Guest Author - Colleen Forgus
A few weeks ago, I was involved in a car accident. Seconds before a driver who ran through a red light hit our car, I saw that the impact was unavoidable. Fortunately, no one was injured. But, the fight or flight hormones, that are pumped out from the adrenal glands during times of stress, flooded my body. It took about an hour until my body quit shaking and the adrenaline levels decreased.
Undoubtedly, you have experienced a similar situation. You can practically hear the glands opening up and the rush of hormones pulsing through your body. This “fight or flight” process can be credited for the successful evolution of the human species. Today, stressful events in our daily lives continue to trigger the adrenal glands to flood the body with hormones, sometimes to the detriment of our wellbeing. The adrenaline hormones, that originally were designed to literally save our lives from unimaginable threats, continue to respond to life’s stressful, but usually not life threatening, situations.
We also live longer than our ancestors. While our predecessors often only lived into their 30’s and 40’s, today we routinely live into our 70’s, 80’s and beyond. However, the adrenal glands seem to be programed to show a sharp decline in their ability to produce hormones around age 35.
Energy levels, weight maintenance, sleep patterns, libido and mood are all influenced by our thyroid and adrenal glands. Both glands play important roles in the functioning of the entire endocrine system. Today, doctors estimate that nearly half of the patients who suffer from hypothyroidism also suffer from adrenal gland fatigue.
If you suffer from hypothyroidism, but do not seem to be responding to the thyroid replacement therapy your doctor has prescribed, adrenal fatigue could be the reason why. It is vitally important that adrenal fatigue is addressed and corrected prior to treating thyroid deficiencies. In fact, treating underactive thyroid function without correcting adrenal fatigue can cause a person to actually feel worse.
As Dr. David Brownstein describes in his book, Overcoming Thyroid Disorders, “An inadequate production of adrenal hormones can result in a poor conversion of the inactive thyroid hormone, T4, in the more active thyroid hormone T3.” If a patient is prescribed thyroid hormones, without correcting adrenal deficiencies, the increased metabolism rate of the thyroid gland will simply tax the adrenal glands further. Dr. Brownstein states, “The consequences of this failure can be severe, as adrenal failure is incompatible with life.”
Allergies, weight gain, autoimmune disorders, chronic fatigue, infertility, mononucleosis, shingles, heart palpitations, low blood pressure, dizziness, hypoglycemia, arthritis and weakness are symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue. Many of these symptoms are also associated with hypothyroidism, leading to the question, “What came first, hypothyroidism or adrenal fatigue?”
The truth is, no matter which disorder came first, attempting to correct thyroid disorders without first correcting adrenal fatigue is a prescription for failure. Doctors may prescribe adrenal steroids such as cortisol, DHEA, prednisone or prednisolone to help the adrenal glands regain their ability to function normally. Ideally, assisting the adrenal gland function by taking a small dose of adrenal steroids allows the glands to have a “rest”. Eventually the adrenal hormones are discontinued and the adrenal glands are able to regain proper function, while the patient continues to take the thyroid hormones.
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