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Unusual Signs and Symptoms of Low Thyroid Function

By Mila McManus MD

thyroidMany of you out there know some of the common symptoms of low thyroid function, such as fatigue, weight gain, constipation, headaches, hair loss, depression, and cold intolerance.  I’ve also explained to many of you how the thyroid functions in the body.  Think of this gland as your engine.  If your engine is too ‘revved up’ (i.e., hyperthyroid), bodily functions will be overactive, such as overactive nerves causing jitters, shakiness, anxiety, fast heart rate, palpitations, and high blood pressure. Bowels may be overactive causing excessive bowel movements or loose stools.  Temperature gets higher, metabolism gets faster, and so on.  If your engine slows down (i.e., hypothyroid), bodily functions slow down.  Energy gets lower, brain function gets slower, mood is lower, bowels are slower, pain threshold is lower, temperature is lower, metabolism is slower, and so on.  It’s also important to note that some symptoms can occur on either end of the spectrum.  For instance, you can be tired if thyroid function is low or high.  You can lose weight or gain weight on both ends of the spectrum.  You can be shedding hair when thyroid is under-active or overactive.  And also noteworthy: 1) symptoms can vary, such as you may have normal bowel function, but have other symptoms of low thyroid, and 2) having normal thyroid labs does NOT mean that your thyroid is functioning adequately. (You can read about that here.)  Moreover, there are many factors that affect how well your thyroid functions at the cellular level, including diet, gut health, stress, toxins, vitamin deficiencies, and imbalance of other hormones in the body.

Having said all of that, today I wanted to share some less well known signs and symptoms that may indicate a thyroid problem:

  • High cholesterol
  • Anxiety
  • Dry patches on elbows
  • Slow speech
  • Fluid retention
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Insomnia
  • Severe menstrual cramps
  • Downturned mouth
  • Acne
  • Twitching of the eyelid
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Dizziness
  • Mild elevation of liver enzymes
  • Gallstones
  • Recurrent bladder infections

If you think you may have low or suboptimal thyroid function, you can test yourself here with our online symptom checker.

Dr. Pamela Smith lecture at A4M conference 2015






By |2016-10-04T08:03:19-05:00October 4th, 2016|Articles, General|

Goitrogens-(a.k.a. stuff that negatively affects thyroid function)



By Nancy Mehlert, MS

There’s no doubt that, if you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) or Hashimoto’s (autoimmune thyroid disorder), you have searched the internet for information and come across references to goitrogenic foods (i.e. goitrogens) with the preponderance of sources recommending avoidance. These goitrogenic foods are primarily found in the raw Brassica or cruciferous vegetables which include, but are not limited to, arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens, mustard greens, kale, and Brussels sprouts.

Goitrogens can be drugs, chemicals, or foods.  In terms of food, goitrogens are naturally occurring compounds found in many foods to varying degrees.  Some older research on animals only has suggested that goitrogens might suppress thyroid function by interfering with iodine uptake, thus inhibiting the production of thyroid hormones.  This, in turn, would result in goiter (enlargement of the thyroid).  So understandably, in an effort to do the right thing for your health, you may have felt very compelled to remove these foods from your diet.

Anytime someone suggests removing vegetables from the diet, especially groups of vegetables, my ears really perk up!  There are obvious “man-u-factured” food products and sugar which we would all do well to remove from our diets for improved health, but it goes against common sense to remove foods from the earth which our ancestors have eaten for centuries.  Moreover, without question, vegetables are deeply nutritious.  Where else can we get as many minerals, vitamins, fiber and phytonutrients that serve as antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, cancer fighters and detoxification supporters?  Does eating them really pose a risk or threat to the thyroid?

I join in agreement with most leaders in the functional medicine community who argue that these foods contain far more beneficial nutrients relative to the goitrogenic activity.  Many of these foods help the body to produce glutathione, a very powerful antioxidant necessary to fight Hashimoto’s disease because it modulates and regulates the immune system, puts down the fires of autoimmune flare ups and protects and heals thyroid tissues.  Glutathione also detoxifies the liver while cruciferous vegetables in general are well studied for their protection against cancers, thyroid cancer included.

Dr. Fuhrman states it well: “The fear of eating cruciferous vegetables or that those with hypothyroidism should reduce or avoid the consumption of kale or other cruciferous vegetables is unfounded and does a disservice to the community.  Whether you have normal thyroid function or hypothyroidism, there is no benefit for you to avoid or restrict your intake of cruciferous vegetables.” He goes on to state that “No human study has demonstrated a deficiency in thyroid function from consuming cruciferous vegetables.”

My advice remains the same.  We ALL benefit from food rotation, eating a wide variety of nutrient dense foods, especially vegetables.  Moderation and variety is the best way to ensure the optimal amounts of what the body requires.  All that to say if you are juicing large quantities of kale and/or spinach every single day, perhaps some rotation of greens is in good order for you!  Or if you are eating a vegan or vegetarian diet where the main vegetable choices made every day are from the cruciferous family, perhaps greater variety and reduction would be prudent.  Another strategy is to deactivate most of the goitrogenic compounds by cooking the vegetables.  Roasting, steaming, sautéing or blanching them resolves any potential concern.  Blanched and pureed, they can be frozen as ice cubes for a smoothie so they can still be added to juice each morning.

Finally, thyroid health is best protected, not by taking vegetables out of the diet, but by ensuring adequate iodine intake, stress management, cleaning up the diet, healing the gut, resolving vitamin deficiencies, removing toxins, and balancing hormone function.

By |2016-09-22T09:33:35-05:00September 22nd, 2016|Articles, General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|