins and the use of oxygen, two physiologic activities which influence the body’s basal metabolic rate (BMR). The amount of hormones produced by the thyroid depends on the amount of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) released from the pituitary gland, and by the condition of the thyroid tissues themselves. Moreover, TSH levels decreases when thyroid hormones increase. Testing the amount of the thyroid hormones T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine) in the blood plasma is considered an effective way of evaluating the thyroid functions.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is overactive and produces excessive thyroid hormone. Typical symptoms of hyperthyroidism include: high blood pressure; fast heartbeat; moist skin; increased sweating; a tremor; nervousness; increased appetite with weight loss; diarrhea and/or frequent bowel movements; weakness; eyes that seem to bulge out of their sockets; and sensitivity of the eyes to light. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is under-active and produces not enough thyroid hormone. Typical symptoms of hypothyroidism include: a hoarse voice; slowed speech; puffy face; drooping eyelids; intolerance of cold conditions; constipation; weight gain; dry hair; dry skin; and depression.
In traditional Eastern medicine, both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are believed to result from a Yin/Yang imbalance. The overproduction or underproduction of thyroid hormone alters the body’s chemical balance and causes hyper- or hypothyroidism. In Eastern medical terms, when Yin is deficient it cannot prevent the Yang energy from escaping outward and upward, and this “reckless” movement of Yang brings about the characteristic symptoms of hyperthyroidism. When Yang is deficient, it simply cannot produce the vital energy necessary to keep the body functioning well, and symptoms of hypothyroidism result.
Eastern herbal formulas are very effective for treating hyper-and hypothyroidism. Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, Zhi Zi Qing Gan Tang, Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan are commonly used formulas for hyperthyroidism. Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan and You Gui Wan are widely used formula for hypothyroidism.