Archive for the ‘thyroid’ Category

Thyroid Health Q & A: What Patients Want to Know


Holtdorf Medical Group

What role does the thyroid play in our body?

The thyroid is integral to the body’s health as it affects nearly every cell in the body. Its influence can be seen in how the body relays information, triggers activity, and regulates various substances. More specifically, the thyroid gland produces hormones that monitor the body’s metabolic rate which in turn helps control the heart, various muscles, digestive function, brain development, and bone maintenance. Thus, the thyroid plays a crucial role in overseeing many aspects of wellness.

What are the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction?

A malfunctioning thyroid often results in a cascade of symptoms that can appear nearly anywhere in the body. This is because the interconnectivity of the body means that the areas directly affected by poor thyroid function can reverberate and damage other, seemingly unrelated areas.

It is estimated that thyroid disease affects over 20 million Americans with a large percentage of this group being hypothyroid (where the thyroid is sluggish and does not produce enough thyroid hormone). Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Hair loss
  • Muscle aches and weakness
  • Heavy or irregular menstrual periods
  • Depression
  • Cold intolerance

Hyperthyroidism is another common thyroid disorder where the thyroid is overactive and produces too many hormones. Symptoms that vary greatly from hypothyroidism include:

  • Heart palpitations, rapid heartbeat
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Weight loss
  • Heat intolerance
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sleep problems

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is thought to be the most common cause of hypothyroidism but usually goes undetected. About one out of every thousand people will be diagnosed with this autoimmune condition, but it is much more common. Of this group, women are significantly more likely to have Hashimoto’s, and it is most common between the ages of 45 and 65. Studies show, however, that most cases of Hashimoto’s cannot be detected by blood work—only the worst of the worst test positive. Symptoms often alternate between hypothyroid and hyperthyroid symptoms and can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • PMS
  • Goiters or swelling of the thyroid
  • Puffy face
  • Brittle nails
  • Enlargement of the tongue

What causes thyroid problems?

Thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism may develop from a singular trigger, but it is far more likely that there are multiple contributing factors. Some of the most common causes of hypothyroidism include nutritional imbalances (specifically iodine deficiency), exposure to environmental toxins, pituitary malfunction, congenital predisposition, inhibited hormone signaling or transport, and various medications such as antidepressants.

Perhaps the greatest contributor to thyroid disease, including hypothyroidism, is a chronic illness. Conditions such as diabetes, insulin resistance, depression, and Fibromyalgia can disrupt many factors relating to thyroid activity. One of the most common causes of hypothyroidism is a chronic autoimmune condition known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The disorder encourages the body’s own immune system to attack the thyroid gland, resulting in a serious decline in thyroid function. Another condition linked to Hashimoto’s is Epstein-Barr Virus or EBV, which is a herpes virus (Herpes 4) that has been linked to Hashimoto’s disease and many other autoimmune diseases.

What are the main differences between hypothyroidism & hyperthyroidism?

The main difference between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism relates to the way in which hormone levels are affected. Hypothyroidism leads to a decrease in hormones while hyperthyroidism leads to an increase in hormone production. In the United States, there are 20 million diagnosed cases of thyroid disease with a large percentage of this group being hypothyroid.

How does the thyroid relate to our gut, metabolism, and weight?

As previously mentioned, thyroid hormones facilitate communication between the brain and the gut. When thyroid function is reduced, this communication is limited and can result in digestive issues such as constipation, malabsorption, and dysbiosis, or an imbalance of beneficial bacteria. Moreover, a thyroid hormone deficit can limit muscle and nerve action that facilitates movement in the esophagus, slowing digestion. Furthermore, low thyroid levels are associated with reduced levels of gastrin. Low gastrin levels may cause heartburn, ulcers, reflux, bloating, and inflammation.

As for the metabolism, poor thyroid function often means a reduction in metabolic activity, which contributes to weight gain, an inability to lose weight, and fatigue (in the case of hypothyroidism). Hypothyroidism also inhibits the body’s ability to use fatty acids, meaning that fat cannot be effectively broken down and dispersed as fuel for other cells.

What test(s) should we take to check on our thyroid health?

When testing thyroid function, many doctors only test the levels of Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH). Although TSH is considered the “gold standard” test by many endocrinologists, they do not even agree on the cutoff points for the reference range for this test.

