Adrenal Fatigue & Thyroid Dysfunction
The Adrenals and Thyroid are profoundly interdependent. When the Thyroid doesn’t work properly the Adrenals are put into play.
The Adrenals use cholesterol, which is made in the Liver, to make hormones and so there’s also a systemic connection between the Thyroid and Adrenals as well as with the Liver and Gall Bladder.
The more dependent we are become on our Adrenals, due to Thyroid dysfunction, the more Cholesterol is required by the Adrenals to make hormones.
Thyroid & Adrenal Seesaw
The Thyroid and Adrenals don’t tend to break. Instead, they are the glands designed to regulate the body.
However, if we have a highly inflammatory lifestyle then the chances are we will appear to have a low functioning Thyroid. This is because it’s the Adrenals job to deal with inflammation by producing Cortisol. And when the Adrenals are up the Thyroid is down.
Thyroid statistics for the USA are running as high as 90% of the population… It’s a big issue… but there has to be a fair amount of misdiagnosis going on too…
Any physical, emotional or chemical stressor is going to make the Adrenals work harder because they have to produce stress hormones, Adrenalin and Cortisol.
These stress hormones lower the production of TSH, aka Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, so people with chronic stress will show up as having Thyroid issues if they get tested for Thyroid function.
The number of people who are stuck in a chronic state of stress, and therefore Adrenal dominance, are growing exponentially due to long working hours, financial pressures, relationship issues, environmental toxins, poor diets and insufficient sleep.
I recommend these articles for stress reduction:
I also recommend Hormone Health Part Five as a companion piece to this article.
Yo-yo Blood Sugar
The more blood sugar goes up the more the Pancreas pulls to lower it by making Insulin.
The way in which we spike our blood sugar these days is usually very dramatic. The UK eat more chocolate than any other country in Europe, and there’s nothing like unrefined sugar to send our blood sugar rocketing off the charts. But high carbs meals, which are low in complex carbohydrates will also have a similar effect.
Eating white bread is like eating a bowl of sugar in terms of what your body does in response to it. This is one of the reasons why refined foods, like white bread etc, are so bad for us…
The Pancreatic Response To High Blood Sugar
Because of the high level of refined foods, especially the levels of refined sugar we eat these days, the more of an assault this has on our bodies. The response to this assault by the Pancreas is to practically pump out Insulin as though it’s being held at gun point.
This in turn has an equally shocking impact on the body, as the Insulin spike comes crashing down and our blood sugar levels fall to a state where they are incredibly low.
Because the speed at which the sugar levels come down are so dramatic they tend to plummet too low, which then stimulates an Adrenal response.
The Adrenal Response To Low Blood Sugar
An Adrenalin and Cortisol response is the last thing we need in many respects as it guarantees weight gain as well as more time spent in ‘fight or flight’ mode, or, in medical terms; more time spent in a sympathetic nervous system state.
***The alternative to fight or flight mode is the ‘rest and restore’ mode of the parasympathetic nervous system. When we are in rest and restore the body is relaxed and can heal. When we are in fight or flight, we are ready to do battle, with all of our senses on red alert.
Fight or flight focuses all of our bodies functions to optimal fight or flight performance. We stop ovulating, we stop feeling hungry and we put all of our energy into creating the right conditions for combat. So, we become very testy, as well!
*****With our highly refined food diets, copious amounts of Adrenal stimulating Caffeine, as well as long periods spent in front of our computers along with the stressors of modern living, juggling kids with full time work etc, we are tending to spend much of our lives in the fight or flight mode. This is disastrous for our health, as we are headed straight to burn-out in a handcart!
The Bodies Response To Being In An Adrenal State
Because the body is constantly trying to combat the deleterious effects of being in an Adrenal state, it is always putting off what it should be doing today to ensure our body is functioning as it should be for fight or flight.
If, however, we are still in fight or flight mode tomorrow, and the day after that, then the normal functioning of the body is ultimately being permanently put to one side, in order to deal with the extraordinary problems of being in fight or flight mode. Our body neither has the time or resources to do both!
***Anabolic means to build up, to heal and recover, so in this context it means that a systemic hormone issue is likely to occur.
This hormone imbalance has a direct and significant impact on our Thyroid, predisposing us to autoimmune Thyroid, or Hashimoto’s.
