Are you exhausted, even after a full night’s sleep? Are you struggling to lose weight? Do you find it difficult to concentrate, or feel cold all the time?
You could be suffering from a thyroid condition — and there’s a good chance that stress could play a role. Unfortunately, stress is just a part of everyday life for most of us. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it.
What is adrenal fatigue?
Your adrenal glands sit help you cope with all types of stress by releasing cortisol and adrenalin into your system. If you are constantly or repeatedly stressed without enough time to recover, you may deplete your body’s reserves of these hormones, resulting in adrenal fatigue.
It doesn’t matter what type of stress you are going through — emotional, psychological, physical. All stress has a cumulative effect and can cause adrenal fatigue.
What’s the link between adrenal fatigue and thyroid production?
Naturopaths specialise in finding the underlying cause of a condition, which is why we’re interested in the causes of low thyroid production. In many cases, low thyroid production isn’t the fault of the thyroid gland itself. It can often be caused by other areas of the body, including the adrenal glands.
When your stress response is triggered, your body deprioritizes any functions that aren’t directly related to overcoming the stressor in front of you — including thyroid hormone production. This can have a number of negative impacts, including:
Slowed thyroid production — chronic adrenal stress slows down hypothalamic and pituitary function. As these two organs direct thyroid hormone production, anything that disrupts them will also suppress your thyroid function.
Thyroid hormone resistance — during a stress response, your body also releases inflammatory immune cells known as cytokines. These make thyroid receptors less sensitive to thyroid hormones, which means that you could be suffering from underactive thyroid symptoms despite taking thyroid medication. It’s a similar process to insulin resistance, where the cells gradually lose their sensitivity to insulin. It’s as if the thyroid hormone is knocking on the cell’s door, but the cells don’t answer.
Problems converting T4 to T3 — the majority of the hormone produced by your thyroid gland is T4, however, this is an inactive form that must be converted to T3 to be used by cells. The cytokines produced during a stress response also interfere with the enzymes that convert T4 to T3.
Weakened immune system — whenever you’re stressed, your immune system becomes supressed so that your body can concentrate on overcoming the stressor. Adrenal stress also weakens the main immune barriers in your body — your gastrointestinal tract, lungs and the blood-brain barrier.
How to treat adrenal fatigue
Adrenal fatigue can negatively impact your thyroid function and even interfere with the effectiveness of thyroid hormones. It’s first important to determine whether adrenal fatigue is the underlying cause of your thyroid condition — your Naturopath can recommend the best blood tests to determine if adrenal fatigue is a factor.
If your results are positive, herbal medicines are the most effective way to repair and recover from adrenal fatigue. Each person is different though, so they work best if specifically prescribed for your degree of adrenal fatigue. Some of our favourite herbs for adrenal fatigue include:
Adrenal fatigue can also be exacerbated by deficiencies of zinc, magnesium and B vitamins, leaky gut syndrome and liver stress, all of which can be corrected through nutritional medicines.
For more details on how to heal adrenal fatigue naturally, check out our previous blog.
Do you want to find out how natural health can help treat your thyroid condition and discover some of the super foods to eat and diet principles to follow to help balance your immune system?
Click here to access our free guide – Natural Remedies for Thyroid Health.