Some endocrinologists consider any number within the reference range (it’s around .40 to 4.0 at many US labs) “normal,” and others feel that TSH must be as high as 10 for a diagnosis of hypothyroidism.

Therefore, the TSH test is not only limited due to the lack of consensus as to what the actual results mean, but also due to the fact that it does not even test Free T4, and Free T3 — the actual circulating thyroid hormones — or antibodies that detect autoimmune thyroid disease. This means you could have sub-normal levels of T4 and T3, and/or antibodies that show that your thyroid gland is in self-destruct mode, but if your TSH is within the reference range, the endocrinologist may say it’s “normal.”

Moreover, it is far too uncommon for endocrinologists to screen for a patient’s levels of Reverse T3 (RT3). As the mirror image of T3, RT3 is responsible for keeping active thyroid hormone levels balanced and an important of overall thyroid function. However, with stress, dieting, inflammation, and/or chronic illness over conversion of T4 to RT3 can result in severe symptoms of hypothyroidism. Thus, if you would like to check on your thyroid health, it is best to have a full panel screening of your thyroid hormones.

How can we best support our thyroid?

Millions of Americans suffer from some form of a thyroid disorder, many of them may not even know it. While the most common causes of thyroid problems are autoimmune conditions, there are steps you can take to support your thyroid and its various functions:

  • Make sure you are getting enough iron, zinc, selenium, vitamin E, B vitamins, and iodine as low levels of these nutrients can potentially lead to thyroid issues. (Note to be particularly careful with your intake of iodine as high levels of iodine can also result in thyroid dysfunction).
  • Find ways to properly manage your stress as high-stress levels lead to the release of cortisol, the stress hormone, which can suppress the release of thyroid hormones.
  • Avoid fluoride toxins as fluoride disrupts thyroid hormones and can impact the overall function of the thyroid.
  • Avoid heavy metal toxins because they have been linked to thyroid disease and thyroid cancer.
  • Eat a thyroid-supporting diet (avoid caffeine, alcohol, and gluten).

Is there a thyroid-supporting diet?

For people with thyroid disease, there are some important things to know about foods and drinks, and their interaction with the body and medications. Below are some general tips thyroid patients should keep in mind:

Beneficial Foods and Beverages:

  • Eggs: Eggs are an excellent source of iodine and selenium, which are critical building blocks for thyroid hormones. Eating one large egg fulfills 16 percent of the daily requirement for iodine and 20 percent for selenium.
  • High fiber foods: Many thyroid patients struggle with constipation, and extra weight. One of the key tactics that can help is increasing fiber intake, particularly from foods. However, if you switch to a high-fiber diet, you should get your thyroid rechecked in eight to twelve weeks to see if you need a dosage readjustment, as fiber can affect the absorption of medication.
  • Coconut oil: Can raise basal body temperatures while increasing metabolism. This is good news for people who suffer from low thyroid function. This saturated, healthy fat is a thyroid-friendly option to replace other fats and oils in your diet.
  • Water: One of the most powerful things thyroid patients can do to help their health and metabolism is to stay hydrated. Water helps your metabolism function more efficiently and can help reduce your appetite, get rid of water retention and bloating, improve your digestion and elimination, and combat constipation. Some experts even say that we should drink one ounce of water per pound of scale weight.

Foods and Beverages to Avoid:

  • Goitrogens: Substances that occur naturally in certain foods, can cause the thyroid gland to enlarge, which is called a goiter. Goitrogenic foods can also function like an anti-thyroid drug and actually slow down the thyroid and make it under-active. The main goitrogenic foods are cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage, among others, as well as soy foods.
  • Coffee: It is recommended not to drink coffee until an hour after you have taken the thyroid hormone replacement medication; otherwise, the coffee can affect absorption, and make your thyroid medication less effective.
  • Celiac, gluten, and wheat: A subset of autoimmune thyroid patients have dietary-triggered autoimmunity, due to celiac disease, or a wheat/gluten intolerance. For these patients, going on a gluten-free diet may eliminate antibodies, and cause the remission of their autoimmune thyroid disease.
  • Alcohol: Wine, beer, and liquor contain phytoestrogens, which increase estrogen levels in the body. Elevated estrogen levels or estrogen dominance suppresses thyroid hormone production.

