Naturally Healing the Thyroid, part four: the adrenals

We’ve already talked about how blood sugar balance, digestion, the liver and detoxification can affect the thyroid, but there is one glaring fact that I’ve meant to get to. Except that the last couple of weeks have been a bit more stressful than normal and I’ve been dealing with some crashes myself due to…..

Adrenal Fatigue.

If you’ve been a reader here for a couple of years, you may remember when I was actively trying to heal my adrenals. For six months I worked with my chiropractor and supplementation as well as dietary and lifestyle changes.

I saw great results and within about 6 months I was feeling a million times better, had plenty of energy, and all around felt good. That all ended a few months later as I dealt with the physical and emotional stress of a miscarriage and has carried on for over a year.

I tried my darndest to get my health back, but I just couldn’t fix myself this time. I tried everything I had tried before; desiccated adrenal supplements, vitamin C, no caffeine or sugar, lots of rest, reducing stress. Last fall I kept trying to make it in to my doctor’s office, and in November and December I took most of that time and stayed away from my computer, focusing on my health and my family, but something was still not right. I just couldn’t get over my fatigue.

And while my original lab tests (for vitamin D and B12 and a full thyroid panel) were back at an earlier date, I was just able to meet with my new holistic doctor and go over my lab results for the 24 hour adrenal saliva test. The appointment in which she told me that my adrenals suck.

 adrenals


Ok, so maybe those words are mine.

But my cortisol levels are extremely low throughout the entire day, which is the reason that some mornings take what seems to immense strength just to get out of bed. Or you know….deal with people.

So, soon we’ll be getting into a bit more about recovering from adrenal fatigue and I’ll share a bit more about what I’m doing, but today let’s just chat a bit about why the adrenals affect the thyroid.

Because sometimes the thyroid is low, or not functioning properly, and it can instead be traced to the adrenals. And most medical doctors don’t test the adrenal hormones.

In fact, mine thought it was silly that my new doctor requested the lab test and said it wouldn’t really help, so there wasn’t a lot of reasons to spend the money to get it done. (at $175.00 I was actually going to skip it, but for some reason decided on day 20 that I would. It’s a test you do on day 21 of your cycle if you want a bit more accurate results for progesterone/estrogen, etc) This is probably because adrenal fatigue is not a recognized medical term, with medical doctors only looking for true adrenal shutdown, known as Addison’s. So adrenal fatigue is often called a “theory” that mostly alternative health practitioners “diagnose”.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

The adrenals are two small glands, one on top of each kidney, and they help our bodies react and deal with stress through the production of adrenaline and cortisol. They also produce other hormones that are precursors to reproductive hormones.

Dr. James L. Wilson coined the term ‘adrenal fatigue’ back in the 90’s and it is basically an issue with the adrenals, whether they produce too much cortisol or too little, and the major symptom is fatigue. The direct cause is different for everyone, but it’s brought on by frequent stress, either physical, emotional, or mental.

It’s our bodies fight or flight reactions gone awry.

On Dr. Wilson’s website AdrenalFatigue.org (a wealth of info) he states that:

“With each increment of reduction in adrenal function, every organ and system in your body is more profoundly affected. Changes occur in your carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance, heart and cardiovascular system, and even sex drive. Many other alterations take place at the biochemical and cellular levels in response to and to compensate for the decrease in adrenal hormones that occurs with adrenal fatigue. Your body does its best to make up for under-functioning adrenal glands, but it does so at a price.”

Some of the basic symptoms listed on the AdrenalFatigue.org website:

  1. You feel tired for no reason.
  2. You have trouble getting up in the morning, even when you go to bed at a reasonable hour.
  3. You are feeling rundown or overwhelmed.
  4. You have difficulty bouncing back from stress or illness.
  5. You crave salty and sweet snacks.
  6. You feel more awake, alert and energetic after 6PM than you do all day.

