On our show we talked about the function of the thyroid and how your thyroid gland is like your body’s gas pedal. When it’s cruising at the right speed, you feel great. But when it’s not “giving enough gas” – or not producing enough thyroid hormone – you feel like you’re driving in slow motion with one foot on the brake pedal. But many hypothyroid symptoms are so similar to adrenal issues that the two are often confused or misdiagnosed.
What Role Do The Adrenal Glands Have With Proper Thyroid Function?
The adrenals, which sit atop the kidneys, are involved in producing over 50 hormones that drive almost every bodily function, many of which are essential for life. They are considered. your “life-saving” organs because they control your body’s hormones and help you survive in stressful situations. They act as control organs for your “fight or flight” response and secrete many of our most important hormones including: pregnenolone, adrenaline, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and cortisol. When your adrenals are constantly stressed, this sets off an autoimmune, inflammatory response in your entire body. The adrenal-hypothalamus-pituitary feedback loop, called the HPA axis, regulates the secretion of cortisol. All of your organs and your immunity are impacted negatively by the resulting constant assault of cortisol. Low adrenal function can actually cause someone’s thyroid problem to be much worse than it would be otherwise.
The thyroid is located below your Adam’s apple at the front of your neck. Thyroid disorders can affect your sense of well-being, metabolism and ability to ward off viruses and bacteria. Many people experience a myriad of symptoms and signs suggestive of an underactive thyroid gland and/or adrenal dysfunction. Some of the most common symptoms include; fatigue, weight gain, depression, sensitivity to cold, muscle or joint aches, brain fog, brain fog, poor memory, brittle hair and nails, shortness of breath, thinning hair, PMS, significantly calloused heels, chronic yeast infections, low libido, and infertility.
If people with low-thyroid function are put on thyroid hormone alone, they sometimes respond negatively. That is because these people may have coexistent, but hidden, low adrenal levels. If they take thyroid hormone by itself, the resultant increased metabolism may accelerate the low adrenal problem.
Also, interactions between the hormones are sometimes as important as the direct action of the hormone itself. Some adrenal hormones assist in the conversion of T-4 to T-3, and perhaps assist in the final effect of T-3 on the tissues. Some scientists believe that even the entrance of thyroid hormone into the cells is under the influence of adrenal hormones.
The HPA Axis And It’s Roll In Your Health
When you experience stress, whether it’s emotional, mental or physical, your hypothalamus sends a signal to your pituitary gland. The pituitary gland then signals your adrenal glands to produce a series of stress hormones, including cortisol.
Once a stressor trigger this cascade of hormones, cortisol and your other stress hormones redirect your body’s normal functions to essentially ignore anything that is not necessary for overcoming the stressor in front of you. This means that functions such as digestion, immune response, and yes, thyroid hormone production and distribution, are temporarily put on hold or slowed down until the stress has passed. Ideally, the stress passes quickly, your body returns to normal, and everything runs smoothly once more. Unfortunately, due to our hectic lifestyles, many of us experience chronic stress, either because our stress does not end quickly, or it is quickly followed by another stressor. This state of chronic stress puts your adrenals on overdrive for extended periods of time, continuously flooding your body with cortisol until your adrenals can no longer keep up with the constant demand for more and more stress hormones, leaving you in a state of fatigue. This flooding and eventual plummeting of stress hormones have many negative impacts on the thyroid.
Slowed Thyroid Hormone Production
Cortisol functions in a negative feedback loop with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Once it enters your bloodstream, its presence signals to your hypothalamus and pituitary gland to slow down so that they don’t trigger any additional stress hormones. These organs also regulate thyroid hormone production, so that slows down as well.
Herbal Support For Thyroid And Adrenal Problems
If you suspect you have either a thyroid or adrenal issue, the first step is to get some blood work done. Because the symptoms of both adrenal and thyroid problems overlap, it is necessary to differentiate between the two before beginning a treatment regimen based on symptoms alone.
We recommend the Expanded Panel which includes; CBC, CMP (which includes glucose levels), Lipid Panel, TSH (thyroid), T3 Uptake (showing utilization of thyroid), T4 (thyroid), Free T3 (Thyroid), DHEA, Vitamin B12 & Folate, Vitamin D, Spot Cortisol (AM), Hemoglobin AlC, Urinalysis, Insulin, Ferritin, Magnesium.
If your test indicates an adrenal issue, and depending on the results, we can approach healing the adrenals with DN Adrenal. DN Adrenal is a botanical and glandular combination product geared toward supporting adrenal function by supporting healthy energy levels, HPA axis and endocrine balance, as well as by nourishing the adrenal glands themselves.
If cortisol levels are out of balance, we recommend using Cortisol Soothe. This formula is designed to maintain healthy cortisol levels and to support relaxation, restful sleep, and positive mood during times of stress.