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!
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.