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Hypothyroidism Symptom- Constipation


If constipation is a hypothyroidism symptom, it won't be effectively treated with standard methods such as increased fiber or essential fatty acids.


Constipation as Hypothyroidism Symptom

Todd Luger, LAc

Constipation is an often overlooked hypothyroidism symptom. Most people are familiar with the more common symptoms and signs of primary hypothyroidism, which may be quite subtle and insidious in onset. The main ones are fatigue and cold intolerance, which may be prominent. In addition, the facial expression is dull; the voice is hoarse and speech is slow; facial puffiness, especially around the eyes; ; eyelids droop; hair is sparse, coarse, and dry; and the skin is coarse, dry, scaly, and thick. Weight gain is only modest. Patients are forgetful. Patients generally note constipation, which may be severe. Numbness of the hands and feet are common,. Women with hypothyroidism often develop menorrhagia or heavy menstrual bleeding.

If constipation is a hypothyroidism symptom, it won't be effectively treated with standard methods such as increased fiber or essential fatty acids. While stimulant laxatives such as exlax (drug) or senecot (herbal) will still be helpful in these cases, they do not solve the problem. In fact, either herbs or drugs of this nature may do further harm to the hypothyroid system according to Chinese Medicine. There is a remarkable similarity between certain traditional chinese medical diagnoses and that of hypothyroidism. The chinese diagnosis of kidney and spleen qi and yang vacuity typically includes symptoms of coldness, fatigue, fluid retention, weak voice. This condition is thought to often be a precursor to diagnosis of liver and heart blood vacuity. This results in symptoms like numbness, dryness and forgetfulness, as well as anemia, which is also a common hypothyroidism symptom.

When one is diagnosed with spleen and kidney yang vacuity and blood vacuity in Chinese medicine, it is typically advised that one avoid excessive use of stimulant laxatives as they were thought to further weaken the qi and yang of the body. As is obvious from the comparison above, the qi and yang in Chinese medicine have many of the same connotations as the metabolism and temperature regulation in western medicine. The chinese texts specifically give the example of senna, the source of the stimulant in the natural Senecot laxative mentioned above. So if fiber and essential fatty acids do not help with this hypothyroid symptom and further, stimulant laxatives may do long term harm, then one is literally in a bind.

Normally I would not give specific medical advice, but the traditional chinese remedy for spleen qi vacuity constipation is gentle and can be tried by laypeople. It may not only help with this hypothyroidism symptom, but it may have the side effect of improving one's general health. The chief herb is called astragalus, which is known for its benefits to the immune system. In traditional chinese medicine, it is hailed for its use in conditions as diverse as fatigue and menorrhagia, both coincidentally hypothyroidism symptoms. In addition to Astragalus (5 grams of dried root), the complete remedy also includes 2 teaspoons each honey and hemp or flax seed oil, plus dried chinese citrus peel (chen pi - 2 grams). Cover with 16 ounces of water and simmer for 30 minutes until reduced by half. Strain and drink in one dose soon after dinner. You'll need to get the herbs from an herb shop or on the internet. They are widely available. The oils should be available in a healthfood store. If it doesn't help in a week or seems to cause any undesirable effects, discontinue the treatment. Otherwise, it is safe to use for up to three months.

Todd Luger, Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist, has 14 years of clinical experience in Chinese Medicine, focused on chronic pain and illness, has been a professor of Herbology and Clinical Medicine at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine since 2000, and is director of the Chinese Herb Academy. You can read more of his articles on, at the Chinese Herb Academy, or on his Health Weblog.


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