Hashimoto’s and Constipation

In today’s video, Martin Rutherford discusses the relationship between Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and constipation. Hashimoto’s is considered to be one of the top causes of constipation, right after chronic stress. Rutherford explains that Hashimoto’s affects the physiology of the brain stem, altering its ability to dampen stress responses and increasing stress levels. This can interfere with the relaxation response, making it difficult for the muscles in the gut to perform peristalsis and move feces through the intestines. Additionally, Hashimoto’s can slow down various digestive organs, affecting digestion and leading to constipation. Stay tuned for more interesting aspects of Hashimoto’s in tomorrow’s video!

Note: This video content is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider for any medical concerns.

Hashimotos and Constipation

Hashimoto’s and Constipation

Hashimoto’s and constipation are closely related, with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis being one of the primary causes of constipation. While chronic stress is considered the number one cause of constipation, Hashimoto’s affects the physiology of the brain stem, leading to altered stress responses and interference with relaxation responses, known as parasympathetic responses. This can result in the shutdown of the vagus nerve, which plays a role in relaxation, and affects the enteric nervous system in the gut, causing the muscles in the gut to become tight and hinder the movement of feces. Additionally, Hashimoto’s slows down various digestive organs, making it difficult to digest food properly and pass stools efficiently.

Mechanism of Hashimoto’s and Constipation

Effect of Hashimoto’s on Brain Function

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis influences brain function by altering the physiology of the brain stem. The brain stem plays a crucial role in regulating stress responses and relaxation responses. In individuals with Hashimoto’s, the brain stem’s ability to dampen stress responses is compromised, resulting in increased stress responses. This disturbance in stress and relaxation chemistry can affect the ability of the body to relax, including the relaxation response of the digestive system.

Altered Physiology of the Brain Stem

The alteration in the physiology of the brain stem in Hashimoto’s leads to an interference with the parasympathetic responses, which are responsible for relaxation. When in a stress response, the relaxation response is usually suppressed, as the body is preparing for fight or flight. Hashimoto’s disrupts the parasympathetic relaxation response, making it difficult for the body to achieve a relaxed state, which can contribute to constipation.

Dampening of Stress Responses

Individuals with Hashimoto’s may experience a dampening of stress responses, causing an imbalance between stress and relaxation. As stress responses overwhelm relaxation responses, constipation can occur. It is essential to find ways to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation to alleviate the symptoms of constipation associated with Hashimoto’s.

Interference with Parasympathetic Responses

The vagus nerve is a vital component of the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for promoting relaxation and digestion. Hashimoto’s can interfere with the vagus nerve’s function, leading to a disruption in parasympathetic responses. This disturbance can affect the enteric nervous system in the gut, which plays a role in digestion and the movement of feces. When the relaxation response is hindered, the muscles in the gut tighten, making it challenging for the body to pass stools effectively.

Effects of Hashimoto’s on the Digestive System

The Role of the Vagus Nerve

The vagus nerve plays a crucial role in regulating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for promoting relaxation and digestion. In individuals with Hashimoto’s, the vagus nerve can be compromised, resulting in a disruption of the relaxation response. This can contribute to constipation by impairing the movement of feces through the intestines.

Impact on the Enteric Nervous System

The enteric nervous system, often referred to as the “second brain,” is located in the muscular lining of the gut. This system controls the movement of the digestive tract and plays a role in peristalsis, the process by which food and waste are propelled through the intestines. When Hashimoto’s interferes with the relaxation response, the muscles in the gut can become tight, impairing the movement of feces and contributing to constipation.

Muscular Lining of the Gut

The disruption of the relaxation response in Hashimoto’s can affect the muscular lining of the gut, leading to decreased functionality. When the muscles become tight, they are less able to contract and propel feces through the intestines, resulting in constipation.

Function of the Migrating Motor System

The migrating motor system is a component of the nervous system that helps move feces through the intestines to the toilet. In individuals with Hashimoto’s, this system can be slowed down or paralyzed, further contributing to constipation.

Slowing Down of Digestive Organs

Hashimoto’s causes a slowdown of various digestive organs, including the gallbladder, pancreas, and stomach. These organs play essential roles in the digestion process. When their functionality is impaired, the digestion of food is hindered, and constipation can occur.

