Judy Bowen-Jones

Metabolic Disorders – Thyroid Disease and Type 2 Diabetes

About Hyperthyroidism & Hypothyroidism

Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is a relatively common hormonal condition that occurs when there is too much thyroid hormone in the body. Excess levels of thyroid hormones can then speed up the body’s metabolism, triggering a range of symptoms including: nervousness and anxiety, hyperactivity, where a person can’t keep still and is full of nervous energy, unexplained weight loss and possibly swelling of the thyroid gland in the neck (goitre).

In hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) your thyroid gland does not produce enough chemicals called hormones. Common signs of an underactive thyroid are tiredness, weight gain and feeling depressed. An underactive thyroid is not usually serious. It can often be treated successfully by taking daily hormone tablets to replace the hormones your thyroid isn’t making. Hypothyroidism may be caused by your immune system attacking your thyroid or by damage to your thyroid that can occur during some medical treatments.

Acupuncture for Hyperthyroidism & Hypothyroidism

Acupuncture is believed to work by stimulating physiological changes which influence the body’s natural homeostatic (regulating) mechanisms. Research has shown that acupuncture may specifically help thyroid disease by:

  • Increasing levels of thyroxine in hypothyroidism
  • Decreasing levels of thyroxine in hyperthyroidism
  • Increasing release of adenosine, important in the regulation of metabolism

About Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to function properly, or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin. This is known as insulin resistance. As a consequence your blood sugar levels become too high.

Diabetes is a serious progressive condition. The main symptoms of undiagnosed diabetes include: urinating frequently, particularly at night, feeling very thirsty or tired, unexplained weight loss and loss of muscles, itching of the genitals or frequent episodes of thrush, cuts and wounds that heal slowly and blurred vision. If you have these symptoms you should contact your GP.

Increasing levels of Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes are attributed to poor diet, obesity and lack of exercise.

Acupuncture and Type 2 Diabetes

The World Health Organization (2003) lists non-insulin dependent Diabetes mellitus among conditions for which the therapeutic effect of acupuncture has been shown but for which further proof is needed.

Research of the effects of acupuncture for treating diabetes is limited. There is some evidence for treating peripheral neuropathy associated with diabetes. Acupuncture may help to treat obesity, a primary risk factor in diabetes and depression. Studies of the physiological effects of acupuncture suggest that it may help regulate insulin production, improve blood lipid profile and blood circulation.

Treating Thyroid Disease & Type 2 Diabetes

“Acupuncture can be safely and effectively used alongside conventional medicine and other treatments as part of an integrated treatment plan for thyroid problems or type 2 diabetes. Acupuncture is also wonderfully relaxing and many patients report feeling elevated feelings of wellbeing after treatment.”

Research Fact Sheets

For more information see the British Acupuncture Council Research Fact Sheet below.