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Is Your Thyroid Healthy? 5 Signs of an Underactive Thyroid

Do you know the telltale signs of an underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism?

Is there persistent weight gain, especially around your torso, that you just can’t lose no matter how frugal you are with calories?

The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that sits just below the thyroid cartilage. The thyroid can:

  • Lift your energy.
  • Warm your body.
  • Activate your immune system.


Do you feel like you're always the first to catch a cold? An increased susceptibility to the common cold and flu is one possible sign of an underactive thyroid, but supplementing with high-quality Ancient Earth Minerals may nourish the thyroid and strengthen immunity.

It can also tell the body to slow down. Sometimes, the thyroid slows down so much that it becomes underactive. When this happens, the thyroid gland does not do its job, and the whole body suffers. This is what is known as hypothyroidism.

As our understanding has broadened and hypothyroidism diagnosis has become more common, the detection and treatment are getting a second look by doctors. In 2015, a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health made a critical link between environmental factors and thyroid disorders, associating high water fluoridation in England with 30 percent higher rates of underactive thyroid.1 Without proper treatment, hypothyroidism can affect all areas of life — impairing driving similar to the effects of alcohol, in some cases, and even compromising a child’s intellectual development when a mother has hypothyroidism during pregnancy.2,3

Testing for Hypothyroidism Can Be Tricky

A major issue has erupted in the medical community. Many doctors are now disagreeing over what tests should be done to check thyroid function. Traditionally, TSH, Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone that is released from the pituitary gland in the brain, would be checked along with the two thyroid hormones it produces, T3 and T4.

However, it has become commonplace to only test for TSH, and that is just one part of a very detailed picture. There are many other mechanisms at work in thyroid health.

For example, healthy thyroid activity relies on:

  • Stable levels of other hormones, like estrogen and progesterone. Too much estrogen, such as from the birth control pill, will create too many thyroid-binding proteins.
  • A healthy immune system. Autoimmune hypothyroid can be missed by TSH blood panels.
  • Beneficial bacteria in the gut. Antibiotics wipe out these good microbes, which account for around 20 percent of the conversion of T4 into usable T3.4
  • An uncongested and healthy liver. The liver converts over half of T4 from the thyroid into usable T3.
  • Good adrenal function. Adrenal fatigue can slow down the function of the pituitary and hypothalamus in the brain. These three glands are a part of what is called the HPA axis (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis). An alert and healthy pituitary is essential for good thyroid function.

Clearly, with so many pathways available for the production and conversion of thyroid hormones, there are a lot of opportunities for something to go wrong.

Many people are diagnosed with this condition and given thyroid medication. Sometimes, this medication will show improvements in lab analysis as hormone levels fall into normal range. But many people still have symptoms.

Researchers have been pushing for new treatment options for hypothyroidism for this very reason: The standard treatment of taking thyroid hormones may not relieve all symptoms for up to 15 percent of patients. Based on the results of 2015 studies published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI) and the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM), researchers urged doctors to treat the condition with personalized medicine because “hypothyroid patients are not all the same.” 5,6 A treatment that works well for one patient may not work for another.

What Are the Signs of an Underactive Thyroid?

Doctors are now investigating why thyroid tests may appear normal, but the thyroid itself may still be dysfunctional.

Seeing a pattern will help you determine if your thyroid medication is properly treating an underactive thyroid, or if more diagnosis is necessary:

1.    Edema is the abnormal accumulation of fluid beneath the skin. The edema that occurs in hypothyroidism is the “non-pitting” form of edema.

  • “Non-pitting” means: You press your finger into the flesh, and it bounces right back and leaves no mark.
  • This is called myxedema, which is specifically associated with low levels of thyroid hormones.
  • Myxedema is swelling of the arms, legs, and face.
  • The bounce-back is due to springy molecules called GAGs (glycosaminoglycans).
  • GAGs are an important element in connective tissue.
  • In myxedema, they also accumulate beneath the skin with extracellular fluid.

2.    Is there persistent weight gain, especially around your torso, that you just can’t lose no matter how frugal you are with calories?

Dr. Roby Mitchell tells us that thyroid hormones help insulin move glucose from blood into the cells. “When thyroid levels are low, more insulin is needed to maintain normal glucose. More insulin means more fat cell hyperplasia, which shows up as increased fat deposition.”7

The adrenals lose strength when the thyroid is underactive, which also slows down metabolism.

3.    Cold hands and cold feet may mean lack of blood flow.

Low thyroid activity can be associated with too much homocysteine — an amino acid associated with heart disease, poor blood flow, and stiff vasculature. This is because the essential nutrients carried in the blood do not reach the extremities as frequently. Lack of blood flow to the extremities, like your hands and feet, can also show up as chronic fungal infections.