Women who are constantly in an Adrenal state will also struggle to conceive. Not only are the sex hormones depleted, but the fight or flight response is all about running away from Dinosaurs, and escaping from life threatening experiences. When the body is primed for potentially lethal encounters it is not going to be able to conceive.
The modern day Dinosaurs or stressors are; chemical sensitivities, like food intolerances or environmental toxins, like pesticides and cleaning products etc… all of which I cover in some detail in:
Three Types Of Stressors
There are three groups of stressors which impose a tax on our bodies and ultimately inflict damage, which will lead to dysfunction over time.
- Physical stressors
- Emotional stressors
- Chemical Stressors
Physical stressors include:
- too much exercise
- too little exercise
- too much screen time
- not enough sleep
- intestinal parasites
- heavy metals
- viruses etc…
Emotional stressors include;
- toxic relationships (including with Self)
- money worries etc…
- Environmental toxins
- Food toxins
- Household toxins, (cleaning products & chemical air fresheners etc.)
***Some people are genetically capable of dealing with more stress than others. Men are much more suited to dealing with stress than women due to differences in the way our Hormonal Systems are geared.
How The Body Breaks Down
All of the above stressors negatively affect the ability of the gut to do it’s job. They, essentially, have a debilitating effect on the gut.
The reason why 80% of the body’s immune system is in the gut is because it’s on the frontline when it comes to pathogenic infection etc. We need a fully functioning gut to keep us safe from infection.
But, because of environmental toxins, as well as an inflammatory Western diet, our guts are under siege like never before.
Poor Digestion & Infection
With compromised digestion and an increase in infection we eventually develop Leaky Gut.
Leaky gut is also caused by the consumption of grains which release a substance called Zonulin in the body, which then allows the tight junctions within the gut to separate, thereby permitting solid food particles and toxins into the bloodstream.
***People with a very diverse microbiome seem to tolerate grains better than those with a compromised immune system. Our microbiome is comprised of the friendly gut flora, or bacteria, which all add up to form our immune defence within our gut… which accounts for 80% of our immune system.
Leaky gut, because it permits foreign objects into the blood supply, is the major mechanism for auto-immunity.
So you will be prescribed an anti-inflammatory for your pain, which will likely cause you to have digestion issues, which will then be treated with an antacid, or proton pump inhibitor, which, because the true cause isn’t being addressed, may very well cause you to develop hormone and emotional issues for which you will be prescribed ‘The Pill’, or HRT, along with antidepressant for your depression.
Meanwhile, the real cause of your problems get worse, whilst you just add to your toxic burden, and symptom list, by taking toxic compounds that are doing nothing to improve your health, and everything to help harm it!
Most drugs block enzymatic pathways in the body. So instead of upregilating health, pharmaceutical medicine is all about down regulating it…
Adrenals & Inflammation
Adrenals help reduce inflammation – Cortisol is the best anti-inflammatory there is.
They also regulate energy with the use of Cortisol.
Cortisol is a Gluco-Cortico Steroid – Gluco is sugar and Cortico Steroid is stress and inflammation.
Supporting the body’s ability to regulate inflammation via the Adrenals is going to automatically help any autoimmune conditions we have.
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition, so it will improve if the Adrenals are able to manage our inflammation better.
We can do this by reducing stress, eating an anti-inflammatory diet and reducing environmental toxins, as well as getting enough sleep and cutting down exposure to technologies.
However, if the Adrenals are constantly having to deal with Insulin spikes and other unnecessary stressors then there’s going to be insufficient resources to manage inflammation in the Thyroid.
Mending Our Ways
One of the biggest things we can do to start remedying or hormone and gut issues is to cut out refined sugar and grains from our diet. Both of these cause the yo-yo blood sugar scenario that started the detrimental cascade within the body.
So, we need to amend our diets to achieve blood sugar stability. This means converting our body’s into a fat burning machine rather than a sugar burning system!
It takes 30 days of eating no refined sugar and refined carbohydrates to restore our bodies back into being a fat burning system…
I told somebody this recently and she said… “Oh, I could probably do that”, and I could see in her eyes that she knew a 30 day stint was going to be tough, but the rewards would be worth it.
However, I could also see something else in her eyes that really worried me. So I added, “And, then you are going to be in a fat burning state, and you will have to keep on not eating refined sugar and refined carbohydrates to reap the benefits and keep your body in a fat burning state going forward.”
“Ohhh”, came the withering, enfeebled response… any more than 30 days without all of those utterly toxic, terrible foods, was clearly just too much to ask!
