Those of us with Hashimoto's (or other forms of thyroid disorders) often blame our thyroid for the many signs and symptoms we experience.
Hair loss? Thyroid!
Weight gain? THYROID!
Fatigue? It's gotta be the thyroid!
Treating hypothyroidism without treating the adrenals is one of the biggest reasons people continue to feel exhausted despite receiving treatment with thyroid hormones.
The patient begins to feel crazy … but that’s when another layer of what is broken in Hashimoto’s becomes unraveled. Many symptoms of hypothyroidism actually overlap with symptoms of underactive adrenals, however, physicians don’t routinely check adrenal function in those with Hashimoto’s.
Symptoms of poor adrenal function may include the following:
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling tired despite adequate sleep
- Difficulty getting up in the morning on most days
- Craving for salty foods (a.k.a. “I just ate a whole bag of chips syndrome”)
- Increased effort required for everyday activities
- Low blood pressure
- Feeling faint when getting up quickly
- Mental fog
- Alternating diarrhea/constipation
- Low blood sugar
- Decreased sex drive
- Decreased ability to handle stress
- Slowed healing
- Mild depression
- Less enjoyment in life
- Feeling worse after skipping meals
- Increased PMS
- Poor concentration
- Reduced ability to make decisions
- Reduced productivity
- Poor memory
Stress is not your friend!
Stress causes our adrenals to pump out extra hormones, and shifts our body from a relaxing, digesting, healing state to a fight or flight state. The body's energy is shifted from doing "useless" things like growing beautiful hair, metabolizing, making hormones, digesting and repairing itself, and instead, all of the body's resources are reserved to make cortisol and adrenaline that is pumped through our veins so that we can keep going.
This mechanism comes in really handy when you are chased by a bear, not so much when the mechanism gets triggered by traffic or loud television shows.
Eventually, we run out of nutrients that are required for proper adrenal function and we get to a state of adrenal fatigue. This is when our body is no longer able to heal itself and we feel drained.
There are five types of stress that turn on our fight or flight response;
- Mental/emotional stress
- Sleep disorders
- Metabolic/ glycemic dysregulation
- Chronic inflammation
- Physical injury
Recovering from adrenal fatigue
Replenishing nutrients and using adaptogens, that balance out the adrenals can be helpful for everyone. I like to use Adaptocrine from Apex Energetics. It contains nutrients and adaptogens.
Stabilizing the blood sugar through diet is of utmost importance. When the adrenal glands are fatigued, they have difficulty balancing blood sugar between meals, so you have to take on that task by eating more frequent meals. Typically I recommend eating every 2-3 hours during this time of adrenal fatique blood sugar dysregulation.
Adrenal hormone testing can also be done to determine which stage of adrenal fatigue the person is in, and supplements can be used accordingly. My lab test of choice is Precision Analytical, Inc. I have writtin many blog articles related to adrenal issues that you can read by clicking on this link.
I'm going to let you in on a secret; the most important strategy for combating adrenal fatigue does not involve dieting, supplements, medications or testing. This strategy however, is often the hardest to implement. That strategy is...stress reduction. Stress reduction is probably the hardest lifestyle change for many to implement. Some folks only have two settings "GO" and "SLEEP". Often these individuals do not know how to relax, smell the roses, turn-off or unwind.
What follow is a list of strategies to make myself more relaxed and shift your body into a state of relaxing, digesting and healing. I hope some of them will resonate with you, but many of you will need to come up with your own list. Many of these items may be really difficult to implement, especially for those of us with responsibilities like jobs, children, or elderly relatives who need our care, but somehow, you HAVE to schedule time for yourself. We often expect our doctors to heal us, but the healing comes from within just the same.
No one else will do it for you. Put it in your planner if you must.
Some strategies to reduce stress include…
- Read self-help books on relaxation, overcoming stress, etc. “How To Stop Worrying And Start Living” by Dale Carnegie is a great classic.
- Find one thing to be thankful for each day.
- Listen to books on CD while doing things you don’t enjoy. For example I despise traffic and cleaning the house. Listening to a book on CD keeps my busy mind engaged instead of worrying about the traffic or the house.
- Music: Try the Spa station on Pandora for instant relaxation!
- Meditation, yoga, and tai chi are all relaxing hobbies.
- Cut out toxic people ...
- Get organized and simplify your life.
- Consume less: turn off the TV, get off the Internet, stay out of stores.
- Take time for yourself … daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.
- Daily: Try a yoga class, hot bath, or closing your eyes for 15 minutes to meditate.
- Weekly: Schedule a day off from work—a day when you just do what you want to do. You are forbidden from running errands, doing chores, or work. Do you feel like reading all day? Do it! Do you want to stay in bed all day? Do it! Do you want to get a mani-pedi? Go for it. It’s your time, your body, your health. One strategy for those of us who are lucky enough to have time off from work is to “schedule” your sick days. Schedule work responsibilities around the planned sick day.
- Monthly: Schedule a message/spa day with the girls or an outing with the boys. Perhaps you could try floating; it's UBER relaxing. My current favorite location it The Float Institute and I can get kettle bell training, and yoga classes there, too!
- Yearly: Schedule a beach vacation, schedule a staycation
- Control freaks … learn to let it go. You can’t rest the weight of the world on your shoulders. Retire from your position as CEO of the Universe. You will be much better off and surprisingly, the world will go on.
- Mindfulness: Pausing, and being present and observant of how things are affecting you can be a great way to learn how to relax yourself.
- Avoid getting overtired and/or overexcited
- Laugh several times a day
- Enjoy life, get a pet
- Do your best to eliminate, simplify, delegate, automate.
- Be more resilient by being more flexible. Bruce Lee once said “Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”
- Do the things that you like.
- Orderliness and predictability are your friends. Plan your life that way when you can. Catch up on bills, checkbooks, and your long to-do lists. Keep your space neat and clean. Schedule times to clean the house and catch up on life, not just big events. Make sure you schedule down time as well.
- Avoid burning the candle at both ends.
- Massage, acupuncture, meditation, floating, heart rate variabilty biofeedback or tai chi may help get you relaxed.
- Avoid multitasking. Do one thing at a time and keep your full attention on it before you move on to the next task. Take a small break in between tasks.
I wish you the best of luck in your healing journey!
Always remember one of my mantras., "The more you know about how your body works, the better you can take care of yourself."
For more details about the natural approach I take with my patients, take a look at the book I wrote entitled: Reclaim Your Life; Your Guide To Revealing Your Body's Life-Changing Secrets For Renewed Health. It is available in my office or at Amazon and many other book outlets. If you found value in this article, please use the social sharing icons at the top of this post and please share with those you know who are still suffering with chronic health challenges, despite receiving medical management. Help me reach more people so they may regain their zest for living! Thank you!
ALL THE BEST – DR. KARL R.O.S. JOHNSON, DC – DIGGING DEEPER TO FIND SOLUTIONS