Other symptoms that could point to adrenal fatigue:

  • weakness
  • low libido
  • everyday tasks take a lot of strength and effort
  • little annoyances can drive you bonkers
  • mild depression or anxiety
  • PMS
  • thoughts are fuzzy/hard to put them together
  • decreased memory
  • allergies
  • decreased immune response
  • insomnia

Adrenal fatigue usually begins with frequent stress and ramps up the cortisol production. “As the adrenal glands become increasingly compromised, it’s harder for them to make cortisol. Instead, extra adrenalin is produced to compensate, which can make us irritable and shaky.” (source)

Adrenal and Thyroid function begin in the brain.

These glands are being told what to produce and how much of it to produce by a gland in our brain called the hypothalamus. I love how WomantoWoman.com describes this action:

“Hormones are molecules released by one area of the body to carry messages to another area in the body. The thyroid’s main job is to produce the right amount of thyroid hormone to “tell” your cells how fast to burn energy and produce proteins. The adrenal glands’ primary job is to produce the right amount of stress hormones that allow you to respond to stress of a zillion kinds.”

You can also check out their info picture and description to get a better idea of how this all works.

When the body is exposed to stress of any kind, the hypothalamus sends out a signal (the corticotrophin-releasing hormone) to the pituitary for the adrenals to increase cortisol. Both the signal hormone and the cortisol can then inhibit TSH as well as block the conversion from T4 to T3, causing symptoms of low thyroid.

In some women, they may also have decreased progesterone levels due to adrenal fatigue as some sources mention that the precurser to progesterone, DHEA (dehydioepiandrosterone). DHEA is used to metabolize cholesterol and make the conversion to estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, so poor adrenal function can directly affect the reproductive system.

If you have thyroid problems, most alternative practitioners recommend testing the adrenals and if they are not functioning properly, that the adrenals be properly treated before the thyroid. (of course, thyroid support is essential depending on its function – always work with a doctor or health care professional.) Because the thyroid wont’ function properly no matter the treatment if the adrenals aren’t functioning well.

The issue of adrenal fatigue is one that is, thankfully, getting more and more attention over the last few years. Here are some other resources to help you learn more:

  1. AdrenalFatigue.org
  2. Adrenal Fatigue, the 21st century stress syndrome a book by Dr. James L. Wilson
  3. How adrenals can wreak havoc – Stop the Thyroid Madness
  4. Eating to support adrenals
  5. Low metabolic energy therapies – an in-depth look at the adrenals and thyroid, the differences in symptoms, and the treatments.
  6. Adrenal Fatigue Signs and Symptoms – a metabolic chart
  7. The truth about adrenal fatigue – a look at the connection to the brain (it’s a great article, but please be aware of the scantily clad woman on the screen about halfway down…..wouldn’t want y’all to be shocked!)

I know many of you have dealt with adrenal fatigue, so I’d love it if you could share your story here in the comments of your symptoms and maybe how you began to heal! Patient wisdom is a helpful thing for everyone when we share and get new ideas to research for ourselves.

Check out this month\'s sponsor, Natural Fertility Shop. They are 100% focused on helping you during your journey towards parenthood and have expert staff and knowledgeable customer service here to help you every step of the way.

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Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

I am not a doctor and don\'t pretend to be one. Use everything you read only to inspire you to do your own research and be an advocate for your own health. Please read my disclaimer in full.

Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? {book review}

natural thyroid helpOver a month ago now, I checked out the book “Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? when my lab tests are normal” by Datis Kharraian, and so far it’s been one of the most informative book on healing hypothyroid issues an Hashimoto’s.

I really should just buy it already, as I keep putting off bringing it back to the library. I’m up to at least a week in fees now as I couldn’t renew it any longer. Whoops. But it’s a fantastic reference and I keep finding more information!

The following quotes are from his website – emphasis mine.