It’s sad, and I feel so disheartened sometimes because I know I can’t do the work for these people who set themselves up to fail.
And I get it!
I really do!
I’m A Self Confessed Adrenalin Junkie
And what an adrenalin junkie I am!
+++Some of us like to stay in fight or flight mode as it distracts us away from our problems!!! But, I had nailed this up until a couple of months ago… more on that in a bit!
I Am A Sugar Junkie
I am a sugar junkie… And, I am still trying to break the fist like grip of sugar addiction as I write… it takes two weeks to get beyond the cravings, but I fell off the wagon five days ago…
Sugar is like alcohol… once an addict, always an addict. We can only be cured when off it, and we stay off it!
I Ate Wheat At The Weekend!
Sadly, a course of antibiotics, which I fought so hard against taking, after three hours of extreme dental surgery to remove two dental implants, which were planted 1.4cm into my jaw, have really messed me up, big time.
I didn’t take a single pain killer or antibiotic for a month after the surgery… not even after the wounds exploded on the flight back from Bulgaria, where I had the surgery done, (very competently, and for a fraction of the cost in the UK). Unfortunately, I flew home way too soon, owing to a death in the family, hence the exploding wounds on the plane.
Because the dental implants were already infected, and the bone had shattered into shards as the implants were being removed, the prognosis wasn’t good.
It was the shards of bone that ultimately caused me to take the antibiotics.
The infection stuck around these shards, and because it took nearly two months for them to emerge, the attempts at using a pretty unusual, practically outlawed, alternative to antibiotics, and the herb Golden Seal, which were almost successful, but not successful enough, I finally resorted to the antibiotics in the end.
The first pill in a course of antibiotics kills 90% of the friendly flora in our gut… completing the course decimates it.
I have been nothing but ill since taking these antibiotics, catching one nasty bug at the tail end of seeing off another. Before the antibiotics I hadn’t caught anything for a couple of years, even though I watched people falling like flies around me.
I had spent years building up my gut to be as effective as all that.
It took one five day course of antibiotics to ruin all of my hard work and write off the benefits of all that time and expense!
When the gut is dysbiotic we have crazy cravings, and we get tired and suffer from real energy dips at certain junctures in the day… usually the mid afternoon.
In recent weeks I have sought out sugar to try and find the energy to keep going on a long work day, whilst ill, and I have opted for the easy choice of a gluten based snacks whilst working in a new town at the weekend.
When you run a market stall on your own it’s impossible to abandon your stock for too long whilst you seek out an increasingly elusive healthy snack, on a Sunday, in a small town, that you’re not familiar with.
Besides, they don’t exist!
Everything is either wheat based or rammed with refined sugar!
So, I get it… I really, really get it… but, not once do I falter at the mere idea of cutting all the bad stuff out…
I have been sick… and I had to claw my way back to okay health… there’s no way that I am going to give up trying to give up all the refined shite that’ll make me that ill again!
You can read more about my journey here…
But, until your health has fallen off a cliff, like mine did, all of the scrummy treats and fun toxic cosmetics etc, all seem a little too higher cost to pay for health…
Adrenals & Mental Health
We tend to feel irritable, light headed and anxious when our blood sugar drops into the Adrenal activation zone, but we feel much more ‘together’ when our blood sugar is above normal levels. That’s the danger of these foods that give us the spikes. We tend to start self-medicating with them.
I, for one, am clearly a self-medicator. I developed a chocolate addiction when I was very young, which is what made me an out and out sugar addict.
Adrenals & Thyroid
The constant roller coaster of sugar highs and lows puts stress on the Thyroid. The surges of Insulin, followed by the surges of Adrenalin and Cortisol, produced by the Adrenals to force blood sugar levels to rise, before they plummet to a point where we would be rendered unconscious, have a direct impact on Thyroid Hormone and Thyroid activation at the cellular level.
This directly impacts the body’s ability to convert T4 to T3 systemically in the body. So, this can have a major chronic impact in the Thyroid.
Blood Sugar & Immunity
Our blood sugar levels have a direct impact on our immune system. So, if our blood sugar is constantly swinging from high to low then this knocks out the immune system.
And, the surges of Adrenalin and Cortisol can exacerbate autoimmune Thyroid conditions, which, as I have mentioned before, are anywhere between 50% and 90% of the US population these days, (which will correlate with stats in the UK in all likelihood, as we eat a very similar diet, by and large.)
