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Acupuncture for thyroid disease

On this page

  1. Overview
  2. Symptoms
  3. Causes
  4. Treatment

1. Overview

There are two types of thyroid disease; hypothyroidism, a lack of thyroid hormone production and hyperthyroidism, an overproduction of thyroid hormone.

Blood tests are often taken to measure levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), free T4 and free triiodothyronine (T3) levels.

2. Symptoms

Symptoms of a thyroid disorder include:

  1. Tiredness
  2. Sensitive to temperature such as hot or cold
  3. Weight gain
  4. Constipation
  5. Depression
  6. Poor concentration
  7. Muscle aches and weakness
  8. Muscle cramps.

3. Causes

In western medicine, thyroid disorders are caused by an imbalance of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), free T4 and free triiodothyronine (T3) levels.

In Chinese medicine, it is caused by excessive heat or a deficiency of Qi (energy).

4. Treatment for thyroid diseases

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can both be used to help relieve symtpoms of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism in conjunction with biomedical medication.

Research has shown that acupuncture treatment may specifically help in thyroid disease by:

  • Increasing free thyroxine (FT4) and free tri-iodothyronine (FT3) levels in hypothyroidism
  • Decreasing serum tri-iodothyronine (TT3), total thyroxine (TT4), free T3 (FT3) and free T4 (FT4) levels and increasing supersensitive thyrotropin (S-TSH) levels in hyperthyroidism
  • Acting on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the 'analytical' brain, which is responsible for anxiety and worry
  • Increasing the release of adenosine, which has antinociceptive properties
  • Improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility by increasing local microcirculation, which aids dispersal of swelling
  • Reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors


Arsovska, Blagica and Zhu, Jihe (2017) Thyroid disorder:treatment with acupuncture. InternationalJournal of Scientific Reports, 3 (7). pp. 227-229. ISSN 2454-2164
Zhu, Jihe and Arsovska, Blagica and Kozovska, Kristina (2017) Case Report - Acupuncture Treatment for Hyperthyroidism. International Journal of Chinese Medicine, 1 (4). pp. 121-123.


Download my thyroid disease factsheet.