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  • Writer's pictureCat Calhoun

Grave's Disease

Grave's disease is an autoimmune disease resulting in an overproduction of thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones affect several different body systems, so this can result in a wide range of s/sx that affect overall well-being and health (which you'll see in signs and symptoms below). Graves is more common in women before the age of 40, but can affect anyone.

Grave's is diagnosed by a thyroid panel to determine TSH hormone, antibody tests, radioactive iodine uptake tests, ultrasounds and imaging.

Signs and symptoms

Because thyroid hormones affect so many different body system, you'll find a wide range of s/sx here. They include anxiousness and increased irritability, tremors of the hands and fingers, increased sensitivity to heat, weight loss despite not changing eating habits, thyroid gland enlargement, fluctuations in menstrual cycles, erectile dysfunction or decreased libido in men, bulging eyes, frequent bowel movements, fatigue, thickening of the skin on the shins or tops of feet, palpitations and rapid or irregular heartbeat.

This is basically Liver fire and Liver wind and Liver Yang Rising in TCM speak.

Grave's disease patients are more likely to develop complications such as issues during pregnancy, heart disorders, and brittle bones.


What's the cause? As with most autoimmune disease, no one knows for sure. But risk factors include a family history of Grave's disease, the presence of other autoimmune disorders (especially diabetes type 1 and rheumatoid arthritis), emotional or physical stress, pregnancy, and smoking. Fun fact: smokers are more likely to develop the Grave's ophthalmopathy (large protruding eyes). Women are more likely to develop Grave's than men and you'll also find it is more common in patients under 40.

Treatment from a Western medical perspective include radioactive iodine therapy, antithyroid medications (which are really hard on the liver and have a ton of side effects), beta blockers, and even surgery. Chinese medical treatment for autoimmune and for Grave's disease include lifestyle and diet changes, herbal therapy, and acupuncture.

Acupuncture basic Rx

The sides given are not a hard and fast rule. Liver usually expresses on the right side, hence the liver points there. You can move them around or even needle bilaterally.


  • Du 20 and/or Yintang

Right side:

  • Huo Ying, Huo Zhu, Lv 6,* *Master Tung's Lv 6 is needled next to the tibia on the Spleen channel rather than on the bone itself. Use your fingernail to palpate and slide the needle right next to the bone.

  • San Zhong or Three Weights

  • Ki 2, Ki 3, Ki 5

Left side:

Point Discussion

  • This protocol addresses the Liver, Gallbladder, Spleen, and Kidney on the right side. The Kidney points sedate and tonify the Liver because water is the mother of wood.

  • The San Zhong points are go-to points for neck and shoulder pain, so the energy of these points guides Qi to the neck and throat.

  • Xia San Huang on the left balances the whole body and is on the Spleen channel, which helps with muscle weakness. This set also contains Shen Guan which is good for any internal disease.

  • Du 20 raises the energy, relaxes the mind and body, and helps move Qi. You could also add Yintang to this set to do this as well. If you've read much of what I've written you might know that I love auricular points for this too. Auricular Autonomic and Shenmen points are great to calm the mind and body.

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