What your doctor hasn’t told you about hypothyroidism, and what you need to know

  • For 90% of Americans, hypothyroidism is caused by Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid disease
  • Thyroid replacements–Synthroid, Armour, Cytomel–may normalize TSH, but they do not manage the autoimmune disease symptoms
  • You should avoid gluten strictly—studies link gluten intolerance with Hashimoto’s
  • Pituitary function plays a role in underactive thyroid symptoms
  • Adrenal function plays a role in underactive thyroid symptoms
  • Thyroid hormone resistance, underconversion to T3, overconversion to T3, and other metabolic factors drive hypothyroidism sypmptoms

Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? will show you why thyroid hormones don’t address the cause of hypothyroidism, and why iodine supplements can make you worse.

You’ll learn that Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid disease, is the cause of hypothyroidism for most people and what to do about it. You’ll learn how to appropriately manage Hashimoto’s disease and autoimmune diseases in general.

And you’ll learn the six patterns of low thyroid function, only one of which truly can be helped by thyroid hormones … if even then.

Don’t waste another day feeling lousy because you’re trapped in outdated standards of health care. Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? harnesses cutting-edge scientific research and clinical experience for a safe, simple and truly effective approach to hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s and autoimmune diseases in general.

Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms?, Dr. Kharrazian’s first book, has been called a revolutionary breakthrough in managing Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism. He wrote it for both the patient and the health care practitioner.

Doctors will find it packed with useful clinical information they can put to work immediately. Their patients will find it simplifies complex issues, thus improving compliance.

The information in the book is founded on solid science and gels well with what I know of nutrition and natural medicine. He also goes in to the two types of Hashimoto’s disease and gives you information that even your holistic doctor may not know. What I’m most pleased with is the fact that he focuses on healing the body to get it to work properly, instead of using even natural thyroid medications like Armour. (In fact, he mentions quite a few times that he doesn’t recommend that for most people)

After building a good foundation on the causes of autoimmune disease by reading Autoimmune, the cause and the cure, I was able to connect so many dots together and it all makes so much sense.

So if you think you may have thyroid issues, or you do and are not getting the care you need from your doctor, I can highly recommend this book!

You know what? I’m just going to add this to my Amazon cart right now – I need this book in my natural health library! If you can’t buy it for your own library I recommend having your library get it for you, women everywhere need to read this book.

Check out this month\'s sponsor, Natural Fertility Shop. They are 100% focused on helping you during your journey towards parenthood and have expert staff and knowledgeable customer service here to help you every step of the way.

All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

I am not a doctor and don\'t pretend to be one. Use everything you read only to inspire you to do your own research and be an advocate for your own health. Please read my disclaimer in full.

Symptoms of Thyroid Disorder

natural treatment for thyroid disordersThyroid disorders seem to be on the rise in modern civilization, but why? And how do we know if it’s something we deal with?

As many of you know, I’ve been basically feeling like crud for the last year. I’ve very much had feeling of depression and anxiety along with major fatigue and insomnia. I also think it’s probably something that’s been lingering for many, many years, yet only showed up in full force after my miscarriage.

I now am a believer that stress can cause or multiply health issues.

I’ve always dealt with many of the symptoms, but they’ve never interfered with my life before. Or they came and went within weeks/months. When I switched to a whole foods diet most, if not all of them, went away. But then I got too busy for my own good and had to have the help of a chiropractor friend to help pull me out of adrenal fatigue, and felt well afterwards.

But this last year has been a bugger of a year, as symptoms of a thyroid disorder showed up more and more. As a mom of young children, I shrugged off the fatigue. I mean, all moms are tired right? And the feelings of depression and anxiety could be related to the miscarriage and grief. Yet deep down I knew there was something else wrong.

My much awaited lab results showed me just that. And I have a feeling that many of you may also deal with thyroid issues and just don’t know it. Or maybe you’ve been tested and your doctor told you that everything was “normal”. Even when you feel that it’s not.

Thyroid Basics

We will just discuss the very basics of thyroid function, as to cover it all, we’d need to write a book!