What toxins play a role in harming the thyroid?

Heavy Metals

  • Commonly found in toiletries like deodorant, over-the-counter medications, food additives, cookware, and more aluminum oxidizes the thyroid, inhibits iodide uptake, limits thyroid hormone production, and can mislead the immune system to attack the thyroid, as seen in autoimmune disease.
  • Cadmium is present in batteries, pigments, plastics, sewage, and phosphate-based fertilizers. This heavy metal can trigger thyroid enlargement, reduce thyroglobulin secretion, and can induce thyroid cancer.
  • Lead, commonly known for its toxicity, remains high in today’s environment due to its use in the paint used in old housing, some metal jewelry, and some children’s toys. Lead exposure in work environments alone has been linked to reduced thyroid function.
  • Mercury, found in seafood and pollution produced by coal-burning power plants, lowers iodide uptake in the thyroid and prevents thyroid hormone production.

Household Toxins:

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), more commonly referred to as flame retardants can be found in many areas of the modern-day home such as furniture, carpet padding, clothing made of synthetic materials, and the screens of electronic devices. PBDEs imitate thyroid hormone structure and block T4 from being transported in the blood.

Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, ingredients used to make plastic for water bottles, children’s toys, and food storage containers, imitate the structures of other hormones found naturally in the body and disrupt the entire endocrine system along with the thyroid. BPA can change the structure of the thyroid gland and inhibits T3 from binding to its receptors.

Getting Your Thyroid Under Control

Thyroid disorders are common but often misdiagnosed. Approximately 20 million Americans suffer from some form of a thyroid disorder, according to the American Thyroid Association. However, up to 60% are unaware they have a thyroid issue or have been misdiagnosed with another condition.

At Holtorf Medical Group, our doctors are trained to provide you with cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments to properly diagnose and treat your autoimmune thyroid disease, optimize your health, and improve your quality of life. If you think you are suffering from thyroid dysfunction, call us at 877-508-1177 to see how we can help you!

Holtorf Medical GroupThe Holtorf Medical Group specializes in optimizing quality of life and being medical detectives to uncover the underlying cause of symptoms, rather than just prescribing medications to cover-up the symptoms. We are experts in natural, prescription bioidentical hormone replacement and optimization, complex endocrine dysfunction, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and Lyme disease. We’ve dedicated our practice to providing you the best in evidenced-based, integrative medicine that’s not only safe and effective, but provides measurable results.


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5 Blood Tests You Need Every Year

Regular blood testing is an important way to keep track of your overall well-being. Getting tested at routine intervals can allow you to see how your body is changing over time and empower you to make informed decisions about your health.

Here are five blood tests you should consider getting every year.

Complete Thyroid Panel

Most physicians, including endocrinologists, will only check one or two thyroid markers: TSH and/or total T4. These tests do not give you a complete picture of your thyroid function. At HMG, there are 6 additional thyroid-related values that we routinely check for our patients: Free T4, Total T3, Free T3, Reverse T3, anti TPO Ab, and anti Thyroglobluin Ab. If any of these blood test values are not optimal, we take the steps to prevent or treat thyroid dysfunction or disease.

Essential Nutrients

Nutrients such as iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and magnesium are important for optimal bodily function, but they’re rarely checked at a routine primary care visit. Many people are deficient in these nutrients, so it’s imperative they are checked and supplements suggested when levels are not optimal.

Complete Metabolic Panel and Complete Blood Count

Unlike the other tests we run, the comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) and the complete blood count (CBC) are ordered when you see your primary care physician. These tests are essential to understanding electrolyte and hydration status, kidney function, liver function, and blood cell values. These values can also tell us if someone is fighting an acute or chronic infection.

Metabolic Markers

Metabolic markers such as Hemoglobin A1c, fasting glucose and insulin, and a lipid panel are essential to understanding how a person is processing macronutrients. Most primary care visits include a yearly basic lipid panel and glucose level – rarely will you receive a Hemoglobin A1c. These tests help determine whether there is an increased risk of heart disease from cholesterol levels or not. Many times people are told that they have high cholesterol levels when they are not actually a risk.

