Thyroid UK
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Raynaud's and constipation after eating healthy food? :O

I get terrible Raynaud's that affects my hands and feet and although I know it's possibly related to my Hashimoto's I've been doing *all sorts* to help it.

I've done the following:

* Wear extra-thick gloves

* Wear thermal socks - only works when I'm indoors as the socks are too thick (and colourful!) for me to wear under my boots if I want to go out.

* Wear 2 pairs of socks

* Warm my hands and feet up before going outside

* Avoid the cold weather altogether

* Massage my feet or get my other half to do it

* Cut down on the caffeine - I don't drink a lot of coffee but I've cut my tea down to 3 a day.

* Invested in heat-activating pads that stick to the feet/hands before going outside - this has been the most effective but work better when I'm outside due to the temperature change.

Well, the last few days have been terrible and the cold weather hasn't helped at all. I know instantly when my Raynaud's flares up because my fingers tingle, go stiff and then go white. This can even happen in the freezer section in the supermarket or me wearing flats with no socks in the middle of August when it's sunny with a cool breeze! Honestly, my condition is so temperamental! And if my toes are the first to suffer my fingers are fine. When my fingers are the first to go my toes follow suit. Annoying! :( Because of how cold, numb, tingly and stiff they get it lowers my mood and I can't concentrate or focus because of the pain.

Also, I like to have *really* hot showers. Boyfriend hates them and we never take them together as he likes his water what I would call "tepid" and I like mine piping hot. I just have a big preference for heat, I guess. Anyway, the times when I've had my shower lately my toes go numb and red whenever the hot water goes on them. When I then step out of the shower to get dried they then turn purple before going back to red again. This worried me as I started to think I was bleeding under the skin, but when the purple colour went away I figured that it could be nerve damage?

They also itch in bed and when I feel them begin to tingle and go numb I massage them to get the circulation going again and they go a bit cold before the tingling goes away again. This sounds so odd as I write this but I don't know what's going on, especially since they now itch! I'm currently wearing the adhesive heat-activating pads on my feet as for one thing they stay warm for up to 8 hours and secondly it saves money on the water/electricity bill as I would usually use the hot water bottle for this!

Something that happened to me lately as well, is that I ate a really healthy meal - I don't usually eat very healthily and the last time I did eat a lot of meat and veg was Christmas Day when I had a very large Christmas dinner! I ate it all but again, I gained no weight unfortunately. Well, this meal in particular, consisted of beef, peas and potatoes. Within half an hour I was on the toilet, straining to go. It wasn't as though I didn't have any fluids during the meal as I had a tropical fruit juice drink, so I couldn't understand why all of a sudden I get issues with my stomach after eating so healthily. Could it be that my digestive system was in so much shock of accepting all this healthy stuff that it didn't know what to do with it?

I am low on Vitamin D and iron - I'm currently taking supplements to help with this.

Thanks for any help.

Jo xxx

15 Replies

Wearing a hat helps the extremeties stay warm. Keeping a hot water bottle on your 'core' (belly/ribs) does too. Not a glamorous condition is it?

It was the largeness of your Christmas meal which overloaded your system not the healthiness of it. It takes approx 2 hours to empty the stomach and a lot longer to process before evacuating.

I was advised to eat frequent, small, healthy meals to increase weight.


Hi Clutter. I recently bought a lovely thick hat but stopped wearing it as I would get too warm with a lot of thermal/thick clothes on me. I'll start wearing it again, so thanks for the tip. :)

Can the Christmas meal really have taken that long to evacuate? 4 days? :o My boyfriend had the same size meal and he was fine!

I'm wondering how many frequent, small, healthy meals I should eat a day to gain weight. I snack throughout on most days, which I thought would help, but hasn't. Out of curiosity, was it your GP who advised you on the above? Just wondering.


Jo xxx


'Twas the endo, surgeon, oncologist & nurse :) Everyone of 'em as slim as a stick apart from the oncologist. She also recommended Complan bleurgh!

Try snacking on nuts & dried fruit, but bear in mind snacking inbetween meals will

fill you up.

I often have soup instead of tea as a warming, nutritious drink.


You're meal consisted of protein, starch and starch?. What do you normally eat? What did you eat for the previous three days, and when?. What liquids are you drinking?