4.    Nagging infections could indicate an underactive thyroid.

Dr. Mitchell points out that because beta-carotene depends on thyroid hormones in order to convert into vitamin A, beta-carotene can build up in the body and cause yellow skin, especially in the hands. The official name for this is called carotoderma. Vitamin A plays an important role in immune system health. What happens when the body cannot convert beta-carotene into vitamin A? The body may become more susceptible to infections, or it simply may not have the strength to kick a bug.

5.    Excessive hair loss, painful joints, and other signs of dryness.

The springy molecules mentioned earlier, GAGs, give connective tissue its supportive quality — like collagen and bone. Dr. Mitchell tells us that these molecules are "water magnets." Without GAGs inside cells, cells cannot retain water. This goes back to the crystalline structure that GAGs give to connective tissue like collagen and bone.

What do dry, leaky cells look like to us?

  • Wrinkled skin
  • Lusterless hair
  • Brittle nails
  • Painful joints associated with osteoarthritis

Iodine — Make Sure It’s Right for You

Because there are so many pathways to an underactive thyroid, including autoimmune hypothyroid, be careful when supplementing with iodine. Iodine, while central to the production of thyroid hormones T3 and T4, can actually make some hypothyroid conditions worse. This is because iodine speeds up the production of a thyroid enzyme.

If the body has developed autoimmunity to this enzyme, which happens in the case of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, then this will increase the inflammatory cascade:8

  • Iodine is not a cure-all.
  • Diagnosis, knowing the mechanism responsible for an underactive thyroid, is paramount.

Using iodine to address a thyroid condition does not take into account autoimmune hypothyroid. It also does not address diet or lifestyle, which can make a tremendous impact on thyroid hormone levels.

This is why we recommend working with a qualified healthcare practitioner, while at the same time:

A 2013 study conducted in eight major cities and published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism confirmed that almost one-third of hypothyroid patients were not aware that they had the condition until they were diagnosed for the first time.9 Paying attention to pressing health symptoms that could point to a thyroid disorder — and strengthening the gut to regulate thyroid function — has never been more important.

A healthy thyroid is reliant on a healthy gut, and common digestive disorders like diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, and leaky gut can be a hindrance to optimal thyroid health. As complex as it seems, hypothyroidism may be quite simple. Many times, an underactive thyroid is your body’s way of telling you that your gut needs help.

What To Remember Most About This Article:

The thyroid gland plays an important role in:

  • Warming the body.
  • Giving the body energy.
  • Pumping up the body’s immune system.

There are five clues that may indicate your thyroid is underactive:

  1. A special kind of edema (swelling) called myxedema.
  2. Abdominal weight gain.
  3. Cold hands and feet.
  4. Persistent infections or catching colds easily.
  5. Hair loss, dry skin, brittle nails, and achy joints.

If your thyroid is crying out for help, the answer may be found within your gut. Good thyroid health depends on good gut health, and you can begin on your gut-healing journey by following the Body Ecology Diet and by strengthening the gut lining with Vitality SuperGreen. From there, populate the gut with good bacteria found in fermented foods and drinks like InnergyBiotic — beneficial gut bacteria are responsible for converting 20 percent of thyroid hormone into its usable form. And last but not least, give the thyroid and the immune system extra support each day with a dose of nourishing, alkalizing liquid minerals.


  1. S Peckham, D Lowery, S Spencer. Are fluoride levels in drinking water associated with hypothyroidism prevalence in England? A large observational study of GP practice data and fluoride levels in drinking water. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, February 2015 DOI: 10.1136/jech-2014-204971.
  2. Endocrine Society. "Hypothyroidism may lead to impaired driving." ScienceDaily.
  3. Alex Stagnaro-Green, Marcos Abalovich, Erik Alexander, Fereidoun Azizi, Jorge Mestman, Roberto Negro, Angelita Nixon, Elizabeth N. Pearce, Offie P. Soldin, Scott Sullivan, Wilmar Wiersinga. Guidelines of the American Thyroid Association for the Diagnosis and Management of Thyroid Disease During Pregnancy and Postpartum. Thyroid, 2011; 110725061557002 DOI: 10.1089/thy.2011.0087.
  4. de Herder, WW, et al. On the enterohepatic cycle of triiodothyronine in rats; importance of the intestinal microflora. Life Sci. 1989; 45 (9): 849 – 56.
  5. Joao Pedro Werneck de Castro, Tatiana L. Fonseca, Cintia B. Ueta, Elizabeth A. McAninch, Sherine Abdalla, Gabor Wittmann, Ronald M. Lechan, Balazs Gereben, Antonio C. Bianco. Differences in hypothalamic type 2 deiodinase ubiquitination explain localized sensitivity to thyroxine. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2015; DOI: 10.1172/JCI77588.
  6. Elizabeth A. McAninch, Sungro Jo, Nailliw Z. Preite, Erzsébet Farkas, Petra Mohácsik, Csaba Fekete, Péter Egri, Balázs Gereben, Yan Li, Youping Deng, Mary Elizabeth Patti, Chantal Zevenbergen, Robin P. Peeters, Deborah C. Mash, Antonio C. Bianco. Prevalent Polymorphism in Thyroid Hormone-Activating Enzyme Leaves a Genetic Fingerprint that Underlies Associated Clinical Syndromes. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2015; jc.2014-4092 DOI: 10.1210/jc.2014-4092.
  7. Mitchell, Roby. The Clinical Picture of Hypothyroidism. Holistic Primary Care: News for Health and Healing. 2008, Fall; Vol. 9 (3).
  8. Camargo RY, Tomimoria Ek, Neves Sc, et al. Thyroid and the environment: exposure to excessive nutritional iodine increases the prevalence of thyroid disorders in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Eur J Endocrinol. 2008 Sep;159(3):293-9.
  9. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Jul-Aug; 17(4): 647–652.

