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Thyroid Disease: A Natural/Herbal Perspective

Interview with Shasta Tierra

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Updated August 23, 2009

by Mary J. Shomon

The Natural Medicine View of Thyroid Disease

Shasta Tierra is a popular natural medicine practitioner who is a licensed primary health care provider. Shasta uses Acupuncture, Clinical Herbology, Nutrition and Acupressure for the treatment of a broad range of common ailments. Having grown up surrounded by the healing arts, Shasta had the rare opportunity to study under the tutelage of her father, Dr. Michael Tierra O.M.D. L.Ac. author of many books including the best selling book, The Way of Herbs. With over ten years as a health care provider, Shasta specializes and teaches on hypothyroidism, women's health care, pain management and whole body and facial rejuvenation. Shasta has lectured and practiced Chinese Medicine at the Center for Integrative Medicine at O'Connor Hospital, as well as taught at the American School of Herbalism. Her unique approach incorporates a total health program aimed at achieving whole life enrichment. Here, Shasta shares her insights and perspective on thyroid disease and herbal medicine.

Mary Shomon: I'm pleased to be able to highlight you and our work here at my Thyroid site for our thyroid patients and practitioners who frequent the site. First, I'd like to start out by just asking a bit about your philosophy on thyroid problems. As a natural healer, why do you think thyroid function becomes imbalanced, and why are we seeing more autoimmune thyroid disease here in the United States?

Shasta Tierra: The thyroid as we know it in western medicine is a master-controlling gland having many different functions on the body. It is a part of the endocrine system, which in both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is like the chakra system or the root or "essence" qi. Therefore, if the thyroid is out of balance from a TCM perspective it can effect the different organs in many ways, a few examples are: the Liver -controls the nervous and gynecological system such as cysts, fibroids, infertility and houses the emotions of frustration anger and depression, the Heart-too high or too low blood pressure, anxiety, palpitations, insomnia and the emotions of lack of joy and over emotionalism; the Spleen- which houses the emotions of worry and obsession while affecting the strength of the muscles and tissues of the body (fibromyalgia) and helps convert the food into strong blood (anemia/fatigue) as well as transforms "dampness" (fat), the Lung- which houses the emotions of grief and sadness and manifests as asthma, allergies, eczema, earaches and frequent colds and flu's: the Kidney- which houses the emotions of fear and insecurity and is the root of all of the other organs, which includes the functions of what western medicine calls the adrenal gland - sex hormones, female and male reproduction, cortisone, melatonin, DHEA, etc. and if weak then will have the symptoms of low back and joint pain, coldness, severe fatigue (chronic fatigue), decrease immunity and much more.

TCM doesn't have just one cause for the breakdown of the body's functions, but many different factors ranging from lifestyle, nutrition, exercise, emotions, genetics and the environment. As you can see from above symptoms that the lack of thyroid hormone causes pathogenesis in every organ system in the TCM medicine model, and this is why I say it is similar to what TCM calls the "essence".

TCM doesn't have just one cause for the breakdown of the body's functions, but many different factors ranging from lifestyle, nutrition, exercise, emotions, genetics and the environment. As you can see from above symptoms that the lack of thyroid hormone causes pathogenesis in every organ system in the TCM medicine model, and this is why I say it is similar to what TCM calls the "essence".

Essence is what TCM calls pre ancestral qi (what our parents genetically gave us). When we're born we have the opportunity to preserve our essence by eating good "food qi" (healthy, unprocessed, organic, seasonal, body temperature and for appropriate for our particular constitution and blood type) and breath in good "air qi" (proper exercise, unbound breathable clothing, chemical free perfumes and cosmetics, clean air, etc.). Our "essence" mixed with "food qi" and "air qi" combine together to give us our "defensive qi" or immunity. If there is a breakdown in any of these factors either deficient "essence" (genetic problem), poor nutrition and/or inadequate oxygen, then we will see a breakdown in the immune system - autoimmune problems. In this fast paced, very "yang" society you can see where many breakdowns in the above theory happen and can see it is as individual a reason for the autoimmune problem as the person. Why are we seeing more autoimmune thyroid disease here in the United States?

Click here to read more of this fascinating and exclusive interview with Shasta Tierra.

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