Feeling Worn-Out, Tired, Exhausted Or Bad All The Time?
Do you have a problem with the adrenal glands or the thyroid gland, or both? It is common for those with adrenal fatigue to have some degree of thyroid involvement. And it is also common for those with thyroid problems to have adrenal involvement. Many practitioners will often focus on thyroid treatment, especially if the person is fatigued and overweight, yet neglect to treat the person’s adrenal glands, and if they do treat the adrenal gland, will just recommend an adrenal support product. But how do you know if you suffer more with a thyroid problem, or have an adrenal problem?
Dr. James Wilson spoke during his 2008 NZ adrenal fatigue conference of the common but often overlooked connection between the thyroid gland and the adrenal gland. The adrenal glands main purpose is to produce and release certain regulatory hormones and chemical messengers, and the connection between thyroid and adrenal gland is a very important clinical consideration.
The two primary adrenal hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, help control body fluid balance, blood pressure, blood sugar and other central metabolic functions. Low adrenal can actually cause someone’s thyroid problem to be much worse than it would be otherwise, and this occurs primarily due to the decreasing amount of circulating cortisol.
Cortisol affects the thyroid gland in three ways:
1. Cortisol is required to facilitate release of TSH from the pituitary gland.
2. Cortisol facilitates conversion of the inactive T4 hormone to the active T3 form.
3. Cortisol allows each T3 cell receptor to more readily accept T3.
Hypothyroid patients need to be aware of their adrenal hormone levels since many of the symptoms of adrenal problems are the same as hypothyroid symptoms. Many conventional medical doctors commonly overlook adrenal problems except in extreme cases such as Cushing’s Syndrome (excess adrenal function) and Addison’s Disease (extreme decreased adrenal function). Dr. Wilson was recently on the New Zealand current affairs program Close-Up explaining the concept of adrenal fatigue to New Zealand , but was told in a live debate with Associate Professor of Medicine at the Dunedin School of Medicine, Dr Patrick Manning, that in his opinion (inspite of over 3000 scientific papers published on the topic) that adrenal fatigue “simply does not exist” and that Addison’s Disease is the only medically recognised form of adrenal insufficiency.
Conventional tests aren’t adequate for adrenal functions since they generally consist of a 24 hour urine test that does not take into account different levels of hormones in the urine at different times of the day.
A more accurate test would be to collect samples of saliva at 4 different times of the day, giving a more detailed picture of the patient’s daily cyclical adrenal function. Let’s now explore the different yet similar clinical presentations of adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism.
Low basal body temperature
Early morning fatigue
Intolerance to cold
Diurnal energy pattern (tired am & pm)
Hair loss, e.g eyebrow
Cravings for salt or salty foods
Low blood sugar increased with stress
Constipation in spite of good diet
Low blood pressure, dizziness
The Differences Between Hypothyroidism and Adrenal Fatigue
Fatigue- all day long
Feels relatively same all day long
Likes sweet foods and caffeine
Low basal body temperature
Intolerance to cold
Hair loss- scalp, brows
Loss of outer 1/3 of eyebrow hair
Can’t increase stamina
Depression mores constant
Hypoglycemia not as marked
Energy more constantly low
Cravings for sweets, refined cabs or high energy foods that don’t require digestion. (adding protein often decreases sweet cravings)
Addition of salt doesn’t change symptoms
Very tired by 9.30pm at night
No second wind at 11.00pm
Time they get up makes no difference
Cardiac- bradycardia most common sign
Weight gain (not always present & not related to calorie intake)
Weight distribution- hips & thighs
Weight loss-very difficult without treatment
Menstruation- heavy & longer
Fatigue- early morning & mid-afternoon
Feels tired after waking & best after 6pm
Foods- prefer fats & protein with caffeine
Body temperature low if severe
Temps are not as extreme
Yes in men on lateral calf
Mild constipation, often alternates with diarrhea
Stamina varies, often within day
Depression more intermittent
Hypoglycemia-especially under stress
Diurnal energy patterns (tired am & pm)
Cravings for salt or salty foods, or high fats, with protein & caffeine
Addition of salt may improve symptoms
Frequently tired at 9.30pm, but can push themselves through
Second wind at 11.00pm is frequent
Often feels better if can sleep until 9am
Cardiac- can have lower volume & weaker contraction if severe
Weight gain- not always present could be loss instead can be calorie related
Weight distribution- abdominal apron
Weight loss-usually decreases gradually with exercise, decreased stress & CHO intake
Menstruation- heavy onset, often lighter by 3-4th day or may skip 3-4th & return on 5th day
Hypothyroidism & Adrenal Fatigue Similarities
Fatigue most common symptom
Been told “It is all in your head” – need an antidepressant inspite of normal lab results.
80% of adrenally fatigued people may have a thyroid issue(see why above)
Depression not usually responsive to antidepressants- can make feel worse
Apathy, tiredness, weakness
Loss of enjoyment in life
Difficulty focusing, “brain fog”
Stress exacerbates symptoms
Poor short-term memory
Both are present in chronic fatigue syndrome
Both are part of post traumatic stress syndrome
Over react to trivial matters
Both are very common conditions
Usually missed or misdiagnosed
Lab reference ranges not definitive- aim for optimal upper 1/3 of range
The Thyroid Hormone Solution is an excellent book choice if you are serious are weight-loss, metabolism and your thyroid gland. I have known Louise O’connor the author for many years and in fact studied Naturopathy with Louise back in the 1980’s. Louise is one of Australia’s foremost natural medicine thyroid experts, and her book contains much useful information for those who want the facts and not fiction. When you learn how to help boost your thyroid function, you hold the key to optimising your metabolism and once you balance your thyroid gland with the many valuable tips you find in this book your health will improve in many ways. Did you know that almost half the population have some degree of under-active thyroid function? It’s time to stop suffering and start beating an underactive thyroid gland quickly.
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It’s no secret that in order to lose weight…you have to burn MORE calories than you consume. However when you have an underactive thyroid…regular WEIGHT LOSS DIETS DON’T WORK. It’s true… you can strictly control your calorie intake but you STILL won’t lose weight. That’s because reducing your calories slows your metabolism down. And not only that, your thyroid slows down as well.And this can actually cause you to GAIN weight. What’s worse… diets make you feel tired, exhausted, and miserable.
But if you were to follow a healthy eating plan that actually BOOSTS thyroid activity and SKYROCKETS your metabolism… it’s possible to finally lose weight.
Can you imagine how great that will feel?
Louise O’Connor is an expert in thyroid dysfunction and has a simple, natural approach to help you improve your health and achieve lasting weight loss.
Introducing Louise O’connor’s excellent book: The Natural Thyroid Diet
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Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Eric Bakker N.D., unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Naturopath Eric Bakker, who encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.