Indirect Effects of Hashimoto’s on Constipation

Digestive Chain and Food Breakdown

Hashimoto’s can indirectly affect constipation by interfering with the entire digestive chain. When the digestion process is disrupted due to impaired functionality of digestive organs, the breakdown of food is compromised. This can lead to difficulties in moving stools through the intestines and contribute to constipation.

Impaired Digestion of Fats and Starches

The impaired functionality of digestive organs caused by Hashimoto’s can affect the digestion of fats and starches. When these nutrients are not properly broken down, it can result in difficulty in passing stools and contribute to constipation.

Difficulty in Moving Bolus through Intestines

Due to the indirect effects of Hashimoto’s on the digestive system, individuals may face challenges in moving the bolus, a mass of food, through the intestines. The impaired functionality of the enteric nervous system and slowed peristalsis can hinder the movement of feces and lead to constipation.

Hashimotos and Constipation

Symptoms and Complications of Hashimoto’s and Constipation

Constipation is a common symptom experienced by individuals with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. However, it is important to note that constipation alone is not a definitive indicator of Hashimoto’s, but it can serve as a red flag. Other symptoms and complications associated with Hashimoto’s and constipation include:

Weight Gain

One of the possible effects of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is weight gain. This can occur due to the overall slowing down of the body’s processes, including digestion and metabolism. Weight gain can contribute to constipation as it affects the movement of feces through the intestines.

Hair Loss

Thinning hair or hair loss can be a symptom of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The disruption of thyroid function can lead to changes in hair growth cycles and result in hair loss. While hair loss itself may not directly cause constipation, it can be an accompanying symptom of Hashimoto’s.


Fatigue is a common symptom experienced by individuals with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The slowed metabolic processes and disrupted thyroid function can contribute to feelings of tiredness and low energy levels. Fatigue can indirectly impact constipation by affecting overall body functioning.


Edema, or swelling, can occur in individuals with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The condition can lead to fluid retention, causing swelling in various parts of the body. While edema is not directly related to constipation, it can be a complication that individuals with Hashimoto’s may experience alongside constipation.

Skin Problems

Skin problems, such as dryness and itchiness, can be associated with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The condition affects the body’s overall metabolism and hormonal balance, leading to changes in the skin’s appearance and texture. While skin problems do not directly cause constipation, they can be additional symptoms experienced by individuals with Hashimoto’s.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Hashimoto’s and Constipation

Diagnosing Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Diagnosing Hashimoto’s thyroiditis involves a combination of medical history review, physical examination, and laboratory tests. Blood tests, such as thyroid function tests, can help determine the levels of thyroid hormones and antibodies present in the body. A diagnosis of Hashimoto’s can be confirmed if the levels of these markers indicate an autoimmune response against the thyroid gland.

Addressing the Underlying Autoimmune Condition

As Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition, treatment primarily focuses on managing the underlying autoimmune response. This may involve the use of medications, such as thyroid hormone replacement therapy, to restore thyroid hormone levels. Additionally, addressing specific nutritional deficiencies and supporting overall immune system health can be beneficial in managing Hashimoto’s and its associated symptoms, including constipation.

Managing Constipation Symptoms

Managing constipation symptoms in individuals with Hashimoto’s may involve various approaches. Increasing fiber intake through dietary changes can help promote regular bowel movements. Adequate hydration and regular exercise can also contribute to healthy bowel habits. In some cases, supplementation and medications may be recommended to address constipation symptoms.

Dietary Changes and Fiber Intake

Including fiber-rich foods in the diet, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, can help regulate bowel movements and alleviate constipation. It is important to gradually increase fiber intake and ensure adequate fluid intake to prevent further complications.

Hydration and Exercise

Staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining regular bowel habits. Drinking enough water throughout the day can help soften stools and ease their passage. Regular exercise, such as walking or other forms of physical activity, can stimulate the digestive system and promote regular bowel movements.

Supplementation and Medications

In some cases, individuals with Hashimoto’s and constipation may benefit from supplementation or over-the-counter medications. Fiber supplements, stool softeners, and laxatives can be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional to manage constipation symptoms effectively.

