Dr. Chris Heimlich, DC, DACNB Comments
We all know stress is bad for us. There are thousands of books on the subject. But how does it relate to the way you are feeling when you have low thyroid symptoms?
First of all, when you are stressed, you release interleukin 17, or IL 17 for short. They are pro-inflammatory cytokines. That means they are highly inflammatory in nature. More inflammation means more symptoms and suffering.
As I have talked about in many other posts, the majority of people suffering with low thyroid symptoms in the United States have an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. It is a condition where your thyroid tissue is attacked and destroyed by your own body. As you can imagine, when the body attacks itself, there is a large amount of inflammation produced. So when you release these other chemicals in the body that cause more inflammation, it only makes your symptoms worse.
Symptoms that are commonly associated with low thyroid or high TSH are:
- Often feeling cold
- Cold hands and feet
- High or rising cholesterol
- No eyebrows or thinning outer eyebrows
- Exhaustion in every dimension–physical, mental, spiritual, emotional
- Dry Hair
- Sore feet
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- painful bladder
- Heart disease
- Hair Loss
- Requires naps in the afternoon
- Raised temperature
- Headaches and migraines
- Joint pain
- Major anxiety/worry
- Acne on face and in hair
- Breakout on chest and arms
- Bizarre and Debilitating reaction to exercise
- Hard stools
- Less stamina than others
- Less energy than others
- Long recovery period after any activity
- Chronic Low Grade Depression
- Hard stools
- Dry cracking skin
- Brain Fog
- Decreased sex drive
- Aching muscles
- Lack of motivation
- Swollen ankle
- Inability to lose weight (even with exercise and low calorie diet)
- Sleep Apnea
- Inability to get pregnant; miscarriages
So when you have any of these symptoms, and you get stressed out, it is like throwing gasoline on the fire.
Another reason that stress is bad for low thyroid sufferers is because the pituitary gland gets suppressed secondary to elevation of cortisol. Cortisol is produce by your adrenal glands and is released when you have stress. The adrenal glands are part of you autonomic nervous system. It is the system that has to do with fight or flight and with all the organs in the body, including the heart, lungs, stomach, GI system, pancreas, etc. What controls the autonomic nervous system? Your brain controls the autonomic nervous system, and the brain doesn’t like large fluctuations in the cortisol either.
Chronic stress can cause elevation in the cortisol which causes suppression of the pituitary and reduces the amount of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) released. I won’t get into all the pathways associated with the brain, thyroid, and adrenal glands because you don’t have to know them. But your doctor does.
Don’t go run out and buy supplements to support your adrenals. That mentality could just rob Peter to pay Paul. You have to look at how all of the body is functioning before you ever start thinking about supporting the adrenals.
The easy answer is to not get stressed out. ….but that is unrealistic.
The key to stress is finding a way to deal with it in an appropriate manner.
Find something that you enjoy and that relaxes you, and then do it on a daily basis. Some of you reading this are probably saying that you love to exercise, but can’t due to fatigue, pain, etc. I understand. There is another key to stress.
The other key to stress is finding out why you are not feeling the way you should. It is not normal to have symptoms.
You need to find a doctor that understands what we have talked about and who can look over your lab results, sit down and listen to your symptoms, examine you, and come up with a way to get your body to heal itself back up, the way it was designed to do. You need a doctor that will look at everything happening in your body- not just your thyroid or adrenals.