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Well, here we are in the middle of winter. You survived January, and we’re only weeks away from some springtime weather (though it seems we’ve already gotten a taste of that with temps in the 40s at the end of January and beginning of this month!). As the winter and colder temperatures arrive at the beginning of winter, it’s natural for your body to feel colder. But after your body has adapted to colder temperatures later in the season, if you’re still suffering from cold hands and feet, that’s a sign that something might be off. It could be a very serious health condition or just an indicator of some things that need to be addressed.

Before I explain further, this is a good place to pause and explain once again the difference between functional medicine and the more common Western medicine. Western medicine is the typical approach taken by the majority of health care providers in the United States over the last 50 years. It asks, “What is your symptom?” and then finds a drug to address that symptom. Functional medicine asks, “Why do you have that symptom?” and finds the root cause of that symptom to address. Fixing the root cause makes a lot more sense than adding another medication to your list just to cover up a symptom.

Cold hands and feet are a great example. Putting an extra pair of socks or gloves on is like using a medication to get rid of a symptom. It may help you feel a little better — but are you healthier? Have we fixed the reason for the cold hands and feet? Or just warmed you up and not found the reason they’re cold in the first place? Let’s explore a few root causes of cold hands and feet and see what functional medicine has to offer for solutions.


Hypothyroidism is just what it sounds like — a low or “hypo” functioning thyroid gland. Cold extremities, along with a cold nose, are classic signs of hypothyroidism. Add this to other signs like thinning hair and eyebrows, a slow metabolism, and slow but stubborn weight gain, and you have some pretty strong indicators of hypothyroidism. Confirming this with the right blood tests can lead to a good way to correct this root cause.

Be aware that most doctors and care providers do NOT perform the right blood tests for diagnosing and monitoring hypothyroidism. Quite often they will check your TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels alone and diagnose and treat from there. Here’s a hint: TSH isn’t even made in the thyroid, it is made in the brain as a response to thyroid hormone levels. A complete thyroid panel is necessary to make a good diagnosis. Even then it’s often mistreated by only prescribing a synthetic T3 or T4 to make up for the low levels you may have. Oftentimes the root cause is elsewhere — possibly a leaky gut not allowing for proper absorption of the minerals you need to make both T3 and T4. Seventy percent of hypothyroidism is caused by an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s. Treating the immune system corrects this. And the best way to treat this is with natural components.

Low Blood Pressure

Have you ever been told you have high blood pressure (hypertension) and been prescribed a few drugs to lower your blood pressure? Ever wondered why you have high blood pressure in the first place? I have seen many scenarios of this in my practice. One woman I have treated was prescribed high blood pressure meds right after her brother died — and that was 10 years ago! She was still on the meds and wondered why she had cold hands and feet, dizziness, and fatigue. We checked her blood pressure and it was indeed quite low. The doctor was treating a root cause which started 10 years ago and never adapted after she started taking the medications. Working with a new doctor, we got her off the meds and on some natural supplements that supported her blood pressure. We also helped address some other chronic stress as well as fine-tuning her diet. After that her blood pressure was much better, and she felt awesome for the first time in years. And her cold hands went away!


Another common but misunderstood connection to cold hands and feet is diabetes. Diabetes often leads to damaged nerves and as any chiropractic doctor can tell you, nerves run everything. If your nerves are not functioning at their best, you are more likely to suffer cold hands and feet in conjunction with diabetes. Nerve damage short circuits the normal reflexes that tells your blood vessels to open, or vasodilate, in response to cold temperatures. Most type 2 diabetes diagnoses have their root causes in an individual’s lifestyle, namely diet and exercise. Thankfully type 2 diabetes responds very well to functional medicine. Along with changes in diet and exercise routines, a number of supplements help calm down blood sugar levels very efficiently. We have a number of patients off of all their diabetes meds. It just takes a little time and discipline.

The Big Lesson

The big lesson here is this: there are things you can do to improve your health. Taking drugs for your symptoms is not a healthy way of fixing things. It’s like unplugging a smoke detector in a house on fire — the alarm goes off but it does not stop the fire! Finding the root cause and addressing that fixes your symptom. Hypothyroidism, low blood pressure, and diabetes are just a few of the most common cases I see patients for, but so many things can be addressed through functional medicine. If you’re looking for ways to get rid of medications or to be healthier in general, give our office a call.


Dr. Burtis, D.C., M.S., CFMP, DACBN, has been providing natural healthcare to the Fairmont area at Burtis Chiropractic Center for over 30 years. He uses a combination of chiropractic, nutrition, and functional medicine to help individuals restore and maintain health and healing through individualized care plans. The mission of Burtis Chiropractic Center is to provide transformational healthcare that takes an individual’s life to the next level. We strive to be a solution for families to experience transformational healthcare and help create vibrant and resilient lifestyles that can be passed to future generations.

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