Sluggish Thyroid: A whole book could be written on the “sluggish thyroid” and many have. We are just going to touch on some of the basic facts of the thyroid. When I’m talking about sluggish thyroid’ I am talking about hypothyroid. You are diagnosed with hypothyroid when your TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) is above 5.5. Once you are diagnosed with hypothyroid the standard course of treatment would be to prescribe thyroid medication like Synthroid, Levoxyl, Armor, etc.
The thyroid is located in the front of the throat and is a butterfly shape. Its main function is metabolism. The thyroid regulates the rate at which the body burns food and controls the production of certain body tissues such as nails and hair. The thyroid gland also regulates body temperature, breakdown of carbohydrates, mental clarity and well-being, energy levels and even vitamin absorption, cholesterol levels, hair texture, nail strength, softness or dryness of the skin, and sex drive are all greatly influenced by the thyroid. Metabolism refers to the rate or speed at which the body breaks down food and changes it into living tissue and energy. Metabolism is also defined as the release of energy left, (burning of fat) from the cells. The first major consequence of a sluggish thyroid is a slow metabolism. Everything gets slower, brain processes can be suppressed triggering what appears to be depression, lethargy, and a general apathetic feeling. A loss of libido (sex drive) can occur with a sluggish thyroid as well as a complete loss of the menstrual cycle. Another condition that may manifest is a feeling of being tired all the time, despite sleeping for long hours. This could get diagnosed as chronic fatigue. The thyroid also controls the oil glands and blood flow to the skin. A sluggish thyroid can mean dry skin and dry brittle hair. With a thyroid problem, a person could attempt to curl their hair and not be able to maintain the curl. They might even lose the outer one-third of their eyebrows. Since the thyroid gland controls metabolism, in a non-optimal state it begins to drive body temperatures to well below normal, causing cold feet and cold hands. Sufferers will start to wear extra clothing, even in moderate climates. Some people will have to wear socks to bed. I had one patient tell me her feet were so cold she had to wear socks and slippers to bed. As everything starts to get slower, the body will demand quick energy like a carbohydrate craving. The most common craving that I have observed in my clinic with thyroid types is starches. Vegetable starches such as potatoes, yams, corn, french fries, and hash browns are easily converted to fat, and some of the sweeter fruits have a negative effect on insulin. The carbohydrates that I’m mainly talking about are the refined ones, for example: bread, pasta, cereals, crackers, pancake, waffles, doughnuts, cakes, muffins, rice cakes, cookies, candy, chocolate, juice, alcohol, wine, beer, and ice cream are all refined carbohydrates. The thyroid body type will crave these.
The body shape resulting from a sluggish thyroid is an overall fat distribution. You will gain weight evenly distributed throughout your body and you will have a great deal of waste like fluid weight that contributes to the appearance of having an overall excessive weight problem. This condition is called myxedema and is a result of a thyroid that is not working to full capacity. Some additional symptoms that may be experienced with a sluggish thyroid are weakness, fatigue, poor or/low appetite, high cholesterol, brittle nails with vertical ridges, hair stiff and dry, hair loss or thinning hair, dry skin, puffiness around the eyes, sagging eyelids, difficulty making decisions, thickening of the tongue, and the voice gets deeper and rougher in sound.