Thyroid nodules are cysts on your thyroid gland that are sometimes filled with fluid. According to the Mayo Clinic, most thyroid nodules are benign, especially if they accompany another thyroid condition such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Some endocrinologists prescribe thyroid hormones in order to prevent further cystic growth, while alternative medicine practitioners may recommend Chinese herbs as a form of treatment.
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The Institute for Traditional Medicine (ITM) reports that Chinese medicine doctors attribute the development of nodules as a result of long-term emotional trauma or anger. Therefore, the goal of Chinese medicine in terms of thyroid nodules is to offer an herbal remedy to help reverse your emotional state, thereby treating your nodules. According to the ITM, single herbal remedies include huangyaozi, shanhaiteng and suanqiaomai. The TCM Assistant outlines three combinations for nodule treatment: hai zao yu hu tang, hai zao wan and xiang bei yang rong tang.
Herbal remedies are administered in the form of teas, capsules and tinctures. The dosage you take depends upon your symptoms and the severity of the nodule. The ITM explains that Chinese herbs are designed to help treat hyperthyroid and hypothyroid symptoms caused by a benign nodule. According to the TCM Assistant, herbs can help suppress nodule growth by balancing thyroid hormone production.
Although an alternative medicine doctor may be able to recommend Chinese herbs to help treat thyroid nodules, he will likely not have the equipment to properly diagnose your condition. According to the Mayo Clinic, cancerous nodules are often easy to identify on the outside of your neck. However, benign nodules are smaller, and can therefore only be detected by an ultrasound. To determine the malignancy of the nodule, an endocrinologist performs a biopsy in conjunction with the ultrasound. Blood tests are conducted to determine whether the nodules have any effects on thyroid hormone production.
A proper diagnosis is required, as the Mayo Clinic explains that some nodules require treatment while others don’t. In some cases, a thyroid nodule will start producing hormones in addition to your thyroid gland. This can cause hyperthyroidism, a condition in which your body receives too much thyroid hormone. This is more complicated if you were previously taking an herb or medication that stimulated thyroid hormone production. See your doctor if you lose a great amount of weight in a short period of time, have heart palpitations, are anxious, or cannot sleep at night.
A test indicating a benign nodule does not put you in the clear entirely. There is always a risk that a nodule can grow and become malignant in the future. Since this is the case, the Mayo Clinic recommends yearly check-ups with an endocrinologist. Whether you use herbs as your primary form of treatment or not, you must be diligent about these checkups in order to catch any potential problems early on. Chinese herbs should not be used alone to treat malignant nodules, but may be considered as part of your treatment by an oncologist.