The Gut-Thyroid Connection

Digestive Tract

Did you know that many diseases can be traced to a breakdown in the gastrointestinal tract? 70 percent of your immune system resides in this area – your gut, and the GI tract has many important functions for your health including digestion, nutrient absorption, elimination, detoxification, hormone metabolism and energy production. 99% of the neurotransmitters in your body are actually created in the intestine (part of your GI tract), and every brain chemical known as a neurotransmitter is found there.  This means the GI tract, or gut, plays a very important role in achieving optimal thyroid health.

For proper thyroid function, 20% of the thyroid hormone in your body must be converted into its active form, which is done in the GI tract. In order for this conversion to happen, healthy colonies of beneficial bacteria must be present in the GI tract. An imbalance in the bacteria ratio (of good vs. bad) in the GI tract (dysbiosis) can lead to low thyroid function. This explains why so many patients with thyroid hormone imbalance also have digestive problems and normal thyroid blood chemistry panels.

How to Determine if You Have a Digestive Problem

If you are having digestive problems, there is a good chance that it is affecting your thyroid function. Bloating after meals, gas, cramping, loose stools, constipation, burping, heartburn, and inconsistent stool formation can all be signs of a digestive problem. You can begin to see if you have digestive problems by doing an easy test at home. This is known as the transit time test.

Performing the Transit Time Test

Food should pass through your intestines in 18-24 hours.  If it takes longer than twenty-four hours, there is something wrong with your digestive tract.  This easy to do test can be done at home to measure food transit time.

  1. Purchase a product called “activated charcoal” which is an inert substance and will turn your stool black or dark gray.
  2. Swallow four capsules with a meal and write down the day and time that you take the capsules.
  3. Observe your stool until you see black or dark gray stool appear.  At this point, write down the day and the time.  Look at the time that you originally swallowed the capsules and the time that you see the dark stool and write down the total time it took for this to happen.  If it took longer than twenty-four hours, you have some work to do on your digestive tract.  If it took less than 18 hours, that may also be a problem meaning that there is something irritating the digestive tract causing increased peristalsis.

Get a Full Analysis

The best way to determine if you have problems in your digestive tract is to complete a stool analysis. This will be ordered by your functional medicine physician. I recommend testing through Doctor’s Data laboratory.  Doctor’s Data uses cutting edge technology for microbe detection in stool. This test will tell you if you have any infections that could be affecting the thyroid gland. It also tells you how well you are digesting food, if you are absorbing the food you are eating, if you have any yeast overgrowth, parasites, fungus, and/or mold and whether you have an inflammatory bowel versus an irritable bowel. It even tests for gluten intolerance. This test will also reveal if you have intestinal dysbiosis which is basically an imbalance in the bacterial colonies in the gut. This test is vital for everyone who has autoimmune thyroiditis because of the possible infectious triggers in the gut.

How to Address Imbalances in a Stool Analysis

If there are any imbalances found in the stool analysis, the following guidelines should be followed:

The “4 R’s” to Repair Gastrointestinal Dysfunction:

  • Remove:  Eliminate known food allergens such as gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, etc. Blood testing can pinpoint food reactions. Alcohol, caffeine and NSAIDS should be avoided as well. A stool analysis will diagnose infections that can be eliminated with natural medicines or medications.
  • Repair:  Supplements to repair the intestinal barrier are taken.
  • Replace:  Hydrochloric acid and pancreatic enzymes offer digestive support.
  • Reinoculate:  Probiotics that contain friendly bacteria such as lactobacillus and bifidobacter are taken to reinoculate proper bacterial colonies.

