Eric Bakker N.D.April 4, 2022

Is there a connection between your adrenal glands and your thyroid glands? The symptoms of poor functioning adrenal glands and thyroid are similar, it can b e confusing!


Feeling Worn-Out, Tired, Exhausted 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 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?
There is a 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 because of the decreasing amount of circulating cortisol.

Cortisol affects the thyroid gland in three ways:

1. Cortisol is required to facilitate the 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).

According to Associate Professor of Medicine at the Dunedin School of Medicine, Dr Patrick Manning, that in his opinion (despite 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 comprise a 24 hour urine test that does not consider 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.

Hypothyroid KEY Symptoms

  • Low basal body temperature.
  • Intolerance to cold.
  • Hair loss, e.g eyebrow.
  • Dry skin.
  • Constipation despite good diet.

Adrenal Fatigue KEY Symptoms

  • Early morning fatigue
  • Diurnal energy pattern (tired am & pm)
  • Cravings for salt or salty foods
  • Low blood sugar increased with stress
  • Low blood pressure, dizziness


  • 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
  • Dry skin
  • Stubborn constipation
  • Loss of outer 1/3 of eyebrow hair
  • Can’t increase stamina
  • Depression mores constant
  • Hypoglycemia is not as marked
  • Energy more constantly low
  • Sweet cravings, foods not requiring digestion.
  • Adding protein often decreases sweet cravings)
  • Addition of salt doesn’t change symptoms
  • Exhausted 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

Adrenal Fatigue

  • 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
  • Hair loss in men on lateral calf
  • Dry skin
  • Mild constipation often alternates with diarrhea
  • Normal eyebrows
  • Stamina varies, often within a single 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 with exercise, less stress & lower carb 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” – needs an antidepressant in-spite 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
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Both are present in chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Both are part of posttraumatic stress syndrome
  • Over react to trivial matters
  • Accelerated aging
  • Dry skin
  • Decreased immunity
  • Both are very common conditions
  • Usually missed or misdiagnosed
  • Lab reference ranges not definitive- aim for optimal upper 1/3 of range






Join the Conversation...

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Confirm you are NOT a spammer