Inflammatory Markers

Inflammatory markers like hsCRP and homocysteine are rarely checked at a routine primary care visit. hsCRP is an inflammatory marker which can indicate general inflammatory status. An elevation can tell us there is inflammation happening in the body that should be addressed, whether it be from physical trauma, emotional stress, oxidative stress, environmental toxicity, allergy, sedentary lifestyle, or food sensitivities. Homocysteine is an amino acid that requires methylated-vitamin B12 and folate to be cleared. Elevations in this level can help us understand your stroke and heart disease risk, B vitamin status, ability to methylate, ability to detox, and make neurotransmitters.

There’s many great articles on the Holtdorf site.  Check them out.

Occupational Exposure to Biocides Increases Risk of Thyroid Cancer

Occupational exposure to pesticides and other biocides and risk of thyroid cancer

Fanhua Zeng1,2Catherine Lerro2Jérôme Lavoué3Huang Huang4Jack Siemiatycki3Nan Zhao2Shuangge Ma5Nicole C Deziel2Melissa C Friesen6Robert Udelsman7Yawei Zhang2,4


Objectives To assess the associations between occupational exposure to biocides and pesticides and risk of thyroid cancer.

Methods Using data from a population-based case–control study involving 462 incident thyroid cancer cases and 498 controls in Connecticut collected in 2010–2011, we examined the association with occupational exposure to biocides and pesticides through a job-exposure matrix. We used unconditional logistic regression models to estimate OR and 95% CI, adjusting for potential confounders.

Results Individuals who were occupationally ever exposed to biocides had an increased risk of thyroid cancer (OR=1.65, 95% CI 1.16 to 2.35), and the highest risk was observed for the high cumulative probability of exposure (OR=2.18, 95% CI 1.28 to 3.73). The observed associations were similar when we restricted to papillary thyroid cancer and well-differentiated thyroid cancer. Stronger associations were observed for thyroid microcarcinomas (tumour size ≤1 cm). No significant association was observed for occupational exposure to pesticides.

Conclusions Our study provides the first evidence linking occupational exposure to biocides and risk of thyroid cancer. The results warrant further investigation.

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Biocides are disinfectants, antiseptics, and preservatives.  For the 23 different types, see:
Of particular concern are human hygiene products, in-can preservatives, insecticides (acaricides – arthropod control), repellents, and food preservatives.
Regarding insecticides/acaricides, always cover your body when spraying, wear gloves, and stand so that the sprays do not come back on you.  Avoid breathing sprays into lungs.


Free Medicine & Supplements That Work

Free Medicine & Supplements That Work

Interview with Joe DiStefano and Dr. Chris Shade

After a run-in with Joe Mercola at PaleoFX, biochemical hacker Dr. Chris Shade started intermittent fasting—and it put him in ketosis almost immediately, to his surprise. As the founder of supplement company Quicksilver Scientific, the leader of the R&D team, and the developer of all products and protocols, Dr. Shade is no stranger to problem-solving. He conducted the research necessary to find the link between AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) and the production of ketones, and used this understanding to inform the development of new Quicksilver Scientific supplements. The resulting products have the power to transform your sleep patterns—and your health.

“There’s a balance between your immune system and your adrenals. When that’s ideal, you don’t get sick. When your adrenals can’t hold it anymore, you get all fogged up.”

In this first video episode of Stacked, we put supplements under the microscope and explore their role in cellular health, from detoxification to ketosis. Dr. Shade explains the interconnectedness of stress, glutathione, and leaky gut; walks us through the best way to prepare for a detox protocol, and shares his experience with NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) and travel recovery. He’s on a mission to combat universal toxicity, and this episode is packed full of information that will help you navigate the saturated supplement market and experience optimal health.

“We’ve got tools that let us push different levers and such. But it’s not just the biochemical—it’s our whole application to the world.”