Cortisol’s Role in Thyroid Imbalance

In addition, there is another mechanism in the GI tract that can lead to low thyroid function. Your digestive tract is lined with lymph (immune) tissue known as GALT (Gut-Associated Lymphoid Tissue). Stress to the GALT can be caused by food sensitivities, undigested proteins, leaky gut, and infections from bacteria, yeast and parasites. These GALT afflictions can cause a major stress response which raises the cortisol production by your adrenal glands. Cortisol will cause a shift in thyroid hormone metabolism – increasing the inactive form of T3 and causing an imbalance.Chronic elevations in cortisol from stress will suppress the immune system in the GI tract. This can lead to dysbiosis, parasites, yeast and leaky gut – creating a vicious cycle that further disrupts thyroid function. As you can see, a healthy and balanced GI tract is extremely important in optimizing thyroid hormones and function. I have even seen many patients whose thyroid function normalized after simply treating imbalances in the GI tract.

Estrogen’s Role in Thyroid Imbalance

Excess estrogen in the body can suppress thyroid hormone function by binding to thyroid hormone receptor sites. The GI-Estrogen-Thyroid relationship is very important in optimizing thyroid function. The GI tract contains an enzyme called beta glucuronidase that can reactivate estrogen that has been metabolized in the liver. The metabolized form of estrogen would normally be excreted in the feces but in the face of too much beta glucuronidase, it can be reabsorbed into the bloodstream. This enzyme is dependent on optimal nutrition and healthy gut bacteria ratios. Once again we see how important healthy gut bacteria are to the health of the thyroid. Poor diet, stress, toxins, unresolved psychological issues, inadequate stomach acid production and digestive enzymes can lead to dysbiosis (abnormal bacterial ratios).

The Liver’s Role in Thyroid Imbalance

Hormones and toxins are metabolized in the liver and excreted in the feces through the GI tract.  Remember that a majority of thyroid hormone is converted into its active form in the liver.  When the GI tract is out of balance from dysbiosis, inflammation, leaky gut, infections or too many food allergies, this puts a major strain on the liver’s ability to metabolize hormones and thyroid-disrupting chemicals.  This leads to a toxic liver impairing its ability to activate thyroid hormone.  This scenario also increases the chances of thyroid-disrupting chemicals recirculating and impairing thyroid function.  This continues the vicious cycle of the enzyme beta glucuronidase which undoes what the liver has done to metabolized hormones which may be reactivated and reabsorbed into the bloodstream and the liver.

When the intestinal barrier is broken, autoimmune thyroid may result.  Infections such as candida, parasites and bacteria are a constant stress on the adrenal glands and also contribute to chronic inflammation.  These infections must be eliminated in order to have optimal thyroid function.  Your natural physician will order a stool analysis to diagnose GI infections.  These tests will also tell you how well you are digesting and absorbing food, if there is inflammation and if you have sufficient beneficial bacteria to convert some of your thyroid hormone into its active form.


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52 Responses to The Gut-Thyroid Connection

  1. Shannon February 1, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    Would the situation be similar for Hyperthyroid?  Instead causing over production of thyroid stimulating hormone.  Intuitively I think yes, but I wonder if there is another component to it that I might be missing?
    Thanks!

  2. Nikolas Hedberg, D.C., D.A.B.C.I. February 2, 2012 at 8:17 am #

    Yes, there is a connection. For example, H. Pylori infection has been linked to Graves’ disease.

  3. Michael Watson April 23, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

    Thank you for this very helpful article.  I have been suffering with severe IBS coupled with low T4/high TSH levels for the last four months.  When I saw my doctor, he did not make any connection between these two issues.  But, I have suspected a connection, which your article confirms.  I recently started a course of supplements to address my IBS troubles, and suddenly after a few days, have noticed a significant improvement in many of my symptoms.  I am hoping this change continues, and that the overall thyroid system rebalances itself.  If not, I guess some direct thyroid treatment plan will have to be tried.

  4. Nikolas Hedberg, D.C., D.A.B.C.I. April 23, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

    Thanks for the information. Sounds like you are on the right track.

