Metabolic Therapy: Thyroid, Adrenal and Hormone Correction
Could low metabolic energy/low body temperature be affecting your health?
Do you suffer from any of the symptoms below?
- Low body temperature / coldness
- Brain fog / poor memory, focus and concentration
- Low energy / fatigue
- Depression / anxiety
- Immune dysfunction / allergies / recurrent infections
- Fibromyalgia and arthritic pain
- Poor connective tissue quality / poor healing
- Inability to hold chiropractic / osteopathic adjustments
- Weight problems: can't lose or can't gain
These common symptoms may seem unrelated but they may all stem from the same root problem of low metabolic energy. While the list of problems above seem like nothing more than day-to-day annoyances, in reality all are symptoms of low metabolic energy. The best way to eliminate these symptoms – and restore metabolic energy – is to correct the underlying problem.
What causes low metabolic energy? The most common cause is thyroid problems and/or adrenal fatigue or dsyfunction. Another very common cause is hormonal imbalance – especially low progesterone or estrogen dominance in women or low testosterone in men. Restoring metabolic energy helps the body help itself, letting the self repair mechanisms function well again and restore health.
Proper evaluation of the thyroid, adrenals and female/male hormones and treatment using prescription, natural hormone therapy or bioidentical hormone replacement and supplements is essential to address the root cause of the problem, restore physiologic balance, and restore normal healthy function.
* Metabolic Scorecard™: A method for looking at symptoms to provide guidance on whether there are adrenal, thyroid, or a mixture of problems.
* Metabolic Temperature Graph™: A method for measuring and interpreting daily temperatures to gain insight into metabolic energy issues associated with both adrenal and thyroid function.
* Thyroid Scale™: A method of evaluating thyroid lab data (TSH, Free T4, and Free T3) relating them to optimal values as well as each other. This provides a clearer picture of what is going on as opposed to the old, 'your lab values are all normal', answer.
* Estrogen Dominance Questionnaire: A method of looking at symptoms to determine if an estrogen / progesterone imbalance might be causing metabolic problems.
What Causes Low Metabolic Energy?
Every process that goes on inside our bodies requires energy – specifically, metabolic energy. When the body doesn’t have enough energy to function properly, each component of the body will malfunction in its own unique way.
The thyroid gland, located at the base of the neck, makes the hormone T4 (thyroxine). T4 converts to T3 (triiodothyronine) and RT3 (reverse T3). The T3 turns on the ATP (energy) making machinery inside each living cell while the RT3 slows it down. Production of these thyroid hormones is controlled by TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), which is released by the pituitary gland in the brain. The pituitary takes its orders from the hypothalamus (also part of the brain). The adrenal glands, located on top of each kidney, help the body deal with stress. If the metabolic activity is excessive, the adrenals perceive this as a stress. In response to this stress, the hypothalamus will signal the pituitary to produce less TSH, thus producing decreased T4 and thyroid activity.
Based on the above explanation, some of the contributors to low metabolic energy are:
* The thyroid gland can not make enough T4 (hypothyroidism).
* The adrenal glands are too weak to handle the stress of the body’s normal metabolic energy
* The enzymes which make ATP may be held back due to toxins, lack of vitamins or minerals, or breakdown due to auto-immune disease or old viral damage.
* Hormonal imbalance such as growth hormone, testosterone, estrogen, or progesterone
* Severe caloric restriction.
As discussed earlier, when one or a combination of these factors is in place the symptoms of low metabolic energy – such as fatigue, weight issues, memory loss, cold hands, dry skin – may start to appear.
Where to Start: Thyroid or Adrenal?
If both the thyroid and the adrenals are weak, adrenal repair must precede thyroid repair (see Metabolic Scorecard™ to determine whether problem is adrenal, thyroid, or both). If the adrenals are weak, then even normal thyroid activity places an excessive burden on them. One may begin to feel ‘hypoadrenal’ (coldness, weight loss, dryness, fatigue, insomnia, and/or anxiety) and then the body innately turns down its own thyroid energy production by increasing production of RT3. Conversely, if the adrenals are strong and the thyroid is weak or unable to keep up with the adrenals, one begins to feel ‘hypothyroid’ (heat intolerance, weight gain and fluid retention, tiredness, excessive need to sleep and/or depression). A very common error made by medical practitioners is to focus entirely on the thyroid and ignore the adrenals. In a weakened adrenal state, prescribing thyroid medication that contains T4 and/or T3 may produce limited or transient improvement. Subsequent increases of the dose offer little or no benefit as the medication pushes the energy machinery into overdrive. Unfortunately, this higher energy level is unsustainable due to the stress on the adrenals. Eventually the adrenals become fatigued and the symptoms of low energy return. If, however, the adrenals are functioning well, the thyroid hormones can do their job and the result is good metabolic energy.
Another way of looking at this thyroid/adrenal relationship is to think of the thyroid as ‘generating’ the energy while the adrenals need to be able to ‘handle’ the energy. If the thyroid generated energy is excessive for the adrenals’ ability to handle it, the body will down-regulate the thyroid energy as much as it is capable of doing to accommodate what the adrenals can safely handle.
