Adrenal fatigue is real when you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid
If you struggle with Hashimoto’s low thyroid, chronic exhaustion, insomnia, poor immunity, and low blood sugar symptoms, you may have poor function of the adrenal glands, or adrenal fatigue. These glands sit atop the kidneys and secrete stress hormones. However, your doctor likely told you there is no such thing as adrenal fatigue, thanks to guidance from The Hormone Foundation. However, there is a continuum of adrenal function and the brain plays a role in adrenal fatigue.
The debate around adrenal fatigue and primary adrenal insufficiency
The term "adrenal fatigue" is commonly known in the Hashimoto’s low thyroid world. Many people are nutritionally depleted and and chronically stressed, causing these hard-working little glands to become exhausted, along with the areas of the brain that govern them. A recent statement by The Hormone Foundation claimed adrenal fatigue does not exist and is not supported by any scientific facts, and that primary adrenal insufficiency is the only real version of adrenal dysfunction. However, according to Richard Shames, MD, adrenal fatigue and primary adrenal insufficiency exist along the same continuum. They are separated by severity of symptoms and treatment. In a nutshell, adrenal fatigue can also be referred to as mild adrenal sufficiency. Primary adrenal insufficiency is caused by damage to the adrenal glands, such as an autoimmune condition such as Addison’s disease, which attacks and destroys adrenal tissue. It is diagnosed through blood tests and can be treated with adrenal hormone replacement medication. Symptoms of primary adrenal insufficiency include:
Loss of appetite with weight loss
Craving salty foods
Dizziness, low blood pressure
Feeling lightheaded when standing up
Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort
Adrenal fatigue describes when lab tests don't support a diagnosis of primary adrenal insufficiency but a person still experiences symptoms of adrenal fatigue such as:
Excessive fatigue and exhaustion
Feeling overwhelmed by or unable to cope with stress
Craving salty foods
Adrenal fatigue is diagnosed by considering symptoms and running a 24-hour saliva cortisol test.
The role of the brain in adrenal fatigue
The brain plays an important role in adrenal fatigue. This is why nutrients to support your adrenal glands may not be helpful when the real problem is happening in the brain. Adrenal fatigue stems from poor function in the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA axis is the feedback loop between your body and parts of the brain that governs adrenal function. Chronic stress fatigues this entire system, including the brain.
How the adrenals become fatigued
When our bodies experience stress, no matter how small or large, our adrenals pump out hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol to help us fight or take flight. Our bodies are designed to return to baseline after a stressor so the nervous system can return to a “rest and digest” state necessary for daily function. However, in our chronically stressed modern lifestyles, our bodies are constantly reacting to stressors, many we are not even aware of, such as dietary triggers, toxins, even electromagnetic frequencies, and undiagnosed autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. This constant state of high stress hormones damages tissues in the body and brain and is linked to:
Insulin resistance and diabetes
High blood pressure
Increased belly fat
Removing all stressors in life is impossible, but there is much we can do to support adrenal function and buffer the damage of stress. Adrenal adaptogens and phosphatidylerine are two natural routes that especially support the HPA axis and the brain’s ability to handle stress. Contact my office for more support in taking care of your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, adrenals, HPA axis, and your ability to become more resilient to stress.
One of the main goals at RedRiver Health and Wellness Center is to work with patients to improve their health, wellbeing, and quality of life. The RedRiver Health and Wellness Center team is passionate about helping ailing patients achieve optimal health, and we truly care about the success of each and every patient.
RedRiver chiropractic physicians are great advocates for prescribing physicians and endocrinologists. In fact, many of our patients see their prescribing physician(s) more frequently while under our care than they would otherwise. Our goal is not to replace our patients’ primary care physicians and specialists, but to complement their care by providing patients with nutrition, diet, lifestyle and educational support and strategies. This way, patients can learn to manage their symptoms more efficiently. We have developed rewarding relationships with many prescribing physicians across the country, and we strive to continue to building relationships with MDs, DOs, NPs, and NMDs. When health professionals can work together for the benefit of the patient’s health, it becomes a win/win situation for the one who matters most—the patient.