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Goiter & Thyroid Nodules: Can Acupuncture Help?

Although Western medicine tends to treat goiters and swollen thyroid nodules with pharmaceutical medications or surgeries, recent evidence suggests that acupuncture, traditional Chinese herbal medicine, and nutritional therapy may also provide effective adjunctive or alternative treatment.

The thyroid gland secretes hormones to regulate bodily functions, such as metabolism, heart rate, respiration, digestion, and overall sense of wellbeing. When the nodules on your thyroid swell, you can develop a goiter that can affect thyroid function. Common goiter symptoms include noticeable swelling, hoarseness, difficulty breathing or swallowing, and coughing. Although Western medicine tends to approach goiters and swollen thyroid nodules with pharmaceutical medications or surgeries, holistic and natural alternatives like acupuncture, traditional Chinese herbal medicine, and nutritional therapy may also help.

The Root Causes and Risk Factors For Goiters

The most common cause of goiter is iodine deficiency. The thyroid needs iodine to produce thyroid hormones. Without enough iodine, the thyroid may grow larger because it must work too hard to make the hormone. Other conditions that may lead to goiter include Graves’ disease (hyperthyroid), Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, thyroid cancer, the formation of noncancerous thyroid nodules, and thyroid inflammation of unknown cause. In general, women over the age of forty are at the greatest risk of developing a goiter. Additional risk factors include a family history of thyroid nodules or thyroid cancer, iodine deficiency, pregnancy, and going through menopause.

Western Medicine’s Approach to Treating Goiters

Western medicine attempts to diagnose the underlying cause of goiter and treat it, usually with medications and surgeries. Unfortunately, some pharmaceuticals can carry unwanted and unpleasant side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, headache, drowsiness, dizziness, and more. In some cases, Western physicians may recommend a thyroidectomy, removing the thyroid through surgery. Of course, surgery carries inherent risks as well. Those looking for a non-invasive, adjunctive or alternative treatment option for goiters or thyroid nodules may consider seeking acupuncture therapy.

Acupuncture Therapy for Goiters and Thyroid Nodules

While more comprehensive clinical research is needed to explore the efficacy of acupuncture in treating goiters and thyroid nodules, existing studies are promising. One recent study in which participants received one thirty-minute session of acupuncture every two days for three months found that “using acupuncture in an integrated treatment protocol significantly reduces or eliminates thyroid nodules, regulates intranodal arterial blood flow, [and] regulates thyroid function.” It also appears that acupuncture used in combination with traditional Chinese herbal medicine and nutritional therapy can reduce goiter size and improve thyroid function. A 2017 study found that patients diagnosed with either multinodular goiter or diffuse goiter who followed a traditional Chinese herbal medicine regimen for three months experienced a notable reduction in clinical symptoms and goiter size. If you are looking for a holistic and balanced approach to improving thyroid function, consider visiting an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist to learn more.


Call Inner Works Acupuncture today at (503) 227-2127 to schedule an appointment with a Portland acupuncturist and healer.

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