The thyroid is a small endocrine gland, just above the adam’s apple in the throat, consisting of two parts. To me it sort of looks like a butterfly. An ugly one. This gland takes in iodine and produces thyroid hormones. Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of their own metabolism. It detects shifts in body chemistry (chronic blood sugar imbalance, hormone imbalances, chronic inflammation, nutritional deficiencies, toxicity, liver congestion, poor digestive health, or even the use of hormones, synthetic or bio-identical) and helps the body compensate for them.

But the thyroid does not act alone. As with everything in holistic health, we must also look at how it functions along with other parts of our body. According to Datis Kharrazian in his book “Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms?“:

  1. The hypothalamus sends thyroid releasing hormone (TRH) to the pituitary. (this is basically the thermostat regulator in the body)
  2. The pituitary gland releases thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to the thyroid gland, giving it the signal to produce more hormones.
  3. TSH stimulates thyroid peroxidase (TPO) activity to use iodine to create T4 and T3 hormones. 93% of the thyroid hormone production is T4, an inactive form which needs to be converted by different organs in the body. 7% is the usable T3. These hormones hitch a ride in the bloodstream on thyroid-binding proteins to the cells that need them and can convert the T4 to T3.
  4. 60% of the T4 produced by the thyroid is converted to T3 in the liver by an enzyme called tetraidothyronine 5’deiodinase. Another 20% of the T4 is converted in the digestive system via the sulfatase enzyme which is present in healthy guts.

Common Symptoms of HYPOthyroid (under active thyroid)

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Low basal body temps and/or low temperatures throughout the day
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Morning headaches that go away throughout the day
  • Infertility
  • Fatigue
  • Cloudy thinking
  • Weight gain or inability to lose weight easily
  • Sensitive to cold weather
  • Constipation
  • Digestive problems
  • Poor circulation
  • Slow wound healing
  • Need excessive amounts of sleep
  • Gets sick often (colds or viral infections)
  • Itchy and dry skin
  • Dry hair that breaks often, or thinning hair
  • Thinning of the outermost part of the eyebrow
  • High cholesterol

What happens in the body when you have hypothyroidism

There are actually different ways that hypothyroid happens in the body. Sometimes it’s because the pituitary senses the thyroid isn’t doing it’s job correctly and produces more thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Other times the pituitary is fatigued and not able to produce the TSH to signal the thyroid how many hormones to produce. Another pattern of hypothyroid is the inability of the body to convert T4 to T3 because of excess cortisol or chronic inflammation.

Some women with high levels of testosterone may also find that too much T4 is converted to T3, causing the cells of the body to become resistant to the hormone and not allowing it entry to do its work. (most often found in those with insulin resistance and PCOS- per “Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms?“)

Symptoms of HYPERthyroid (overactive thyroid)

  • heart palpitations
  • heat intolerance
  • nervousness
  • fast heart rate
  • hair loss
  • muscle weakness

What happens in the body when you have hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a medical term that basically means your thyroid is producing to many hormones so you have to many thyroid hormones for the cells. This could be due to the thyroid getting the signal to produce too much, or the inability of the cells to absorb the thyroid hormone.

The following may also indicate Hashimotos, an autoimmune thyroid disorder:

  • heart palpitations
  • inward trembling
  • increased pulse rate, even at rest
  • feelings of nervousness and emotional distress
  • night sweats
  • difficulty gaining weight
  • people with Hashimoto’s also tend to go back and forth between the symptoms of hypo and hyper thyroid.

What happens in the body when you have Hashimoto’s

This is an autoimmune disease where your immune system is actively attacking your thyroid, destroying it. It is also the most common cause of hypothyroidism, some sources stating that up to 90% of hypothyroid cases are due to Hashimoto’s. This causes the thyroid to continue to lose function, eventually not working at all. It can cause hypothyroid symptoms  and then can change to hyperthyroid symptoms as a “flare-up” destroys the thyroid tissue and hormones stored in the gland flow into the bloodstream. Once these hormones get into the bloodstream, the body’s metabolism speeds up, and a person will experience the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

The good news

You don’t have to live your life feeling like junk; depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, and overweight. There is hope for fixing thyroid issues without lifelong medications, and in the following days/weeks, we’ll be talking about ways to heal the body and focus on supporting your thyroid.