It takes many hours to digest a meal, so your constipation is related to food eaten previous day or two


Hi Issy, I find it hard to eat some things because the goitre I have gives me trouble swallowing and the food's transit down my oesophagus is very slow.

I normally eat:

Tomato soup

Bread (sometimes)


Potatoes (roast, baked, mashed, fried)

Fruit juice


Cauliflower (cooked)

Sprouts (cooked)


Pasta (sometimes, not always)

Fish (sometimes)


White rice



I normally drink:

Fruit smoothies (ones that say they contain 2 of my 5 a day)

Diet Coke

Tea (3 cups a day, used to be 5 but I cut down on this 4 months ago)

Water (I used to drink a lot of it to help with digestion but even when I was a month or so in I still had these issues)

Fruit juice.

Thanks for your help.

Jo xxx


Hi Jo,

I have what is probably a milder version of Raynauds because I have terrible trouble keeping my hands and feet warm, and they behave as you describe, with hot water causing them to go painful and purple. My toes are worse. I wear merino wool socks!

I don't think it's good when they go purple, and this is something to be avoided. I think it's like chilblains, where the tiny blood vessels become inflamed. It can be quite painful for me, and the pain can last a while. You may have to tone down the heat in your shower. I compromise by taking fairly hot baths but keeping my toes out of the water.

There have been times when I have been able to keep my extremities warm, so i am sure it can get bettter! I haven't got the answer, but it was much worse when my iron levels were low, so getting those up should help.

The others are right about the constipation... When a person is constipated their transit time is very slow, which means there is a lot of food that hasn't yet cleared the digestive system. If you eat a big meal, there can be a conveyor belt effect, where the food that goes in the top pushes food along and the food from several days ago is pushed out of the bottom - literally I suppose. You were constipated already, just hadn't realised it.

Magnesium citrate can help with constipation, and seems to be a pretty low risk way to handle it. Also, I take magnesium sulphate baths now and again because this helps me keep my hands and feet warm too - the warming effect can last for 24 hours sometimes. So I reckon there may be a deficiency in magnesium involved somewhere. You can probably blame the Hashi's for all of it!


Hi Poing (great name by the way!) :)

Yes, my Raynaud's was quite mild to start with but has gotten worse since the diagnosis 3 years ago. I used to get chilblains when I was younger, so when my toes started to go numb and tingly I thought it had come back!

My iron levels have always been low - even when I wasn't diagnosed hypothyroid I remember having my iron checked routinely and it was at 29 (30-400). And I've always been very fair. I must look ill to some people whenever I go out anywhere because they give me strange looks. :(

Unfortunately we only have a shower in our flat (no luxury of a bath!) and looking up online I've noticed something I could possibly use in the shower that contains Magnesium - not Magnesium sulphate - but Magnesium Chloride?

I've also looked online for Magnesium supplements and because of the pill phobia I have I'm able to buy Magnesium powder which seems to have very good reviews. But yes, I guess I may have a deficiency in Magnesium - GPs didn't test for it though. I don't think it's something they would usually test for.

I blame the Hashi's for most things too, especially since I get all these flare-ups! ;)

Thanks for your help! :)

Jo xxx


I've got magnesium chloride too, it comes as a spray that you use after washing and leave on the skin for it to soak in. I only get the long term warming effect from the baths though and you need to take magnesium orally if you need it to help with constipation. Overall, the mag chloride spray should help with magnesium levels, and it's quite good for muscle cramps, if you get those.

I have some doubts about frequent meals... I think it's important to leave gaps between meals because that's when the peristalsis kicks in and moves food along. An extra meal in the day can help with weight maintenance, but constant snacking is bad for blood sugar, teeth and bowel movements!

I'm fair too, and always have crappy iron levels. I could write a book about that!


Funnily enough I get muscle cramps in my feet but this only happens in bed which is weird. I do sometimes get the odd cramp or two in the backs of my legs so yes, topical Magnesium might help. I will look at Magnesium powder as I have a pill phobia and this is rated very highly. I think it'd probably be just as good as the capsules however.

I haven't been taking frequent meals but I snack between breakfast, lunch and dinner.

With my fair complexion I've been putting foundation on my skin - just to brighten it up and help give it a glow. It also covers up the dark circles and puffiness under my eyes.


