Chronic stress, PMS, and Hashimoto’s low thyroid — what you need to know

pms pregnenolone steal copyIf you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid and your monthly period is a miserable journey of depression, anxiety, irritability, pain, and more, you may need to look at the effect stress is having on your hormones. The misery of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is not natural — PMS is a sign your hormones are imbalanced, most likely due to too long term chronic stress.

Low progesterone symptoms that can cause PMS  include:

  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Changes in weight or appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Crying easily
  • Irritability
  • Poor focus and concentration
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent or irregular menstruation
  • Low sex drive
  • Migraines

How chronic stress lowers progesterone

Chronic stress causes a situation called pregnenolone steal, which causes progesterone deficiency and hormonal imbalances. Pregnenolone is a building block hormone used to make progesterone and the stress hormone cortisol.

The body can only make so much pregnenolone. If stress is always high, the demands for cortisol become greater, and the body prioritizes handling stress over the reproductive hormones. Therefore, it “steals” pregnenolone from progesterone to make cortisol in order to meet the demands of stress. This causes hormonal imbalances and PMS.

Things that cause pregnenolone steal

Some people think the answer is progesterone cream, but progesterone cream can further skew hormones. It’s better to address why your progesterone is low. The most typical cause is pregnenolone steal from chronic stress.

Causes of pregnenolone steal and PMS include:

  • Sugar and sweeteners, excess processed carbs — rice, pasta, bread, pastries, etc.
  • Excess caffeine
  • Food intolerances — gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, nuts, grains, etc.
  • Digestive issues — bloating, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, leaky gut, pain, etc.
  • Lack of sleep
  • Inflammation — joint pain, chronic pain, skin rashes, brain fog, fatigue, etc.
  • Autoimmune disease (such as Hashimoto’s)
  • Overdoing it; over exercising
  • Feeling constantly overwhelmed
  • Poor nutrition
  • Reverse pregnenolone steal to soothe PMS

We can use foundations of functional medicine to better manage the hormones and stop pregnenolone steal. The fundamentals include an anti-inflammatory diet, restoring gut health, and managing autoimmunity. These are the same foundations we use in managing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.

A variety of compounds can help soothe PMS:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) — evening primrose oil, borage oil, or black currant oil
  • Nutrients to support serotonin, a brain chemical that promotes well-being — tryptophan, 5-HTP, St. John’s Wort, and SAMe

This is a broad overview. Ask my office for more advice on using natural therapies to alleviate PMS and support healthy hormones and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.

How to learn if you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid

Many patients are not diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s until after several years and going through several doctors. It is a demoralizing journey richly illustrated in my book The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid Disease, through real-life stories from patients in my practice. Managing Hashimoto’s goes far beyond using thyroid medication as you must work to stop the immune system from attacking the thyroid. For more information on identifying and managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid, contact my office.

About Dr. Josh Redd, Chiropractic Physician — Utah, Arizona, New Mexico functional medicine

Dr. Joshua J. Redd, DC, MS, DABFM, DAAIM, author of The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid Disease, is a chiropractic physician and the founder of RedRiver Health and Wellness Center with practices in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. He sees patients from around the world who suffer from challenging thyroid disorders, Hashimoto’s disease, and other autoimmune conditions. In addition to his chiropractic degree, Dr. Redd has a BS in Health and Wellness, a BS in Anatomy, and a MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine.  He speaks across the nation, teaching physicians about functional blood chemistry, low thyroid, Hashimoto’s, and autoimmunity. You can join his Facebook page here.