  5. Nandan April 25, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    Informative article. I wonder why my GI never did a stool analysis. Out of the 4 "R"s how does one act on repair and replace. Are there any over the counter supplements?
    Hi Michael,
    I am having digetion issues/IBS with underactive thyroid. I have been having thyroid supplements and my situation is better. But my IBS acts up and it is hard to get deep sleep at night. Can you please suggest what supplements you have been having for IBS
    Thanks

  6. Nikolas Hedberg, D.C., D.A.B.C.I. April 26, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    Testing for food allergies is important. I cannot give specific medical advice on your case but GI function is vital for healthy thyroid.

  7. Carol Vineyard June 6, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

    69 yr old female with under active thyroid. Doc has me on 75 mcg Synthroid daily. I suffer from diverticulitis, hiatal hernia and GERD. I suspect IBS as well, but never been diagnosed with it. My last CBC alarmed my doc. HB 11.2, HCT 35 and MCH 26. Ferritin 12.89. He suspects slow bleeding internally, I suspect thryoid and gastro problems. While my CBC is low, it’s not abnormally low. I’m beside myself. I feel fine, although the digestive problems persist. Family doc has been treating the thyroid, but I’m about to see an endocrinologist. Have an apt with the gastro doc next week, but I really don’t think he can help. I believe it’s the thyroid!

  8. Nikolas Hedberg, D.C., D.A.B.C.I. June 7, 2012 at 9:44 am #

    Thanks for the information. I hope you find the help you need.

  9. Veta Hemric July 7, 2012 at 5:41 am #

    What happens when a stool test is asked for and not done by the physician when actual knowledge of a pathogens problems exists in a thyroid related patient(s). What are the claims that are applicable when it later turns out to be a life endangering situation that could have been detected and avoided if the stool test had been done and revealed the type of problem in a timely manner? Actual proof of the existence of one type of the possible problematic organisms was made known to the physician; yet no concern and no test was done.

  10. Nikolas Hedberg, D.C., D.A.B.C.I. July 7, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    A second opinion may be the best way to go. It’s worth finding an MD who will work with you.

  11. Joy McMann August 9, 2012 at 5:45 am #

    Wow, VERY helpful info. frm 1 who has been having serious &complex health issues With virtually No significant help frm my primary phys. & turns down absolutly every potential evidence of research & or proof I offer him in search 4 despret answers2my very drained, extremly fatigued, unreal weight gain etc. that seems 2B destroying my body& breaking my Spirit. replacing my primary has proven physcly.& sadly unsucsful. do2 my st.medicaid. the facts of my health & the prim. phys. lack of actions R truely devistating &sad! after nearly having2 B agresive.every visit 4certain tests,incldg. thyroide tests&Dr. refrals; the refral.Dr. s tsh, ft3&4 came bk@ 23L&am now geting appt. with Endocronalogist Dr. &praying GODly guidence2the E. Dr. but praise my God4 searching sites like yors Thanx yuv ben a big help. Joy M. female 50 n MI.

  12. Ann August 25, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    I’m more than a little disappointed that adding RAW fermented foods to our daily diet was not included in this article, instead synthesized pills are promoted as the answer. Unless its alive and raw you won’t be getting the diversity, or the numbers of probiotics you really need. Adding raw, fermented drinks and foods to our everyday routine does WONDERS for our health.

  13. Jason August 31, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    A couple of years ago I starated some medications Zoloft and Seroquel. A while after that I went into the emergency room for an anxiety/ panic attack. the doctors drew some blood and said my TSH was high and that could be causing some mood irregularites. So I have been taking 50 mcg for the last year seems to help but I really have not had any good physician give it the attention it really needs.

    I went to

  14. Margaret Morgan September 5, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    In 2005, at the age of 40, I underwent a needle biopsy that identified herthel cells in my thyroid. At the doctor’s recommendation, I underwent a thyroidectomy and thyroid replacement therapy (levothyroxine). Five months later, suffering from chronic constipation and cramping, I was referred to a gastroenterologist, but there was no discussion regarding my thyroxine levels and post-thyroidectomy, I was not referred to an endocrynologist. After a battery of tests, it was “assumed” that I was suffering from IBS.