Adrenal Repair Basics
In general, stress hurts the adrenals. We can define stress as anything which challenges our survival, joy, prosperity, security or stability. It is anything which forces our system to adapt such as infection, lack of sleep or even lack of love are stressors. The opposite of stress such as joy, sleep and rest, comfort, peace, security, stability, and good nutrition, are examples of things that help the adrenals.
Avoid the stressors and seek out those things that help. Eat more proteins (especially amino acids) and healthy fats. Limit carbohydrates, especially sugars. Avoid stimulants and stressful substances such as caffeine, diet pills, alcohol, cigarettes, etc. If you have allergies, avoid the allergens – common allergens are wheat and dairy.
Metabolic activity, the chemical processes and changes going on in our body, represent a stress. At a level that can be handled by the adrenals, this stress is good for us (Eustress) and maintains life. If metabolic activity is too strong for the adrenals (e.g., excessive thyroid stimulation), it is at a level that is unhealthy (Distress) and wears the adrenals down.
Mold is a common serious stress but difficult to avoid. Reduce stress as much as possible. Look for opportunities to experience security, joy and optimism and avoid negative emotions such as fear and anger. Get as much sleep as possible and make the timing as regular as possible. Pushing too hard, excessive work or exercise, and any sleep deprivation stresses the adrenals.
Adrenal Support with Supplements and Healthy Food
Providing the body with proper support in the form of vitamin supplements is critical to repair. The minimal nutritional requirements for healthier adrenals are:
* A healthy whole food organic diet which contains an adequate amount of protein and healthy fats, adequate fat soluble vitamins, and without anything you are allergic to (e.g., wheat, dairy, or other specific foods you might be allergic to). Sometimes eating right for your blood type becomes the key factor.
* B-Complex Vitamins: A very complete B-complex with lots of Vitamin B-5.
* Vitamin C and Antioxidants: The buffered powder form of Vitamin C is often most easily tolerated as part of a drink sipped throughout the day. It is important to take bioflavonoids with Vitamin C as these help recycle and sustain the antioxidant activity.
* Amino Acids: Individuals with weak adrenals often cannot digest meat or proteins into amino acids very well. The adrenals thrive on amino acids. As with the Vitamin C, amino acids are best taken as part of a drink sipped throughout the day.
* Healthy Fats: Animal fat is the best source of healthy fat but they need to be organic. If dairy or meat, the animal should, if possible, be grass fed cow or sheep. Eggs are also healthy. Free range hens are the best source.
* Unrefined Sea Salt: This helps the adrenals by raising a low blood pressure and assisting the body in retaining water. Plain table salt does not contain the same minerals and some people feel poorly with it.
Correcting Thyroid Problems and Restoring Function
For mildly poor thyroid function, one can often get the needed support with supplements such as L-Tyrosine and iodine (e.g. Prolamine Iodine) or a thyroid supporting glandular supplement (e.g. T-100). Supplements containing mixtures of thyroid nutrients are also available. Some thyroid glandular may offer more complete support.
If the thyroid condition is more severe, one may require prescription medication. Giving only T4 (e.g. Levothyroxine, Synthroid, Unithroid, Levoxyl etc) is a good choice if T4 is the only missing component. In individuals with poor conversion of T4 to T3, a desiccated thyroid preparation (e.g. Armour Thyroid Rx) often works best because it contains the needed T3 as well. Breaking up the dose into two or three doses daily provides a more stable blood level of T3 and generally produces better results. Taking the daily dose all at once in the morning tends to be stressful on the adrenals and often leaves one feeling depleted by afternoon. Evidence of this can be seen when taking daily temperatures. The adrenal stress shows up as increased temperature volatility.
Note that if the adrenals are too weak to handle the desiccated thyroid (Rx) then we often see an initial response of better energy and fewer symptoms followed by a later ‘crash’ in which energy can drop to even lower levels than before the desiccated thyroid support. Additionally, other symptoms of adrenal stress such as anxiety, insomnia, and palpitations can then occur. The same can be seen with fast release T3 (e.g. Cytomel) or with slow release T3.
Estrogen Dominance Support (for women)
Estrogen is generally a stimulant and presents as anxiety, agitation, muscle tension, increased cell division in female organs (e.g., uterine fibroids, breast cysts etc.) Conversely, progesterone has a calming effect such as sedation, slowed cell division etc. An imbalance which favors a predominance of the estrogenic effect evidenced by either excessive estrogen or insufficient progesterone, is called estrogen dominance.
As you can see, low metabolic energy can appear as any of numerous symptoms. The best way to eliminate the symptoms is to correct the underlying problem – in most cases, poor thyroid and adrenal function. Once you’ve made the choice to correct the problem, some general principles of treatment apply:
* If the treatment is working, one should feel improvement as time goes on. Healing crises rarely occur with thyroid and adrenal repair. They tend to occur more often with detoxification or elimination of a biological agent.
* Successful treatment is achieved more easily through the use of feedback based on changing signs, symptoms, temperature patterns and lab values.
* When taking supplements, especially for those who are highly sensitive or have allergies, the old nursing adage of ‘start low, go slow’ is very important to remember when restoring adrenal and thyroid function. It is the adrenal component that is least understood or appreciated. Yet, as you can see from this article both thyroid and adrenal function can be enhanced using supplement support and lifestyle changes. And, as a result, supplement support and lifestyle changes can help you start living a normal, 'symptom' free life.