  • First video episode! (2:00)

  • The breath, the parasympathetic nervous system, and detoxification (7:00)

  • How to rebalance neurotransmitters (it’s less complicated than it sounds) (12:30)

  • Free medicine: supplements can’t save you from an unhealthy lifestyle (15:00)

  • Preparation for a detox protocol (16:40)

  • How your cells work (and what happens when they don’t) (21:00)

  • If our environments aren’t more toxic, why are we more susceptible—and how do we heal ourselves? (25:30)

  • Visceral fat, glutathione, and leaky gut: every process informs another (28:00)

  • Why plants don’t kill you (35:00)

  • What AMPK does in the body, and the effect of intermittent fasting (37:00)

  • Mitochondria and supplements (46:00)

  • The science behind the new Quicksilver Scientific supplements (58:00)

  • NAD and travel recovery (1:05:00)

  • Supplements and sleep: align more, sleep less (1:10:30)

  • How to know you’re getting your NAD levels right (1:15:00)

  • Take a holistic approach: it’s your whole application to the world (1:17:50)

Find Dr. Shade

Instagram I Facebook I Quicksilver Scientific I YouTube

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Let me tell you about a little hack I have been using lately: Before every show, I find a quiet place, grab my noise-canceling headphones and head over to With you can decide how you want to spend the next few hours of your day — focus, productivity, relaxation — and will play music that has been scientifically engineered to shift your brain in that direction. (See more of the science behind this here).

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Treating Adrenal Dysfunction With Cortisol

Treating Adrenal Dysfunction with Cortisol

By Kent Holtorf, M.D. on Oct 17, 2019 

Originally Posted November 2012

Many people report feeling under constant pressure and stress which causes them to feel sluggish, irritable and fatigued. They are desperately trying to clear up that mental fogginess with coffee or other stimulants, just to crash worse afterwards. Does this sound like you?

Although it’s been widely accepted as the “common way of living in a working, modern society”, it is not normal.

Understanding Adrenal Fatigue

The adrenals are small glands that sit on the kidneys. They regulate many bodily processes through the production of hormones. The hormones produced by the adrenal glands help regulate blood sugar, immune function, and stress response. A disruption in the excretion of these hormones can lead to malfunction in these bodily processes and others.

Learn even more about the adrenals here.

Adrenal fatigue is a chronic condition wherein the adrenals are incapable of supplying the hormones needed for healthy bodily function. There are a number of potential causes for this dysfunction including physical trauma, a stressful professional or personal life, hormone imbalances, chronic illnesses, chronic infections, and sleep deficits. These and other physiological stressors trigger adrenal activity. If the adrenals continue to experience an increased demand, they will eventually become exhausted and incapable of sustaining healthy function.

Learn more about the causes of adrenal fatigue here.

The Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

Low levels of adrenal hormones, specifically cortisol, can result in symptoms such as:

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Sugar or salt craving
  • Shakiness relieved with eating
  • Moodiness
  • Food sensitivities
  • Allergies
  • Recurrent infections
  • Dizzy when standing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Decreased ability to handle stress
  • “Brain fog”
  • Swollen ankles that are worse at night
  • Muscular weakness
  • Difficulty getting out of bed
  • Wiped out with exercise
  • Inability to tolerate thyroid replacement

Learn more about the symptoms of adrenal fatigue here.

The Role of Cortisol in Adrenal Function

The most important anti-stress hormone in the body is cortisol. It protects the body from excessive adrenal fatigue by:

  • normalizing blood sugar: cortisol increases the blood sugar level in the body, thus providing the energy needed for the body to physically escape threat or injury in order to survive. Cortisol works in tandem with insulin from the pancreas to provide adequate glucose for energy.
  • anti-inflammatory response: cortisol is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. It is secreted as part of the anti-inflammatory response. Its objective is to remove and prevent swelling and redness of nearly all tissues.
  • immune system suppression: cortisol influences most cells that participate in the immune reaction, especially white blood cells. It suppresses white blood cells, natural killer cells, monocytes, macrophages and mast cells. It also suppresses adrenal fatigue.
  • vaso-constriction: people with low cortisol have low blood pressure and reduced activity to other body agents that constrict blood vessels.
  • physiology of stress: people with adrenal fatigue can not tolerate stress and will then succumb to severe stress. As their stress increases, progressively higher levels of cortisol are required. When the cortisol level cannot rise in response to stress, it is impossible to maintain the body in optimum stress response.

Cortisol sustains life via two opposite, but related, kinds of regulatory actions: releasing and activating the existing defense mechanisms of the body, while shutting down and modifying the same mechanisms to prevent them.