Autoimmune Thyroid is called Hashimoto’s.
Insulin Resistance & Hormone Issues
Chronically high sugar levels = Insulin Resistance.
Insulin Resistance increases the risk of PCOS, aka Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, as well as causing Diabetes, or, at least Pre-Diabetes, and the very troublesome weight gain that none of us appreciate.
Hypoglycemic women tend to be petite, but have fluctuating moods throughout the day because they are sugar burners and not fat burners.
So… I am currently a sugar burner! But, hopefully not for long!
Infections affect gut health, and so infections affect the entire body!
As mentioned, 80% of our immune system is in the gut, courtesy of our microbiome, which is where we intercept most of the things entering the body that shouldn’t be there.
***Other ways in which infections occur are from unclean cuts and from interactions with others involving the meeting of bodily fluids, including kissing and intercourse.
Pathogens can also live for a long time outside of the body, and reside in the soil or in large bodies of water where we may go swimming. These include things like Giardia Cysts, which are even resistant to deep cleaning with bleach based products, and can live in water, or soil, for several months.
I have lived in Asia, and have been infected with Giardia. I have also been infected with Fasciolopsis Buski, another parasite that can survive outside the body for a long time. And, in the case of Fasciolopsis Buski, even years!
These are some of the things which contributed to me getting really ill a few years back!
A Compromised Gut Leads To Autoimmunity
Most Thyroid issues are autoimmune based, and because most of the immune system resides in the gut, if the gut is compromised then our Thyroid is likely going to be compromised too.
The majority of immune stress is caused by leaky gut.
Undigested food particles and metabolites called LPS or endotoxins, make their way into the blood stream, causing immune stress and molecular mimickery issues.
Undigested proteins of Gluten are cross reactive with others, which, as already mentioned, instigates a Zonulin release which causes the tight junctions of the gut to unzip, causing leaky gut.
***Sugar also causes Leaky Gut.
Cross-reactivity occurs when the proteins in one substance are like the proteins in another.
Cross-reactivity between allergenic proteins come from all grains including Oats and Corn, Buckwheat and even Quinoa etc, and have a similar surface protein to that of the Thyroid. We can have this issue with ANY or ALL grains!
Proteins are Amino Acids which make Neurotransmitters like Dopamine.
Dopamine is a really important trigger for TRH, aka Thyroid Releasing Hormone, from the Hypothalamus, which then triggers TSH, aka Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, from the Pituitary, which helps with T4 from the Thyroid, and then T3 conversion in the body
A compromised gut will not absorb vitamins properly.
B Vitamins are particularly essential for gut health, as well as hormone and emotional health.
As well as a compromised gut, which will mean the poor absorption of B Vitamins, there are other factors which actually destroy B Vitamins also.
Most B Vitamins can’t be stored by the body and, therefore, have to be obtained from the food we eat. So, our gut has to be functioning optimally to absorb the all-important B Vitamins in our food.
Extended cooking, as well as food processing, or the consumption of alcohol, can destroy or reduce the bio-availability of most B Vitamins.
B Vitamins For The Thyroid
B Vitamins are really important for the Thyroid:
B3 Niacin: is essential for connective tissue thereby helping to maintain skin health. It also supports the nervous and digestive systems.
****An interesting aside… topically applied B3 has been shown to increases collagen production by as much as 54%.
B5 Pantothenic acid: is the Adrenal B Vitamin and is needed to metabolise carbohydrates, proteins, fats and alcohol. It’s also needed to produce red blood cells and steroid hormones.
B6 Pyridoxine: is required for protein and carbohydrate metabolism, and like B5 it is needed in the formation of red blood cells in addition to certain brain chemicals. It is the Neurotransmitter B Vitamin because it helps synthesise Neurotransmitters, like Dopamine, which is needed for Thyroid function.
It also influences brain development, immune function and steroid hormone activity.
B7 Biotin: is needed for energy metabolism, fat synthesis, amino acid metabolism and glycogen synthesis. Vitamin B7, aka Vitamin H helps the body metabolise proteins and to process glucose. It supports the production of the connective tissue and so is important for the health of our nails, skin, and hair.
B9 Folate: is needed to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body. Folate is very important for pregnant women because B9 helps to develop their baby’s nervous system during the foetal phase, as well as playing it’s part in DNA synthesis and cell growth. Women of child-bearing age need a diet rich in folate.
