Do you ever wonder how you are going to make it through the day? You have a million things to do and just can’t find the energy to begin. You are not alone. The thyroid foundation of Canada reports “Recent studies indicate that 1 in 10 Canadians suffer from a thyroid condition of one type or another! Of those, as many as 50% are undiagnosed!” This article will be discussing the relationship between adrenal stress and hypothyroidism and what we can do to address the root cause.
Adrenal Stress and Hypothyroidism:
The adrenal glands are two walnut sized endocrine glands that are located on top of the kidneys. These glands produce vital hormones that help our bodies deal with stress, including cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine. However, if we are dealing with excessive stress our adrenal glands may not be able to keep up. If this happens the thyroid can divert the thyroid hormone tyrosine to support adrenal hormone synthesis. However, this may imbalance the thyroid leading to hypothyroidism affecting our body’s ability to properly regulate the body’s metabolism, digestive function, mood, heart rate and much more. Of course, low thyroid is also going to strain the adrenals by making them compensate for low thyroid hormone impacting their ability to handle stress. This may continue back and forth with one imbalance affecting the other.
In addition, if our bodies do not get a chance to recover sufficiently between these times of stress, chronic Inflammation may occur. Chronic inflammation directly affects thyroid hormone conversion, it impacts the liver, gut balance, our immune system etc. This state can quickly become a vicious circle.
If the gut is imbalanced the immune system will become weakened. This may cause the tight junctions in the intestinal lining to stop working properly allowing proteins and antigens to pass through into the blood stream. Our immune system may then counter an attack which over time could lead to autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and celiac disease.
Symptoms of Adrenal Stress
The symptoms range from mild to severe and may manifest as the following;
- Low energy, excessive fatigue
- Need to use stimulants for motivation
- Hormonal imbalance
- Insomnia, frequent waking
- Recurrent infections
- Heart palpitations
- Digestive problems
- Noticeable weight changes
- Memory problems, inability to concentrate
- Excessive urination
- Excessive perspiration, no perspiration
- Cold extremities
The following diseases are associated with adrenal stress;
- Cardiovascular disease
- Anxiety and depression
- Inflammatory disease
- Asthma and bronchitis
- Gastrointestinal disease
Balancing the Adrenals
The first step will be to bring balance back to the adrenals as they are closely related to the health of the thyroid function.
Here are the key steps to do this.
- Avoid or limit dietary stimulants such as caffeine, sugar (stabilize blood sugar), alcohol, cigarettes etc
- Actively pursue stress management. Very important to be able to bring calm into your life. This includes getting adequate quality sleep.
- Eliminate or significantly reduce ALL processed food. Practice raised awareness of package contents.
- Choose alive, organic, local food as much as possible and supplement where necessary.
- Include key adaptogens daily.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism (low thyroid)
Low levels of thyroid hormone can occur as a result of a variety of different reasons, such as physical damage of the thyroid, cancer of the thyroid, iodine deficiency, surgical removal etc.
In this article, we will be focusing on the connection between adrenal stress and hypothyroidism with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (an autoimmune condition) being the most common in women.
The symptoms may manifest as the following;
- A loss of appetite
- Dry hair and skin
- Hair loss and/or thinning
- Sugar and caffeine cravings
- Muscle weakness
- Mental dullness,
- Intolerance to cold;
- Yellow bumps on the eyelids
- Poor memory
- Recurring infections
Look for the root cause
It is important to understand the big picture. Look back over your medical history and note any infections you remember (Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) has been associated with the development of autoimmune conditions), enzyme deficiencies, use of PUFAs, significant stressful events, treatment of hypertension, pregnancy, menopause, estrogen dominance, medications (including over the counter and oral contraceptives), the MTHFR gene variation and prolonged exposure to toxins including heavy metals. Any of these could have contributed to low thyroid either directly or indirectly. This will help us understand where in the body the systemic disconnect occurred and which systems to focus on to address the root cause.
Hashimoto’s in particular may be triggered by food sensitivities, digestive problems, nutrient deficiencies, inability to handle stress, toxin overload and a compromised immune system.
The Plan of Action
It is important to assess and determine what organs are impaired in addition to the thyroid. That most likely will include the adrenals, liver and/or the gut. Once this has been determined we can proceed with the following strategy.
Using the “Five R” Protocol
REMOVE: Pay attention to identifying and removing your own personal triggers. Pay attention what is creating issues for any of the organs listed above including the thyroid.? Fluoride in your toothpaste? Medication? Parasites? Stress?
REPLACE and improve deficiencies. We must provide the body with the nutrients it needs to rebuild and repair. Strategic dietary choices are crucial as are adding key supplements. The focus here will be adding more nutrient rich food and changing out daily staples to healthier substitutes. Additions may include bone broth, sea vegetables, coconut oil and key vitamins and minerals including iodine, selenium etc.
REINOCULATE: The balance of our microbiome is directly related to having strong immunity. The health of the gut and the health of the thyroid are related. These connections are important to achieve improvement. The protocol to do this will include adding a variety of live fermented food into your diet daily as well as adding bone broth and/or taking a good quality probiotic supplement.
REPAIR your leaky gut and dysbiosis through dietary changes. Improving the health of the gut is the part of the protocol that will probably take the longest. Steps to good digestion should be followed as well. If you have a poor digestive system your body may not be able to absorb the nutrients necessary to heal. Especially mineral co-factors such as selenium, iron, potassium, zinc, iron etc. Zinc deficiency is common in people diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
REBALANCE the adrenals. A multi-directional approach is necessary here to ensure balance is achieved. Adaptgens will help as well as using other methods of bringing balance into your life. Ashwaghanda, reishi mushrooms are two to be considered.
The Next Steps
The important takeaway is that adrenal stress and hypothyroidism are common. However, these health concerns can be improved through lifestyle and dietary changes. In fact, if you follow the “Five R” protocol you can and will feel better.
I want you to be empowered and to be knowledgeable so you are in control of your health. Only then can you move toward balance. It may seem complicated right now but as you learn more it will get easier and easier. Just take it one step at a time.
If you have more questions please come to our “Fight the Fatigue” workshop on Friday April 27th at 2921 Bur Oak Avenue, Markham from 7:00 – 9:00pm. Call Sophia at 647-462-9938 or Audrey at 905-715-0892 to reserve a spot or get more details.
I am not a doctor. The information in this article should not be considered
medical advice and is not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure any
conditions, physical or otherwise. Opinions expressed are solely those of
the author and do not represent any particular individual or professional