Using Cortisol to Safely and Effectively Treat Adrenal Fatigue

In the right situation and using the right dose, hormone replacement can be of great benefit for people with adrenal dysfunction. Medical science is just beginning to find out that a person can feel horrible and function poorly even with a minimal to moderate hormone deficiency that is clinically undetected by routine blood tests. This is evident in the case of adrenal fatigue.

Some physicians, notably Dr. Jefferies in the mid 1980s, have advocated low dose cortisol as safe for long-term use. Dr. Jefferies found that as long as the adrenal hormone level is kept within the normal range, the main toxicity that a patient might experience was a slight upset stomach, due to the body not being used to having the hormone come in through the stomach.

In an article published by Dr. Kent Holtorf in the Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome about therapeutic doses of cortisol for patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, he states:

“Because treatment with low physiologic doses of cortisol (< 15 mg) has been shown to be safe and effective and routine dynamic ACTH testing does not appear to have significant diagnostic sensitivity, it is reasonable to give a therapeutic trial of physiologic doses of cortisol to the majority of patients with CFS and FM, especially to those who have symptoms that are consistent with adrenal dysfunction, have low blood pressure, or have baseline cortisol levels in the low or low-normal range. (…) Physiologic replacement of cortisol at doses of 5 mg to 15 mg a day are safe, with little or no associated risk. Such physiologic doses don’t carry the risk of adrenal and immune suppression or bone loss, which are well known risks of pharmacological doses of corticosteroids. Cortisol treatment carries significantly less risk and a greater potential for benefit than standard treatments, such as antidepressants, muscle relaxants, anticonvulsants and narcotics.”

Finding a Doctor that Understands Adrenal Fatigue

The adrenals are a critical component of healthy bodily function. Adrenal fatigue result in dramatic repercussions on your physical, emotional, and mental health. Treatment of adrenal fatigue should be tailored to you and your specific needs and can include low dose cortisol, adrenal glandulars, vitamin C, Pantothenic acid, licorice, and chromium.

At Holtorf Medical Group, our physicians are trained to provide you with cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments to find the answers you deserve and a treatment plan that is personalized to you. If you are experiencing symptoms of adrenal fatigue, give us a call at 877-508-1177 to see how we can help you!


1. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Diagnosis and Treatment of Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis Dysfunction in Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia (FM).”

2. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Adrenal Fatigue Testing.”
3. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Adrenal Fatigue Treatment Options.”
4. William McK. Jefferies. “Safe Uses of Cortisol.” Book.

How the Adrenals and Thyroid Are Connected

By Holtorf Medical Group on Oct 15, 2019 11:40 am

Hormones are one of the most influential elements of wellness. These chemical structures relay messages throughout the body to regulate numerous functions. There are multiple systems responsible for production and regulation of hormones. Two of the most important being the adrenals and the thyroid. In addition to be essential for healthy bodily function, these two systems have a significant degree of influence on one another. Therefore, to better maintain wellness it is important to understand the role of the adrenals, the thyroid, and their mutual impact over each other.

What are the Adrenals?

The adrenals are small but highly influential organs located just above both kidneys. These are the glands responsible for controlling the body’s stress response as well as producing hormones essential for healthy bodily function. Some of the most notable adrenal hormones include pregnenolone, adrenaline, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and cortisol – learn more about the adrenal hormones here. These and other adrenal hormones regulate areas such as metabolism, physical ability, libido, energy level, stress response, and much more.

Learn even more about the adrenal glands here.

What is the Thyroid?

The thyroid gland is located at the base of the neck. Like the adrenals, the thyroid regulates important areas of health including metabolism, mood, weight, neurological function, energy level, and more. The thyroid completes this complex task through the secretion of thyroid hormones. The most well-recognized thyroid hormones are thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones help to determine the activity level of virtually every cell and tissue in the body. It is for this reason that some refer to the thyroid as the body’s gas pedal.

Learn even more about the thyroid here.

Identifying Arenal and Thyroid Imbalances

Disruption of either the thyroid or the adrenals can result in a cascade of dysfunction throughout the body. There are several ways in which the adrenals and the thyroid may become dysfunctional including physical damage or trauma, chronic mental or physical stress, and chronic illness. These factors can contribute to hormonal imbalances that encourage the development of serious dysfunction such as adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism.

