Learning & Resource Center Articles
Exercises to Balance the Production and Release of Thyroid Hormones
By: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM
The thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly and is found at the front of the neck, below the Adam's apple. Although small in size, this gland has a big influence on the body's ability to transform food into the energy needed to sustain life, in a process called metabolism. It is a vital component of the endocrine system, which is an elaborate network of hormone-producing glands acting upon the cardiovascular, digestive, neurological, and reproductive systems. The importance of this gland cannot be understated.
In order for the endocrine system to function at optimum levels, the process of detoxification must occur. Detoxification removes waste and potentially hazardous material from the body. Waste can be eliminated by different means, including through urine, tears, sweat, and feces. When the body is able to properly detox, the thyroid greatly benefits.
There are two primary ways in which the thyroid can go wrong. It can be overactive, called hyperthyroid, and produce symptoms of rapid heartbeat, excessive hunger, weight loss, diarrhea, and heat sensations. Or conversely, it can underproduce, known as hypothyroid, and create symptoms of slow heartbeat, reduced appetite, weight gain, constipation, and cold sensations.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see your medical doctor in addition to visiting your practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. However, whether you have symptoms relating to thyroid issues, or simply wish to be proactive and help prevent problems, there are some exercises you can perform.
According to the theory of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, the spleen plays a vital role in removing waste products from the body. An efficient spleen will, therefore, help optimize the thyroid's function of producing and releasing hormones. When food and drink are ingested, it is the spleen's duty to separate the clear from the turbid. The clear, which contains valuable nutrients, is sent on to be utilized by other organs. The turbid, useless or possibly harmful matter, descends to the large intestine, where it is prepared for elimination.
To help invigorate your spleen, spending short amounts of time upside-down can help reverse the effects of gravity. If doing a head or hand stand, for two to three minutes, is not your thing, there are two alternatives. One is to lay face-down on the floor, bend your elbows, and rest your chin in your hands so your head is positioned above the trunk of your body. Next, bend your knees and start swinging your feet back and forth. You may remember doing this one when you were a child. This can be done for as long as it is comfortable for you.
The next exercise involves lying on the ground, with your back-side down. Raise your legs in the air and rest them against the wall. Relax comfortably into the pose for up to five minutes. You can keep your arms extended to your sides on the floor. If you like, you can raise your arms in the air for 30- 40 seconds, and then rest them.
These upside-down exercises can assist in releasing stuck food, gases or other matter that remain trapped somewhere in your digestive system. Removing these obstacles helps improve the blood flow to and from all the organs. One quick way to help jog your sluggish system is to literally jog in place. Even 30 seconds of doing this will stimulate your system. Or, you could try jumping up and down five times in quick succession. The best time to perform these exercises is before eating, or waiting at least two hours after a meal.
Contact a practitioner near you to learn how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you!
Learn more about acupuncture and Oriental Medicine for endocrine health!
About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.