    The symptoms persisted and I experienced, over a 10 month period, severe weight loss (bottomed out at 120 lbs… for a person that is 5’9″… 80 pound loss in 10 months!). I sought the help of a homeopath, eliminated gluten from my diet, started taking probiotics and other supplements to try and “cure” my digestive problem. Over this period of time, my doctor offered little more than “compassion” and “how are we feeling today”. There was still no mention of my thyroidectomy and the possible connection,… in fact, I can’t recall having my TSH levels tested at all!

    The next 18 months, with lessened symptoms, I regained some of my weight and some level of normalcy. This respite was shortlived… in 2010, the symptoms appeared with a vengeance. Rapid weight loss which culminated in a severe gall bladder attack, resulting in pancreatitus and the removal of my gall bladder in 2009. Keep in mind… over this entire history, I had yet to be referred to an endocrynologist! I had not yet connected the dots myself and assumed my physician “knew” what he was doing… I relied on his expert advice.

    My husband and I started connecting he dots and (a little too late) started focusing on “what happened just prior to all of the problems I had experienced”, and the culprit was… the thyroidectomy! We started questioning the doctor’s advice (or lack of action), demanded to be referred to an endocrynologist (which took place over video conference) and… nothing! “Everything seems to be fine” was the response from the endocrynologist.

    Since 2010, I have taken a more proactive role in monitoring my TSH levels and have even recommended to my doctor when changes to my meds are needed. My problem still persists… I am back to 130 pounds but still have to watch very carefully what I eat and bloating, cramping and intermittent constipation are a way of life for me. Good days and bad days…

    In hindsight, my biggest mistake was relying on my doctor and assuming that he had the answers and was dedicated to helping me restore my health. That faith has been lost. Some might say, “change doctors!”, but in Ontario, Canada, there is a “wait list” to join a clinic… my husband is on that wait list since our doctor requested that he find another doctor… that my husband has “trust issues” with the doctor due to his challenging of our doctor’s handling of my case.

    I am sharing this story with you with the hope that it helps someone in a similar situation make the right choices and take a more proactive role in researching and understanding their case. My recommendation;

    #1. ALWAYS seek a second (or third opinion)
    #2. LISTEN to what your body is telling you
    #3. RESEARCH your case… learn as much as you can about your condition and challenge your caregivers to explain their opinion and recommendations
    #4. MEASURE… If I asked my physician what my weight, blood pressure, TSH levels (indirect measure of thyroxine level), etc… he wouldn’t be able to tell me. They never weighed me, took basic measurements and did not conduct the requisite CBC (blood chemistry, TSH levels, etc) every 6-8 weeks to monitor what is now known to be an “out of control” thyroxine level… something, I am convinced, is the root cause of all of my distress. I now maintain, with the help of my husband, control charts, and walk into the doctor’s office with a better understanding which results in a more in-depth discussion on my treatment plan and options.

    Hindsight being 20/20, I am convinced that my chronic constipation and digestive issues were the result of a thyroxine imbalance that was unmonitored and untreated. This resulted in a distended bowel which I still suffer from today. The two bouts of severe weight loss were the cuase of my gall stones, associated pancreatitus, and ultimate removal of my gall bladder.

    Will I ever be the same?… No. Not when some of the important parts have been removed. Will I ever be able to “restore” my health? I have to believe yes.

    The path ahead will involve good days and bad days, with careful “listening” to what my body is telling me. I will continue to monitor my TSH levels, “help” my body recover from the distended bowel (yes… huge amounts of fibre, raw bran, water, etc are a daily routine). I look forward to some level of normalcy… something that I haven’t known for 7 years now. At 47, “healthy”, non-smoker, I would have hoped for something better at this stage of my life.