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  • How to Remember What Your Thyroid Does For You

    […] an underactive thyroid can cause decreased energy, and cold hands and feet. Low thyroid activity is associated with elevated homocysteine, an amino acid associated with poor blood circulation, and an increased risk of […]

  • Patricia Jasmin

    I used to suffer from hypothyroidism for about 10 years so I have tried every treatment & supplement there is. Unfortunately nothing had any positive effect at all on me but after countless online research & trial/error I was actually able to completely cure my hypothyroidism. Here is what worked for me:

    1. Take thyroid hormone supplements. I would suggest speaking to your doctor about which ones exactly as they vary in countries but they offer great initial help.

    2. Follow every step in the free video & guide seen at the following link:

    curehealthproblem*com/hypothyroidism (obviously change the * for a dot as it won’t let me post links here). This will tackle hypothyroidism in a natural way. This is very important.

    3. Take up one of the following: tai chi, yoga or meditation. Not only will it show benefit through exercise but it will improve mental state.

    Try those two steps and hopefully you will get as much luck with getting rid of hypothyroidism as i did. Another final tip is to up the protein in your diet. Just remember it does not have to be a permanent problem, medications may slightly ease symptoms occasionally but you really need to tackle the root cause. Good luck!

  • Balbir Kour Raina

    I am fifty five years old and was diagonised with thyroid but I realized that that after taking medicine thyronorm50mc I feel very drained out and very blottened up.I stopped taking medicine and now I feel better and very lively but my tsh level is 6.00.what should I do

  • vicky

    Hi i have been having all these symptoms for a while they recomended to have my thyroid checked, im always tired and never in the mood of doing anything, also my feet are always cold and my hands get cold at times as well, will it be ok if i start taking thyroid 5 suplement before i get my thyroid checked?

  • Jessica

    I recommend being tested by a Functional Medicine Dr. I have Hashimoto's hypothyroid which is an autoimmune hypo. my TSH was normal. You have to get more tested then reg Doc test for. Check out the book "Why do I still have hypothyroid symptoms when my tests are normal" good resource and they have a list of what tests to ask for.

  • Tracey M

    I'm not dumping spam on here, but I do want to share some Facebook friends who have been a tremendous ACTIVE support community for me as a hypo patient! "Thyroid Sexy" is a great support network with TONS of information and just a great place to commiserate.
    Thank you for this webpage...I learned even MORE about my disease, and I read on it a *LOT*!

  • http://bodyecology trisha

    I have tested for under active thyroid , but it showed to be normal should i get a second opinion ? "I have all the symptoms"

  • Cherry

    I was diagnosed as having underactive thyroid, still yet to be treated by the doctor who i am sure would put me on medication that can lead to heart disease, etd.

    I am looking at alternatives, eg. herbal, and the right foods. however various sites on the net have conflicting information, i am not sure what to eat.

    one site said wheat is bad, the other said whole wheat bread is good,
    beans is bad the other said legumes is good

    millet and rye is bad, the other said they are good

    can anyone advise?


  • SarahB

    Another thing that can cause the cartoderma mentioned above, is a zinc deficiency. I suspect zinc deficiency can also be a problem behind thyroid probalems as well as zinc is the co-factor for over 500 enzymes in the body. I had a client whose skin was orange from beta-carotene but she wasn't eating much of it. In her case, she needed zinc.

  • Mel


    You will never, ever, ever, feel right with Synthroid only. You need to have your FREE T3 and FREE T4 tested, along with your Reverse T3. The word "free" is important. Definitely get on Armour. For lots more info, google Stop the Thyroid Madness.

  • P. Charles

    I read Pat's comment. I do have hypothyroidism. But I still have my thyroids, I am also being treated with T-3,T-4, Compond. My problem is I sense my hormones are completely out of wack. Because I still have lots of hotflash, I am loosing weight and the Drs are not sure why, I also have these spells when the sole of my feet gets real cold,also my hands even though the other parts of my body is warm. I am not sure what to do. It's dind of scary.

  • Pat Jackson

    My thyroid has been surgicaly removed and I have been taking Synthroid 175 mcg for some time How is the best way yo have this checked? I also understand that the Armour thyroid is better?

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