Have you had your thyroid checked? Your homework for the next couple of days is to call your doctor and get your test results. I cannot stress this enough! You need to find out your numbers and have them tell you exactly what thyroid hormones were tested and what ranges they used to decide what “normal” function is.

We’ll continue this conversation!

Check out this month\'s sponsor, Natural Fertility Shop. They are 100% focused on helping you during your journey towards parenthood and have expert staff and knowledgeable customer service here to help you every step of the way.

All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

I am not a doctor and don\'t pretend to be one. Use everything you read only to inspire you to do your own research and be an advocate for your own health. Please read my disclaimer in full.

Naturally Warmed Up, How to Raise your Basal Body Temperature

{Learn how to fix your low basal body temperature – a guest post by Matt Stone of www.180degreehealth.com}

Donielle contacted me recently because so many of her readers were complaining of having a low body temperature – something that is very common, practically universal, among women with standard menstrual and fertility issues. Since I’m notorious for making women hot, yeah baby, and I even have a “Hot Chicks Club” for all the women who have obtained a consistent waking luteal phase body temperature of 99 degrees Fahrenheit or higher… I guess I’m the go-to guy on this issue.

low basal body temperature

While I could soften it and explain the particulars of the science and massage you into accepting that the advice I have has validity, I think it might be best if I just keep it simple. And slap you upside the head with it. If you would like to find out more about the basis of why the following information works so well (and I have 30,000 comments on my website confirming that it does indeed work very well – for raising body temperature, restoring menstruation, improving fertility, and many other metabolism-related disorders), I have put out several materials on it – the best and most recent being Diet Recovery: Restoring Hormonal Health, Metabolism, Mood, and Your Relationship with Food. 

So let’s get on with it.

The quick explanation of the problem at hand is that if the human body goes through the supply of something faster than it is being delivered, the body down-regulates metabolism to slow down the rate at which it burns through stuff (namely calories and nutrients). There are other factors involved, most of them hereditary in nature (but can still be overcome with the right approach).

In a world in which we have developed serious calorie phobia, carbohydrate phobia, fat phobia, couch potato phobia, saturated fat and cholesterol phobia, and more – almost all women in today’s society have grown so accustomed to actively eating below appetite, with dietary restriction, and exercising vigorously that they don’t even realize that they are basically engaged in disordered eating.

This is particularly harmful to women who are already coming into the world with a suppressed metabolism, which is becoming increasingly common due to our nutrient-poor diet, the dieting our mothers did (kids of dieting mothers have a known increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes), chronic physiological stressors, and countless other factors.

To make a long story short, if you have a reduced morning body temperature (this is the most important time to check as this is the best indicator of your absolute lowest metabolic rate), cold hands and feet (another powerful indicator of low metabolism), or other signs of a low metabolism (constipation, frequent infection, yeast issues, chronic fatigue, low sex drive, abnormal menstrual cycle, thinning hair, puffy eyes or water retention, poor fingernail growth, poor strength, hypoglycemia, and others) – the typical modern approach of beating yourself into submission with dietary restriction (even just being a health nut) and lots of “cardio” exercise will take you much farther away from a healthy metabolism. It is counterproductive and worsens the underlying disorder.

Dr. Atkins perhaps said it best when he wrote…

“…remember that prolonged dieting (this one [meaning the Atkins diet], low-fat, low-calorie, or a combination) tends to shut down thyroid function. This is usually not a problem with the thyroid gland (therefore blood tests are likely to be normal) but with the liver, which fails to convert T4 into the more active thyroid principle, T3. The diagnosis is made on clinical ground with the presence of fatigue, sluggishness, dry skin, coarse or falling hair, an elevation in cholesterol, or a low body temperature. I ask my patients to take four temperature readings daily before the three meals and near bedtime. If the average of all these temperatures, taken for at least three days, is below 97.8 degrees F (36.5 C), that is usually low enough to point to this form of thyroid problem; lower readings than that are even more convincing.”