    Next step: To challenge my physician to explain why my WBC counts are well below the “normal” range (below bottom end) and have been so for the last 2 years. I am not sure what they were before that since that was before I started “demanding” CBC work be done! My physician has dismissed this observation with the comment, “Margaret, you are a statistics!” and, (I love this response when I started connecting my thyroxine levels to my condition)… “Margaret, we learn about the thyroid in the first year of medical school”.

    My husband once remarked, “I learned about the thyroid in 10 minutes using Google… I wonder what the doctor did for the rest of the scool year?” You will have to forgive my husband’s sarcasm… he was the person who challenged my doctor’s opinion of my case, and he is the person that is no “persona non grata” in my clinic.

    In closing, I hope you find this to be an interesting read, and a bit informative. I am open to any and all suggestions. You are a partner in your health, the doctor is NOT always right, and we are all human… we make mistakes. Be well, be alert and listen to your body!

    Margaret Morgan.

  15. Jenna W September 24, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

    If you are borderline hyper with goiter, can this cause slow digesgtion?

  16. Nikolas Hedberg, D.C., D.A.B.C.I. September 24, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

    There are many possibilities that could cause slow digestion.

  17. marie rogers September 30, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    I feel that I have trouble metabolizing things by the liver, because when I take too much of anything, I see the whites of my eyes not look bright and white as they should be… I am on Levoxyle .50 , is that a good form to use? I don’t like the idea of resorting to an animals hormone…I am on the right dose as my TSH of 1 and 2 area indicates…that is not my concern, I am concerned about my sensitivety to so many things that other people can enjoy, and example Coffee, tea…can’t take too much supplements either, they seem to become toxic or something to me, and also just as soon as I feel I have found a good supplement, it stops working, example flax oil, makes me nauseated, I took it for years but after I entered menopause, I had to stop, it was confusing….certain drugs are like poisen to me, one for example tylenol….I am very proactive and working on writing a book, but my body sure seems to be a hard case.. I have no health problems or take no other medicines, I am 62 and wear a size 4..My sister died of stomach cancer, it was a surprize, she was only 40, this was twenty years ago…it seems our family may be carrying a immune disorder of some type… I have no real stomach problems , no heartburn ever, I have eliminated all wheat from my diet, hoping it will help with my occasional constipation….I know my digestion has changed since I have gotten older but the thyroid doesn’t help that and I know that my body is slower in metabolizing ..I want to know, what can I do to make my health stronger? I sleep good at nite and I know that my adrenals have been effected by stress and I baby myself because of this, sometimes we don’t get over hurt from the past, especially when it seems to have some bits of linguring tidbits that keep the stick there to hit again….but I feel I am doing good there…any advice would be good, the main thing I am concerned about is the senstivity of my body to things that I notice and wonder why? and what can I do to fix a weak liver, I don’t drink never have, but I just started drinking an ounce or two of moscato wine and it seems to help me.. Is it this menopause and bad estrogen that is plagueing me, I use bare minimum rub on estriol-biodentical about three times a week to keep me from shriviling totally up, can’t use but very little progesterone… I have all my female parts, I have tried to take care of myself… Maybe the vitamins I took over the years hurt me, althoough I never overdoses, but now I can’t take, only B2-50 mg three times a week to keep cracks from coming in the corners of my mouth…the other B’s I can’t tolerate….makes me look like I have beat in the face with an ugly stick, my eyes are my windows to my health for me…. thank-you, I will close, I don’t go to doctors much , only to get my thryroid medication sincerely, Marie rogers PO box 890 Pawleys Island, SC

