Dr. Kimberly Brown ND, LAc
(408) 357-3422
3535 Ross Avenue, Suite 101, San Jose, CA 95124

Thyroid and Adrenals: The Power Couple

Always complaining that you’re tired? Is focusing hard, like in a perpetual fog? Is weight loss impossible? Do you stare at the ceiling wondering why you can’t sleep? Do you get sick often? You may be suffering from a thyroid deficiency and/or adrenal fatigue.

The adrenals are your “life saving” organs because they help you survive in stressful situations. They control “fight or flight” which in our ancestor’s time, saved them from being eaten by a tiger! They were never designed to deal with the chronic stress we experience today. As a result, adrenal fatigue and exhaustion have become widespread.

How are the thyroid and adrenals connected? The thyroid and adrenal hormones rely on each other to keep homeostasis in the body. Too much cortisol tells the body it’s time to conserve resources (gain weight) and recuperate (sleep more) by decreasing thyroid hormones. It was a natural response to less food being available and never designed to be a response to late nights responding to work emails! The body can only take so much stress and eventually, cortisol drops making dealing with even little stressors difficult. Without cortisol, cells don’t respond to thyroid hormone.

In addition to affecting thyroid function, cortisol also affects the function of the sex hormones. For example, high cortisol depletes progesterone and testosterone, and low cortisol increases estrogens resulting in PMS and a difficult perimenopause.
How does cortisol affect the immune system? High cortisol supresses the immune system causing frequent colds. Low cortisol causes chronic inflammation increasing the risk of heart disease, dementia, and pain.

It cannot be emphasized enough that maintaining a balanced level of cortisol is an important part of staying healthy.

Do you have Adrenal Fatigue?

The most common symptom is fatigue but also poor sleep, memory loss, low libido, PMS, frequent illnesses, and an inability to deal with any stress. Depending on the severity of adrenal fatigue, an herbal or low dose hydrocortisone may be used. This is discussed with the doctor and is based on lab results and patient preference. Once treatment is initiated, symptoms of adrenal fatigue can lift quickly. By optimizing adrenal function; thyroid, sex hormones, and the immune system health will improve.

What Are the Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?

If thyroid hormones are low, symptoms include fatigue, constipation, dry skin, inability to lose weight, brittle nails, menstrual irregularities, sensitivity to cold, depression, anxiety, and/or hair loss.

Sometimes, this results in a diagnosis of hypothyroidism but only if your lab values fall out of the “normal” range. Most medical professionals only test TSH but this is an indirect indicator of thyroid function and the “normal” values for TSH are too wide. This is why Dr. Kimberly Brown accesses both symptoms and labs, and orders a full thyroid panel. Treating an underactive thyroid with herbs and supplements may give you all the support you need but in some cases, prescriptive Armour thyroid, Nature-throid, or compounded thyroid is needed.

An overactive thyroid, hyperthyroidism, is a less common condition that exists when excess thyroid hormones are present. Symptoms may be weight loss, anxiety, diarrhea, sweating, weakness,increased heart rate, fatigue, and insomnia. Although natural treatments exist, Dr. Brown may advise medications.

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