By Josh Redd, DC on December 23, 2016
You’ve probably heard stress is bad for you. And you've probably also heard stress can make your Hashimoto’s low thyroid worse. But how do you know if your stress is normal or high enough to cause thyroid problems? The adrenal stress test can help.
Severe stress can cause you to be always tired, overly wired, or a mix of both. Or your stress may manifest as issues with sleep, afternoon crashes, or weight.
Many people are so used to being stressed out they don't even realize stress is a health issue for them. They have forgotten how not to feel stressed out.
It's important to know if chronic stress is an issue for you because stress can thwart your efforts to manage Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
Symptoms of stress that make you tired all the time when you have Hashimoto's low thyroid
- Slow to get going in the morning
- Energy crash in the afternoon
- Craving sweets, caffeine, or nicotine
- Unstable behavior; moodiness
- Shaky, light-headed, or irritable if meals are delayed
- Inability to stay asleep
- Dizziness when moving from sitting to standing
Symptoms of stress that make you feel wired when you have Hashimoto's low thyroid
- Excess belly fat
- Insulin resistance (high blood sugar)
- Not feeling rested in the morning
- Women grow facial hair; men grow breasts
- PCOS in women (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
An adrenal stress test lets you know the effect of stress on your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism
An adrenal stress test
uses your saliva to measure how your body handles stress; it’s also called an adrenal salivary panel. Your adrenal glands are two small glands that sit atop each kidney and secrete stress hormones.
To get the most from the adrenal stress test, it is best to do it twice: Once before you begin your health protocol and then four to six weeks after following your health protocol. This shows you whether your health protocol is working.
Stress is always caused by something, whether it's a lifestyle issue or something less obvious, such as low or high blood sugar, an infection, or autoimmune disease.
Adrenal health should improve as you manage these conditions. If things do not improve, it means you must keep searching to find out what is stressing the body.
Even unmanaged Hashimoto’s low thyroid can raise stress. But if you are using functional medicine to manage your Hashimoto’s low thyroid and still suffering from unresolved chronic stress, you may need to look for underlying cause.
Measuring your sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm)
Another way to measure your stress levels with an adrenal stress test is to look at your sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm.
If your circadian rhythm is healthy, you wake up alert and are sleepy before bed.
Cortisol, your primary stress hormone, should be high in the morning and low at night on an adrenal stress test. Many people have a sleep-wake cycle that is backwards, causing fatigue in the morning and insomnia at night. Or, instead of cortisol gradually declining, it may drop suddenly in the afternoon, causing an energy crash.
A healthy circadian rhythm is important to managing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and should be addressed. In addition to diet and lifestyle changes, adrenal adaptogens can be very helpful.
Where do you fall on the adrenal stress test scale?
By measuring a variety of markers, the adrenal stress test can tell you whether you are in:
- The “alarm reaction” of elevated adrenal hormones
- Adrenal exhaustion and chronic tiredness
- Somewhere in between
People do not necessarily progress from alarm reaction to adrenal fatigue. It’s possible to jump between phases, or stay in one phase for years.
The adrenal stress test also measures immune cells called total SIgA
. This lets you know whether stress has impacted your immune system. Low SIgA means you are more susceptible to food intolerances, infections, and weakened immunity.
If you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid that isn't being managed, you may have low SIgA levels.
Lowering stress with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism often starts with stabilizing blood sugar
One of the most common causes of chronic stress is a blood sugar imbalance.
Managing high or low blood sugar are vital to addressing not only chronic stress but also Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
Although working with diet and lifestyle are important in managing stress, various herbal and nutritional compounds, such as adrenal adaptogens, can also profoundly influence adrenal function.
Ask my office about the adrenal stress test and how you can support your adrenal health and manage your Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
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
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