Hashimotos and Constipation

Lifestyle Recommendations for Managing Hashimoto’s and Constipation

Stress Management Techniques

Given the impact of stress on Hashimoto’s and constipation, incorporating stress management techniques into daily life can be beneficial. Relaxation practices such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or engaging in hobbies can help reduce stress levels and promote a sense of calmness.

Regular Bowel Habits

Establishing and maintaining regular bowel habits can help manage constipation symptoms. Setting aside dedicated time each day for bowel movements can train the body to follow a consistent pattern. It is important to prioritize this time and avoid rushing the process.

Supportive Sleep Routine

Maintaining a healthy sleep routine is essential for overall well-being and can indirectly affect constipation. Getting enough quality sleep can help regulate hormone levels and support healthy digestion. Establishing a regular sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and ensuring a comfortable sleep environment can contribute to quality sleep.

Balanced Diet and Nutrition

A balanced diet is crucial for managing Hashimoto’s and constipation. Consuming nutrient-dense foods and avoiding triggers and food sensitivities can help reduce inflammation and support overall digestive health. Working with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can provide personalized guidance on dietary choices.

Regular Monitoring and Follow-up

Regular monitoring of thyroid function, hormone levels, and digestive health is important for individuals with Hashimoto’s and constipation. Routine check-ups and follow-up appointments with healthcare professionals can ensure that the management plan is effective and make adjustments as needed.

Prevention and Prevention of Hashimoto’s and Constipation

Maintaining a Healthy Thyroid Function

While it may not always be possible to prevent Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help support thyroid function. This includes consuming a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, managing stress levels, and getting adequate sleep. Taking steps to support overall thyroid health can potentially reduce the risk of developing Hashimoto’s.

Reducing Stress Levels

Chronic stress has been identified as a major contributor to constipation. Implementing stress management techniques, such as relaxation exercises, mindfulness practices, and engaging in activities that bring joy, can help reduce stress levels and mitigate the risk of constipation.

Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle

Leading a healthy lifestyle can contribute to overall well-being and potentially reduce the risk of constipation. This includes maintaining a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, managing stress levels, getting enough sleep, and avoiding smoking or excessive alcohol consumption.

Avoiding Triggers and Food Sensitivities

Identifying and avoiding triggers and food sensitivities can help manage Hashimoto’s and potentially reduce the risk of constipation. Keeping a food diary and working with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can help identify specific triggers and create a personalized dietary plan.

Research and Studies on Hashimoto’s and Constipation

Current Understanding of the Connection

While the link between Hashimoto’s and constipation is well-established, ongoing research continues to explore the exact mechanisms and interactions involved. Studies have focused on understanding how Hashimoto’s affects gut motility, muscle function, and neurotransmitter activity related to constipation. The relationship between Hashimoto’s and constipation is complex, and further research is needed to enhance our understanding of the connection.

Evidence-based Treatments and Interventions

Evidence-based treatments and interventions for constipation in individuals with Hashimoto’s include a multifaceted approach involving dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, and, in some cases, medication or supplementation. Integrating these interventions based on individual needs, under the guidance of healthcare professionals, can help effectively manage constipation symptoms associated with Hashimoto’s.

Clinical Trials and Future Directions

Some clinical trials and ongoing research focus on exploring innovative treatment options and potential therapeutic targets for individuals with Hashimoto’s and related symptoms, including constipation. These trials aim to expand our understanding of the condition and explore new avenues for intervention. Individuals interested in participating in clinical trials should consult with their healthcare provider and stay informed about ongoing research in the field.


In conclusion, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and constipation are closely linked, with Hashimoto’s being one of the primary causes of constipation. The alteration of brain function, interference with the enteric nervous system, and impairment of digestive organs all contribute to constipation in individuals with Hashimoto’s. Recognizing the symptoms of Hashimoto’s and constipation is important in seeking medical advice and management. Additionally, adopting a healthy lifestyle, addressing underlying autoimmune conditions, and following guidance from healthcare professionals can help manage the symptoms of Hashimoto’s and alleviate constipation. Seeking medical advice and regular monitoring are crucial for individuals with Hashimoto’s and constipation to ensure comprehensive care and treatment.

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