Many symptoms of adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism are shared. Because of this, it is common for patients to be misdiagnosed. Fatigue, poor sleep quality or insomnia, depression, PMS, brain fog, sensitivity to cold, weight gain, forgetfulness, and loss of libido are just some of the shared symptoms of adrenal dysfunction and hypothyroidism. If you experience some, or all, of these symptoms, it is important to assess both adrenal and thyroid function.

The Shared Influence of the Adrenals and the Thyroid

Although they are two different systems, the adrenals and the thyroid have a great deal of overlap. Typically, this is beneficial as both systems can support each other. However, because they are so closely related, if one system fails or malfunctions it often leads to disruption of the other.

The adrenal glands are responsible for regulating the body’s stress response. When we experience stress the adrenals release cortisol. The increase in cortisol triggers elevated immune activity, increased inflammatory response, heightened physical ability, and greater alertness. These are all beneficial qualities when handling stress in the short term. However, constant activation of the adrenals encourages further release of cortisol. Excess cortisol can negatively affect thyroid function and contribute to hypothyroidism. In part, this is why many individuals suffering from chronic stress also experience a decline in thyroid function.

For the thyroid to effectively regulate bodily function, T4 must be converted to T3 and interact with tissues throughout the body. Studies show that certain adrenal hormones play an important role in the conversion process of thyroid hormones. Additionally, some experts suggest that adrenal hormones are needed to effectively deliver T3 into cells and tissues. Therefore, poor adrenal function and a lack of adrenal hormones may inhibit thyroid activity resulting in symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Both systems play a significant role in maintaining healthy metabolic activity. If either system faulters, the other must work harder to make up the difference. For example, if metabolic activity is failing due to an underactive thyroid, the adrenals must work harder to maintain proper metabolic function. If thyroid function remains defunct, the adrenals will ultimately become exhausted resulting in adrenal fatigue. With these two systems exhausted, the body is almost certain to experience a significant and long-lasting decline in functionality.

The Importance of Treating Both Thyroid and Adrenal Dysfunction

Because hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue both involve hormone deficiency, the conditions are treated in a similar fashion. The most common approach is to administer hormone therapy based on the individual needs of the patient. For example, if thyroid dysfunction is suspected, a patient may be given thyroid hormone supplements to increase their hormone values. Similarly, if adrenal signs point to adrenal fatigue, a doctor may recommend cortisol or other adrenal hormone supplements.

When treating the adrenals or the thyroid it is critical that diagnosis is accurate. For example, in the presence of adrenal malfunction, thyroid hormone therapies may actually cause greater disruption. This is because thyroid medication accelerates metabolic activity, which can place greater stress on the adrenals thereby contributing further to adrenal fatigue . Ideally, if a patient is presenting symptoms of either adrenal dysfunction or thyroid disease, both systems are evaluated, and a full gamut of tests are run to assess relevant hormone values.

Learn more about the importance of treating both thyroid and adrenal dysfunction here.

Finding a Doctor That Understands the Adrenal-Thyroid Connection

The body is composed of an intricate web of interlocking systems, many of which have direct influence on one other. An excellent example of this is the relationship between the adrenals and the thyroid. Both systems are integral to overall bodily function and exert their influence through the production of hormones. Due to their high degree of interconnectivity, dysfunction of one can have a dramatic negative impact on the other. Therefore, if symptoms of either adrenal or thyroid dysfunction develop, it is important to consider and assess both systems. Being aware of the close relationship between the adrenals and the thyroid and their important role in bodily function can help you better preserve their function and maintain greater wellness.

At Holtorf Medical Group, our physicians are knowledgeable in both thyroid and adrenal dysfunction, and how the two are connected. Because of this, they are able to provide you with cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments to find the answers you deserve and a treatment plan that is personalized to you. If you are experiencing symptoms of thyroid or adrenal dysfunction, give us a call at 877-508-1177!


1. Victor Parsons, DM and Ian Ramsay, MD. “Thyroid and adrenal relationships.” Postgrad. med. J. (May 1968) 44, 377-384.

2. Seck-Gassama et al. “Serum cortisol level variations in thyroid diseases.” Dakar Med. 2000;45(1):30-3.
3. Amy Myers, MD. “The Adrenal-Thyroid Connection.” Amy Myers.


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