Keep in mind that the metabolic rate – the active thyroid in your system being a primary factor in your metabolic rate, determines the rate at which pregnenalone is converted to progesterone – the pro-gestation hormone. That’s why, when metabolism is low, fertility is poor. When metabolism increases, your chances of conception and a successful pregnancy skyrocket. I highly recommend going through the following steps to anyone looking to get pregnant – whether having problems or not. Having a high metabolism going into pregnancy, and producing abundant progesterone has all kinds of benefits to the offspring – from increased brain size/development to increased ratio of muscle mass to body fat. And it’s good for moms too. Progesterone increases the elasticity of cervical tissues! Making childbirth a LOT less painful.

Alright, so we’re finally getting to the useful stuff. If you consistently have a body temperature below 98 degrees F when you wake up in the morning (rectal temps being the most reliable), you can fix this. It is not hard, unless you consider being on vacation and spa days hard. It is very common for people of all ages, male and female, to see increases in body temperature from as low as 95F to 98F and above in less than 30 days. It really is that simple and reliable. The hard part is getting people to try it because it sounds so strange in contrast to the exercise more/eat less, ‘carbs are the devil’ and/or ‘saturated fat is the devil’ and ‘no pain no gain’ brainwashing that has taken place over the last half century.

To raise body temperature and increase your chances of having a successful pregnancy…

  1. Eat as much nutritious food as you can every day. Emphasize the more calorie-dense unrefined carbohydrates like root vegetables, fruit, and grains in particular, but also eat a satisfying amount of meat, fat, dairy products (milk is incredible for body temperature), and whatever else that you find enjoyable. But keep it as nutritious and unprocessed as possible. 
  2. Eat beyond appetite. This is key. Eating more than you want to eat is what forces your body to get out of its low metabolism rut.
  3. Go at least 12 hours straight per day without food – you don’t want to be overeating for more than half the day. So if you eat dinner at 7pm, have breakfast at 7am. I believe this practice can make the body more responsive to the hormone leptin, probably the most important hormone in fertility (because it raises thyroid and progesterone).
  4. Get as much sleep as possible. Sleep is an incredibly powerful tool for raising metabolism.
  5. Avoid vigorous exercise. This is not a permanent recommendation obviously. You can resume getting more vigorous exercise once your body temperature is fully restored.
  6. Emphasize saturated fats over unsaturated fats. Dairy products, red meat, and coconut products are the best source of dietary saturated fats. You should eat these preferentially over nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, avocado, and other plant fats – as well as pork and poultry, when possible.
  7. De-stress. While eating a lot, sleeping a lot, and avoiding excessive exercise is inherently de-stressing, it also pays to spend time doing something that you find leisurely or enjoyable and mentally and physically relaxing, which is highly individual. Massage and sunbathing would be my two personal favorites!

And, well. That’s all there is to it.

Enjoy.

Note – you will probably not feel well when you start doing this, but will feel bloated, hungover, and extremely fatigued and drowsy. Those are not bad signs, but signs of deep physiological relaxation and/or signs of adjustment to the new transition. Be patient. Give it a full 30-day trial.

Matt Stone, author of 7 books, is an independent health researcher who emphasizes the dangers of dieting and restricted and restrained eating of many varieties, and raising metabolism naturally. He is the voice of www.180degreehealth.com

 

 

 

 

The basal body thermometer Donielle has used for a couple of years with good results.

The thermometer Matt recommends:

Check out this month\'s sponsor, Natural Fertility Shop. They are 100% focused on helping you during your journey towards parenthood and have expert staff and knowledgeable customer service here to help you every step of the way.

All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

I am not a doctor and don\'t pretend to be one. Use everything you read only to inspire you to do your own research and be an advocate for your own health. Please read my disclaimer in full.