Our Acupuncturist, Mitch Holland has dropped in to share his knowledge on your thyroid – what it does, why you need it to be in optimum working order and best of all, how you can use diet and lifestyle to steer it in the direction of health.  We see so  many patients who’s hormones are imbalanced, stemming back to poor thyroid function.  We love helping people return to health here at The Pagoda Tree.  To learn more, read on.

Thyroid health is imperative to systemic wellbeing. The thyroid hormones secreted into the bloodstream play key roles in cellular protein synthesis – specifically the DNA structure and reproduction in our cells. These little hormones are called T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine), but that’s not all they do. As well as governing our cells health they also transport electolytes, regulate cardiac and muscle activity, improve metabolism, assist mental processes, balance libido and help regulate menstrual cycles. These are some of the bodies most prominent functions and when they are inflamed or underactive we notice them – and now know to look to the thyroid.

Western medicine sees typical signs of an underactive Thyroid (known as Hypothyroidism) present in a collection of symptoms such as; low energy and depression, fatigue and muscle aches, unexplained weight gain and intolerance for the cold, dry coarse skin and puffy face, hair loss and constipation and often an enlarged goitre. When you look into the nature of all these symptoms the main theme is that something is running low or is underactive. This is because the thyroid is failing to secrete enough hormones into the bloodstream to elicit a balanced response.

There are few factors that may impact on the thyroid causing hypothyroidism, Iodine deficiency, autoimmune disorders (e.g. Hashimoto’s), pituitary gland dysfunction or a hypothalamic dysfunction.
HYPO- think Low.

At the other end of the spectrum is an over active thyroid (known as Hyperthyroidism). Presentations with Hyperthyroidism are, as you can expect, excessive metabolic responses – accelerated heart rate and palpitations, muscle weakness and trembling, unexplained weight loss and sensitivity to heat, diarrhea and restless sleep, sweating and irritability, heightened emotions and anxiety. However, an exception to this rule is the changes in menstruation where the period of bleeding is lighter or significantly less than usual and a longer time apart.

In this scenario the thyroid is secreting too much of the T4 and T3 hormone into the blood stream – which may relate back to the pituitary gland over stimulating the Thyroid by releasing too much thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).

HYPER- think ‘hyper active’.

Similarly, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) recognizes the same signs and symptoms as Western medicine as ‘under activity’ (deficiency) or ‘over activity’ in the bodies balance of Qi and Yin/Yang theory.

Now a quick run down of qi, blood and yin/yang and their function in the body – the theory interprets a balance amongst the 12 main organs in the body, just in western medicine the organs perform a specific role and require a balance of Qi, Blood and yin/yang relationship. Qi supplies us with energy, blood gives us nourishment and yin/yang a balanced harmony. Yin is internal, cooling, calming and suppressive (the shady side of the mountain), whilst Yang is external, warming, extraverted and expansive (the sunny side of the mountain) – sound familiar?

By identifying these qualities, along with tongue and pulse diagnosis, practitioners are able to determine whether there is an organ Yin deficiency not calming the Yang or the Yang is deficient and needs to be tonified. Most commonly these disharmonies in thyroid conditions will be occurring between the Spleen and Liver. Now as they are named the same as the Western anatomy please keep in mind that this doesn’t mean the physical organ is in danger, the organ may not be performing its energetic role.

Whether the symptoms correlate with a western or a TCM diagnoses they are still manageable through diet, limiting stress where possible, exercising correctly and becoming emotionally sound. In many cases of either an overactive or under active thyroid can be managed with a shift in lifestyle. We are currently living in communities where refined sugars dominate the market – taking this into consideration we can actively take it upon ourselves to wean out these sugars from our diets and include foods that can assist in benefiting the bodies wellbeing in order to see a decline in thyroid disarray. Lifestyle changes sound more daunting than they are, just remember they are a change for the better – positive affirmations.

Below is a list of foods that can be incorporated into our diets to promote better thyroid function, focus on the foods you can have rather than those you tell yourself “you shouldn’t”.


  • Flax Seed: omega-3 fatty acids are important for healthy thyroid gland. Help underactive thyroid. One tablespoon every day on an empty stomach – either oil or seeds.
  • Ginger root: great source of magnesium, zinc and potassium. Reduce inflammation levels.
  • Primrose Oil: Full of amino acids particular for thyroid function. This will help aid thyroid function and help alleviate hair loss and heavy menstrual periods.
    (Metagenics supplement: ‘Meta EFA with Vit. E’)
  • Licorice Root:
    Often used in Chinese herbal formulas Licorice Root (or Gan Cao) is particularly good for those experiencing Licorice Root is great to balance the thyroid gland when underactive.
  • Nettle: great for balancing both underactive or overactive High in Iodine, Nettle can effectively aid in reversing iodine deficiency.
  • Selenium: found in white fish, tuna, mushrooms, organ meat, beef, sunflower seeds and brazil nuts, selenium proteins protect the thyroid when we are under stress by aiding the balance of T4 and T3 hormones.
  • Antioxidants – B Vitamins: fantastic at battling cell stress. Look to foods such as egg yolk, organ meat, wild rive, mushrooms and Almonds (most common trace of Vitamin B2).
  • Iodine: We mentioned earlier that Iodine plays a large part in Thyroid health so primary foods you can look to are: Iodized sea salt, salmon, shrimp, oysters or sardines.
    Secondary sources: broccoli, asparagus, lettuce, kale, carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, winter pumpkin or in summer cantaloupe.