Adrenal health is incredibly important for optimal health and in particular thyroid health. I like to think of the thyroid and adrenals as best friends forever (BFFs). So many women have major hormonal imbalances and really struggle on their thyroid medication and all as a direct result of not addressing their underlying adrenal fatigue.
What are your adrenals?
Your adrenals are walnut-sized glands that sit on top of your kidneys. They have a super important function to help you cope with all types of stress: physical, emotional or mental.
In response to stress your adrenals produce two key hormones to help you deal with stress in the best possible way. These are adrenaline and cortisol. Your adrenals serve a much greater purpose and are also responsible for the production of aldosterone and DHEA.
Also known as epinephrine, is released by the adrenals to get you ready for fight or flight. The actions of adrenaline is to increase heart rate, blood pressure and expand the lungs to ensure greater oxygen intake and even enlarge the pupil in the eye (one reason why testing your pupils can be helpful). More on this in a future post. The focus is to create an environment for your brain and muscles to act swiftly to ensure you can escape the threat.
Also known as your stress hormone, is your body’s built in alarm system. Every cell in your body has cortisol receptors and the functions of cortisol goes much further than just activating the alarm. It’s also the body’s own anti-inflammatory. In fact, the drug hydrocortisone was developed to mimic the cortisol. Optimal levels of cortisol helps to keep any inflammation under control. It also helps the immune system to fight infections, regulates blood sugar and blood pressure, brain function and memory and more.
Insufficient production of cortisol can cause a variety of symptoms and is very closely associated to thyroid dysfunction and Hashimoto’s.
A steroid hormone who’s main function is to regulate salt and water in the body and as a result blood pressure.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), is also a steroid hormone. In fact, the highest circulating steroid hormone in the body. It is produced from cholesterol by the adrenals and its main function is to produce other hormones such as testosterone and oestrogen. DHEA levels peak in your twenties and then slowly reduce as we age.
Factors that contribute to adrenal fatigue
There are many factors that can compromise adrenal function, but here are some of the key scenarios that I see in practice.
- Years living with an undiagnosed thyroid condition. This is so common and something that we can easily avoid if doctors just tested the right markers!
- Taking T4 medication only in some instances can do more harm than good and it can add unnecessary pressure on your adrenals and health
- Long periods of chronic stress. This can be physical, mental or emotional
- The wrong diet. This factors in all of them, heavily processed, keto, vegan, paleo, raw, fasting, etc. If the diet is wrong for your body at that time, it will add unnecessary stress and pressure
- A diet high in polyunsaturated fats (PUFA), such as omega 6 and not sufficient levels of Omega 3s
- Constant blood sugar imbalances, caused by either diet, sleep, stress and/or exercise
- Working nightshifts
- Heavy metals
- Chronic viral & other infections
How do you know if your adrenals are struggling??
There are many signs that your adrenal function might be compromised. Here are some of the classic signs:
- Difficulty falling asleep at night
- Waking up in the middle of the night (an hour after going to bed)
- Very sensitive to stress and just feel like you can’t cope with it
- Feeling irritable and on edge
- Racing or pounding heart
- Feeling anxious or nervous for no reason
- Light headed when you stand up
- Craving for salty foods
- Dark circles under your eyes
- Low blood sugar
- Low blood pressure
- Ongoing hypothyroid symptoms, despite being on medication
- Continued hypothyroid symptoms with high T3
- Find you have more energy in the evening
- Internal sensation of trembling
- Can feel nauseas when you move
- High oestrogen (PMS, heavy menstrual cycle)
- Hair loss
- Weight gain
- Slow recovery from dental work
- Brain fog / cloud-filled head
- Struggling to remember things
- Dependant on your morning coffee
If a few of these sound familiar then it might be worth taking a closer look at your adrenal health and consider some of the simple home testing methods that you can use to rule out adrenal fatigue. Stay tuned for a future post to find out what these are.
If you have thyroid symptoms or have been diagnosed with thyroid dysfunction, then you are definitely going to need to focus on your adrenal health. Be careful not to fall in the trap of thinking liquorice will solve it all, because it won’t! Getting the right testing done and understanding your adrenal profile is the first place to start, but more on this in a future post.
If you would like to know what steps to take to get your Hashimoto’s into remission and your thyroid working well again, schedule a 30-minute free assessment call so you can start this process today. You deserve to feel well and healthy and only you can make this wish or dream a reality.
Leave me a comment if you have any questions.