  18. nova, assana October 6, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    I would make one suggestion; if you have so-called IBS, it is not IBS, with colon pain; it is always a parasitic infection; constipation, itching butt, and skin, and even joint pain are part of it; I tested with Metamatrix and they almost always come with “unknown parasite taxanomy” they are completely unhelpful; I would suggest you go and a competant parasitilogist like Dr. Kevin Cahill like in NY or Dr. Martin Wolfe; they will tell you that stool tests are almost always unreliable; why stool tests do not often show parasites… because they are in the mucus, deep in the bowel…
    http://www.ratemds.com/doctor-ratings/42020/Dr-Kevin+M.-Cahill-NEW+YORK-NY.html

  19. Kimberly lauridsen October 13, 2012 at 3:31 am #

    Hi- Thanks for the info- really interesting and helpful- I have been having issues with my thyroid lately- low T3 and T4 but TSH is in the “normal” range but totally not feeling myself and my stomach is soooo not right. I don’t eat much to begin with because I had Gastric bypass 14 years ago, and I exercise moderately, but now that I am close to the big 4-0 I of course would like to keep the scale down but the pounds are creeping up and I have no idea where they are coming from???!!! My trips to the toilet are terrible as well and no where close to being regular, I am also a vegetarian, so I eat pretty healthy so what the heck is happening to me????? Any advice ???? ;0(

  20. Cara October 22, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    I have been taking Synthroid 125 for years with no problems, for Hashimoto’s, altho my TSH always comes back a bit low. I have another autoimmune disorder, and my Dr thought the Synthroid wasn’t converting to T3 and switched me to T3. I started a few weeks ago with 2 5mg 3x/day: about 1/4 of my hair fell out, had sudden anal itching, and continue to have, exactly as you described: “Bloating after meals, gas, cramping, loose stools, constipation, burping, heartburn(?) and inconsistent stool formation.” I lowered it by one, but still having problems. I can’t figure out from your article whether this means I am taking too much or too little T3. Do you know? Thanks!

  21. Nikolas Hedberg, D.C., D.A.B.C.I. October 22, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    Thanks Cara. I can’t give advice on the website. Please contact the office for more details. Take care.

  22. Lorraine October 27, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    I’ve had thryroid problems since I’ve been young, symptoms of Graves and now I have underactive thyroid – Hashimoto’s disease. I also have Fibromyalgia and Sjogren’s syndrome. I would like to know if my stomach problems all these years were related to thyroid. I’ve had gastrointeritis in the past and stomach ulcers. I have an MD that doesn’t act like he wants to get to the bottom of the problems. I’ve been on a quest to get healthier for years. I’ve been successful for a couple of health issues. My liver enzymes are elevated – the ALT and AST. Can that be caused by all of this? My thyroid levels are in normal range — I’m on Levothyroxine. I have many allergies and cannot take many medications. I was thinking that maybe a Naturopathic MD may be in order.

  23. Jennifer November 1, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

    I am hypothyroid and my TSH and free T4 are very low. I’ve had bowel problems here and there and was recently put on two different antibiotics. My doctor thought I had symptoms of lyme disease but I’ve never been bit by a tick before. I’ve had a lot of testing in the past, once test was the citric acid cycle (krebs cycle). My citric acid and ketoglutaric acid is low. Can being hypothyroid distrupt your citric acid cyle? I’ve also been diagnosed with sarcoidosis of the lungs. I’m thinking all my problems came from the gut and it is greatly affecting my thyroid; also my cortisol is very high.

  24. sarah November 24, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    Hi, i have had a full thyroidectomy just over 3 years ago. Have been taking 100-125m of levothyroxine daily. I suffer chronic indigestion/bloating and palpatations. What can i do about this any advice would be great. I have just had my bloods done and they came back normal.

  25. Nikolas Hedberg, D.C., D.A.B.C.I. November 24, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

    Thank you for your comments. I cannot give advice on the internet. Please contact the practice for more information.