Jo xxx


This is an extract re Raynauds:-

A feeling of cold in the hands and/or feet -- or sensitivity to the cold -- is a common complaint in people with hypothyroidism. Typically, if you're a thyroid patient experiencing these symptoms, the cold sensitivity and cold extremities will decrease usually significantly after you've received appropriate treatment for your underactive thyroid.

Re digestion problems - could be due to low stomach acid which prevents food being digested properly and can cause problems, especially constipation.


Thanks for your reply and the links Shaws.

With the Raynaud's, I'm on 125mcg of thyroxine and even when the last GP I saw tested me for thyroid function he thought my dose was reasonable. The results of the thyroid function test were:

TSH - 4.3 (0.27-4.2)

FT4 - 15.3 (12-22)

Does that mean I'm not on enough? My TSH has risen since then but so has my FT4!

The link regarding digestion problems makes interesting reading as it mentions drying out of the hair. Well, I've noticed my hair does feel very dry and fall flat more easily.

I don't get any acid reflux, heartburn or indigestion however, nor diarrhoea.

And I'm surprised it's related to aging - I'm 28! Although I don't look it my body's aging very quickly I take it. :o

Cheers! :)

Jo xxx


I had none of the above (re indigestion) until I just began to feel quite unwell. Your TSH is too high. This is the recommendation from Dr Toft, ex of the BTA - an extract of an article:-

The appropriate dose of levothyroxine is that which restores euthyroidism and serum TSH to the lower part of the reference range – 0.2-0.5mU/l.

In this case, free thyroxine is likely to be in the upper part of its reference range or even slightly elevated – 18-22pmol/l. Most patients will feel well in that circumstance.

But some need a higher dose of levothyroxine to suppress serum TSH and then the serum-free T4 concentration will be elevated at around 24-28pmol/l.


If you email and ask for a copy of the Pulse Online article and make a copy for your GP and highlight question 6 to discuss this with him at your following appointment. Some may feel better with a slightly higher TSH but most with what Dr T advises. Louise is on holiday till 6th Jan.


Hi Shaws, thanks for the reply and the extract from the article.

My TSH has never been that low, even when I wasn't diagnosed. The lowest it has ever been is 0.69.

I've emailed Louise for the copy of Pulse Online, but regarding taking it to my GP - will they pay attention to it? My usual one has been more helpful but the other 2 I've seen have said autoimmunity in hypothyroidism is irrelevant and my TSH should be no more than 4.2 as their reference ranges state.


Jo xxx

1 like

You now see the importance of learning and researching on your illness yourself.

See the more helpful one. As you will now understand, GP's don't have a good understanding of what makes us well. This is an extract and please note in the USA the top TSH is 3.

1. Late in 2002, this group reported that: "In the future, it is likely that the upper limit of the serum TSH euthyroid reference range will be reduced to 2.5 mIU/L because more than 95% of rigorously screened normal euthyroid volunteers have serum TSH values between 0.4 and 2.5 mIU/L."

More recently, researchers have looked at an important question: If the normal TSH range were narrowed, as has been recommended by AACE and the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry, what are the implications?

One study found that using a TSH upper normal range of 5.0, approximately 5% of the population is hypothyroid.

However, if the upper portion of the normal range was lowered to 3.0, approximately 20% of the population would be hypothyroid.

2. Implications for Patients

It's now nearly a decade since the experts have established that this new, narrower TSH normal range of 0.3 to 3.0 is a more accurate one, and recommended that it become the standard of practice. Yet, the dithering continues. Some doctors use the new range for diagnosis and therapeutic management -- others refuse to consider anything unless it's marked "High" or "Low" on laboratory reports.

Patients can arm themselves with copies of the AACE and National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry reports, educate their practitioners, and patronize those doctors who stay up on the research, and leave behind those doctors who stick their heads in the sand and refuse to recognize millions of undiagnosed, undertreated people with hypothyroidism.

We haven't to be cheeky to the GP's as they are just following the guidelines. It is up to us to point out we are still unwell and should be given the opportunity of at least a trial of an alternative. Alternatives don't always make some well and they have to try a few different ones. It would be great if 'one size' fitted everyone.


Thanks for the links and your reply Marz.

Even when my TSH was 2.2 (some time ago but I remember how I felt) I felt awful back then. Would the trial of an alternative be T3 or NDT or neither?


Jo xxx


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