Dr Angelina Szuch, Banyan Healthcare, discusses the complementary nature of the adrenal and thyroid glands, and explains how any treatment plan needs to address both of them in order to achieve balance in the body.
Do you suffer from brain fog? Fatigue? Depression? Weight gain? Sleep problems? These symptoms are common in people suffering from hypothyroidism or adrenal dysregulation. So, do you have thyroid problems, adrenal problems, or both? It is common for those with adrenal dysregulation to have some degree of thyroid involvement. It is also common for those with thyroid problems to have adrenal involvement. As a matter of fact, if you have thyroid problems then you have adrenal issues. I see patients all the time that despite being on thyroid replacement, still feel lethargic and lack that zest for life they once had. Many patients are convinced that their problem is they their thyroid. How do you know if you suffer more with a thyroid problem, or have an adrenal problem?
The truth is the hormones secreted from these two glands are directly related to – and impact – one another. Many people suffer from high or chronic stress, which leads to adrenal dysregulation. Poor functioning adrenals can impact your thyroid’s ability to function correctly, which can play a role in your energy levels, sleeping patterns, and your weight. In order to help one, we need to make sure the other is supported.
The Adrenal Glands
The adrenal glands are located at the top of each kidney. The hormones produced by the adrenal glands influence every major physiological process in the body including fat, protein, carbohydrate metabolism (weight loss/gain), blood sugar regulation, inflammation control, hormone regulation and immune function.
The adrenal glands are designed to enable your body to deal with stress both internally and externally. When the adrenals are compromised, it causes alterations in the body at a cellular level, resulting in changes in digestion, metabolism, disordered function of many vital organs, disturbed hormone production and impaired fluid and electrolyte balance.
The Thyroid Gland
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck, just below the Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland produces two primary hormones called Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones are vital in regulating metabolic processes and energy expenditure.
If the thyroid is compromised and becomes overactive or sluggish, you can experience unexplained weight gain, increased heart rate, changes in energy, anxiety, insomnia, lethargy, depression, hair loss and hot flashes.
Stress and Adrenal Dysregulation
The adrenal glands produce a hormone called Cortisol. Cortisol is an important hormone that helps us respond to stress, whether it be physical, psychological or emotional. If you experience chronic stress your body’s ability to respond appropriately is reduced because the stress response is always “on.” In some people, long term sustained stress will result in the adrenal glands producing lower than normal levels of cortisol.
Impact on Thyroid function
Cortisol is required to facilitate the release of TSH from the pituitary gland. When the body is in a chronic state of state of stress, the thyroid gland will slow down, producing hormones in order to slow down the metabolic process. Cortisol will also reduce the conversion of T4 to the more active T3 in an effort to conserve energy. This impact on the body’s metabolic process leads to many undesired symptoms.
Balance can be restored.
This article presents an oversimplification of a very complex process. The goal is to shed light on the interconnectedness of how prolonged stress impacts your adrenal and thyroid hormones. The good news is that there are tests available to assess your current adrenal function. The Adrenal Stress Index is a saliva test that measures cortisol at four different points during the day, along with other markers of stress. Knowing your body’s cortisol rhythm and if you are producing too much or too little cortisol, will help in developing a strategy to restore balance.
More than anything I want you to remember the stress – adrenal – hypothyroid connection as you are working to optimize your health. For more information, visit www.banyanhealth.care