  26. Kathy February 3, 2013 at 5:15 am #

    32 year old female with graves , chronic pancreatitis and Undiagnosed liver problem with increased ALT levels of 500 recently been in hosp with bad bowel pain in transverse colon ? My TSH T3 t4 goes to very over active to borderline over active and then normalises ? I have had enough 10 years of pancreas and 3 years of graves and now liver and bowel can there be a connection an also can the thyroid imbalance cause horrid headaches ? Many thanks

  27. brian longhurst February 12, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

    male 68,wonder if i hve thyroid problems as have a number of health issues which may point towards thyroid fault/s.
    depression over thirty years.dry eye syndrome,nose bleeds,tinnitus,restless legs,extreme fatigue,dry mouth,wind both types,sleep problems,had stroke 13 years ago,muscle aches,a lot of crying.could i be correct?

  28. Jenny Wright May 11, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    Your testing looks very comprehensive- any idea where I could get these done in England?

  29. Nikolas Hedberg, D.C., D.A.B.C.I. May 12, 2013 at 9:24 am #

    I am not aware of anywhere in England. Our patients in the UK do the tests we require and ship the kits back to the U.S.

  30. Lisa levine August 21, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    Who can help with this test in Austin tx

  31. Jo August 29, 2013 at 5:58 am #

    Hi I have been newly diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and I currently take 125mcg of thyroxine per day. I suffer from terrible constipation every day, sometimes more than once and it doesn’t matter what I eat or don’t eat.
    My last blood test came back with the TSH within normal range at 4 (normal range 0.27-4.2) but the constipation hasn’t gone away. Is this typical of Hashi’s? Thanks!!

  32. Nikolas Hedberg, D.C., D.A.B.C.I. August 29, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    I prefer a TSH range of .5-2.0.

  33. Kate August 30, 2013 at 4:07 am #

    I wish I had come across this article years ago! Excellent info! I’ve have been going round in circles with my health issues and this article nicely rounds up what I always intuitively thought. After the birth of my baby I came down with terrible stomach pains/ digestive problems, 2 months later was diagnosed with thyroiditis (not postpartum) so they assumed it was viral/ bactetial. They never made any attempt to find out what virus/ infection caused it. Now I’m left with an underactive thyroid and was on T4 for a year only to feel worse and digestive problems became out of control. Switched to T3 which helped with thyroid symptoms and energy but digestive issues persist. I am waiting for my results from Metametrix and pray that I get an idea as to what to do to gain my health. I have a question if you would be so kind: If I address my digestive issues and feel better in that area would it be possible for the thyroid to repair itself? I don’t want to be on any drugs even the small amount of T3 that I am on (20mcg per day in 4 split doses). I am not asking for your medical guidance just your opinion as to whether fixing the gut can actually help the thyroid regenerate and function normally. Many thanks and thumbs up on a great article.

  34. Nikolas Hedberg, D.C., D.A.B.C.I. August 30, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    The gut is extremely important in some cases of thyroid imbalance.

  35. Tre February 7, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    Thank you for writing this. Your wisdom has given me much insight! I had always been told that hypothyroid caused low bowel motility. It really only makes sense to think of it in reverse. I am curious about what your opinion is regarding an opiate addict in recovery for 8+ yrs. During their active phase of addiction they sweat constantly, dealt with bouts of constipation and bloating. They took a very low dose of Suboxone for a few yrs. however, IMMEDIATELY AFTER stopping suboxone her hair starting falling out, chronic constipation set in and the texture of her hair changed dramatically!! She has had TSH w free T3 and T4 blood tests – results showed TSH being 4.98 / T3 and T4 WNL. My question is this: do you think it possible that she was actually dealing with higher than normal thyroid before and now that it may have dropped down to being slightly low that it’s actually very low for her body? I’m trying to understand and help her through all the changes she’s been struggling through. Her hair seems to be the biggest change but obviously her gut is playing a big role in all of this.

  36. Nichole Athens February 8, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

    My husband just started thyroid medicine and he is experiencing acid burning poops what could be causing this?

  37. Nikolas Hedberg, D.C., D.A.B.C.I. February 10, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    The prescribing physician can answer this question for you and your husband.

