Adding the Thyroid to the Mix…
Last week I wrote about the likely connection between endometriosis, chronic fatigue and your adrenal glands. After seeing the response that followed, I am further ensured that this connection is a viable one.
It makes sense considering the amount of pain and inflammation that is present with endometriosis. This causes a lot of stress on your body and adrenals play a big role in that.
The amount of pain present with my period can be very dramatic. So In the days to follow I’ve felt completely wiped out. Feel this way too?
Today, let’s focus on another factor in the mix: your thyroid. Why? Because your adrenals and your thyroid are very much connected.
This was confirmed for me last night as I listened to an interesting talk by Dr. Alison McAllister about the thyroid and adrenal connection
She confirmed that if you have an under active thyroid then you are almost guaranteed to have adrenal issues.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
I feel like most women that I meet have some sort of thyroid problem and more often then not it’s hypothyroidism, or an under active thyroid. This is something that’s very common among women after pregnancy.
I infer that since an under active thyroid is a sister syndrome to adrenal fatigue that women with endometriosis likely have thyroid problems too.
Dr. McAllister made it clear that it can be difficult to diagnose thyroid issues from symptoms alone, as this can affect so many areas of your body. It’s a key player in the health of your period and fertility.
Some symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- dry skin/hair
- hair loss
- weight gain
- irregular heavy or painful periods
- problems getting or staying pregnant
- aches and pains especially in your wrists and ankles (worse in the morning
- slow thought processes
- cold intolerance
Hormonal Interplay of Your Thyroid
As is true with the adrenals, The HPA axis (hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal) plays a big role in proper functioning of your thyroid. This all ties together with your ovaries and sex hormone balance.
Here’s a quick breakdown on your thyroid’s intricate hormonal flow:
- The hypothalamus and pituitary gland release thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH);
- This stimulates the release of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH);
- TSH communicates with your thyroid gland;
- Your thyroid then produces two different kinds of thyroid hormone: T3 (active) and T4 (inactive). T3 & T4 are primarily responsible for regulation of your metabolism.
- Thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG) binds thyroid hormone in your blood.
- TBG is then responsible for making sure these hormones are distributed to all the cells in your body.
Diagnosing Underactive Thyroid
According to Dr. McAllister, there are three different diagnoses for hypothyroidism:
1.) Overt hypothyroidism: TSH is high, T4/T3 is low, and you show symptoms of low thyroid.
2.) Subclinical hypothyroidism: TSH is mildly elevated, T4/T3 are normal, and you show symptoms of low thyroid.
3.) Functional hypothyroidism: TSH, T4/T3 are all normal, yet you still show symptoms of low thyroid, especially fatigue.
She said that the majority of undiagnosed ladies fall in the “functional” category. Your tests may come back “normal” but you feel far from it.
If you fall into this category (like I do) then Dr. McAllister said that your adrenals are the likely culprit.
Thyroid Antibodies & Hashimoto’s
In addition to the standard TSH, T4/T3 tests it’s also important to test the levels of thyroid antibodies in your blood.
Most doctors don’t test for this one, so you’ll probably have to ask.
The presence of thyroid peroxidase antibodies and the thyroglobulin antibodies indicate Hashimoto’s, an auto immune condition where your body attacks your thyroid.
With this “attack” comes the release of inflammatory cytokines, which can make you feel sick and tired. Higher levels of antibodies means a higher level of inflammation in your body.
I was diagnosed with this a couple of years ago.
Back to the Master Hormone: Cortisol
Dr. McAllister gave some tips in her talk about improving the health and function of your thyroid. First and foremost she expressed the importance of addressing your adrenals and balancing out the all master hormone, cortisol.
If cortisol levels are high from continued stress (physically or emotionally) then this blocks the conversion of T4 to T3 and slows everything down. This is your body’s natural survival mechanism.
Remember…. cortisol rules all 🙂
This slow down in metabolism is why weight gain is common with hypothyroidism.
Dr. McAllister suggests testing your adrenals by measuring cortisol levels via saliva testing before starting any thyroid medication. This can be done at home or with the help of a functional doctor or naturopath.
If adrenal issues are present, thyroid medication could make things worse. This is because thyroid replacement hormones speed up metabolism and can suck up much needed cortisol from your tired adrenals.
One of cortisol’s primary purposes is to balance blood sugar levels. Low cortisol levels goes hand in hand with low blood sugar levels where further break downs happen with your adrenals and thyroid… causing among other things… fatigue.
Bottom line…. address your adrenals first.
On the Positive Side?
I’ve picked up tips along the way to re-build my energy and I’ve been feeling better because of them. I’d like to pass this along to you 🙂
I put this info together in my course: Eat for Energy with Endo.
I’m super excited to share this information with you and help you on the path to naturally re-gaining your energy and the health of your adrenals and thyroid.