by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath
The culprit for you feeling so tired is often thyroid function.
You’ve likely heard of thyroid challenges before, often tied into hair loss, poor metabolism, weight gain and of course, fatigue.
The problem with this is that the thyroid is most often misunderstood.
Heck, most people that get diagnosed by their doctor with a hypothyroid condition and are simply put on a synthetic form of thyroid hormone.
Done deal, right?
Sorry, that is typically not the answer for most.
First off, let’s understand that a hypothyroid condition is low thyroid hormone condition. Just in case you did not know.
Interestingly enough, there are still many doctors that are diagnosing a hypothyroid condition, yet they are not even looking at thyroid hormones.
This is true. Many docs simply look at thyroid stimulating hormone or TSH, which is a hormone produced in your pituitary gland. The job of this hormone is to basically tell your thyroid to produce more thyroid hormone.
So the thought (often wrong) is that if your TSH is low, you must be hypothyroid.
Not so fast Jack!
You may have heard me say this in the past and it is completely worth repeating.
When you have a thyroid problem, it is almost never an issue with your thyroid.
We’ll first look at health, balanced thyroid function. This actually includes in alphabetical order, your:
- Adrenal glands
- Brain (hypothalamus)
- Gastrointestinal tract
- Pituitary gland
- Thyroid glands
When all of this is working correctly your adrenal (stress) hormones are balanced, your brain if firing on all cylinders, your GI has a healthy balance of bacteria, your liver is fully functional, your pituitary gland is happy and healthy and your thyroid is simply moving along keeping your energy up and your weight down.
Sounds like an amazing system doesn’t it?
Let’s take this a bit deeper now.
Your adrenal glands will send a communication to your pituitary to share a need (or not) for more thyroid hormone. The pituitary produces TSH to tell the thyroid that more (or less) thyroid hormones need to be produced. The thyroid produces a bound form of thyroid hormone. This bound form can only be used around the thyroid tissue, so these bound thyroid hormones need to be converted into free or active forms, which are usable by other cells in the body. Note that every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of their metabolism. This conversion of bound to free hormones occurs mostly in the liver and gastrointestinal tract. The liver will convert approximately 65% and the GI with proper bacteria balance will convert about 25%. The other 10% or so will be converted in other cells in the body.
So you can see that thyroid hormones are much deeper than the thyroid itself.
So where to you start with this?
Think about the single biggest negative health influence you have in your life right now.
Did you think of stress?
If you did not, I can share that stress and the stress hormone reactions that we are living with almost 24/7 are such a huge impact for all of us.
It is not just mental and emotional stress though. It is the stress of injury, infection, inflammation, toxicity and the list goes on.
So when we are overwhelmed with these stress responses, your body will respond by manufacturing (over-manufacturing) your primary stress response hormone, which is called cortisol.
If you guessed that cortisol is produced by your adrenal glands, you are right on.
So long term chronic stress will eventually deplete the function of your adrenal glands, and do you remember one of the jobs of your adrenal glands based on what I mentioned earlier in this article?
If you are thinking that the adrenal glands send messages to the pituitary to help with the regulation of TSH and the stimulation of thyroid hormone production, you are correct. Countless studies show that chronic adrenal stress depresses brain (specifically the hypothalamus) and pituitary function. And since these two organs direct thyroid hormone production, anything that disrupts this system will also suppress thyroid function.
This in turn will depress thyroid hormone production, leaving you with fatigue, poor metabolism, hair loss and weight gain, among other potential symptoms.
So while there are potentially other areas that would potentially affect your thyroid hormone production, if you are missing the boat on your adrenals, you could be leaving yourself in the dark.
Don’t let fatigue take you down.
Check your adrenal function now. It’s FREE!
Next week I will address the next area of focus to improve thyroid function to ultimately get your energy back on track. We will discuss the thyroid conversion issues and the another significant challenge for your thyroid that almost nobody is talking about.
Don’t miss next weeks follow up article. Your thyroid would be sorry…
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