  38. Sharad Modi March 22, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    It was an excellent piece of work by Nikolas Hedberg. It has already been discovered in India long time ago and is mentioned in Ayurveda- the wellness science of India. Even in Indian vedic astrology, it is the sixth house out of the tweleve houses which explores diseases and it is also the house signifying the Intestines, as each house signifies some body part and each and every body part is connected with these twelve houses. It shows maximum diseases in our body is assciated with intestines..

  39. Robin April 23, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

    Best information I’ve read in a long time, very helpful.

  40. Nikolas Hedberg, D.C., D.A.B.C.I. April 23, 2014 at 6:41 pm #

    Thank you!

  41. Hil Pirrie May 28, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    I am wondering if it would do any harm for me to take a daily supplement of a digestive enzyme containing Betaine, Amylase, Papain and Lipase? I had thyroidectomy 50 years ago so supported on levothyroxine 75 mcg per day, also have low adrenal function in last 5 years and recently feeling some intestinal discomforts. Thanks

  42. Nikolas Hedberg, D.C., D.A.B.C.I. May 28, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    Thank you for the post but I cannot give medical advice on this blog.

  43. sara July 5, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    Do you generally suggest a hormone test for women experiencing digestive problems when all other tests are normal?

  44. Nikolas Hedberg, D.C., D.A.B.C.I. July 5, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    The decision to run hormone tests is done on a case by case basis based on each individual’s unique situation so a general recommendation cannot be made.

  45. melinda hoots July 29, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    I was diagnosed with hypothyroid june of 2013 and when i started taking the meds I started having major episodes anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks of sulfur burps, diarrhea, and nausea that would last for 8 to 12 hours. Its like something was building up in my system and would manifest in my gut and cause my illness. I have talked to many doctors and got no answers. Can you help?

  46. Nikolas Hedberg, D.C., D.A.B.C.I. July 30, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    I would be happy to take a look at your case, just contact my practice manager.

  47. John Valconian November 11, 2014 at 2:17 am #

    There is no need to buying a product, you can just eat some beetroot: have a salad, beets, crushed garlic, Arigula, some olive oil and salt.
    Your stool will be a nice deep red and not grey.

  48. Dr. Nikolas Hedberg November 11, 2014 at 8:49 am #

    Good points John. You can also eat some whole canned corn and observe the kernels when they come out.

  49. brenda November 27, 2014 at 6:20 am #

    Yes my stomach swell like I am 9 month every day
    Goes down at night
    Yes I have thyroid problem

  50. Jenn February 17, 2015 at 10:34 am #

    I have hashimotos and just had a massive blood panel that showed my tsh is really high and not making enough T4, my estrogen is within the “normal” range but on the high end of normal. I do regular applied kinesiology and on supplements to help leaky gut and intestinal inflammation for several weeks (6) but still having lots of anxiety panic attacks and my gut is all over the place, sometimes running to the bathroom and other times feeling like I can’t go (but not constipated). Was wondering if the ongoing panic/anxiety I feel and process of switching from nature throid to levothyroxin (about 2 weeks ago I switched) to help bring down my tsh levels can be contributing to my gut issues. Which worries me and then makes my symptoms worse. My blood counts and other labs all were normal except my creatnine was high at 1.6 because I have polycystic kidneys (hereditary since birth). I’m on & have been on several supplements including probiotics, Glut-Alone-Mine for inflammation in gut and Dim/Chaste tree berry root for hormones

  51. himalaya acharya February 22, 2015 at 9:19 pm #

    sir,I’ve been suffering from digestive problem.continuous gas release from anus for ten years.I don’t feel the gas rrlease.its too stinky.so its hard to socialize myself.I’m a tecnical student and have not been able to involved in job yet
    my tyroid level is normal but t3 is at low borderline
    I got my helth checked by wellknown doctors in nepal but they couldn’t solve my problem.so I’m looking for ur advice

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