B12 Cyanocobalamin: is vital for our mitochondria and methylation, which has a massive impact on Thyroid as well as healthy red blood cells and DNA activation.
**** The Methylcobalamin form of B12 is the better one if you are considering supplementing with B12, as mentioned in Gut Health.
Vitamin B12 helps to produce and maintain the myelin sheath which coats our nerves, as well as supporting our mental abilities, red blood cell formation. It is also responsible for breaking down certain fatty acids and amino acids in order to produce energy.
Vitamin B12 has a close relationship with Folate. Both are dependent on the other to work properly.
Eating Liver three times a week, because it contains a lot of B12, is vitally important for Mitochondrial health and Methylation.
Healthy gut bacteria produces some B Vitamins
Selenium is important for T4 to T3 conversion, but it’s also important for Liver health.
60% of T4 to T3 conversion takes place in the Liver
Iodine :: Thyroid Hormone is 4 molecules of Iodine and one molecule of Tyrosine
Zinc, Magnesium, Tyrocine, Iodine, Co Q10 and Vitamin A are all essential for Thyroid function.
Other Gut Issues
All gut issues will have an impact on hormone health, even if leaky gut isn’t present. Other gut issues will affect absorption, and poor absoption of vitamins and minerals will lead to hormone trouble.
Bad bacteria produces toxins and good bacteria produces B Vitamins and other nutrients!
Insufficient Hydroclauric Acid
There are many causes of insufficient hydroclauric acid production, from stress to an H Pilori infection. This will then make it difficult for the food to be released into the Small Intestine and for Pancreatic Enzymes to be produced. This in turn should make the Gall Bladder contract to produce Bile, which is really important for protein and fat digestion…
Thyroid Hormone has a protein backbone called Tyrosine, so if protein digestion is an issue then our Thyroid will suffer.
Also Thyroid Binding Globulin is a protein that binds to Thyroid Hormone, and so is critical in the conversion from in active to active Thyroid Hormone.
Vitamins & Minerals For Thyroid Health
Vitamin A is very important for Thyroid Hormone synthesis, and all of the Minerals, including Magnesium, Selenium, Zinc, Copper etc, have to be ionised via the digestion so they can be carried by the blood around the body and used where needed.
Fatigue is an hypo-thyroidic issue.
Burn-out is also an Hyper-Thyroid issue.
Adrenals help us regulate energy by upshifting to produce more and downshifting to get us to relax so we can digest at meal times and sleep at night… Sleep is needed to repair the body, thereby dealing with stress and inflammation amid a whole host of other things…
The Mitochondria provides us with the energy to function.
Too many people, like me, who have chronic Adrenal issues have too little Cortisol in the morning and way too much at night. This needs reversing to be healthy, and break out of a downward spiral!
Too much Cortisol at night prevents us from sleeping.
Cortisol issues are also covered in depth in the article on Adaptogenic Herbs.
Adaptogenic Herbs can go a long way towards supporting Cortisol recalibration.
Broken Gut Leads To Broken Hormonal States
This is the best video on why grains are so bad for us I have ever come across. I very much hope you find the time to watch it.
Grains destroy gut health, and that destroys everything else!
Thyroid Binding Globulin
Thyroid Binding Globulin, aka TBG, is a protein that binds to T4 and T3, aka Inactive Thyroid Hormone 4, and Active Thyroid Hormone 3. T4 converts to T3, becoming the active form of Thyroid Hormone.
But Oestrogen also binds to the TBG protein.
So, when the Thyroid Binding Globulin has Oestrogen bound to it this means that it can’t carry the T4 to the Liver, or Lungs etc. to be converted into T3.
This will cause a low functioning Thyroid, but not for the reason that will be suspected. As John Bergman explains in the video below, a lot of people start taking birth control pills and soon after are diagnosed with a low functioning Thyroid.
You Are Not Sick For The Lack Of Thyroid Pharmaceuticals
There’s a saying is alt medicine circles that we are not sick owing to a lack of drugs. For example, people don’t get depressed because their body isn’t producing enough SSRI drugs. Or, we aren’t suffering from a hormone imbalance due to a lack of synthetic hormones…
And, as you will know if you have read any of my other articles, it is the abundance of synthetic hormones in our environment that is causing most of our hormone problems!
John Bergman also covers this issue… I leave you in his very capable hands…